Wednesday, 18 February 2015
Steve Miller, "Detroit Rock City" (2013)
The most interesting aspect of this book is its format. Miller has compiled a sequence of direct quotations from well-known rockers, support players, club owners, commentators, and hangers-on of the Detroit rock, punk, and garage rock scene, from the 1960s to the 2000s.
If you're a fan of the Stooges, MC5, Ted Nugent, etc., Detroit Rock City will give you some intriguing insights into how these groups evolved, how they were perceived by their peers, and how they influenced following generations of Detroit players. By the time Miller gets to testimony of figures from the early 1980s, however, the names, relationships, and value begins to overlap and mush together. This confusion may just as much reflect my own musical interests as it does the content. Perhaps if you're a fan of the Gories, the sections on the '80s and '90s will turn your crank. I suspect that the reader that will read this full book with rapt attention is rare indeed, and very likely would have to have lived in Detroit, played with the bands involved, or at least have similar experiences of playing crappy clubs, living in dives, and scarfing down shameless volumes of drugs and alcohol.
David Kirby wrote a very fair review in the Wall Street Journal (because that's where you should go to get your reviews of books about rock'n'roll, right?).
If you're interested in Detroit, you might also visit my notes on Charlie Duff's 2013 Detroit: An American Autopsy.