Tag Archives: Detroit

Watch the MC5 kick out the jams in Germany in 1972

Video: MC5 – Beat Club Recording Sessions: Bremen, Germany 1972

MC5 – Beat Club Recording Sessions: Bremen, Germany 1972

This footage is amazing. It’s from the weird time right after they had kicked out original bassist Michael Davis. They were in Europe promoting their third and final (and best) album, High Times, although they don’t play anything from that record in this clip, filmed for the German television show Beat-Club. They had been dumped by their record label, and their former manager John Sinclair was accusing them of being greedy junky sellouts. Things were not looking good for the Five. And yet…

Watch this footage!

Everything great about rock and roll is here on display. Sonic Smith’s furry hat, Machine Gun Thompson’s Norton Motorcycles t-shirt, Wayne Kramer’s dehydrated pastiness…I mean, come on! Even fill-in bassist Steve (“Steev”) Moorhouse looks cool. But nobody can get anywhere close to the glory of Rob Tyner with his fantastically crazy teeth, magnificent afro, and face dripping with sweat even before he counts in the band with his famous “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!”

This nine-minute extended freakout version of their greatest hit (peaked at #82 in 1969) goes off into jazzy weirdness before coming back around again with Kramer and Smith intertwining guitar leads, getting as funkadelic in their own way as Eddie Hazel and Garry Shider.

They play five songs in total over two separate sessions (clearly differentiated by the new shirts in “Ramblin’ Rose” and “Black To Comm”). The total running time is under 30 minutes and although it would great to have even more, this is really enough to prove that the MC5 is still grossly underrated despite all the praise they get from people like us.

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Goose Lake International Music Festival Documentary

We grew up hearing snippets of the stories: first joints, flying tents, incorrect memories of the acts who played, and even a fabled master recording from the sound board secreted away in a friend’s basement (recently rediscovered). The event was more legend than an established piece of Michigan history, but staged almost exactly one year after Woodstock, the Goose Lake International Music Festival did indeed happen and it was glorious.

Annoying music bed and even more annoying local commercials aside, this 30 minute documentary has an oral history from organizers and attendees with fantastic archival footage of Michigan’s entrant into the 60s and 70s music festival culture.

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New video from Detroit’s Muggs

Video: The Muggs – “Applecart Blues”

The Muggs "Applecart Blues" official music video

Several years ago I saw the Muggs open up for my beloved Quasar Wut-Wut in Chicago. Being drunk and being in Chicago, I naturally heckled the band. It’s what we do. By the end of their set they had won me over with their high energy Detroit rock and roll.

One interesting feature of the Muggs is that the bass parts are played on a Rhodes keyboard. You might think this is a clever affectation. But you’re wrong. Turns out their bass player had a stroke and the right side of his body is paralyzed, so instead of quitting the band he now uses his left hand to play bass on the Rhodes. And it sounds awesome.

“Applecart Blues” is from their new album, Straight Up Boogaloo, out now. Buy it from the band or on vinyl from Bellyache Records.

Steely Dan Alive In Detroit

Steely Dan 2013 merch
Fox Theater, July 27, 2013

“Hey Nineteen
That’s ‘Retha Franklin
She don’t remember
The Queen of Soul
It’s hard times befallen
The sole survivors
She thinks I’m crazy
But I’m just growing old”—Becker & Fagan, “Hey Nineteen,” Gaucho.

I suspect this may be the last time that I see Steely Dan in concert.  And the reason is simple: They are growing old.  And when you grow old—Fagan is 65 and Becker 63—things don’t work quite as well as they did as when you were young.

Fagan’s voice isn’t as strong as it once was.  Becker availed himself of a chair on stage not long into the performance.  Fagan’s voice actually got better, by and large, as the evening went on.  And Becker got up off his seat sooner, rather than later.

Those guys have been performing those songs for a long time.  And while practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, it does make better, which compensates for the loss in performance capabilities.  More or less.

Mind you, it isn’t that this may be the last time because they are growing old and I somehow think that I’m not and consequently I don’t want to see gray-haired or hair-challenged,  increasingly thick musicians.  After all, I enter into that category, as well.

But I just wonder whether those two are going to continue against nature and continue to undertake the unnatural touring life for much longer.

And I must admit that were it not for an absolutely astonishing back-up band, who did much of the heavy lifting (especially Jim Beard on keyboards and Jon Herrington on guitars), it would have been a less-than-stellar evening’s performance at Ticketmaster prices.

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This is something that truly puzzles me.  Why do we go see bands like Steely Dan?

The last time they put out an album was 10 years ago.  Everything Must Go.

The band has been putting out records since 1972.  In 1980, Gaucho was released.  Then, there was pretty much a Steely Dan hiatus until 2000, with Two Against Nature.  There were solo efforts and the Alive in America recording (1995), but 1980 was something of an end point, it seems, as regards Steely Dan.

There was nothing older than selections from Gaucho played at the concert.  There were all manner of the tried-and-true from the other discs.  “Show Biz Kids.”  “Deacon Blues.” “Peg.”  “Reelin’ in the Years.”  Etc.

So there we were, listening to 30-year-old musical selections, music that we’d all heard, literally hundreds of times.

Somehow this seems a little odd.

There were but minor variations from the way we were used to hearing the music.  Which means that it was little different than what those of us who were at the Fox two years earlier had heard.

If someone said, “So, are you going to see an oldies’ show?” we’d be miffed.

But isn’t that what it was?

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While the name of the band is, of course, Steely Dan, it could just as well have been Fagan & Becker.  After all, those two are the only points of commonality throughout the band’s career.

It reminds me, in a couple of ways, of Hall & Oates.

In the cases of both sets, they are more successful musically together than they are apart.  Sure, there are some good things on Nightfly as there are on Sacred Songs.  But still, together is better.

And when John Oates steps up to the mic for a lead vocal, a bit of cringe sets in.

A bigger cringe sets in when Walter Becker goes to the mic.

He sang “Monkey in Your Soul” from Pretzel Logic.  And something happened that I have never experienced at a concert.  Never.

When he was done, there was no rousing round of applause.  There was little applause at all.  It wasn’t because it was horrible.  It was just as if people weren’t really sure if they were done, if the song was over.

It must have been offsetting to Becker.  Had I been under similar circumstances, I would have probably wandered off the stage not to return.

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Two quotes from Fagan.

“We’re in Detroit, so we’re going to play the blues.”  And they launched into “Black Friday.” Presumably, this has something to do with the bankruptcy:  “When Black Friday comes/I’ll stand down by the door/And catch the grey men when they/Dive from the fourteenth floor.”

“Thank you.  We really appreciate it. . .we’re getting old.”  He was thanking the crowd for their strong ovation before kicking into “Kid Charlemagne”: “Could you live forever/
Could you see the day /Could you feel your whole world fall apart and fade away.”

Yes, I could.

The D Goes Down

The D Las Vegas

For about the past year or so, there have been billboards around Detroit promoting a casino in Las Vegas (there are three casinos in Detroit proper, and one clearly visible from the city’s underdeveloped water front in Windsor) that is said to have the Detroit attitude. It is called The D Las Vegas, presumably so as not to be confused with The D Detroit.

So let’s get this straight: Someone is going to want to go from Detroit to Las Vegas so that they can go to a casino that has a restaurant serving Detroit coney dogs? Isn’t the whole point of leaving someplace to go someplace else that you’re someplace else, someplace different? Do Parisians think that the place to go is the Paris Casino? Do Roman’s go to Caesar’s? Are a whole lot of Venetians. . . . You get the point.

It seems somewhat ironic that the day that the D, the authentic city, not the place that is part of the so-called “Freemont Street Experience,” filed for bankruptcy, the D, the other one, announced its lineup for its one-year anniversary this coming September.

The headliner will be Kid Rock. Detroit’s own.

Rock, like Jack White, a former Detroiter, have made efforts to support the city, for which they deserve massive credit.

But it is sad, that the actual city fell so low as to have to had papers filed in court, in large part because there are so few actual jobs making stuff but a whole lot of low-paying jobs in service industries—like casinos.

The celebration at the D is going to kick off on September 26 with Rock’s pal Uncle Kracker. Rock plays the 28th.

Chances are, there won’t be a whole lot of celebrations in the actual D anytime soon.

A Few Words About Springsteen

Last night Sab and I and several thousand other people saw Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at the Palace of Auburn Hills, in suburban Detroit.

Sab has seen Springsteen on a number of occasions.  Something like seven.  I’ve never seen him before.  Sab is going to write something breaking down the show.  He’s got a whole lot of reference to do so.  And seeing the show in his company was good, in that when he wasn’t whooping, shouting and screaming, he explained what album this song appeared on or when he’d heard this other song at another show.

For me, it was about seeing an American rock and roll icon more than anything else.  I was happiest listening to Nils Lofgren playing; his solo on “Youngstown” (“That’s an acoustic song on the disc,” Sab explained to me after the guitar shredded out note after note in a remarkable display of capability; Little Steven may get the attention, but Lofgren has the chops) was nothing short of show-stopping.

One aspect that seemed somewhat unsettling was that Springsteen, who had misidentified where he was the last time he played Detroit (Cleveland?!), emphasized that he knew where he was from the start, and after opening with the anthem-like “We Take Care Of Our Own,” the sort of lyric that Kid Rock might produce, launched into “Wrecking Ball,” “Badlands,” “Death to My Hometown,” and “My City of Ruins.”

Meanwhile, back in the offices of the mayor of Detroit, the real possibility that the city could be taken over by a state-appointed emergency financial manager continues.

A little musical municipal uplift would have been nice for the denizens of Detroit.  That run of songs was like something Christopher Nolan might have been listening to when he reimagined Gotham City.

He did give a vigorous nod to the importance of Motown music to his career (and arguably to that of a multitude of other acts), and they launched into the Temptation’s “The Way You Do the Things You Do,” which was written by Smokey Robinson and Bobby Rogers of The Miracles.  (I am more of a partisan of Eddie Kendricks’ vocal stylings on that than Bruce’s rougher handling.)  Oddly, that segued into “634-5789,” which was originally performed by “Wicked” Wilson Pickett, who was not a Motown artist.  C’mon: the Motown songbook certainly has more than a sufficient number of compositions that could have followed.

Be that as it may, it was a worthwhile experience.  Springsteen and his band are rare performers, people who are unabashedly about rock and roll, who are continuing to produce new music that is fresh and relevant, not pale imitations of what had gone before or the sort of mellowed-down pap that things like “American Idol” and “Glee” have led the listening public to adore.

Photo by John T. Greilick / The Detroit News.

Teegarden & Van Winkle Live on Detroit TV

Way back when we first kicked off this whole shit show I posted an article on my recent record buying finds, including a pick-up of an album for which I knew some personal, detailed history but had never actually heard or seen. One of my longest-running musical collaborator’s father had engineered this album (among many others in the late 60s Detroit scene) and he’d told us stories about his adventures with the jazz-rock duo Teegarden & Van Winkle.

Jim Cassily was always good for a story and his eyes would gleam with more than a hint of mischief when he told these particular tales. He loved that his son was in a band as well and clearly revelled in sharing his own exploits as a musician and engineer. Whether it was the early days with Bob Seger or his later life discovery of Irish folk musicians, Cassily was an enthusiast. None of those stories quite got the excited treatment of his days with friends Dave Teegarden and Skip Van Winkle though. To hear him tell it, we had missed the Detroit equivalent of Traffic. Finding that record in 2001 confirmed the musical prowess he credited to the band and now this video clip bolsters his claims that these guys would get “out there.”

Dig this awesome clip of pure Detroit freak-out, live on TV.

VIDEO: Teegarden & Van Winkle Live on Detroit TV

*Note: That dapper man with the ascot (or whatever that is around his neck) is Jim himself, running sound and feeling groovy.

New Amy Gore video: Drivin’ Around

Video: “Drivin’ Around” Amy Gore & Her Valentines

Check out the video for the new single by Detroit rock goddess Amy Gore. The former Gore Gore Girl has a new band, the Valentines, featuring Jackson Smith on guitar, Leann Banks on bass, and Joe Leone on drums. “Drivin’ Around” is a power pop nugget built around a catchy hollow-body riff with a bunch of tasty slide work. The lyrics accurately reflect the “nothing to do” experience of every bored teenager in Michigan.

Not that it matters much, but we wouldn’t be Glorious Noise if we didn’t mention the fact that Jackson Smith is the son of Patti Smith and MC5 guitarist Fred “Sonic” Smith. He also happens to be married to a certain Megan Martha White. (We may try to dig up their marriage license eventually, ha ha.)

The video was directed by Brittin Richter and the song is available on Bandcamp, Amazon, eMusic, and iTunes.

Early Fortune and Maltese video found: No Dice

Video: Fortune & Maltese & The Phabulous Pallbeaers – “No Dice” (live at the Blind Pig in 1994)

This is awesome. Recently discovered early footage from one of the earliest F&M shows. Sixteen years later, rumor has it that Freddy and Mike have finally started the task of remastering all of their old material. Stay tuned!

Fortune and Maltese: iTunes, Amazon, Insound, wiki, MySpace.

Freddy Fortune Is Back: The United Space League

The United Space LeagueFreddy Fortune is back with a new band and a new 7-inch slab of vinyl, recorded in glorious mono. The United Space League‘s “You Told Me A Lie” b/w “Water Under The Bridge” is available now from Bellyache Records. You can stream some songs on MySpace, but Freddy warns us, “Don’t let the crappy sound of a watered down MP3 on myspace fool you—the sonics on this vinyl 45 are hot.”

The United Space League: MySpace, Facebook.

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