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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38, No. 21. September 4 1975


page 14


Lou Reed

The rock n' roll animal devastates Wellington again - one day late. Well not quite. Lou Reed came on stage shortly before 9 p.m., after a warm-up set by his backing band (who were much better than last year's) He played a shorter set than usual something like an hour and a quarter at the most.

It was a strange affair really. I mean, last year we had this blonde, pot-bellied gargoyle lurching about the stage knocking things over and seeming ever so cool, but this year - what a difference! No grand entrance or big buildup. Lou ambled on, looking years younger, with his hair back to its original colour, and wearing Levis and a loose fitting yellow T-shirt. He looked like some 17-year old straight off the street.

No air of super-cool either. In fact, initially he seemed nervous and not quite with it. This seemed to wear off somewhat as the set wore on.

It was a good concert. Not the mind blower I'd expected after reading the reviews overseas of the new-look Lou, but a good one nevertheless That it wasn't all it could have been was doubtless due to this present emotional hang-up of his I don't know what this traumatic news was (or even if it really existed) that screwed him up so much but it must have been pretty serious because for most of the performance his heart did not seem to be in it.

First up was a rather limp 'Sweet Jane,' followed by two of several new songs he played that evening (I presume they'll appear on the forthcoming 'Coney Island Baby' album). They sounded pretty good to me and it looks like the new album will be a marked improvement over Sally Can't Dance

He also sang about being a lonely boy and how shitty the city was to live in. I never thought I'd hear these sentiments coming from Lou Reed. Other songs played included 'How Do You Think It Feels,' Satellite of Love,' Vicious and of course Walk on the Wild Side.' After he sang this number Lou said 'I'd give anything not to have written that song,' and went on to tell us that three of its characters are now dead.

Actually, Lou talked quite a lot between numbers as the show rolled on, which is unlike him He even injected (or perhaps that's an inappropriate verb in his case) some humour into the proceedings with various asides. And, borrow of horrors, he actually smiled once or twice! This is indeed a new Lou Reed - or is it: I think what we saw that night was something of the real Lou Reed

Lou finished the set with a long new song called (I think) 'Kicks.' He delivered it with real venom, and it sounds like one of the best things he's written in years. After much stomping and clapping by the audiences they returned for the inevitable encore of 'Rock 'n Roll, which they really romped up, much better than Last year's treatment. More stamping and clapping followed, and to and behold, back they came for a second encore, another newie, and a fast rock n roll number at that.

So that was Lou Reed 75 as we saw him. A good show but somewhat disappointing in some respects It would doubtless have been the killer I expected had he not been hassled by this problem or whatever. Here's hoping he straightens himself out and returns to these shores soon to really lay it on us.

Diamonds and Rust: Joan Baez A & M L-35505.

As the liner notes say 'Diamonds and Rust' constitutes 'a new musical direction' for Joan Baez. It includes several rock songs including 'Blue Sky', an Allman Bros track, and Bob Dylan's Simple Twist of Fate.' The album also contains two songs written about Dylan by Joan Baez: 'Winds of the Old Days' and 'Diamonds and Rust.'

There's not much new you can say about Joan Baez s music. Her voice handles a wide variety of moods from rock songs such as Blue Sky to love songs such as Janis Ian's 'Jesse' to a beautiful rendition of 'Danny Boy", which, strangely enough, doesn't seem at all out of place in this collection.

To sum it up - yet another Joan Baez LP but a bloody good one - even at $7.50 a time.

'Tale Spinnin' "by Weather Report.

This album is the third to have been produced by Weather Report during recent years. Its music is fine flowing jazz rock with the focus on harmony. Robert Hurwitz has this to say: "the music of Weather Report has always been built upon the foundation of details, on the smallest touches, on those exquisite moments in which all the forces of music - the melody, the rhythm, the harmony - come together to the musical point. Harmony has meant more than simply the relationships of different notes when they are put together to form chords for harmonies come from street celebrations, the rhythms of different peoples of different culture gathering to participate in the most basic and essential of musical activities, the song and the dance."

Tale Spinnin "'Spinnin'" at first seemed that it might be unfavourably compared with the previous album "Mysterious Traveller" which was indisputably a superb record, but this holds its own remarkably well. It is not flashy or eclectic music but unpretentious like the musicians themselves and seems to be in the fusing of saxophone, piano, synthesizer, and rapid percussion into the rippling notes that remind you of days when people get together, sing and play music with great feeling and warmth.

All the songs on the album are written by Joseph Zawinul and Wayne Shorter and this enterprising pair also produced the outlay. The tracks are long by commercial standards but here they give more room to develop ideas and rhythms instead of starting a song to no sooner finish it three minutes later.

"Man in the Green Shirt" is a song Zarwinul dedicates to an old black man who on the Fourth of July celebrations in the Virgin Islands, danced his heart away with his wisdom and maturity. "Between the thighs" is a long track, nine minutes, of quiet brooding music featuring very sombre piano and soprana saxo-phone. "Badia" is a mercurial piece, sometimes frenzied, sometimes soft. "Five Short Stories" has a type of expression for everyone at the five stories. I'd rate it B plus.

So What: Joe Walsh

For "So What" Joe Walsh gathered together an entourage of friends and drop-in artists to produce an album of brilliantly elevating music. With its sophistication, style and ingenuity it is a refreshing break from the monotony of many of the established artists' recent efforts. As an album of contrast and depth it explores more openly Walsh's talents as a composer and multi-instrumentalist.

"Welcome To The Club", 'Time Out" and "Turn To Stone" excell in their energy and freshness with Walsh laying down some frenetic guitar solos backed by Kenny Passarelli's ever-present pounding bass line. Walsh's axemanship on these tracks is only surpassed by the tecnical brilliance of "County Fair". Here he uses a special effect known as backward echo, where the guitar chords flash out as if they were swirling backwards.

Variation is the keynote with 58 seconds of fun on "All Night Laundry Mat Blues". "Pavane", an eerie track taken from Maurice Ravel's "Mother Goose Suite", features Walsh on Arp and moog synthesiser as he recreates the mood of a night before Halloween.

Lyrically and vocally Walsh has matured since the "Smoker You Drink, The Player you Get" album. On "Falling Down" he catches the more subtle mood of the acoustics while his voice really reaches out to deliver the intensity of "Help Me Through The Night". "Song for Emma" closes the album with a flurry of strings and urgent vocals.

'Best of the Stylistics'

Soul music, amorphous term as it is, has never been more popular both overseas and in New Zealand than at present. Just look around at the number of local groups featuring soul material - and any record shop worthy of its headsets now has a separate soul section.

Contemporary soul ranges from rhythm and blues (Average White Band, Stevie Wonder) to funk (Earth, Wind, and Fire, Ohio Players) to the more superficial stylised soul of Syreeta Gloria Gaynor, and at the lowest levels the orchestrated gurglings of Barry White

At the forefront of modern soul is the so-called Philadelphia sound masterminded by Leon Huff, Kenny Gamble, and Thorn Bell Big names here are the Three Degrees the O'Jays Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes, and of course, the Stylistics.

All of which brings me to the 'Best of the Stylistics.' Unlike many alleged 'Best of compilations this is on the level, and it certainly shows the consistency of their commercial success You name it, they're here.

The collection has certainly justified itself commercially, it reaching No 2 on the best-selling album list in Britain a few months back. It also held 'Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy' to No 2 on the States charts for several weeks. Whoever named this group the 'Stylistics' had a few clues. These boys have got 'style shimmering out from their white tails.

Musically, all the Philly characteristics are there; the lush yet always tasteful arrangements and production of Thorn Bell, the impeccable vocal harmonies, and of course the familiar Stylistics trademark, that amazing high-pitched voice of lead singer Russell Thompkins Jr (yes he's male, but the ease with which he hits those high notes certainly raises a few eyebrows). I continually try to find his female vocal alter-ego, but without much success.

Lyrically, there's nothing startling here; the usual themes of loves lost and gained just a trace of social comment. But any lyrical deficiencies are soon ignored as that [unclear: of] so sweet layer of sound wafts forth

Thom Bell must be congratulated for the way in which he has kept the Stylistics on the right side of the thin line separating refined yet tasteful soul from the effete posturings of such as Barry White.

So don't let the rather garish cover deter you Inside are 12 songs not only demonstrating the 'Best of the Stylistics' but the best of soft sweet soul music.