Wednesday, January 21, 1998

PURE DETROIT

Posted By on Wed, Jan 21, 1998 at 12:00 AM

The Howling Diablos long has been the embodiment of Detroit cool. And it's finally documented on this fine-tuned, funked-up studio debut on a local label. (It follows last year's more loosely hung Howling Diablos Live on Kid Rock's Top Dog.) The roster of guest players here also remains inside city limits: Vinnie Dombrowski (Sponge) on drums, Kid Rock's loops and Ed Hawrysch (Black Crowes) on piano, to name a few.

Green Bottle shines a little brighter than that previous album and delivers the Diablos' signature dirty funk-rap-jazz with a lot more clarity. Here Tino Gross' street-corner rants (on Detroit street corners, of course) warm up to the ear as discernibly as Johnny Evans' sax pumps out of the dark alleys. A masculine interpretation of Leslie Gore's "It's My Party" rides alongside the band's own "Reefer Man" with undeniable, throttling grace. The effect-ridden "Whack the DJ" shows this band can tangle with a womanizer in a shiny suit -- but also with a sound board. Obviously, this band has been letting it bleed raw and live long enough to work up a gritty intensity that doesn't get polished out in the electronic meddling. Well, the bottle ain't empty yet.

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