Autor: Christian Buss
Wie werden Rockmusiker zu Stars? Nicht immer sind die Kategorien ersichtlich, die darüber entscheiden, ob sie ins Bewusstsein einer größeren Öffentlichkeit gespült werden oder auf ewig verflucht sind, in der Twilight Zone ihres Metiers zu dümpeln. Die Künstler jedenfalls können solche Fragen nicht beantworten - sondern nur weiter ihre Runden ziehen und darauf hoffen, doch noch hochgespült zu werden. So wie die Detroit Cobras, ein Soulrock-Ensemble, in dem seit 1994 viel Prominenz aus der nämlichen Automobilstadt mitgespielt hat. An der Gitarre hört man gelegentlich Steve Nawara von Electric Six, Jack White von den White Stripes hat schon Piano für die Band gespielt, seine Schwester Meg tanzt in ihrem jüngsten Video. So ist es wohl der Erfolg der White Stripes, der nun mit leichter Verspätung die Detroit Cobras außerhalb ihrer Heimatstadt bekannt macht. Mit "Baby" (Rough Trade/Sanctuary/ RTD) erscheint denn auch hier zu Lande im zehnten Jahr ihres Bestehens ein komplettes Album, am Montag geben sie ihr erstes Berlin-Konzert (21 Uhr, Maria am Ufer).
Nur gerecht, dass ausgerechnet diese Band durch die anhaltende Garagenrock-Renaissance vor dem Vergessen geretten wird; schließlich kämpft sie gegen den im Rock virulenten Gedächtnisschwund. Das Repertoire der Detroit Cobras besteht fast gänzlich aus ungewürdigten Songs anderer Leute, die sie aus den Ramschkisten des Rhythm'n'Soul fischen. Sängerin Rachel Nagy interpretiert die Stücke burschikos, dreckig, niemals aber ironisch - und im richtigen Moment mit zartem Schmelz. Sie stimmt Vergessenes von Großen wie Otis Redding oder Salomon Burke an und Großes von den Vergessenen des Fachs. "Baby", das insgesamt dritte Album in voller Länge, ist nun eine weitere Sammlung von B-Seiten alter Hitsingles - und A-Seiten von Singles, die nie Hits wurden. "I Wanna Holler (But The Town's To Small)" des R'n'B-Berserkers Gary US Bonds wird als erotisierende Surfnummer, "It's Raining" von der Soul-Chanteuse Irma Thomas als schmachtende Ballade vorgetragen. Die Detroit Cobras könnten auf Hochzeiten auftreten. Oder in Stripclubs. Ihre überhitzte Musik muss so oder so als Aufforderung verstanden werden, möglichst viel Alkohol zu trinken. Aber just der "Cha Cha Twist", der den Cover-Reigen beschließt, war jüngst in einem Coke-Light-Spot zu hören.
Ausgeschlossen, dass irgendwann einmal ein Stück von Gin Palace in einer Softdrink-Reklame erklingt. Das Londoner Trio um den ehemaligen Penthouse-Gitarristen Jon Free spielt auf der Debüt-CD "Kicking On" (Artrocker/ RTD) einen kargen, harten, kaputten Blues. Die Stücke tragen destruktive Titel wie "Cool Like An Axe" oder "Dying Breed", und sämtliche Nummern scheinen auf eine durch billigen Fusel beschleunigte Hormonausschüttung hinzuweisen. Gearbeitet wird mit Gitarre, Gesang und kleiner Drum-Ausstattung. Gin Palace klingen wie Jon Spencers Blues Explosion ohne deren verschachtelten Rhythmik, wie die Yeah Yeah Yeahs ohne deren affiges Kleinkunstgehabe. Koketterie und Glamour sucht man bei den Briten vergeblich. Im Gegensatz zu den Gewinnern der Rock'n'Roll-Hausse - etwa den Kleiderständern von den Hives - geht es hier nicht um vermeintliche Raffinesse, sondern um reine Effizienz. Jedes Riff ist ein Schlag mit der Axt, jede Textzeile eine Zumutung.
How do rock musicians become stars? Often the deciding criteria it is not obvious, whether they bask in the consciousness of the general public, or are eternally cursed and limp on in the twilight zone of their profession. The artists anyhow cannot answer such questions - but only carry on their rounds slogging and hoping, but still after all to be washed-up. As did Soulrock ensemble Detroit Cobras, who have played with much prominence since 1994 in the same automobile city. On guitar one occasionally hears Steve Nawara of Electric Six, or Jack White of the White Stripes on piano; his sister Meg dances in their latest video. So it is probably the success of the White Stripes, which Detroit Cobras now admit makes things easier for them outside of their hometown . With "Baby" (Rough Trade/Sanctuary/ RTD) a complete album appears, and on Monday they give their first Germany concert, in the tenth year of their existence, in Berlin (21 o'clock, Maria on the bank).
In fairness, comparing this band to many of the continuing 'garagefrock' Renaissance rescues them from their oblivion; ultimately it fights against the amnesia in Noisy Rock. The Detroit Cobras' repertoire almost completely consists of exact copies of songs by other people, which they have fished out of the rubbish bins of Rhythm'n'Soul. Singer Rachel Nagy interprets the pieces laddishly, dirtily, but never ironically - and in the correct moments with a melting tenderness. Forget the big tunes by Otis Redding or Solomon Burke, and you can largely forget the rest. "Baby", their third full-length album, is mainly collection from b-sides of old hit singles - and A-sides of singles which never became hits. "I Wanna Holler (But The Town's Too Small)"; the R'n'B-Berserker Gary US Bonds' tune becomes as erotic surfnumber, "It's Raining" by the Soul chanteuse Irma Thomas becomes a sweet, tender ballad. Detroit Cobras could play at weddings. Or in Stripclubs. Their overheated music must be understood as a request to drink as much alcohol as possible. But "The Cha Cha Twist" is just that, the cover version which was recently heard in a Coke Light Spot.
There's no way that a Gin Palace track
will ring out in a soft drink advertisement anytime. The London trio around
former Penthouse guitarist Jon Free play a meager, hard, broken Blues on the
debut CD "Kicking On" (Artrocker/ RTD). The pieces carry destructive
titles such as "Cool Like An Axe" or "Dying Breed", and
all numbers seem to refer to Rotgut-enriched hormone-redistribution. They work
only with guitar, voice and minimal drumkit. Gin Palace sound like Jon Spencer's
Blues Explosion without their interlocked Rhythms, like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
without their silly, insignificant art pretence. With these Brits one looks
for coquettish glitz in vain. Contrary to the winners of the Rock'n'Roll-Rodeo
- for instance mannequins such as the Hives - here we are not concerned with
pretend finesse, but pure efficiency. Each riff is an impact with an axe, each
line of text an impertinence.
Translation by Jon
The following is from the
The following is from the
The No-Bass-Guitar debate...
>>>"HEY MISTER, YOUR GUITAR'S ONLY GOT FOUR STRINGS."<<< (From Artrocker 73)
Tom and I were in the all amazing Trevi deli (yep by the Garage) getting exotic sarnies when I started the debate. Chuck Berry was on the sound system "You can't catch me" and what caught my ear was the thumping, sorry , slapping rockabilly DOUBLE bass - I can only guess that this was about 1955, the birth of rock'n'roll maybe ? As Tom pointed out , the double bass was there to augment the left hand of a boogie pianist and 'rock it up ' (or more likely make it audible with the introduction of electric guitars). Anyway , it had now been two full weeks since a TV music programme had encouraged me to propose to you artrockers out there , that .... "Bass has no place in rock'n'roll"
Aha you cry , he's building up to a review of the new WHITE STRIPES album! Not so, although what I've heard sounds like their best yet (despite the bass), and YES they're are a magnificent and topical example of what I am going on about; really I want to share with you the revelation I was treated to in that TV programme and ask you if any of you can name a Rock'n'Roll classic that is dependant on the bass ?
My revelation was my current 'king' of rock'n'roll , BUCK OWENS. I hadn't heard of him before but stupidly had not bothered to find out what came before the birth of Country Rock in California in about 1966/7. In the embarrassingly short BBC history of country music, they revealed OWENS as the 'inventor' of the Californian country sound. basically, twanging electric guitars rocking out on full (reminded me of Bobby Fuller's "I fought the law"). OWEN was interviewed for about 30 seconds but managed to get out that "I realised that so much of the sound, both live and especially recorded was taken up by the goddamned bass guitar and I set out to simply remove that and replace it with more guitars"
OWENS the genius. What makes great rock'n'roll is the bloody treble (to be luddite about things). Ever since then, with the increased use of the electric bass as opposed to double bass, and definitely as opposed to synthesised or keyboard bass, rock and roll is at it's best treblified.
When I was at School, Jean jacques Burnel of the STRANGLERS won best bass player in NME every year and his lines were integral BUT .....they were simply low keyed guitar lines (no 'sub-bass' nonsense). The first REM album, whose melodies are lead by Mills' lead bass were simply low guitar melodies. The wonderful MORPHINE were using the bass in a VERY guitar orientated way for their rocking blasts. EVEN the original funk and hoppers in the 70's, like Sly's records, had 'normal' bass which twanged and rocked.
Right now, with some excellent rock'n'roll bands dispensing with the bass entirely, while these are pretty unsubtle examples of what I mean, it does demonstrate the point (The CRAMPS were NEVER as good with a bass player!). Both The Hells and Gin Palace (Artrocker bands) have dispensed with the bass. The magnificent Moving Units bass lines are, I believe, bass played in a 'guitar stylee'.
I have not researched the technical side of recording bass but it is also quite ironic that many people believe that vinyl gives a warmer sound than CD - If that is so, I put it to you that it is the CD rather than the seven inch that is the best home for rock'n'roll. feel free to bamboozle me with technical arguments here. Brian from Bark Studios reckoned the bass acts as "Musical Glue" to join the drums to the guitars etc. That may be so but if FREE don't need to put bass in the verses of "Alright Now" , what use do we have of it?
Anyway, arise Sir Buck Owens, the inventor of a rock'n'roll truth. Rock'n'roll does not need the bass (in the way that dance and reggae does) and never has. Name me one example, I dare you ?
PAUL ARTROCKER respond
>>>I WAS THERE WHEN.....<<<
"One instinctively knows when something is right" or something along those lines.
Unbelievably, for a superb three band line-up at the Artrocker club we were still not sold out. I've gone past that issue of the fact that we feature brand new and unknown bands because I know that in this current climate of excitement at what's brewing in the underground, you, the punter, are (going to be) turning up to be thrilled skinny by a wonderful new crop of rock'n'roll renegades.
Talk about line-ups of the moment. With B-Monster sporting guitar/guitar/drums, Clambake, guitar/drums and Gin Palace guitar/drums/vocals, this was my dream bass-less lineup and of course it was a dream rock'n'roll night. I believe The Gin Palace shows COULD be important ones to remember - they certainly give me that vibe that something darned important is happening right here, under our noses in London - TAKE NOTICE NOW !
Such was the case when The Cramps started their recording careers. On the face of it a flamboyant and theatrical rock'n'roll band, their twin-noise-guitar-no-bass lineup was more mutation than rock'n'roll had been through since Suicide. However, with Mr and Mrs Interior in their 50's now, how on earth could the Circus be anything other than a circus (an outdated throwback to earlier times)? Lux especially was pure rock'n'roll genius. Whether or not he was such genius when I last saw him I cannot remember but in this period of renewed rock'n'roll AND on the back of the worst show of the year (Kim Fowley) I find myself acutely aware of what is integral to the rock'n'roll show. Lux's finale was truly theatrical during the mammoth onslaught of "Surfing Bird" and his final fall out of sight at the back of the stage, tapping the CRAMPS logo as he went, was pure Hammer House of rock'n'roll master class and I truly believe they received a standing ovation despite the audience already being stood! An absolute master-class!
I am, of course, digressing. It was a classic 'moment' in a good gig. They are all important these moments, and everyone has experienced these great moments. This is one of the things that go to make rock'n'roll great and give rock'n'roll the chance to 'live again', if you like, in the face of stiff competition from all kinds of art and entertainment.
Harder to evaluate of course is how important these moments are in rock'n'roll's trainspotter-one-up-man history. Is the fact that I saw Nirvana on the Tad / SubPop tour more important than the mate who has the Nirvana ticket for the gig that didn't happen due to Kurt's death? A dumb example I'll admit but I'm intrigued on a small scale as to what events make it into rock'n'roll folklore. I bet you lot have loads of good examples out there?
Paul Artrocker respond