ROCK AND ROLL PEOPLE - The Rob Tyner Band (Captain Trip)

Here's a reish of a disc that was out just a coupla years ago on the Motor City Music label (in fact, one of the very first reviews by the Barman that I read before I was just slumming, not a full-time Barfly, was of that 'un) and once again, Japan's Captain Trip label has trumped a U.S. release of Motor City Rock Action. Just as their "Wayne Kramer Live At Dingwalls 1979" presented IN ITS ENTIRETY the incredible show from which Total Energy culled the best parts of their "Cocaine Blues" disc, so this one adds five bonus tracks from an earlier show at the Embassy Hotel in Windsor, Ontario (which, if I'm not mistaken, was the site of the Rationals' original last hurrah way back in '70) to the original recording of the abbreviated (support acts played too long) Kramer Theater, Detroit show from August '77.

This release takes on even more significance, coming as it does right before the 10th anniversary of Rob's demise. It's worth contemplating as a legacy from a little-documented and much maligned part of his career, when this band gigged as the "New MC5" and incurred the wrath of former cohorts in crime Wayne Kramer (from behind Jail Guitar Doors) and Fred "Sonic" Smith (who was gigging his Rendezvous Band wherever he could). Led by ace guitarist Robert Gillespie (who later made his mark in the Torpedos and Mitch Ryder's band and more recently provided the sting on Scott Morgan's "Satisfier" single), this band had more of a '69-'72 Stones feel than any shades of the Five - Gillespie and second lead Bill Wimble (ex-Motor City Bad Boys) were players in the aggressive-but-precise, vibrato-laden, Gibson-through-Marshall mold pioneered by the Detroit Wheels' Jim McCarty and perfected by the likes of SRC's Glen Quackenbush, Wayne "Tex" Gabriel with Elephant's Memory, and most notably Bob Ezrin's session aces Steve "Decatur Gator" Hunter (ex-Mitch Ryder's Detroit) and Dick Wagner (ex-Frost), whom it could be argued changed the sound of '70s rock (through their work with Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Aerosmith and others) more than even Hendrix (yr Ernie Isleys and Robin Trowers aside, most gtrists were too scared stiff of Hendrix to take him on until, uh, Stevie Ray Vaughan materialized in the early eighties).

The Five they're definitely not, but the Rob Tyner Band still rocks out just like you'd expect Dee-troit boyz to. Besides the obligatory Stones cover "19th Nervous Breakdown" (remember, jazz head Rob got turned on to the rock'n'roll thang by the Stones when they was still boss back in '64-'65 - why, as late as his 1990 "Blood Brothers" release, Rob was covering "It's Only Rock'n'Roll," for chrissakes!) and a coupla nods to history ("Kick Out the Jams," "Looking At You," and the '50s retreads from the "Back In the U.S.A." album and the Five's early live set), the material here's all original, and none of it's less than fine.

For what it's worth, I think this Rob Tyner aggro whupped the tar out of the later, metallic line-up that cut "Blood Brothers.." Rob's in fine voice, and his audience raps sound heartfelt. These are obviously audience recordings, but the quality's surprisingly good, with all the instruments clearly audible and fairly balanced. The remaster, while not up to the level of, say, the Sonic's Rendezvous Band "Sweet Nothing" set, makes the best of the source material. Kudos to Captain Trip for keeping the Detroit flame burning. I hear that they have a line on some board tapes that are even better-sounding. Can't wait to hear 'em. A worthy release. If you can't find in your area, try Captain Trip direct.
- Ken Shimamoto