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Geri Allen’s Grand River Crossings: Motown & Motor City Inspirations sees the pianist, composer and bandleader pay tribute by her hometown by exploring the tunes (mainly but not exclusively Motown) that influenced her as she was setting herself on a path to music. So we get gorgeous, instrumental versions of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’”, Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown”, and Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” and “Save the Children”, as well as some great originals.
Call your band the Sax Maniacs and I’m already on side. Thank God, the Real Downtown Deal (Wave) album doesn’t do the name a disservice. Alright, they’re a blues and soul bar band, playing covers of standards like “Money”, “In the Mood” and “Ain’t No Sushine” in a Commiments-ish way. The band can really play, but this stuff is better heard live. Every now and again, like on “Tequila”, it gets a little hokey. But still, fun.
On a similar note, and from the same label, Blue Rose’s Detroit Boogie (Wave) was originally recorded in ’94 although, judging by the abundance of leopard print, big hair and tucked-in shirts on the cover, that’s about 20 years too late. Just kiddin’ guy, you look flash. More importantly, the music is tremendous. Some big soul vocals courtesy of Ahada, and some awesome blues rock licks.The rock, the soul and the blues is all here in equal measures, and they make for quite the threesome.
Here’s the weird thing about Zug Izland - within weeks of moving to Detroit from England, I was told that Zug Izland are one of the best, on-the-rise rock bands in the city. Then I had a couple of drinks, and five and a half years passed. Then this compilation album landed in the mailbox. The band was assembled by ICP’s Violent J back in 2002, they put out a couple of albums and then all but disappeared, until this compilation of their “dopest bangers”, and a forthcoming tour with ICP. Is a compilation appropriate after just two albums? No, but they probably don’t give a shit. The music is generic, though fun in places. At it’s best, it’s creepy with elements of trad industrial and rap sitting comfortably together. At it’s worst, it’s like Fred Durst fronting Orgy (the band, not an actual orgy). At least Zug Izland is back. Kinda.Follow @City_Slang