Saturday, November 12, 2005


When I first saw the Spike-Drivers listed on one of those psychedelic Gary Grimshaw posters nestled next to the likes of the MC5 and Seventh Seal way back when, I had them figured as being yet another one of those high-powered heavy metal bands that permeated the Detroit Scene between the years 1967 and '71 or so...y'know, one-a those loud and RAMBUNCTIOUS groups that people like I still get all obsessed over even a good four decades down the line! Naturally my rather infantile preconceptions changed when yet another one of my fair-weathered friends made me a cassette of various sixties garage band rarities gathered straight from his own 45 rpm collection sometime in the early-eighties (long before the rash of post-NUGGETS/PEBBLES/BOULDERS samplers glutted the collector's market making these home made jobs obsolete). I didn't hear anything especially hard or "high-energy" regarding the 'Drivers' nationally-distributed Reprise-label single and thusly went along thinking that this particular buncha Michigan rockers were totally outta step with what was really happening in the Motor City at the time. Well, time as usual has honed my opinions regarding this bunch, and nowadays I'd consider the Spike-Drivers a pretty good folk-rocking group on par with the pre-hippie San Francisco aggregates along the lines of the Mojo Men and Vejtables, or maybe even Detroit's answer to the early Fairport Convention's answer to what the Jefferson Airplane were doing, obviously GAINING something in the translation.

Yeah, this Cee-Dee may be a bit too good-timey in spots for the average BLOG TO COMM reader, but I must admit to being swayed not only by the fine Eastern modalities therein (which they actually taught to the Butterfield Blues Band prior to that group's groundbreaking EAST/WEST) but the fine medieval male/female harmonies reminiscent of San Fran long before that piece of real estate devolved into boring hackdom and was still struggling in the transition from garage band aesthetics to psychedelic head-dom. And for those of you who still may be bummed out over the group's alleged betrayal of their Michigan roots don't despair because it's obvious that the 'Drivers learned SOMETHING from their associations with the Five ("...we got very hot and sweaty")...just give a listen to "Everybody's Got That Feeling" with its burst of pure MC5-derived avant rock if you want some downright PROOF!

But (as you know) man does not live by atonal blare alone, and even a rockism-bred person such as I can settle back and enjoy tracks like the string-laden "Portland Town" (with Marycarol Brown's sweet femme folk rock pipes billowing one of the better antiwar odes in those pre-radical days putting obvious contenders like Joan Baez to shame!). And the rest obviously ain't no slouch either, from the mid-sixties garage-punk (good stuff for a buncha folksters who only discoverd rock after the Beatles made it hip for all) to even the Spoonful-y goof takes (like "Grocery Store," and catch the sly foul-word slippage which they actually snuck into their afternoon television appearance in Lima Ohio of all places resulting in every kid in town being grounded just so's they couldn't attend their show that very evening...the MC5 weren't the only Detroit band to create such controversy!) I dunno about you, but I find it all kinda exhilarating myself!

1 comment:

ThomasThomas said...

Where can one get that Velvet U cd???? Does Rocket Scientist or any nyc village stores have it????