The Detroit Cobras: Rachel Nagy (vocals); Dante Aliano, Maribel Restrepo (guitar); Eddie Harsch (bass); Damian Lang (drums).
Additional personnel: Jeff Grand (slide guitar); James Wailin (harmonica); Eddie Hawrsh (piano, organ).
Admittedly, the Detroit Cobras are simply a cover band. But with their release Life, Love and Leaving on the Long Beach label Sympathy for the Record Industry (the label responsible for the White Stripes' incredible international success), they've been given a bit of credence and an opportunity to showcase their amazing homegrown chops. These 14 songs, all Motown, soul, and good ole rock & roll standards, are the perfect material to bring this Detroit garage rock combo to life. Guitarists Dante Aliano and Maribel Restrepo set the frets afire with seething twangs and fuzz-box chord progressions. And singer Rachael Nagy attacks each song with aplomb, like Janis Joplin crossed with Mary Wells -- a hearty bar band crooner with showstopping resplendence. In fact, Nagy's most impressive track on the record is a cover of Wells' "Bye Bye Baby." Other standouts include her stunningly sincere renditions of Jackie Deshanon's "He Did It" and Otis Redding's "Shout Bama Lama." Like labelmates the White Stripes, the Cobras' sound is stripped down to '60s proportions so that the production takes a back-seat to heart-rending voices and screaming guitars. In this regard, Detroit mainstay Al Sutton triumphs, producing a minimal gem of an album. Life, Love and Leaving is clearly one of the best records of the Detroit garage rock scene. Though the Cobras may never really get their due in the shadow of so many more flashy, press-friendly Motown rockers, they have the much-coveted gift of musicality that sets them apart from most of their noisy neighbors. ~ Ken Taylor