City Slang: Weekly music review roundup

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Remember – if you send it, it will get reviewed. That’s the City Slang promise. It doesn’t matter what genre the music is – as long as it has a Metro Detroit connection, it’ll get in. Preferably, we’d like to concentrate on new releases but, while we’re getting warmed up here, feel free to send back catalog material too. Send CDs, vinyl, cassettes, demos and 8-tracks to Brett Callwood, City Slang, Metro Times, 733, St. Antoine, Detroit, MI 46226. Email MP3s and streaming links to [email protected]

We received a genuine treat this week, a boxed set featuring music spanning the career of the great Scott Morgan called Three Chords and a Cloud of Dust (Easy Action). Morgan, of course, was the front man with the Rationals back in the Grande days, and this glorious three disc package covers those years. There’s plenty of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band on here too (the band featuring Morgan, plus the MC5’s Fred Smith and the Stooges’ Scott Asheton), but this box doesn’t stop at the well-known projects. We get tracks from Guardian Angel, Scots Pirates, the Hydromatics, and some rare tracks Morgan recorded with Swedish Detroit-philes the Hellacopters. The final disc takes us through the recent and great Powertrane, as well as some of his solo work. If the dice had landed a little differently, Morgan could have been as big as Seger. He certainly had (and has) the voice. As it is, he’ll remain a cult hero. A cult hero is still a hero.

Monsieur Guillaume & His Zydeco Hepcats claim to be Detroit’s best (and only) Zydeco band, not surprising considering the genre is most popular in Louisiana. A song like “Crawfish Crawl” from the new Motown Mojo (Schmotown Records) album might not sound particularly native to Detroit, but fuck it, there are enough different cultures within the Metro area to make just about anything sound like home. More importantly, these guys are awesome. They mix Creole music, folk and blues, and the result is hard-hitting, pulsating and kinda sexy.

Planet D Nonet is quite probably the most exciting jazz band in the city right now, as the Swingin’ the D (Mack Avenue/Detroit Music Factory) album proves. Hugely influenced by the progressive likes of Sun Ra, this music feels like it could go anywhere, certainly not constrained by trad jazz bindings.

The Reefermen’s new EP, Sunday Morning Smoke (Hanzie) features some beautiful art courtesy of Mark Arminski. The four covers are well performed too. Best of the bunch is a kick ass rendition of Love’s “7 & 7 is”. Yes, they’re covers but songs like the Stones’ “Citadel” (also the single) are given a touch of Detroit nasty to their benefit.

Finally, we don’t know where it came from and how it got to us, but we received a weird mix tape called Hump the Grinder’s Hair Wars that seems to have something to do with a hairdressing convention at Cobo. Confused the shit out of me. Anyway, Marvin Gaye is on this thing, as is George Clinton and Inner City. Is this music for cutting hair too? Dunno, but it’s sweet.

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