Detective - 'Detective' Hot

Added by James Gaden     May 05, 2010    
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Classic seventies rock album with Led Zeppelin influences.

After the likes of Ram Jam, Mother’s Finest, Face Dancer and Plasmatics; Rock Candy welcomes one and all to arguably the most eclectic reissue yet to emerge from its ever more impressive stable. Located in Los Angeles but fronted by British born aristocrat Michael Des Barres (one time vocalist with Silverhead, and then soon to be husband of infamous rock ‘n’ roll groupie Pamela Miller), Detective were a triumph (albeit a relatively short lived one) of ephemeral musical vision over the hedonistic excesses of the day.

The first American act signed to Led Zeppelin imprint Swan Song Records, the band – completed by ex-Steppenwolf guitarist Michael Monarch, one time Yes keyboard man Tony Kaye, bassist Bobby Pickett and drummer Jon Hyde – Detective were at one time being heavily touted as America’s answer to Led Zeppelin. And if you’ve ever heard their debut album (or even follow up ‘It Takes One To Know One’) it’s easy to understand why ... but more of that in a moment!

Although the original intention had been to record their self titled debut under the aegis of Zep legend Jimmy Page, scheduling conflicts (not to mention Page’s, shall we say less than ‘conventional’ lifestyle at that point) meant that was never really likely to happen. After kicking their heels for eight months waiting around, word filtered through that Page had withdrawn from the project, and another producer would be needed. At first Small Faces / Humble Pie man Steve Marriott was the name in the frame, but when this also fell flat, the band were flown to New York for an equally unproductive week with Eddie Kramer.

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Next they actually completed most of the album with Jimmy Robinson (then chief engineer at The Record Plant) but when that degenerated into the kind of overblown melodrama usually associated with second rate daytime soaps, they once again had to bail. In the end they completed and remixed parts of the album with Andy Johns. By this time most of the band (and Des Barres in particular) were wired most of the time, so the fact that they came out with an album most in the know now consider a classic is all the more remarkable!

Without wishing to understate the contributions of the rest of the band (all of whom were accomplished musicians in their own right), ‘Detective’ is really the marriage of Des Barres’ raw vocal charm and Monarch’s perfectly understated guitars – the former a strutting ringmaster a la Robert Plant, the latter a student of master technicians such as Clapton and Beck. Yes the whole album has the look and feel of Led Zeppelin – you only need to listen to ‘Got Enough Love’ or ‘Grim Reaper’ to work that one out – but the infusion of reggae (opener ‘Recognition’), rock n’ roll (‘Detective Man’) and funk / R&B (‘Wild Hot Summer Nights’) influences gave them enough of an identity to call their own.

Originally released in April 1977, ‘Detective’ has been fully remastered by the brilliant Jon Astley, and this superbly packaged definitive edition comes complete with the story of the band as told by Des Barres to respected rock journalist Paul Suter. A must for all serious scholars of 70’s rock!


Dave Cockett


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