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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Julian Cope's Massive Detroit Rock Sampler -- and the Weed to Go with It

Posted By on Tue, Jan 11, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Julian Cope: rock archivist extraordinaire, weird dude.
  • Julian Cope: rock archivist extraordinaire, weird dude.

Listen to this while high: Detroit Rock Sampler Part 1, by Julian Cope, courtesy of Head Heritage.

Behind the buzz: The blogged musings of onetime rockstars aren't normally considered any "public service," but there's little normal about Julian Cope. A leading exponent of druggy ya-ya as historian and notable post-punk musician, Cope did us all a favor by compiling this massive sub-genre primer as two Brobdingnagian MP3s. For any nosering imp curious about the '60s and '70s glory days of Detroit-made heartland rock, this is it -- the original get-up-everybody's-gonna-move-their-feet that forever bent the frame of American music. Though the physical Motor City is now dying a slo-mo Pompeian death, this monstrous subset of classic rock shows every sign of living on as a rebuke to what we've settled for, if nothing else.

Today's weed: Operations like this need a 420 preparation with range and striking power -- in other words, a bed of Baby Jesus hybrid indica with a sprinkle of fluffy Afghan hash.

Opening rush: Cope wisely opts for "Guitar Army" by The Rationals, who were the true fathers of the whole scene, heavily influencing MC5, whose "Looking at You" follows, a blistering bluesy rush that prefigures most of 1970s stadium rock. At this point in the preliminary bombardment, even louder-than-God ambient sounds like garbage-truck hydraulics and helicopter propwash get blended in a la Stockhausen. Alice Cooper's "Long Way to Go" reminds us that agitprop wasn't just something MC5 and John Sinclair were into. The Amboy Dukes' "Journey to the Center of Your Mind" casts terminal doubt on Ted Nugent's anti-drug cred and reminds you of the heavy soothing weeds in the pipe at the end of your wrist.

Cruising altitude: "Heavy Music" by Bob Seger System is just the kind of psychedelic grease-bomb ol' Mr. Against the Wind used to lay on the hippie trade. The nine-plus minutes of Grand Funk Railroad's "Inside Looking Out" are a big burning earful of name-brand slag cut in the Flint trio's bones-making days. The Woolies' cover of "Who Do You Love" is an oft-anthologized fuzz-nugget and The Underdogs' version of Holland-Dozier-Holland's "Love Gone Bad" is one mean streak of snake's spit.

Turbulence: Despite its obvious merits, Detroit's epic cover of the Velvets' "Rock 'N Roll" probably isn't the best way to ring on the great Mitch Ryder, and the whole trip badly needs a nice blast of his kind of Sugar Smacks about now anyway. Insert "Jenny Take a Ride!" here. Likewise, though "Black Sheep" is SRC's best-known track, its proggy keening slows the momentum and doesn't afford the showiest example of this now-forgotten act's incendiary form.

The comedown: Part 1 fades out after 67 minutes. The blue-eyed wheatfield soul of Flaming Ember's "Gotta Get Away" braces us nicely for an onrushing End anyway, with Frigid Pink's magnificent pulpit-pounding take on "House of the Rising Sun" closing out proceedings. This massive dose of blogged music nicely dovetails with the time it takes to toke down the aforementioned bongload, leaving the listener, unlike the poor bastard Pink vocalist Tom Beaudry is yowling about, with few regrets.

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