Saturday, August 19, 2006

Rock Chicks

Let's hear it for the girls.

The Detroit Cobras - Baby

Sometimes the best music slips through the cracks. That's the case with the Detroit Cobras' Baby, which I've now owned for a couple years. I think I listened to it when it was released, sort of, was mildly impressed, and quickly shelved it. But I pulled it out again a few days ago, and I'm having a hard time listening to anything else.

Think Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders paired with the early Kinks, doing obscure Motown covers in a garage. Lead singer Rachel Nagy is a dead ringer for Hynde. The twenty songs here (all but one of them covers) are '50s and '60s R&B workouts with titles like "Cha Cha Twist" and "My Baby Loves the Secret Agent." Know those songs? Me either, but they have all the Space Age Bachelor Pad kitsch that the titles would suggest. Overall, this isn't at all far removed from the booty-shakin' Rawk that the The Animals, The Kinks, and the early Stones were doing in 1964. Sure, it's derivative. But it's great fun, and Nagy is a wonderful revelation as a singer. The White Stripes are far from the only occupants of that Motor City garage, and The Detroit Cobras prove to be excellent raw, stripped-down company.

The BellRays - Have a Little Faith

Wow. I've been reading about this band for a few years, and the descriptions always boggled belief -- Led Zeppelin fronted by Aretha Franklin. Yeah, sure. Well, believe it. Yes, they steal most of the classic Zep riffs (the one from "Whole Lotta Love" being a particular favorite). But they also do wah-wah pedal workouts that recall Curtis Mayfied during the Superfly era. And they do classic Stax/Volt mid-'60s soul, too. Lead singer Lisa Kekaula, who has one of the World's Greatest Afros, sure enough sometimes sounds like The Queen of Soul, and sometimes "merely" like Tina Turner or Gladys Knight. I think I've died and gone to Juke Joint Heaven. What a set of pipes. And if the lyrics aren't anything special, who cares?

Have a Little Faith has immediately shot into my Top 10 list for this year. It's fabulous. I can't wait to discover the back catalogue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the Detroit Cobras CD that you lent me. Of course, I was "present at the creation" of Rock and Roll in the 50's, so I'm always mindful of the special place that sound has for me. I now intend to seek out the Bell Rays (which would have been a great name for a 50's group).