Mojo motor oil; Baker’s super session

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White’s Pop

Tell me, Daddy, are Motor City streets really paved with authenticity and musical genius? If you move to Detroit and make albums, will they be drooled over 20 years from now? Who knows? Who cares! But for at least one month, Detroit’s got Mojo. Or maybe it’s Mojo that has Detroit. Not the Electrifyin’ one that once ruled the airwaves (or the unmentionable morning zoo jock that had the audacity to nick the name). The English mag Mojo — generally regarded as the best rock writing to be found betwixt soft covers anywhere on earth — has dedicated its October ish to our fair burg. This is no Maxim-style publicity hackwork either, kids. Mojo’s actually put together an issue anchored by a tête-à-tête between cover stars Jack and Iggy. But wait, there’s more. Mojo North American editor, Detroit-resident and rock scribe benchmark-setter Ben Edmonds chimes in with a worthy, in-depth feature on Holland-Dozier-Holland. Metro Times’ own Chris Handyside and Hobey Echlin play to their editorial stereotype by tackling the Detroit Cobras and Detroit techno, respectively; Dave DiMartino rides Grand Funk Railroad and some dude called Gabe Sario turns in a piece on modern-day garage-punk forebears the Gories; former Creem dream Jaan Uhelszki contextualizes Alice Cooper; Lloyd Bradley tenders a loving piece on George Clinton, and there’s so much more!

Believe it or not, White’s Pop interview is worth the price of admission alone. For one thing the piece centers around the kind of questions an artist and a fan might ask each other — not a journo trying to show off his intimate knowledge of useless minutiae, or fishing for quotes to support an article already written in his head. And it’s not just a “gee, you rule, dude” thing either. It’s a pure exhibition of unedited teenage-fan-brain without embarrassment, without coming off all stilted and adult-like. And we gotta say, there are some great photos. Jack White really understands his homoerotic Christian art — Sexee, in a dead Christ kinda way.


European vacation

Words from the Sights during their six-week Euro campaign just ending this week suggests things have been going swimmingly for the puckish trio. The tour, much of which was supporting beery relics Guided by Voices, found the fair-haired boys of Sights in all the great cities, including Berlin, Hamburg, Brussels, London, Milan and Oslo. Strangely, the correspondences paint the boys in full-on Hallmark mode. They write of scenic afternoon drives through the Austrian mountains and Swiss Alps, meeting Dylan Thomas’ great-granddaughter at their merch table in Belfast, slack-jawed crowds in Italy, and the inevitable hunt for hearty American fare at McDonalds. Hmmmm.

Well, the pithy belles-lettres are cleverly loaded with subtext that perhaps tells more of the real story. Upon closer inspection a not-so-obvious rock ’n’ roll yarn is revealed involving fleabag hotels, ample cheap wine, busted gear, creepy Euro-trash, floor crashing, missed shows and Asian foxes. One message last week suggested they had but 30 euros ($34 American) in the band wallet. Yee-haw!

Singer Eddie Baranek was overheard shouting to passers-by whilst the band rolled through Rome in their luxury tour van: “Hey, do you know where the Coliseum is? Is this where they filmed European Vacation?” When in Hooterville ...

In the end the band’s road manager Jason Schusterbauer writes that they are having a blast with “the whole language barrier deal. It’s comedy. Important words to know in any language: What time is check-out, I need a receipt, and got a doobie?”


RIP Clarence Baker

Baker’s Keyboard Lounge may not have the national visibility of clubs like the Village Vanguard on the East Coast or Yoshi’s on the West that are famous for their live recordings. But the world’s oldest jazz club should get a boost early next year with the long-awaited release of the James Carter super-session recorded there in June 2001.

The sessions were the talk of the town, drawing celebs (Anita Baker, Kid Rock, Pam Anderson) and fans alike. Carter convened a multigenerational lineup for three nights, mixing up national stars like hard-bop titan Johnny Griffin and Detroiters like Kenn Cox. Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun oversaw the recording details with the air of a potentate, club co-owner John Colbert had the seating headaches, and ex-owner Clarence Baker got to enjoy the music. Carter told Hit Singles recently that the four tunes with Aretha Franklin were dropped from the project as too rough around the edges. But with or without the Queen of Soul, the record could be the jazz event of next year.

The word Grammy was bandied around more than once during the sessions. Sadly, though, the recognition will be posthumous for Baker, who oversaw the beginning of music at his dad’s club in 1939, eventually took the nightspot’s reins, and held them off and on, until a final sale in 1996 to the current owners. Baker died Sunday, Sept. 28, at the age of 93.

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