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July 05

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The Detroit Cobras

Simply put, the Detroit Cobras are a cover band, meaning, of course. that they seldom perform material they themselves wrote.

Who the hell cares!

The five-member ensemble, starring the smoke and propane-fueled Rachel Nagy on vocals and Mark Ramirez on “gi-tar,” don’t just play an off-handed version of “Mustang Sally” for some local middle-aged white guy blues club that sells embroidered jackets and fish tacos. The Cobras perform true homage to their musical heroes and heroines with as much grit and passion as R&B’s originators tried to convey 40 years earlier.

Early American rock & soul is their bible, and they're more than happy to be but humble preachers of this particular six-string gospel. It’s the gospel according to Steve Cropper (of Blues Brothers Fame), of Isaac Hayes (of, well, Isaac Hayes fame), purveyors of the indelible truth according to Hank Ballard’s "Cha Cha Twist" and a hallelujah choir to the good news written by Wilson Pickett's "99 and a Half Won't Do".

There's an inherent swagger to tracks like “Slipping Around” and the kick-ass “I Wanna Holler (But the Town’s too Small)” that adds to nearly a half-century's worth of music praising love and sex and fidelity/infidelity and just dancing around.

If you haven't yet done the twist outta joy to soul or rock-n-roll, be you fifteen or over fifty, go now...do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars...to Bloodshot Records and pre-order your copy (release is Sept. 27) of this shake-fest post-haste!

Oh yeah, Baby. —Matt Erickson (posted 7/22/05)

The Wallflowers
Rebel, SweetheartInterscope

Jakob Dylan (whose father, Mr. Bob Dylan, is apparently a mildly famous musician of some kind, not that that would make any difference at all to the recording industry...) and his band The Wallflowers gained marginal success through four albums, most notably for 1996's two-time Grammy winning single, "One Headlight", haven't really grown much in their musical tastes, despite what your average MTV VJ might say.

Rebel, Sweetheart is an interesting if fairly average collection of lite blues and pop tunes that seem rather uninspired, if at least listenable in a "Well, thank God it's not emo!" kind of way.

The best moments come when Jakob's voice, a rich growl so like his father's, is allowed to rise above the twangy, alt-country and pop guitar riffs that seem pretty standard stuff.

When Dylan, along with Fred Eltringham (drums) and Rami Jaffee (keyboards) do manage to evoke this strength on tracks like "God Says Nothing Back" and the feet-tappin' “Back to California,” there's a true poignancy to both the words and the music that has few imitators (what musician would want to develop skill, ability and range when they can just pick out some more goofy clothes?).

Even so, there’s a little too much sweetheart here, and not enough rebel. —Brandon Whitehead (posted 7/15/05)

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