Blue Rose – Detroit Boogie
12 tracks / 48:23
How we ended up with Detroit Boogie from Blue Rose is definitely an interesting story. This Motor City-based band was formed by Jon Martin and Corey Storm in 1992 and played shows in and around Detroit and the Midwest until around the year 2000. There were a few personnel changes throughout the years, and the only Blue Rose full-length album that was ever released before was 1997’s Rock Me Low.
A few years ago, Jon went back through previously recorded material, and started working with analog tapes from 1994 to put together Detroit Boogie, which is kind of a prequel to their debut release, if you think about it. This album captures a unique aspect of the band, as there are three lead vocalists: Ahada, Beverly Ratliff, and Kim Lange. Also in the line-up from these 1994 sessions are Jon on bass, Corey on guitar, Barry Kovach behind the drum kit, and David Favro on keyboards and sax.
Blue Rose’s Detroit sound is a decidedly more rock than blues, and on this disc there are a dozen tracks that are evenly split between originals and covers. Ahada and either Storm or Martin wrote all of the originals, make sure you check the liner notes for details, as they are a nice resource for this release. Production values are good, and two decades after the fact Martin was able to put together a lively and organic recording that captures the essence of the band.
The party starts off with ”The Storm,” an original blues rocker with funky bass, screaming guitar, and plenty of sax to go around. Ahada’s voice is pure soul, and the backing vocals are incredible. The backline is tight and Corey’s guitar work has uncanny feel and timing. This tune is backed up a guitar-heavy version of Elvin Bishop’s mid-70s classic “Fooled Around & Fell in Love,” which calms things down a bit after the extra hot opening track. Other covers include Don Nix’s blues standard “Goin’ Down,” Ray Charles’ “I Believe in My Soul,” and Aretha Franklin’s “Evil Gal Blues.” Chances are very good that each of these will be the hardest rocking version of these songs that you have ever heard.
As a whole, the originals are also hard blues-rock, and they are consistently well written and entertaining. The standout track of the bunch is “Let it Ride,” which has a lot going for it. This driving song starts out with a bit of a bass solo and then the layers of sax and vocals harmonies kick in. Barry Kovach does a marvelous job of holding this one together and his drums fills are tasty indeed. At a touch over three minutes, this one is done was over far too soon!
The set comes to a close with another pair of covers: the Temptations’ funk standby “Shaky Ground” and a soulful yet rocking rendition of Ray Charles’ “Unchain my Heart. ” Favro kicks out a hammering piano solo on the latter, which is a nice counterpoint to Storm’s hard-edged guitars, Martin’s fat bass, and the ever-present lovely backing vocal harmonies.
Detroit Boogie from Blue Rose is a nice time capsule of what was going on in the Motown rock and blues scene twenty years ago, and it was a labor of love for Martin to put this material together into a tidy package for their fans to enjoy. If you are a fan of the era, the city, or the sound, you will need to check it out for yourself, as it is a kicking set of really fun music!