In one ear 

Garage Days revisited

Yes, even the immortal bands had to start somewhere; and Detroit legends-groundbreakers-earthshakers the MC5 were once a garage band. Well, "garage band" is such a loosely tossed-about word these days. The MC5, at one point, had to practice in their garage and/or basement and had to take those thrilling first steps toward the cohesive, exploratory sonic attack that we all know and love. The fine folks at LA’s Total Energy Records (the same label that recently released the comprehensive two-volume Motor City’s Burnin’ compilation) have captured that period on a single, rollicking 11-track disc, ’66 Breakout! Breakout! finds the boys messing about with teen-dance standards (the Sam the Sham goof, "Little Red Riding Grmph"), working out their requisite blues chops ("I’m a Man," "Look What You’ve Done Done") and, most importantly, blasting through early takes, such as live-at-Cody High School recordings of "Looking at You" and "Black to Comm." (The latter of which, Wayne Kramer notes in the liner narrative, acted as their "traditional room-clearing device. People didn’t start to ‘get’ this kind of playing till much later at the Grande Ballroom. Dropping acid helped.") In fact, Kramer’s liner notes corroborate the sonic evidence here – these were fun, fun times for the 5. If you’re a fan of rock ’n’ roll you know that rest of the story – here’s the prehistory.

But, wait, that’s not all! Total Energy’s thought enough of Detroit’s current retro-revisited nogoodnik scene to release the latest slab from Motor City chopper chaps, the Silencers. With Cyclerific Sounds bassist Dave Leeds, guitarist Eric Faas and drummer Eric Toth wrestle the ’60s instrumental revival crown away from Dick Dale and give it over reverently to psych-fuzz king, Mr. Davie Allan. And the Silencers know how to pull this stuff off, too. They don’t mess around with trying to update the grease-caked cycle-flick sound track form. The Silencers (aided and abetted by producer Mick Collins and recorded by Jim Diamond) just push the fuzz over the line, let the rhythm handle the throttle and step back while Toth’s guitar lines mess with your head. Don’t believe me? Check out the absolutely psychotic growl of "Mr. Fruity Pants," then we’ll talk. Their occasional nod to the more tubular, reverb-drenched instro past has more to do with the hot desert air than the crashing surf, so land-lubbers fret not.

For more info on either of these fine hometown releases, visit Total Energy online and keep your eyes peeled in What’s Happening for live dates.


Just because global indie-pop champion imprint Fantastic has pulled up its Ann Arbor stakes for Kansas City doesn’t mean that the Detroit-area connection has been broken. This week, Fantastic will release the long-awaited debut domestic 7" from Detroit’s Teach Me Tiger. With two singles on Japan’s Motorway label under its belt, Teach Me Tiger (the supersonic spawn of Chris Crispy Fachini – who you may know from Godzuki, Rocket 455 and myriad other projects) has established a track record of inspired three-minute reinventions of pop music past. The tunes conjure the ghost of Motown, Phil Spector, Brian Wilson and other appropriation touchstones, but manage to infect different, uncharted turf in the old cranium. So, the choice is yours – peep the record bins for the release, or write Fantastic and send $3.50 (ppd. in the United States) at Fantastic, PO Box 5935, Kansas City MO 64171.

On the flip-side of the local-international equation, Le Grand Magistery (Bloomfield Hills-based, but calling the world home) has finally released quirky pop internationale icon Momus’ Stars Forever, a two-disc package of patronage-pop portraits, populated by Momus tunes commissioned by fans, admirers and associates of Momus for $1,000 a pop. The disc also features eight Momus karaoke parodies culled from tunes found on last year’s Momus record, Little Red Songbook. Write LGM for a catalog and info at PO Box 611, Bloomfield Hills, MI 48303.

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Speaking of In One Ear

More by Chris Handyside

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