The Music Issue
Even more recordings and a few reflections
Published: November 10, 2010
Signed to Sub Pop in the middle of grunge, but were probably too "experimental" for Alice in Chains folk. Dig deep, the songs are amazing and the album wholly overlooked. Phil Durr: amazing guitarist. —BC
We're Gonna Rock
The Look had one clip that earned huge MTV play, but then they disappeared from their run at the mainstream. Coulda, shoulda. —BC
Dave Gilbert is still one of the most underrated vocalists to have come out of the Motor City. The Rockets combined his voice, Jim McCarty's killer riffs and some radio-worthy songwriting to produce a string of great records. They had some minor hits, but they should've nailed the top 10 before Gilbert died. —BC
Born to be rock stars, they played the part beautifully, with a wonderfully seedy sexuality — and had the songs to back it up. —BC
Low to the Ground
A perfect pop masterpiece. —DC
See Dick Run
(Elementary Records) 1990
Carrying on the tradition set by the Romantics and Toby Redd, See Dick Run was Detroit power pop at its absolute sugary best. Released on the band's own Elementary label, pretty much every song on Whack Ding is a hit. Well, a hit in a world not designed for someone else. If this had been released in a different era, we would've seen the boys' smiling faces all over MTV and beyond. Singer Jim Edwards, who's now fronting the rejuvenated Rockets, has one of the finest voices in Detroit, and most "pop" bands would kill to write hooks as superior as those in "5 O'Clock Bus Stop," "Could it Be You" and "Roller Coasters." Whack Ding is a poptopian dream. —RP
A. Spencer Barefield
Barefield's records in recent years have taken cues more from Horace Silver than any avant-garde, and his instrument of choice has been the hollow-body electric guitar. The finest disc of his acoustic "chamber jazz" aesthetic featured bassist Richard Davis and near-future stars Regina Carter on violin (as part of a deft string quartet) and James Carter on sax. —WKH
Bootsey X & the Lovemasters
"Pusherman of Love"
(Sir Aquarius) 1997
Had they not existed in possibly the most sterile and least funky decade ever, Bootsey X & the Lovemasters could have been the '80s new wave answer to the J. Geils Band — a supreme Detroit party band for all shapes. Anyone who saw the band at the height of their X-mania, with the sexy backings of the Sugar-Babes of Soul, guitar-slinger Gerald Shohan and mad sax-man Robert Steele, can testify that they indeed had their soul hijacked and taken aboard the soul-mobile. "Pusherman of Love" is the bastard song of an MC5-George Clinton bastard, one you'd swear you heard in some blaxplotation flick. —RP
(Le Grand Magistery) 2002
Why these Belle and Sebastian-inspired pop darlings never became Pitchfork's next big thing will always be a mystery. Case in point: "The Bronze Beached Boys (Come on Let's Go)." —DC
(Touch & Go) 1983
John Brannon is Detroit's best rock vocalist. Terrifying and thrilling. The Laughing Hyenas were every bit as brilliant as they were different. —DC
(Get Hip 2002)
"Just You Wait"? Has there been a better pop rock song from anywhere in the past decade? A great album. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs did and the Paybacks didn't? Wait, what? —BC
Brother Will Hairston
Back in the '60s, my father [Joe Von Battle] played the record "Alabama Bus," by Brother Will Hairston, in his 12th Street record shop, and I remember its "rat-a-tat-tat, rat-a-tat-tat" staccato (that was Washboard Willie in the backround). "Stop that Alabama Bus/ I don't wanna to ride/ the Alabama boycott/ I don't wanna ride." My father played it because the record was a chronicle of the bus boycott in the South that he had fled, and because he had recorded it on one of his record labels, years before. "The Alabama Bus" is such a clear, anthemic narrative of the boycott that I always wondered, after I grew up, why it was so little-known. Brother Hairston was a Detroit preacher whose songs were startlingly socially conscious for the times. This record can only be found on an obscure compilation of Joe Von Battle's recordings, or occasionally turns up on Ebay. To me, it is a masterpiece of the civil rights movement and a memento of my father's bittersweet ties to the South. —Marsha Cusic
"No. 1 Fan"
(Full Effect) 1992
My butterflies won't go away/ When they call your name, I go insane ...
The very first time I heard the song "No. 1 Fan" by Majesty Crush, I was lying in my bed, listening to 89X on my Walkman late in the evening on a school night. It was 1992. I was barely a year into my musical awakening — a period vividly marked in my mind as the moment in 1991 when I heard "On a Plain" by Nirvana on a static-filled late-night Canadian radio broadcast and realized, "Oh my god — there is amazing music out there and I need to hear it all." From the very first few lines of "No. 1 Fan," I knew I was destined to be in love with this band forever. That dreamily catchy, mid-tempo bassline, those breathy, desperate vocals, the shimmering and beautiful wash of guitars and calls for presidential assassination as the ultimate show of devotion? What's not to love?
> Email Metro Times music staff