Wednesday 12 May @ 12:00:25
Detroit: The Motor City, Rock City, broke city, bad city, city of Stooges, the MC5, the Motor City Madman, and Motown Records. Well, it used to be, anyway. These days, Detroit as a modern metropolis—and especially its music scene—has one helluva past to catch up to, or live up to, or at least fess up to. I imagine being a young—or reasonably young—rock and roll band in Detroit in the year 2004 would be somewhat akin to being a young—or reasonably young—rock and roll band in Minneapolis/St. Paul in the year 2004.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "Every morning I wake up and watch all my quiz shows and drink two or three warm beers, 'cause it's good for your stomach in the mornings. Then I get phlegm in my throat and gag. I just throw up water, but then I feel great! It makes you feel so alive."
SONG OF THE WEEK: “Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell”
—Iggy & The Stooges
Except that Iggy and the Stooges, The MC5 and The White Panthers are probably a lot scarier/more challenging past icons to measure up to than The Replacements, Husker Du, and Your White Neighbors are. And I really, really, do mean that with the utmost respect. I spent a lot of years crankin’ the ’Mats and doin' the Du (Your White Neighbors I could do without); it’s just that, as rabid of a fan of ol' indie Minnesota rawk I am, this native son has to be honest and admit that more people worldwide have heard of—and been seriously affected by—The Stooges, the 5 and the story of John Sinclair than have kicked out the jams to "Customer," "Terms Of Psychic Warfare," and lurid tales of the political exploits of that ultimate White Neighbor, Norman Coleman.
Those classic early Detroit bands did more than just comment on the state of shit in Detroit and the good ol’ US of A in their respective era—they changed the fucking world. People in China have died because they were caught with an MC5 record. People in the former Soviet Union have started bloody revolutions as Iggy and the Asheton brothers screeched out of scratchy, blown speakers. A lot of Americans followed Sinclair to prison, inspired by his and the Panthers' staunch refusal to kowtow to a government they felt wasn't working in their best interests. And yes, like some fans of the music of the 'Mats and Husker Du, a lot of idiots (myself included) have sat around drinkin' beer, tokin’ and pukin’ to "No Fun," "Dirt," and "Ramblin' Rose."
But I digress. My point here is that sometimes the more impact a certain era, style or "scene" in rock n' roll has on a city or an area, the tougher it seems for the kids to follow. I mean, have you heard any really kick-ass bands from Seattle on the 'waves in the past few months? Ditto for the Motor City. It's like the suits come into a field, farm the fuck out of it until the soil is dry, dead and useless, and then move on to create another rock ’n’ roll dust bowl in some other state, city or county. Shit, it's not "like" that, it IS that! So I don't know if the kids in Detroit have been sittin' around twiddling their opposable digits, trying to learn Stooges and MC5 riffs for the past 30 years, or if they're so sick and tired of people doing that, that they've either completely shifted gears musically or given up on the whole shit-ball once and for all, but I do know that it's been a long time since they kicked out the jams, brothers and sisters. Once again, no offense, but frankly, I gave up on Detroit Rock ages ago, as have many of my pals who hail from the big MI.
Which is why I was abso-fucking-lutely thrilled when, a few weeks back, I received a positively slobbering e-mail from The Swami at Outlaw PR in San Diego basically proclaiming that The Demolition Doll Rods' latest effort, ON (2004 Swami Records, check 'em out at http://www.demolitiondollrods.com), is the coolest thing to come along in rock since the B-Bender, Tenacious D and The Crazy 88's. A bass-less, power-house, post-post-proto-punk trio who forged a blues-tinged skronk sound 10 years before the White Stripes (who are themselves avid fans of the band, go figure) got their—er—stripes. Hmmm.
I was, to say the least, mightily intrigued. "BRING IT ON, MAN!" I replied in a moment of raw abandon, though deep down, I was sure it was just more extruded hype from The Machine. The album arrived in the mail a few days later. On the inside cover of the CD there were the ’Rods, in all their (yes, ma'am/sir) half-naked glory, climbing a (wotta fantastic freakin' phallic symbol, kidz!) gigantic light pole: Danny (guitars, keys, Diddley Bow and vocals) near the top, bare-chested and resplendent in green hair, high heels, and very, very short shorts, Margaret (guitars, vocals, sigh ...) wrapped around the middle, strapped and ready to pounce in a crisp white wife-beater and thigh-high leather boots, drummer Christine "Thumpurr" standing tall at the bottom, draped in tantalizing bits of black lace and a white stole.
Well, I thought, yeah, I remember the New York Dolls, and I can go out and see prettier men in tight leather gear at any random All The Pretty Horses gig. But then I thought, oh, yeah, the New York Dolls have been kaput for decades, and those are two totally HOT ROCK CHICKS in the Doll Rods ... maybe it was more than just schtick ... I hoped, I prayed ... but only the music would tell the tale.
Awright, long story short (or a little shorter, anyway, sorry, O Mighty Editor), once I stuck the disc in, there was no goin’ back. The ’Rods are the real deal, pal. Loud, proud, in-your-face, blood-an’-guts, dirt-an’-concrete, snot-an’-sneers, howls-an’-jeers, pure-dee Detroit fucking rock and roll, baby. Hell, Iggy himself (in MOJO, the only rock and roll mag in the world that matters) recently dubbed 'em, "... the best band in Detroit." Suffice to say that ON hasn't left my disc player in days, that I'm now on a first-name basis in my head with the band, and I've relearned to do that ol’ Stooges beat-stomp that made me so popular at many a college fraternity beer blast back in the day. OK, so I’m bullshitting about that last part, sort of, but I have been stomping around my stereo like a mastodon on meth, and if you don’t believe me, just check with my landlord when he gets out of the hospital for his latest nervous breakdown, or those long-suffering boyz in bloo who're forced by uncool neighbors to climb my steep-ass stairs a couple times a week to (sigh and) ask me, one more time, to PLEASE TURN IT DOWN, MR. HALLETT.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Doll Rods. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Detroit. And thank you, thank you, thank you, O Venerable Rawk Swami. Suddenly, I've got a feeling that this summer won't SUCK quite so bad with this album in my sweaty little palms. Now I’ve got a weapon, motherfuckers, and I’m gonna use it every goddamn chance I get. From the moment I wake up to the minute I pass out, I’m gonna assault every Top-40-infected ear I come in contact with, and there won't be a mix CD, road trip, or party I’m involved with for the next six months that won't include at least one track from this batch of raw-raw-rawk, man.
I’ll fight off every morning’s sun-filled, dread-laced hangover with the rousing, pounding crunch of "Get It On" (Margaret moaning Uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh, let's get it awn ...), stretch out the afternoon siesta with the lazy, sprawling gut-bucket blooze of "Cannonball," welcome the coming shadows with a cold Old Mil and the soul-warming, goose bump-inducing blast of "Sweet Simple Life." I’ll ease into the cool, cool, cool of the evening and shed my day wear to the soothing savagery of "Take It Off," enjoy Happy Hour to the dulcet strains and yawping choruses of "All The Stars" (Margaret howling you-you-you-make my skirt rise! O yes, she’s the new Iggy—and more of a Woman than he or Catherine Deneuve EVER were; she’s the big, bad, balled-up guitar goo of Fred, Wayne, Asheton and Keef; the much-sexier modern mouth of Mr. Sinclair; she's the vocal/soul she-spawn of Billie Holiday, Joan Jett, Big Mama Thornton and Poly Styrene; she’s the ballsy, slinky, dirty blonde rawk princess of Today’s Detroit and I would gladly bear her beautiful bastard children out of my ecstatic, elastic ear canals, oh yea, bay-beh!), and welcome the first blush of the moon to the romantic echoes and snarky guitars of Christine's "Fat Pussy."
I’ll gladly and gleefully get the cops back over here (again) after bar closing with the absolutely impossible to resist bust an' twist of my new/old dance, "The Thump" (that scathing, yowling, sexy slab of pud-pounding purification responsible for my latest floor-shaking shooby-doo-wah), and close out the night, empty whiskey bottle in one hand, court summons for violating the noise ordinance (the bastards are lucky that’s all I violated ...) in the other, head lolling helplessly to one side on my wasted shoulder, the Rods’ ripping cover of the old standard "Big Rock Candy Mountain" shredding what's left of my only working speaker. And I’ll fucking love it. So will you.
That’s it for me this week, gang. Tune in next time for more of the same. That is, if the judge doesn’t throw the book at me. Last time, I brought a pair of headphones in a brown paper bag with me to court and got a laugh at the cops’ expense—even the judge grinned, as he levied a $50 fine my way ... and damn was it ever worth it! Until we meet again—make yer own damn news.
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