Des Moines Tribune from Des Moines, Iowa on January 29, 1981 · 36
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Des Moines Tribune from Des Moines, Iowa · 36

Des Moines, Iowa
Issue Date:
Thursday, January 29, 1981
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PacID -THE DATEBOOK Dm MofamTrifawM Smmtmry , 11 hi lit Lfi V? W ' ' " OATEBOOK DRAWINGS BY TOM WEtHMAM By Val Monson bey sat on the sideline, in their pet-ttpants and billowy skirts, tapping their feet to the caller's beat instead of twinging their partner and dosey doe-ing. Tbey were single, divorced or widowed in other words, square dancers who usually couldn't find a spot in the square. There's a great prejudice against single square dancers," said Phyllis Van Dalsem, who, along with a few friends, decided they weren't going to take it anymore. "And there were enough of us who wanted to form a dub." So the Merry Mixers Square Dance Club was formed five years ago and they've been promenading ever since. , Several square dance groups in the area welcome singles, but only those with a partner. The Merry Mixers will find you someone to dance with at their functions held on the first and third Fridays of each month from September through May. "You really get hooked - it's like potato chips," explained Claudette Click, a Merry Mixer for 14 months. "I joined because I just kept telling myself I was going to do something different in my life." For singles, just mustering up enough courage to face a new group without a partner can be a difficult and nerve-wracking experience. "It's a coupled world, and dancing is a very coupled activity," said Click. The Merry Mixers are used to shy or reluctant newcomers who slink into the room, thinking maybe they would have been better off staying home and catching a vicarious thrill or two from the folks in "Dallas." "Oh, yes, we get a lot of people who come in and say, 1 know I'm not going to like this, but So-and-So said I should come,' " admitted Van Dalsem. "But if you can get them for three lessons, they're hooked." You dont even have to know how .to square dance to join. The Merry Mixers sponsor lessons each September. Van Dalsem, one of the instructors, estimated she has taught more that 900 people the basic steps. If you already know bow to dance - remember, of course, you must be single then all you have to do is show up at the West Des Moines Community Center, 217 Fifth St, at I p.m. Friday night, dressed in your dancing duds with f 1.50 for admission. "January has five Fridays we figured we'd do something special," said Click. That extra something is Wiley Hutchinson, one of the best callers around. - - "He's just an excellent caller," Click said enthusiastically. "He's unique. He sings well and calls a nice patter (instructions with music in background)." Van Dalsem, now an honorary member because she married, was the club's regular caller until a year ago. Tom De Long succeeded her as the group's caller. . "Square dancing isn't easy, it takes intelligence," said Van Dalsem. "Your reaction time must be quick. . . . But you don't carry your personal problems to the dance you spend so much time thinking that you dont have time to worry." Van Dalsem, one of the few women callers around, has been square dancing for 11 years and calling for 10. She said many of the original Merry Mixers knew each other from Parents Without Partners. "Sometejes the parent would come in for a lesson and the next time bring their teen-aged son or daughter," she said. Since the club is for singles only, "it's a fluid organization," said Click. "But we usually have 40 or 50 active members." The group always welcomes new people. And, according to Click, you can never have . too many square dancers. "It's like a rock concert," she said. "The more people you have, the more fun it is." ft How the Wax SftacCts Ratings of the latest albums on a scale of one to four stars POP Kansas, "Audio Visions" (Kirshner-CBS) They may be practitioners of "dinosaur rock," expansive, elaborate, complex and often grandiose pop music, but the six-man band called Kansas obviously knows the public's taste. The band also knows what it's doing: All of its seven albums have done well, and "Point of Know Return" sold more than 3 million copies. The Kansas sound is full and potent, muscular but not heavy, relying on art rather than flashy artifice. There are more echoes of Liszt than Led Zeppelin. Songwriters Kerry Livgren and Steve Walsh (though they both have produced mediocre solo albums) usually manage to hit upon certain universal themes which, when wedded to Robby Steinhart's authoritative vocals and the textured Kansas instrumentation, strike a responsive chord. In other words, they can make at least one hit single per album witness "Dust in the Wind," a platinum ode to mortality. There's every chance that this album's "Hold On," penned by Livgren, will perform that same trick. It's got the message and the hook. "Audio Visions" has a sharper musical edge than the most recent Kansas fare. Within the elaborate arrangements, there's a vitality lacking in groups like Yes or Journey. That vitality is the Kansas touch. It's also a golden touch. -k-kVt Vaa Morrison, "Common One" (Warner Brothers) Unquestionably one f rock's major talents, Van Morrison always has had a reputation for perfection ism. Many is the album be has junked because the recording didn't meet his standards, and many is the concert he has canceled because he didn't fed he could give a good performance. One thing "Common One" is not, therefore, is common. It's a well-crafted and deliberate work of musical art in which Morrison gives aural texture to his visions of physical and spiritual love. In recent years, Morrison has become a more thoughtful performer. Those expecting outright rock and roll of the "Brown-Eyed Girl" or "Wavelength" variety will not find it on "Common One," which contains nothing liable to make Its way to the jukebox. Instead, there are six long meditations and. monologues in Morrison's distinctive troubadour style part folk, part blues, part gospel. Echoes of "Moondance" and "Astral Weeks" pop up every now, and then. "Summertime in England," the album's most ambitious and striking cut, is a fascinating stream-of -consciousness web of words that brings together Blake, Eliot, Yeats and Mahalia Jackson in the singer's quest for union with his "common one," who is either lover or prophet or both. Not for all tastes, "Common One" is, however, an uncommon accomplishment Morrison shines brightly throughout, although he also must credit his fine band, the arrangements of Pee Wee Ellis and Henry Lewy's masterful engineering and production. Polyrock, "Polyrock" (RCA) - New wave began in a burst of originality, but, as inevitably happens, the music marketplace soon diluted the experimental urges. Most of today's modern rockers possess only a slight gkss of creative daring. Not so with Polyrock, an avant-garde rock band with solid artistic credentials and the talent to-back up those credentials. The album's producer is noted avant-garde composer Philip Glass ("Einstein on the Beach"). Glass, who also contributes some keyboard work, gives the music and album a strong but minimalist focus, forging the band's repetition and harmonics into a sturdy, intriguing sound. At the musical heart of Polyrock is the work of Billy and Tommy Johnson, who write the group's electronic dance music Billy sings and plays rhythm guitar; Tommy handles guitar and electronics. The Polyrock sound is minimal, spare, pulsing exemplified in such captivating tracks as "No Love Lost," "Your Dragging Feet" and "Body Me." It's experimental, but the experiment works. This is art music . that's also dance music, strange yet familiar rock 'n' roll The band could be compared to Brian Eno, Robert Fripp or the Talking Heads but it imitates none of those artists. Polyrock makes an original sound, a provocative and impressive one. Earth, Wind and Fire, "Faces" (Arc-CBS) The fine funk-soul group puts its own best face forward on this ambitious and generous double-pocket set of intricately produced, high-gloss funk. Behind the classy lead vocals of Maurice White and Philip Bailey and the instrumental contribution of the band's other seven members, lurks a giant orchestra. The large horn and string sections and the expansive arrangements give the records a full-bodied sound and add an extra dimension of vitality. White has done his usual workmanlike production job. There are slow love songs and up-tempo anthems here, but every track shares a spirit of optimism and good news. It's difficult not to be affected by such enthusiasm and such souL www Utopia, "Deface the Music" (Bears-ville) If the music on this album doesn't sound familiar, you've been off the planet for the last 20 years. Though the jacket says the record was made by Todd Rundgren and his group Utopia, the sound, the style and the texture are unmistakably the Beatles. Part parody, part bad joke, part reverent flattery, "Deface the Music" is Rundgren's tongue-in-cheek homage to the spirited sounds of the Fab Four, circa 1965. Technically, Rundgren, Roger Powell, Kasim Sultan and Willie Wilcox have the Beatles sound down letter-perfect. "Alone," "Always Late" and "I Just Want to Touch You" easily could be mistaken for outtakes from "Revolver" or "Rubber Soul." Yes, "Deface the Music" is clever, and it's enjoyable in a nostalgic sort of way. But nostalgia is best taken in small doses. The same with humor. Surely Rundgren knows that brevity is the soul of wit One Beatles revival song is enough for an album More than that is overkill. Rundgren should have been content with performing "I Just Want to Touch You." -He could have sold the other 12 songs to Paul McCartney. Chuck Pratt 9m CNcmo Sun-Tlmw

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