AKA: “Odd Ball music and the Detroiters’ who listen to it…”
Long before Jack White hit the big time with “White Stripes” he was touring Metro Detroit with a band called Goober & the Peas. I enjoyed many a Goober show, and others like me who enjoyed what I call “odd ball” music were also at the shows. We jammed at places like Lili’s in Hamtown. Okay no, the town is really not named Hamtown. Hamtramck, Michigan is well known around Michigan for it’s Polish Sausage and abundance of Polish culture. Of course, that was then.
And this is now. Rock N’ Roll is no longer considered “top 40” or commercial when compared to the Rap/Hip-Hop-derivatives. However, some might say that being on the burning edge of a society is where Rock and Roll music belongs. But you didn’t come here for a lecture on R & R did ya?
You came because Jack White, Cub Koda, Catfish Hodge, The Urbations, The PM’s, Bootsey X and The Mutants once blasted out super fun and creative music. They performed in obscure corners of Metro Detroit where people laughed, danced, and enjoyed hot hot women and cold cold beer.
That was Goober and the Peas! Now how about Cub Koda? The Cubmaster was a great talent known for his blues-style guitar playing. He released solo LP’s and played with his band “The Points” at Second Chance in Ann Arbor (aka A-Squared.) But some of his most notable tunes are from his days with Brownsville Station. Here’s two of my favorites…
You may have heard a newer version of Smokin’ in the Boyz room by Motley Crew. Now listen to “Hodge” – – Catfish Hodge! He released a regional hit, “The Boogie Man’s Gonna Get you” on his 1972 Eastbound Records release. Eastbound/Westbound was a Detroit label, and you may have heard of them via bands like Funkadelic. The following video is from a re-release of Hodges’ music on Ace Records called “Different Strokes.”
Hodge played the blues, but what about another style, something I like to call…Rockin’ Polka? Here’s a dang fun band that was more interested in being “odd” than being politically correct. The following 70’s era remake was a local Detroit radio hit. You might recall the original hit from the 60’s. Love Potion Number 9…
PM is fun, but Bootsey X was pure genius — or at least as Bootsey says, “Genius From the Waist Down.” I owned a Cassette that Bootsey X and the Love Masters released back in the day, and I still love this music! Bootsey jammed at Lili’s in Hamtown many times, and I also enjoyed his vocals when he accompanied Dark Carnival, singing the Iggy Pop classic “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
Side-note: Dark Carnival featured RON ASHTON on guitar! Yep DC is one of bands that he fronted after leaving Iggy and the Stooges.
Second Side-note: Ashton’s lead singer was Niagara, the Metro-D-area Painter. She’s super talented, and dang-gorgeous too.
Second Second Side-note: Ashton fronted bands like “The New Order” featuring vocals by Dave Gilbert, of the Rockets. No-one screams like Dave Gilbert, especially on their “Love Transfusion” LP. The Rockets were one of my favorite Detroit area bands featuring Jim McCarty (guitar) and drummer Johnny “Bee” Badanjek, both former members of the group Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels. On slide and rhythm guitar was Dennis Robbins, who later garnered several hits on his solo LP.
Third Side-note: Ashton was in Destroy all Monsters along with Niagara. DAM was seen frequently around Ann Arbor, sometimes sharing the bill with Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith (Patti Smith’s hubby) and his A2 area band, Sonic Rendezvous.
Mutants, yipes! The Mutants played the D to many a happy crowd, and they graced the airwaves with their hit “So American.” Here it is via 45 rpm, the record is backed by a great (but rude) tune called “Piece of S@^^%.” They also have an LP out, under the name “Motor City Mutants” where you’ll hear a different mix than in the Youtube video below:
Urbations, flirtations, wonko-vations, oh my! I really loved the Urbations early live shows, featuring Dr. Blurt Sandblaster on vocals. I owned one of their EP’s, but it disappeared into the land of…”May I borrow this record, I promise to bring it back…” So here’s what I found on Youtube. If you can find the EP with “Flatfoot Sam” — I highly recommend it. Buy it for me and I’ll blow you kisses forever. The following, “Ring Ring” is really not as fun as the stuff I remember, but you’ll get the idea.
“Otay,” so that’s about all for now folks. Maybe some day I’ll come back and we’ll discuss ODD BALL music from places like Miami, where my bar-buddy Charlie Picket jammed with the Eggs. (c) Dean Lachiusa 2020.
ADDENDUM, da dum dum…This always seems to happen to me, and to you, and I’ll likely continue to add more snippets to this article. Many moons ago I watched a live performance in Detroit by a local band called Fugitive Poetry. The performance was stunning, in particular the tune “Caterpillar” in which the guitarist was elegantly lit while inside a (cocoon.) He rolled and spasmed during the song. And I’m sorry that there is no film/video of that performance. Unfortunately, and IRONICALLY he died shortly after…from cancer in his spine. There is an LP, and I have it. The vocals are strong, and high – in the castrato range much like David Surkamp.
Surkamp was the lead in the band Pavlog’s Dog, and he performed a guest vocal for Detroit’s own Michael Quatro on his 4rth LP featuring the (odd-ball) tune, “Ancient Ones.”
Quatro is best known for his LP “In Collaboration of the God’s. And I highly recommend this record, especially if you like fine keyboard playing. Mike’s famous sister Suzi Quatro and their not-so-famous, but very talented other sisters fronted two of the first all-girl bands — “Cradle” and then later “Fanny.” Mike Quatro is from Grosse Pointe, Michigan. And I’ve run into him many times through the years at his live shows and around here. (He also shops at the same record store that I do.) Mike has an interesting history.
As a live performer, he played multiple Polyphonic keyboards at the same time — notably WITHOUT MIDI. That’s right, Mike handled multiple rhythms without any computer assistance. He’s a freakn’ keyboard-genius who’s legacy is likely effected by his reputation with girls.
Sex is something that might have effected Quatro’s career, for example on his “Bottom Line” LP, you can see his wife’s hinny predominantly featured on a series of back-cover photos.
I spoke with Bayard Spector, the SRI record company mogul about his “Bottom Line” release, and he didn’t seem too pleased at the time. I won’t go into details, maybe his reaction had something to do with Mike’s re-releases of his material on LP’s published by the Koala record label, or maybe he didn’t like Belinda’s butt. (This is pure unsubstantiated speculation on my part!)
If you look on Discogs.com, you’ll see Koala released LP’s that Discogs tags as “unofficial releases.” I take this to mean that these releases are not entirely cleared or licensed — and very close to being considered bootlegs. How did releasing music on Koala effect an artist’s reputation? I have no idea, but I find it interesting.
And speaking of interesting record labels…Bayard Spector operated SRI (Spector Records International.) This is NOT the same Spector Records operated by the infamous Phil Spector…Strange coincidence or marketing sub-genius??? — Dean out…until the next addendum!