"City Slang" tops Henry Rollins' list of "underground songs"



A few days ago, Esquire posted a list of "Henry Rollins's Top Ten Underground Songs." As someone who's sold a bit of records online, via eBay and discogs, I was surprised at first that this list didn't have a bunch of power electronics type people on it. (There is an old joke in the noise community that people start super harsh-sounding bands just to release cassette tapes, lathe vinyl and CD-Rs in runs of seven or less so that they can later sell those things to Henry Rollins for bank. Or Thurston Moore if it's weak-ass free jazz.)

The former Black Flag frontman instead made what amounts to a great mix for any weirdo in ninth or tenth grade, with Suicide and Pere Ubu and Devo and the Cramps and songs by other groups tailor made to be scrawled inside a science textbook. Sure, it's a bit testicular, but it's also good!

Speaking of testicular and good, what's at the very top of the thing, but "City Slang," by the Sonic's Rendezvous Band, introducing the band members impeccably after terming them "a Detroit supergroup": "Fred 'Sonic' Smith of the MC5 on guitar, Scott Morgan of the Rationals on guitar and vocals, Gary Rasmussen of the Up on bass, and Scott Asheton of the Stooges on drums." Rollins enthuses that "Smith's tone and attack is without peer, Asheton's solid drive is the epitome of rock drumming. The band is a cohesive thing of perfection.

Also on the list? Detroit protopunk obscuros Death. Rollins says that "the original pressing of the single is said to be only 500. I have seen only one. A pal of mine bought it many years ago for a few dollars, which is about 900 less than you would pay these days."

See? Rock stars can be record nerds too, ones with good taste!