Tag Archives: 70’s rock

[Create Digging] Detective-S/T

detective

Did you ever watch the show WKRP In Cincinnati? I loved it as a kid. Johnny Fever, Venus Flytrap and Loni Anderson as Jennifer Marlowe. However, I was more of a Bailey fan myself. Anyway, in one of the earlier episodes “Hoodlum Rock” was the first time I heard Detective. In the episode, the singer of the fictional band Scum Of The Earth was Michael Des Barres who sings for the real band Detective.

Detective’s debut was released in 1977 on Swan Song Records and produced by Andy Johns. When you think about it, that is a HUGE coup for a new group. Besides Michael, the band is made up of ex-Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, ex-Steppenwolf guitarist Michael Monarch, drummer Jon Hyde, and bassist Bobby Pickett. No, not that Bobby Pickett.

Listening to the album you’ll hear that the songs run the gamut of 70’s radio. There’s “Grim Reaper” and “One More Heartache”, two great loud bombastic nods to their label bosses Led Zeppelin. “Nightingale” is a textbook power ballad that would’ve been perfect for when the local DJ says “couples skate only”. They switch it up a bit on “Ain’t None Of You Business” as showcases Jon Hyde raspy vocals, some dirty electric organs, and harkens back to some of the British bands earlier in the decade. They do make some curious choices here as well. “Deep Down” is a slow instrumental that at first spin seems out of place. The track is good but seems more like a bone thrown to Kaye and Monarch. The oddest out of them all is “Wild Hot Summer Nights”. Its a very funky number that sounds like it wandered over from a Commodores recording session.

There’s a lot to like her. Des Barres is a great singer. His voice just oozes attitude and swagger. Jon Hyde is a powerhouse drummer and any comparisons to Bonham are deserved. One complaint is maybe they didn’t have a definite focus. For me a debut album should to be a bit more defined.

I really like this album. Detective were a fantastic band that somehow slipped through the cracks. I guess the guys at Swan Song could only concentrate on Led Zeppelin and Bad Company

I bought this for $4 and it’s in decent shape. I would recommend picking this up even at $10.

Final Verdict:

I really really underpaid for this

I really underpaid for this

I paid about right

I over paid

I should have lit my money on fire

A final notation, listen to Michael Des Barres previous band Silverhead. Horrible name but some unreal 70’s glam rock.

 

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Black Bear-Rock From The Woods

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Back in the mid 90’s I worked at a local record store. When Seattle was in full swing there was this one customer always coming in to sell old CD’s to buy new releases. He had the proper grunge uniform of shaved head, goatee, and Doc’s. The CD’s he brought in were all the 80’s hard rock bands; Poison, Winger, Motley Crue, etc. Our store always required someone to show their ID. On his drivers license his picture was of him in full Cure’s Robert Smith attire. In other words he was just playing dress up or trend hopping. You saw it with bands too. They cut their hair and got “more serious” to fit in the Nirvana world. Now this was not an anomaly as bands have kept doing that. With the rise of 70’s rock/Southern rock influenced acts; Scorpion Child, Rival Sons and so forth. Guys that were dabbling in modern rock or whatever genre Octane is playing, are now buying bell bottoms and Orange amps.

And that brings us to Black Bear and their album Rock From The Woods. Judging from the band name and the cover, a walking bridge in the woods, I was expecting some Southern twinged rockin’. However, just like the guy selling CD’s we have some guys playing dress up. You can tell something is fishy from jump street. Album opener “We Are Black Bear” is just Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band” except they just replace American band with Black Bear. This would be cute as the last track but since it’s the first, just silly. Unfortunately the aping of a classic rock band does not end there as they lift from The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” on “Uncle Vic”. Even rappers would think it was excessive.

That track is the epitome of what is wrong with the album. The guitarist seems to latch onto a cliché 70’s guitar lick and beat it to death. Besides the unoriginality, it is usually done very poorly. A simple 4 note fill sounds as if I was playing it. Then there is the vocalist. He just doesn’t have the swagger or soul to pull off this music. Most of the time he sounds like he is really struggling. I learned the band is from Milan so that cultural disconnect is a problem.

Now the odd part of Rock From The Woods is many of the songs are flat out modern rock. And surprisingly, their good too. “Time” is a really tremendous song. A mid-tempo slow builder that pulls you in as its plays. “Ghost of You” is a fist pumper that would easily slide in regular rotation on modern rock radio. Same with “Never Easy” a nice ballad that once you get past the horrible guitar fills in the first minute is rather good.

European bands playing distinctively American styles is nothing new. There seems to be a part of Finland that is forever 1987 Sunset Strip glam rock. Just like some of those bands, Black Bear may love the music they try to play but it doesn’t translate.

Pun intended.

Rock From The Woods seems a bit bi-polar with its’ conflicting styles. Yet when its’ good, its’ good. Hopefully Black Bear will decide on who they are.

Final rating, I’d be happy paying…

$14.99-Regularly Priced CD

$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon purchase

$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on a MP3 sale

$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop

$0-Not worth the drive space

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