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September 07, 1995 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1995-09-07

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September 7, 1995

L7s Finch doesn't
rock by the numbers

'Great Day' is picture-perfect

By Ted Watts
Daily Arts Writer
L7. Four women known to travel
around the country and rock as well
as their male peers while experienc-
ing moderate success with their
singles "Pretend We're Dead" and
"Andres." So pay attention and learn
something about them.
"Donita (Sparks, guitar) and Suzi
(Gardener, guitar) originally got to-
gether in Los Angeles as two gals on
the scene," explained bassist and
fly fishing-lover Jennifer Finch in
her well-used voice. "I was living in
San Francisco at the time they
needed a bass player and I joined
like a year after their original lineup
came together. Then Dee (Plakas,
drums) joined in 1988. We put our
first record out in 1988 on Epitaph
Records, then the second album,
called 'Smell the Magic,' in 1990
on Sub Pop. We've had two albums
since then."
And in that time they've toured
with a vigor little known among
popular bands. Since their last al-
bum, "Hungry For Stink," came out
last year, they've been to the De-
troit area three times, one of those
times for four dates during last year's
Lollapalooza. Jennifer's comment
"Didn't we play that place (Pine
Knob) like ten times?" indicates that
the touring isn't all vino and nudist
volleyball. Finch denied stardom as
well: "We're not rock stars... My
husband is a rock star. My husband
is Dean Menta and when I met him
he was a computer teacher and now
he is in Faith No More." And while
L7 does not yet headline at venues
quite as big as Faith No More does,
Grand Puba
Elektra Records
Rap music, for all its variances
and subtleties, continues to follow a
general trend of leaning away from
harried and frenzied music for more
laid-back, rhythmic sound. From
Snoop to the Notorious B.I.G. to
Digable Planets, rappers and groups
have decided to trade in crazed sounds
fibraslower, morerelaxed style. Grand

support for their shows continues to
But Jennifer's perception ofwhat
the real show is doesn't include the
band that much. "I'd say that 99% of
the time, the audience is more enter-
taining than we are, and are defi-
nitely sorely neglected and should
be performers themselves. You have
to remember while the audience is
looking at us, we're standing up there
looking at you all. So you have to do
something good."
This modesty about who the show
is really about keeps cropping up.
The band has very decentralized
vocal duties, with everyone but
Plakas contributing lead voice some
of the time. "I think we like the idea
of what the Beatles did where there
were different focuses on different
people, so it allows for more diver-
sity." Not to mention the fact that it
takes the heat off any one person as
the center of all those piercing gazes
in front of the stage.
Props can perform a similar func-
tion. L7 took a big fake snowman
with them on Lollapalooza that was
significantly more visible than they
were because of his size and bright
colors. "The snowman is in storage.
We're trying to get the Rock and
Roll Hall of Fame to take it so we
don't have to pay for storage any-
But while the museum has not as
yet taken the snowman, the Rock
andRoll Hall of Fame at least kicked
L7 offtheir concert. Finch explained:
"Natalie Merchant took our spot...
But we have a display in it. There's
four L7 mannequins... It's a sort of
alternative rock fashion exhibit. It

By Joshua Rich
Daily Film Editor
People frequently take appar-
ently simple photographic images,
like those which appear in maga-
zines or newspapers, for granted.
We tend to pay little or no atten-
tion to the content or composition
of this kind of picture, let alone
attempt to understand its purpose.
We ignore or dismiss a photograph
in a periodical as an image that is
just used to supplement a story.
All the while, however, we fail to
comprehend the true depth and
meaning within the photograph
"A Great Day in Harlem," on the
other hand, is a film which explores
the life within a photograph, allow-
ing the audience to appreciate the
picture in question a little bit more.
This documentary presents how,
in 1958, photographer Art Kane was
commissioned to do a photo shoot
for a special jazz issue of Esquire
magazine. Kane's notion was to do
a large group shot of all the major
jazz musicians in New York (many
of the most famous performers in
the world). Much to his surprise,
some 60 players arrived at a Harlem
brownstone at 10:00 one Saturday
morning - an exceptionally early
hour for those used tojamming until
dawn -- to join in one of the most
compelling magazine photographs
of all time.
For about 60 minutes we are
privy to a humorous account of how
a young white photographer man-
aged to stage such a dramatic shot in
a difficult neighborhood. Moreover,
we are treated to a careful study of
the picture itself and the characters
within it.

A Great Day in
Featuring Dizzy Gillespie
and Sonny Rollins
At the Michigan Theater
Using illuminating home videos
and interviews with the likes of
Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins and
Kane, himself, the film becomes a
small, enjoyable history lesson about
some of America's jazz greats. We
learn bits about the powerful per-
sonalities involved from stories
about their past and even how or
where they stand in the frame. A
narcissistic Thelonious Monk wears
dark shades and stands out by wear-
ing starkly different clothes from
the others. A tired and overweight
Count Basie sits on the curb in the
hot morning. A proud Marian
McPartland stands tall amongst her
colleagues, most of them men. And
a group of neighborhood children
sit in the front after Kane's failed
repeated attempts to remove them.
While some notables like Charlie
"Bird" Parker and Miles Davis are
missing, the audience is neverthe-
less allowed to hear some of the
most lovely and provocative jazz
melodies ever produced. Thus the
fantastic soundtrack lets us relax
even as we intensely learn about an
interesting and enigmatic sound
medium. It may sound like a Kodak
commercial, but, towards the end of
"A Great Day in Harlem," we truly
believe that a picture really does say
a thousand words. In this case,
though, it also sings and plays a
thousand notes.

.7's Jennifer Finch, one of rock's coolest women..

starts with Bowie, then goes to Iggy
Pop, then branches off into a whole
bunch of other bands."
Cast out from that more-com-

mercial-than-Woodstock event or
no, L7 are planning on writing a
new album soon. Remember, when
the tour hits, do something good.

Puba is an epitome of this. In his most
recent LP, "2000," slow, bass-filled
cuts are all that can be found.
Many are probably already famil-
iar with "I Like It," the first single off
"2000." Like most of the songs on
this 11-cut LP, the lyrics and G.P.
rapping on "I Like It" lie on a con-
tinuum somewhere between alright
and ho-hum dull. The real lifeline of
"2000" lies in its beats and samples.
Though oftentimes repetitive and

lackluster, the beats are varied enough
to keep some interest.
This, Puba's fifth release in five
years, isn't a premier work, but it isn't
all-out trash either. It has its mo-
ments. It'sjust unfortunate that better
couldn't come from Puba, especially
when many hellified singles have
come from the Puba camp in the past.
But at a time when down-for-tha-
cause rappers have come fewer and
furtherbetween, we must wonderjust
how picky we can afford to be.
Eugene Bowen
We Are Shampoo
The living, breathing punk-rock
Barbie dolls of Shampoo, Jacqui and
Carrie, have good fashion sense and
Attitude with a capital A. These merits
salvage the mediocrity of their debut
album "We Are Shampoo." It's a clas-
sic case of style over substance: You're
not a Shampoo fan because you like
their music, you're a fan because they
wear piles and piles of makeup, tight,
shiny, cheap-and-cheerful clothing and
speak with accents as thick as gooey
marmalade. Because they can't play
anything, can'tsinganddon'tcareabout
their blatant lack of talent, and because
like all true rock stars, they're at the best
when they're trashing hotels. Songs
like "Saddo," "Skinny White Thing"
and "Shiny Black Taxi Cab" deal with
their glamorous, decadent lives as teen-
age pop stars. Musically, their merits
are few (their sound is essentially
warmed-over punk-pop), but again it's
the attitude of the songs that carry the
record. Over in their native England,

Shampoo get the attention and acclaim
they so richly deserve. They may sim-
ply be too conceptual for American
audiences, but their sussed-and-sassy
-Heather Phares
My Lie With the Thrill
Kill Kult
Hit and Run Holiday
Fast cars, faster women and dan-
gerous drugs, that's what My Life
With the Thrill Kill Kult has always
been about to varying degrees at vari-
ous times. "Hit and Run Holiday" is a
fine continuation of TKK's well es-
tablished thematic base from it's art
(depicting a car, a woman and pills) to
its songs of the ultimate degenerate
club scene.
The title track utilizes a sample
from some undoubtedly B-movie con-
versation between a man and woman:
"I'mtired ofjust driving around. Let's
go someplace. / Alright, like where
we going? / Anywhere, just as long as
we stay out good and late!"
And that's as good a summary of
the album's drives as anything. Com-
bining a modern psycho disco
soundtrack and the creepy voices of
singers Groovie Mann, Jacky Blaque
and Cinderella Pussie, TKK achieves
their special version of glam kitsch
with style and diversity. From the
smoother strains of "Apollo 69" to
the distressed baby MC sound on
"Golden Strip" (which, when sung,
sounds like "Gonad Strip") to the

downright loungey "The Doris Love
Club," this CD is varied enough that
its rather limited scope of topics isn't
a glaring problem.
"Hit and.Run Holiday" is a salad
of keyboards, guitars, vocals, drums,

bass, horns, vocals and the vice of
the night. Those of you afraid of the
dark when an explosive mirrorball is
hurtling towards your head need not
take notice.
- Ted Watts
See RECORDS, page 10


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Viva la Megababes of Shampoo - Carrie (left) and Jacqul (right).

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