THE MICHIGAN BANDS
A family album...not all of our bands, but some that come to mind,
and what's been happening with them in the last year.
From CREEM Vol 2, #10 (1st anniversary issue) 1970 (No author listed).

MC5: Very simply, the Five are the most important band to come out of Detroit. There's really no way to explain how important this band has been to Detroit. They set the pace for our rock and roll explosion, they formed the model of the people's band, they made high energy the byword of our music. They epitomize all our best and worst points. A year ago it looked like they, and we, stood on the threshold of a meteoric rise to glory. Their Elektra album had just been released, they were starting to carry the high energy jams to people all over the country, and the rest of the country was starting to focus its attention on Ann Arbor and Detroit. It looked like Detroit and the Five could be the revitalizing, resensifying force that an increasingly sterile national scene needed. We haven't really fallen on our faces, but we haven't seen the jihad either, and now some people are saying that the Five have forgotten their roots. But all things being equal, the MC5 are still the best rock and roll band in the country, even if they are no longer the catalyzing force they once were. We've all been hit hard by the end of innocence...Fuck!

COMMANDER CODY & HIS LOST PLANET AIRMEN: The Commander and his crew are Michigan's first great export band. They played for some time around the Ann Arbor area; a lazy, country-influenced brand of primitive rock and roll/boogie music, but there were so few places around here suitable for their kind of entertainment (the band has never done what you might call a super-tight, exciting stage show, has never been particularly loud or very professional) that they decided if they were going to be starving they might as well starve where it's warm, and moved to Berkeley. There they amassed quite a following among the older, wine-drinking, laying back type freaks (the same kind of good time people that loved them in Michigan, but do not exactly abound hereabouts), got a "real" drummer for the first time and started working seriously on their music. Although there is now a well-established Commander Cody cult in the Bay Area, there aren't that many places to play out there either and so now they've apparently decided that if they're going to be starving, they might as well starve in Ann Arbor, where they're most comfortable, weather and all. Welcome back, men.

THE RATIONALS: Probably the oldest band still kicking on the Motor City scene, the Rationals took seven years to put out one of the finest albums the Detroit renaissance has yet seen. Integrally involved with rhythm and blues for a long period, the group's success as a local band was unprecedented until the surge upwards of the MC5 under John Sinclair. They had two local hit records, "Respect" and "I Need You," long before there was any progressive rock/community-oriented radio to help it along. The group's sound is based on Scott Morgan's voice, which is among the strongest in rock, and an interweaving of rhythm styles. They've half-moved away from oldline R&B (though one side of their album "The Rationals", on Crewe Records, is devoted to blues) into a fusion of rhythm/melodies comparable, in some ways, to Dr. John. Yet, despite being together for so long, the band is remarkably young; bassist Terry Trabandt is only twenty and the rest are twenty-one. Their first hit, "Respect," was recorded when they were sixteen.

AMBOY DUKES: Ted Nugent, the constant factor of the everchanging Amboy Dukes, is one of the most eccentric and also most often misinterpreted rock and roll figures on the Detroit scene. This very eccentricity, and Nugent's extraordinary ideas, are well developed in the Dukes music. Riding for awhile on the success of "Journey to the Center of the Mind' and backing it up with their baffling live performances, the Dukes have become favorites in the Midwest, Chicago, New York and parts of the south. A technically precise and religiously devoted guitarist, Nugent has seen all stages in the personnel development of the group which seem to partially coincide with the Dukes three albums, thus making each a little different. Now, with their recently released disk, "Marriage", at the crucial point of making it or breaking, the band is unfortunately going through changes again with drummer Dave Palmer leaving the group to become an engineer.

BROWNSVILLE STATION: The Brownsville Station sure have a good time while making their self-titled "pizza music" on stage. And they can generally pass these good feelings on to the audience (Cubbie's Iggy Stooge imitation for example). Doing the 50's rock is often looked upon as a shuck or an easy way out. But, the Brownsville Station are sincere in their music and feel there were a lot of fields left unexplored in the evolution of music from the 50's to the 70's. Their single, "Rock and Roll Holiday" on Hideout Records, was quickly picked up by all the local stations and attracted Polydor Records, who have signed the Brownsville Station and will be distributing their single nationally. They're presently touring the South, where the record has been breaking on a number of AM stations.

FRIJID PINK: The incredible initial success of Frijid Pink is a surprise to everyone in Detroit, it seems. The Pink were a Downriver blues band when signed to a Parrot/ London contract. Their initial single "God Gave Me You", which featured an incredible vocal by Kelly Green, was considered by many to be far superior to their present Top Ten smash, "House of The Rising Sun". Their overnight rise to fame has worried a lot of people in the Motor City, but the Pink look like they can hold together on stage at this point (vocalist Green was knocked out of action with pneumonia, but he has returned). The single and album have both risen to the Top Ten in the Billboard and Cashbox charts. And in the latest Frijid Pink news, the crew expects their second album to be released June 1st.

FROST: The Frost are one of the most workmanlike bands in Michigan. More lyrical than many Michigan bands, they still make a hard, high energy brand of essential rock and roll, and they have quite a following throughout the state. But even with two albums out on Vanguard and a third in the can, they have not really broken out into national prominence, which is surprising since their music is so wholly relatable within the mainstream of American rock and roll. They've reportedly split with Vanguard, which may help them, since Vanguard never really did the kind of promotion their first two albums deserved. They could also use a manager to take over the leadership of the band's business affairs from singer/songwriter/guitar player Dick Wagner, but with nine years of experience in the rock and roll business, Wagner isn't about to cede his command to just any old dude with sideburns and bellbottoms.

3rd POWER: After playing around for several years in various bands, Jim Craig, Drew Abbott and Jem Targal formed the 3rd Power. This past summer, after two years together, things finally began to happen for the band. First they moved to a farm in the country where they can work and live their music together. Their music began to take on a distinctive 3rd Power character and at the same time attracted an unofficial but tight and dedicated fan club. Then Vanguard sent representatives to hear the 3rd Power. They signed and have just finished an album which should be released May 1st.

GRAND FUNK: This super phenomenon suddenly appeared last spring out of leftovers from Terry Knight and The Pack and Question Mark and The Mysterians. The Funk's debut at Detroit's Rock and Roll Revival last spring was a bomb, but they found their way into many of last summer's festivals and proceeded to flip out the crowds, soon becoming a familiar name on the national rock scene. The Grand Funk Railroad is almost as well known as the B&0. Because of their summer festival exposure, Capitol's promotional support and a hit single, the Funk's gigging has been nation-wide and for these reasons or others they rarely appear on the Detroit scene. Their first album, "On Time" , quickly made its way onto the charts and the second LP (released January '70) surpassed "On Time", and both albums are presently in the top 100. But to many the group has a limited engagement on the national music scene. A consensus of critical opinion is that the talents of Mark Farner (lead guitar and vocalist) can not help but burst free of the confining structure of the present group and he'll strike out on his own.

SAVAGE GRACE: In January 1969 John Seanor, Ron Koss, Larry Zack and Al Jacquez formed the Savage Grace. The name is a description of their music which blends classical-jazz-rock-blues-folk into the Savage Grace sound. The sound is distinctive, yet remains diversified, open and imaginative. After a month or so of practice and incredible song-writing, the Savage Grace began to perform in the area and quickly became one of the most talked about bands on the Detroit scene. Warner/Reprise heard the talk and then heard the sound of Seanor's refined and free piano and harpsichord, Zack's precise drumming, Koss' screaming/whispering guitar, Jacquez' lust thirsting vocals, and snatched them into a recording contract. The Grace recorded in Los Angeles in February and the album is to be released April 15. The album, which uses some experimental embellishment with the Moog synthesizer, includes "Lady Rain", "Ivy", "Come On Down" and other songs, and will preserve those favorites for Savage Grace fans.

ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE: All the Lonely People are one of the few horn bands on the Detroit scene, but have managed to keep the tradition of raw driving Detroit music, instead of falling into the stereotyped rut of horn bands set by BS&T or Chicago. The eight musicians have been together for about a year now with the same personnel and several still find time for college between daily practices and weekend gigs. Their stage appearances are highlighted by their dynamic lead singer and keyboardist, Larry Baird, who remains in perpetual motion throughout the set. Recently signed to Vanguard Records, All the Lonely People left for New York last week to record an album whose release date is yet uncertain.

BOB SEGER SYSTEM: The "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man", Bob Seger has to his credit more hit singles than any other Detroit rock and roller and his newest, "Lucifer," off an upcoming album, looks like it's going to be another smash. But, with his intense 'heavy musical' style, soul screeching vocals and plaintive, right on lyrics, it's not at all surprising. Seger's prominence on the national music scene is due to two basic strengths-his incredible, retched from the bowels of the soul voice and his brilliant song-writing talents. Holding a unique position on the Detroit scene, Seger continues to write hit after hit.

THE UP: The self-proclaimed "skinnies from murder city", macrobiotic revolutionaries the Up have stepped in for Trans-Love Energies/Youth International Party/White Panther Tribe as the number one revolutionary band in Michigan. Led by the incredible vocals of lead singer Frank Bach and the high-energy drumming of young Scott Bailey, whose prowess at the skins is not to be believed, the Up have always had a revolutionary consciousness which at times has overshadowed their music. But, as the boys (who, besides Frank and Scott, include Bob and Gary Rassmussen on guitar/bass) have improved their music; their stance as a guerrilla/ rock band in the Midwestern tradition has solidified until today they have a surprisingly large following for a group of "unknowns". At present, the group has independently prepared a single on their own Sundance label, "Just Like An Aborigine" b/w "Hassan I Sabba". The skinniest rock and roll band in the world will also travel to Miami, where they will perform and delight the audience with their destroyer renditions of high energy jams.

CATFISH: A little less than a year ago, a recently formed Catfish went to New York City without a gig and wound up playing a Tuesday night audition set at the Fillmore East, blowing everybody back and being signed to Epic. They hadn't played much around Michigan, but they began getting jobs all over the country. They still haven't played much in Michigan, and although they've been fantastically received everywhere else, they're anxious to build a following at home. It should be easy for them. On stage they're supremely self-confident and they'll do anything to generate excitement. Their music is hard and loud and their show is super flashy. The focus of the excitement is three-hundred pound lead singer Bob Hodge who squirms, squeals, and jumps and shouts, is truly a delight and says "This is really our home, even if the people don't know us, so we've got to get home and let the people get to know us." In short, they're a perfect Michigan band. And aware of it.

SRC: The SRC are truly veterans on the Detroit scene. From the days of "I'm So Glad" until the present, they have sustained a steady Midwest following. Known for their serious, hard working approach to the music business, they have set a fine example in organization for younger bands to follow. Besides making their music, the SRC have been involved in community affairs (festivals and benefits) and are in the process of building complete studio facilities in Ann Arbor. They recorded and produced their recently released third Capitol album, "Travelers Tale" themselves and are presently working on a new single. During the next two months, the SRC will be playing various dates across the U.S. and Canada to promote 'Traveler's Tale."

TEEGARDEN & VAN WINKLE: Teegarden & Van Winkle were a pleasant surprise on the Detroit scene. They migrated to the Motor City from Tulsa, Oklahoma and have infiltrated our music with a touch of folksiness and a little cracker barrel humor. What this two-man band can do with just an organ and drums (especially in the day of the electric guitar) is just amazing. Their popularity is partly due to the "parlor entertainment" atmosphere they create on stage. The duo is presently working on their third album, that will not be on Atco Records, which released their first two.

MITCH RYDER AND THE DETROIT WHEELS: Long removed from the Detroit scene (since he was with 'Billy Lee and the Rivieras" in the mid-sixties) the return of Mitch Ryder to his home, with a new band and a return to his high energy stage show, is a pleasant surprise. "We had to come back to Detroit to find what we'd lost in New York", Ryder reported and he seems to have done just that. A new band, centering around drummer John Badanjek, an original Wheel, a pair of excellent hornmen in Mike McClellan and Chuck Florence and an ace rhythm section including Boot Hill, piano, Ray Goodman, guitar and Tony "Tuna" Suhy on bass. Ryder seems to have lost none of his excellence as a master showman and dynamic vocalist while drummer Badanjek is still the funkiest white drummer in rock and roll. The band looks like it could be headed back to the top.

THE STOOGES: Iggy and the boys set the world on its ass with their incredible first record, "The Stooges" (Elektra); Iggy dances and sings the way you always wished you could, a prancer, a rock and roll Nureyev without equal. Lately, people have been relating his tactics to "multisex" erotica though it really is just the Detroit/Ann Arbor area's finest extension of the rock and roll lead singer in the Jagger/ Morrison tradition. The band itself is super-involved with calisthenic exercises in electro-guitar technology. The Stooges have tightened up their stage show, and music in general, in the last couple of months and people may soon begin to see what happens when the world's most psychedelic band meets Led Zeppelin. Or somethin' like that. Lead guitarist Ron Asheton has begun to step into his own of late, becoming both more proficient on the more traditional aspect of guitar work and also polishing his already advanced attack on the technological limits of feedback/wah-wah/waves of energy. The latest news from Stoogedom includes a new rhythm guitarist, Bill Cheatham, who will begin appearing with the band shortly, and a west coast album session/tour, their first. They've already received stares and shouts of approval on the east coast and in New England. Yet the Stooges have changed in the last year or so since they cut the first album. And there's no way to explain that except to say you shoulda seen 'em when they was weird.

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