Rhythm & Views 

The Detroit Cobras

The Detroit Cobras put soul into their rock 'n' roll, and rock 'n' roll into their soul. Combining two previous releases and featuring 19 less-than-well-known covers with one original, Baby is a sexy, rocking romp by a Motor City crew that knows its stuff inside and out.

Fronted by the husky-voiced Rachel Nagy, the Detroit Cobras are kissing cousins of the New York Dolls and a whole legion of R&B- and soul-influenced party bands like the Forty-Fives, Fleshtones, etc. With not even a nod toward the state of the world, their mandate is to hit maximum booty shake and gogogo.

With a rhythm section that takes its cue from the classic soul sounds of the 1960s, the Detroit Cobras swing like mad underneath while rocking like mad on top. Fueled by handclaps, tambourine shakes, terrific backup vocals and charging guitars, tracks like "I Wanna Holler (But the Town's Too Small)," "Mean Man" and "Cha Cha Twist" are shindig/dance-party ready. Bobby Womack's "Baby Help Me" is pure soul, while things slow down to ballad speed for "It's Raining" and "Silver and Gold (When I Get Like This)." Willie Dixon's "Insane Asylum" gets the hoodoo blues treatment, while "Ya Ya Ya (Looking for My Baby)" is straight out of the garage. Tracks by Pops Staples, Allen Toussaint, Dan Penn/Spooner Oldham and Isaac Hayes all speak to a band with significant record collections and a love for the authentic. Gifted emulators more than originators, Detroit Cobras nonetheless make it all sound new again.

More by Carl Hanni


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