The Guardian from London, Greater London, England on January 22, 1982 · 10
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The Guardian from London, Greater London, England · 10

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Friday, January 22, 1982
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ARTS GUARDIAN Friday January 22 1982 Desmond Morris and Finding IT COULD only happen in France where culture has a real market value. The big movie hit of the past fortnight is a $12 million Franco-Canadian co-production La Guerre du Feu (The Quest for Fire) which is set in the year 500,000 BC. And the most notable names on the ""credits are those of Anthony Burgess and Desmond Morris. Based on a popular boys' nook of 1911 by Kosny tho Klder, it tells the epieally simple story of a Stone-Age tribe whose fire is stolen by another tribe, and whose leaders go in search of new fire. The adaptation was done by Roman Polanski's regular script-writer, Gerard Brach, THE " psychedelic revival " was one of the almost-events of last year, along with the " Latin American boom " (which benefited the appalling Modern Romance rather than any genuine Brazilians). Trend-spotters and rock writers seemed to be the only ones taking much interest as a gallant but only moderately successful attempt was made to revive interest in- paisley shirts, Byrdsish pudding bowl haircuts, and other such vital manifestations of the psychedelic experience. Now, just when the whole thing might have been expected to have died off, comes a bizarre compilation album showcasing the best (and worst) of the new British psychedelic groups. A Splash of Colour (WEA) comes with a genuine "psychedelic " cover (grey men by grey buildings obliterated by the flowers from the shirt of a young man looking like a stoned werewolf) and contains tracks by eight new bands, and a poet (of sorts) called The Doctor, who mumbles things like " enter now minstrels and play" into an echo chamber. The minstrels then proceed to do so, sounding as if they have never heard of modern recording techniques but have been living in a time-vault along with early singles by Spencer Davies, the Yardbirds, Dave Dee, Beaky, Mick and Tich, and The Move. This is a revival of Sixties pop (with a few quirky effects and doomy keyboards added in) rather than an exploration of Pink Floyd or Soft Machine territory, and it varies between the dreadful and the dreadful but quaintly attractive. Pride of place in the first category must go to Miles Over Matter for writing such wonderfully bad lyrics as "just 'cos the love generation blew it, don't mean we have to." Mood Six almost make it into the same category, thanks to songs like Just Like A Dream, with lyrics like " I heard today we got one week to live," which are a cross between Barry WcGuire and The Move. But they just about get away with it thanks to a melodic lightweight pop style with an engaging mixture of keyboards and deadpan -vocals. The same sort of approach is followed by the more soulful The Times, with I Helped Patrick McGoohan Escape, and the more forceful Barracudas, the band that wrote I Wish It Could Be 1965 Again. I still don't hope for a psychedelic revival, but some of the bands here do have a dreadful charm. . Garland Jeffreys : Rock & Koll Adult (Epic) : It's diffi- ARTS " Michael Billington Hype " THIS is not the end of the pier show it's the end bf the career show!" So quipped Robert Calvert, star and only true begetter of a rather melancholy cabaret called Hype at the Arts Theatre. An air of desperation, occasionally relieved by pounding rock music, surrounded the whole enterprise and at the interval I did the only thing a critic can do when confronted by the unreviewable: I left. I had hoped for something else. The publicity told us that Mr Calvert, ex-lead singer of Hawkwind, had turned his novel, Hype, into a rock music stage play. Clearly this was just another form of hyperbole, since what we actually got were some Tambling reflections and feeble sketches featuring Mr Calvert, a gaunt, cloth-capped riding-booted figure looking like a sallow Elton John. It may give you some idea of the level of humour that IVAN PASSERS CUTTER'S WAV. ON EVERYONE'S BEST10FILMS LIST-198! ISTVANSZABOS OMEPHISTOn KRZYSZTOf KIESLOWSKrS CAMERA BUFF. EST "III ISTVANSZABOS MEPHISTO.. ALL CINEMAS 1ATH NIGHTS SEEOAH.YPRESSANDLISTINGS J Anthony Burgess have combined to give Paris a new language and a cinematic hit. Richard Roud reports prehistoric fire in the missionary position and he has jazzed up the original with a little sex. In this version, it is a girl from a more humanoid tribe who teaches our hero how to make fire. She also teaches him that making love is nm re fun in the missionary position. Jean-Jacques Arnaud, the director, is not a household name here, but he did win a Best Foreign Film Oscar for his Black And White In Colour. But this is his first film to attempt to conquer world markets because the film is not in French. It's not in English, either. Obviously, there were three basic problems in making a film about the Stone Age : the landscapes, how the characters speak and act, and Robitt Denselow reviews the , new rock releases and admits to finding a dreadful charm in the Slickerings o the psychedelic revival Andy Godfrey, Simon Smith, Phil Word, Guy Morley, Paid Shurey, Tony Conway of Mood Six: an engaging mixture of keyboards and deadpan vocals cult to understand why Garland Jeffreys isn't as popular here as he is in his native New York, or in Europe where he has notched up a string of best-selling singles. Brooklyn-born, of black, white and Puerto Rican ancestry, he started playing around the New York clubs in the mid-Sixties, when he worked for a while with Lou Reed. There's a touch of Reed to his songs, along with a touch of soul, a lot of reggae, and no-nonsense, Bob Segcr-style rock. That combination endeared him to the emergent British pub-rockers (luring the mid-Seventies, so it's no surprise to find that one sketch was built around a newspaper headline, Churchill's Secret Rock Deal, and purported to show two pop entrepreneurs turning the wartime speeches into a musical LP. Truthfully, I've heard more wit in a kids' party charade. Just occasionally the gloom lifted. Linda Marlowe, late of Decadence and the Sadista Sisters, entered in a dinner-jacket and bouncily sang " My name is Sadie" in a manner that didn't leave me disposed to argue. And the rock numbers, though pitched at a level that would have been loud in Wembley Stadium, at least had a professionalism denied to the spoken word. But when Mr Calvert sang a number bursting with indignation at the gaol sentence passed on Mrs Thatcher's recent putative assassin, I can't say that I felt disposed to run out and man the barricades. I did, however, emerge depressed at the spectacle of Mr Calvert nailing around to no avail and at the waste of a valuable small theatre like the Arts on this, kind of tatty tripe. ST JOHN'S Meirion Bowen Dream Tiger INSPIEED oddities predominated in an unusual and enterprising concert by the Leicestershire Chorale and members of the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Fletcher. Moreover, the music of the first half put one in the right frame of mind for the premiere of Douglas Young's The Hunting of the Snark. Modern Anisic, a disarm-ingly simple choral piece by the 18th century American, William Billings, illustrated well his notion that composers should disregard any rules and " be their own car vers." Charles Ives also carved out an idiosyncratic format for his setting of Psalm 90, Based entirely from five chords heard at the start, the ' music manages to encompass I how they look. In any other country, the language problem would have teen solved either by some ordinary script-writer or an obscure professor. Here, Arnaud got Anthony Burgess to invent a Stone-Age language and Des-mond Morris to create a gestural language . -which falls somewhere between ape and naked ape. The two men worked together, since language is a specialised form of gesture and gesture is a form of language. Burgess didn't exactly invent a whole new language : what he did was to adopt the theory of the reconstructed ancestral language called Proto-IndoEuropean. This is a language that may never his band on this live album consists of Brinsley Schwarz and the other former pub-rockers who now constitute The Rumour. Together, they hash cheerfully through a selection of Jeffreys' best-known songs, from his 73 classic Wild In The Streets, to his European hit Matador, a reggae song I May Not Be Your Kind, and the Reed-like beat ballad 35 Millimeter Dreams. There's also a version of the old Sixties favourite 96 Tears. It may not add up to anything new, but his songs are solid, cheerful and varied. George Jones: Still The Same Olc Me (Epic) : George Robert Calvert: Arts the most abrasive disco dances yet it reaches a dreamlike conclusion with tinkling percussion decorating the choral parts in an utterly convincing manner. Alongside it, Percy Grainger's The Immovable Do a charming piece of pattern-making round one note was an apt choice : and it was yet more securely performed than the Ives. Two piano pieces a Rhansodia on Greek folksongs by Pawlu Grech .(played by Peter Hill) and George Crumb's A Little Suite for Christinas were less interesting: Grech failed to make a virtue out of either the rhapsodic structure or the melodic peculiarities of his material; while Crumb seemed to rely too much on a familiar stock of ideas, some of -which were almost cliches, Douglas - Young's The Hunting of the Snark drew its inspiration as much from Lewis Carroll's writings on symbolic logic as from the absurd poem, subtitled An Agony in Eight Fits. The niece was (hugely enjoyable for the singers and instrumentalists, who greatly "lished all the strange things 'hev were asked to do. The main obstacle for the listener was the sheer number of words which Margaret have existed, but whose existence is assumed by many philologists. Burgess has said that he thinks viewers will understand the film without much trouble, and it is true that some lines are easily decipherable. When you . hear someone say something like "Do min ye" in context, it .must mean Give it to me. On the other hand, if I hadn't read an interview with Burgess, I would never have realised that the root word for fire in the film is atr, its nominative being atra accusative atrom, and its plural atrois. All of which are derived from the Latin ater meaning black : the atrium of a Roman house was the Jones may be one 'of the truly great country singers, but right now he's certainly not the most popular country singer in Britain. That accolade has to go to Elvis Cos-tello, after his Almost Blue album and RAH show. So the selling point for this new George Jones album is that it includes a "free" single of the George JonesCostello duet on Costello's song Stranger In The House, taken from Jones's My Very Special Guests album. There is no appearance by Costello (or anyone else unexpected) on the album itself, which is another straightforward, simple, no- Field had to recite : these were often difficult to catch in their musical context. Young's plan allowed some relief in the shape of interpolated choral and instrumental interludes, the best of which was certainly his Ivesian setting of the Hallelujah Chorus. I'm not sure that Young achieved his aim of making all the various bits and pieces of quotations and original music add up to a composite style, and the piece was certainly too long. But I can imagine a successful radio or TV presentation of it. QEH Hugo Cole v Maksymiuk Scottish Chamber Orchestra " SCOTTISH and Polish temperaments, I would have thought, were separated by a great gulf. But Jerzy Maksymiuk persuaded the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to play with a fervour and nervous energy approaching that of the Polish Chamber Orchestra which he conducted at a memorable Prom last year. Haydn's G Major Symphony. Number 47. was not an unsuitable subject for such treatment. The vigorous and stormy first movement and the ingenious minuet and trio with their off-beat accents benefit from strong and dramatic highlights. The slow movement variations, less classical in spirit and more exuberant than usual, were played in a way to make us respond to their vortuosity as Haydn's contemporaries must have responded to it. Tortelier's performance of the Schumann Cello Concerto had almost everything going for it except serenity. In the more lyrical parts of first smoke - blackened central court. In other cases, he has chosen words for their ono-matapeic quality ; for moon, he said, he wanted something to suggest the roundness and the position of the moon, so he hit upon buuuunu (accusative: buuuunan; plural buuuunois). Generally meanings are clear from the context, and as the story is a very simple one, the characters can get along for great stretches with differently inflected ahs, ohs, and even ecchs and aargs. It always sounds plausible, never descending to glug-glugs. The problem of landscape was satisfactorily solved, too, ly shooting in some spectacu nonsense Billy Sherill production. Costello was clearly attracted, to Jones's agreeably non-slushy, non-mawkish approach to emotional country songs, and here Jones plays a straight musical bat to weepies like Couldn't Love Have Picked A Belter Place To Die or Girl You Sure Know How To Say Goodbye, along with the faster, rousing You Can't Get The Hell Out Of Texas. Jones is solid, dependable, and a very fine singer, and this is a good, solid album- But at the risk of enfuriating country purists, I must admit that I find Costello's country style far more distinctive and interesting. and slow movements, Torte-lier holds attention and makes excellent rhetorical points. In the finale, many passages often fudged over or lost in the melee, came over with wonderful clarity. His own cadenza was slipped with much ingenuity into the middle of Schumann's cadenza and was itself a work of much skill and ingenuity. George Benjamin's A Mind of Winter, a short setting of a poem by Wallace Stevens for soprano (Teresa Cahill) and chamber orchestra, begins intriguingly with the cool, clear sounds of a gong, much divided strings and twinned piccolos, but somehow fails to realise expectations raised. Partly, I think, because of the way in which words are set, often in very slow motion, making it hard for the singer to establish herself at the centre of the picture. Dvorak's Serenade for Strings ended the concert, showing up some limitations in the players, who got their finders round the notes but without giving Maksymiuk quite the sensuous and freely expressive performance he seemed to be asking for. MANCHESTER Gerald Lamer Halle Loughran TEE most courageous and most welcome enterprise undertaken by James Loughran and the HallS Orchestra this season was the first Manchester performance of Tippett's Triple Concerto. With Gyorgy Pauk, Nobuko Imal and Ralph Kirshbaum the three soloists who introduced it ' to the world 18 months ago and a carefully-prepared and understanding played orchestral part, the Free Trade Hall audience was given a good opportunity to get to like it. It is, after all, a very likeable work. Though surprisingly naive in some ways lar settings in Canada, Scotland, Iceland and Kenya. The one unresolved problem was the appearance of the actors. They were all. carefully chosen prognathous faces, hairy, and all that but their make-up is so obvious that one's attention is constantly diverted by the plastic noses and foreheads. And even $12 million was not enough to make a believable herd of mammoths : they look: just like what they are elephants with body wigs and stick-on convex tusks. Obviously some of the success of the film here is due to the popularity of the book ; whether it will do as well outside France remains Yukihiro Takaliashi : Ncur-omantic (CBS Alfa) : Almost by definition, Japanese pop music means electronics, banks of synthesizers, quirky effects, and a solid electronic syn drum beat. It's a style that- can all too easily sound very limited, however technologically impressive, unless all the electronics are mixed with a little human emotion. Yukihiro Takaliashi, best known for his work with Yellow Magic Orchestra, almost succeeds. He sings (in English) against a predictable electronic backing, that, on the opening track sounds like a neurotic clatter. The electronics are off-set with Tippett had just discovered the ganielan, for example it is also abundant in melodic inspiration, intriguingly unpredictable in structure, and veiij personal in the thinking behind the adventures of the little Ivesian motif that gives birth to the work and runs through it to re-emerge at the end. It is beautifully written, too, for the solo instruments, carriers of a vision which they are dedicated to communicate in the most rapturous terms. Not surprisingly, the rest of the programme was Beethoven and Brahms, both of whom upset the Halle violins at exposed points, but who nevertheless coffered the authentic uplift. The slow movement of Brahm's Fourth Symphony, in spite of some insecure horn playing and ill-balanced woodwind, was particularly pleasing for the spontaneity of its expression. ANGELA FLOWERS Waldemar Januszczak Philippa Beale THERE IS nothing sublime about the way that the advertising world uses woman, whole or in bits, to sell most of their clients' wares. But there is, nevertheless, more to it than meets the eye. Phillipa Iiala has studied their work and reached several conclusions. She learned, for instance, that thanks to our advertisers a young girl's view of what is erotic had become the same as a man's. Eroticism and girls had Tbecome synonymous in the minds of both sexes. And so our advertisers did some homewrk. According to Philippa- Beale they de-veloped ways of using sex to sell to women as well as men. Advertising man falls into two categories. Hairy, muscular and tough "a bit of rough" as Ms Beale calls him for the sophisicated woman who wants to look down, or smooth-skinned. Cartier-watchied and eloquent for the Cinderella secretary to be seen. It is an imprest sive piece of work, and for an epic, it is mercifully short only 97 minutes. But I still found it hard to come to terms with the way the characters look. On the other hand, I doubt whether anyone alse could have made a better job of what seems an impossible task. Simply, there are no people around who look like Stone Age man, and the expertise of the make-up is ultimately self-defeating. I was willing to suspend disbelief, but couldn't. May be the Anglo-Saxon mind is too literal : here in France the problem . seemed not to bother anyone. " Quel heau film " was all I heard on the way out of the cinema. melodic, gentle, rather world-weary vocals that are influenced, in part, by Bowie. The electronics are also interrupted by the slicing guitar work of Phil Manzanera, and the saxophone of .Andy Mackay, both from Boxy Music. It needs a vocalist as strong and distinctive as Bowie to match all that, and Takahashi doesn't quite succeed. Also from Japan comes Ippu-Do's -Radio Fantasy (Epic), a far more varied album in which a three-piece band led by a certain Masami Tsuchiya perform a " concept work concerned with radio " that involves slow, moody, atmospheric electronic pieces, electro-funk, tinkling Hong Kong-style pop and even a twanging, Shadows-style guitar section. There's at least some humour and variety in the synthesized world Two singles deserve a special mention this week, one because it just might help start to popularise a new style of music in Britain, and one because it is the most controversial song of the year, and gives an interesting insight into what is considered acceptable and not acceptable by the media and the music shops. OK Jive's cheerful single, On Route (Frenzy) produced by Joe Jackson, just might start a craze for African music. The band is not African, in fact all its members are white and British, but the two guitarists have lived in Africa, listened to and played with African bands, and picked up a distinctive African feel. The flip side of the single, Congo Kwela, is typical of the songs one can hear on the radio anywhere in West or Central Africa. The Boiler, Rhoda with The Specials (Two Tone), is a very different single. It's the first production by Jerry Dammers since Ghost Town, and the first song by what's left of The Specials since half of them went off to become Fun Boy Three. Ghost Town dealt with unemployment and decay (and was a massive, well-publicised hit), and Boiler deals with rape. The Bodysnatchers used to include the song in their set, and Rhoda Dakar (who takes the vocals here) performed it with The Specials in London last summer. It's a sad, bleak, highly realistic piece of social reporting, and this week, of all weeks, it's extremely topical. So it seems sad. to say the least, that you can't hear the song on the radio, and that, according to the record company, it's even been banned by certain well-known record stores. who's looking for a Prince Charming. The artist has reduced these new advertising heroes to their basic identifying features. The smoothie has become a pin-striped suit; the bit of rough has become an overall worthy of a Billingsgate porter. Underneath them the captions taken from other advertising campaigns tremble with double-entendres : How can something so smooth be so sharp 1 ... It's rugged, handsome and delivers a championship performance anywhere. What they're referring to, of course, is the Seiko watch. In Baby Love she turns her attention from ine general world of advertising to the more rarified atmosphere of the maternity magazine. The artist comes to another startling conclusion : Women are being encouraged to look at their babies as lovers. He spends less time on my shoulder and more time in my arms is one of many captions .which encouraged the artist to pick up her copy of Collette's Cherie, a novel all about the older woman's fascination for younger boys. The language was almost identical. Here, as in the pages of the maternity magazines, it is the smooth skin, the innocence, the child's submissiveness which attracts. Once again taking her images straight from the advertisers the artist gets about asking " Who's a lucky boy then ? " Baby Love by Philippa Beale at the Angela Flowers Gallery, 11 Tottenham Mews, London Wl. BISHOPSGATE HALL Edward Greenfield Ivan Sutton Prize recital NOT JUST a music competition but a provider of musical visiting cards for young per-formers : that is what the Ivan Sutton Prize has become Peter Fiddick on the Joris Ivens approach Mining reality THERE could scarcely be a better moment for a programme about Joris Ivens. As cannons volley and thunder, and quite a lot of balls fly about the heads of Roger Graef and everybody involved in Police the bold constabulary not excluded to put the focus on the documentary film maker's craft itself, and particularly his relationship with society, is exceptionally salu-tory. Not that there are total parallels between Gracf and the veteran Dutchman, but they run remarkably close in several respects. Both are concerned with what may be divined from the detail of ordinary life. If Ivens worked more in a tradition in which a director forms a view, that is in part because he did not have the luxury of long serials in which small incidents could be expanded but watch again the selection from his mass of filming in China (on BBC2 on Sunday afternoon) and you will see just that. Both (and they are not of course alone in this) start from a belief in mutual trust between film maker and subject. "Though Ivens was more regularly " on the same side." Both involved the crew becoming part of the scenery, and though the years and changing technology have somewhat, altered the way in which that can happen, to see the small camera on which Ivens shot some of his early work, as wc did when it was produced for him on last night's programme, was to be made aware that flics on walls are no new phenomenon. But of course the crucial importance of any such exercise is a political one: its impact on society. This film about Joris Ivens did not just choose for a title any phrase from a French censor who could not let his record of poverty and dissent be screened in the suburbs Too Much Reality (BBC2) but was set up to make with cool precision a contact between Ivens's observation in France, Holland, North Vietnam, China, across the years, and Britain now. Philip D o n n e 1 1 a n and Sarah Boston brought him over to spend time with the mining community of Kent, talking of his career, hearing of theirs, and of their parents' point of view. These were people with fierce pride in their roots and long memories of the past : militants, when it comes to the vote and the headlines. And there was total sympathy between the two views of life. This was not a film for anyone seeking some attempt at balance from the capitalist establishment or even the accepting middle roaders. But it was alive and enlightening, resonant with argument and individuality, illustrating vividly in its own way the importance still of opening up television's window on the world. Even the police, we are now seeing, are not so predictable as to be represented just by mixing Chief Constables on discussion panels with sub-Hollywood fiction. Life is messier, and a state of perpetual discomfort with it probably the nearest to truth we'll get. in its five years of existence. Each year as they complete their studies at the colleges of music, so young artists have the chance to record a sample of their work, for them to use as they want. Then in due time it gets judged. It so happened that both the 1979 prize and that for 1980 both went to wind players, here under the sponsorship of BP brought together in an attractively-varied concert. There are obvious limitations of repertory for the Trio Cannelo, a brilliant group of three oboists whose only concession to variety of timbre is to exchange one or more instruments for cor anglais. It was enterprising of them to commission a new piece from Neil Saunders, Introduction and Air Rondino the first movement sinuously melodic, the second jauntily rhythmic. Gordon Crosse's Fear no More, on the other hand, consciously slow and static, relied entirely for interest on the tonal contrasts nossible between the oboe and oboe d'amore as well as the cor anglais. The precision of ensemble was phenomenal, particularly when one remembers- how brightly and immediately the oboe speaks, exposing even fractional raggedness. But it was the cunning of Beethoven which was needed before the virtuosity of the players found the setting it really deserved. The Variations on Mozart's La ci darem here belied their seeming triviality in a joyfully wide range of expression. The other winners were the clarinetist, David Fuest and his piano accompanist, John Lenehan, equally at their best when most challenged. In the five Lutoslawski Dance Pre-ludes the brief witty pieces with their deft pay-offs were the ones which made their mark, and Weber's Grand Duo Concertant at the end of the programme then gave proof of both artists' ability to sustai i a longer span. Their agility in the finale was a delight, but in its way equally impressive was the depth of melancholy conveyed in the central andante, not realy a profound piece but made almost to seem so here.

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