Back in the late '60s, Michigan bands like the Up, SRC and, obviously, the MC5 were providing the soundtrack to a particularly difficult time for U.S. politics — a period which saw the Vietnam War, rebellions in Detroit and other big cities, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hugh "Jeep" Holland was the man responsible for booking those aforementioned bands to appear at Russ Gibb's legendary Grande Ballroom, and it wasn't long before he'd set up his own label, A-Square (Of Course), named after his booking agency.
This compilation brings together many of the bands that made the label a success and, while undeniably patchy, there are enough gems here to make it a worthwhile purchase. The two contributions from the 5, the often neglected "Looking At You" and rarely heard "Borderline," are characteristically frantic slabs of soul-infused rock genius, while Stooges fans will revel in the Prime Movers' "I'm A Man," featuring a young Iggy Pop on vocals and drums. Elsewhere, SRC pops up five — count 'em five! — times, the best offering being album opener "I'm So Glad," a cover of Skip James with a more Kinks-inspired melody.
The two covers by the Apostles are less impressive: "Stranded In The Jungle" was better handled by the New York Dolls in 1974; meanwhile the Apostles' straight version of the Kinks' "Tired Of Waiting For You" is redundant. "Just Like An Aborigine" by the Up is far better, a caustic and gloriously repetitive slice of '60s psychedelia. Other local bands like the Bossmen, the Thyme and Half Life fill out the rest of the record with varying degrees of success. Ultimately, though, this is a compilation that harks back to a wonderfully creative period in Detroit's rich rock history and could serve as our very own Nuggets.
Brett Callwood writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.