Alternative music reviews

The Soledad Brothers

Nottingham Rescue Room 9th May 2003

"…it’s an eighty year-old man in a purple leotard with a shit stain on the back". Interestingly the dictionary defines ‘Soledad Style’ as "a fuckin’ badass brand of blues which forms a ramshackle Stones-meets-Dylan sound with a dictatorial Detroit accent". Mr Johnny Walker MD (Vocals, guitar) and Mr Ben Swank Esq. (Drums) however, define their take on the Detroit scene as an OAP ODing on laxative whilst shopping in C&A.

Having stumbled into the sweatbox that is the Brothers’ dressing room your reporter is trying to expel the creaking noise made by Detroit’s overflowing bandwagon as Pearlene (featuring members of god knows how many Detroit bands) troop in and out. "If we’re recording people just pop in and pick up an instrument, that’s why there’s so many on (2nd, and excellent, record) Steal Your Soul (and Dare Your Spirit to Move) – everyone plays on everyone’s records".

In the real world the "quintessential revolutionary rock band" (and fellow Detroiters) the MC5 may have sold their logo to Levis, but, in the ultra-cool, three day old fag-smelling world of Rock’n’Roll Soledad Brothers’ t-shirts are the epitome of cool. The Datsuns, the Hellacopters and the infamously permed ‘Soledad Guy’ have all stepped out in their iconic garments. Ben claims that in Paris a complete stranger asked where to get one – this band exude the kind of cool Radiohead just can’t find in their computer.

The Soledad Brothers were initially three "wrongly imprisoned black revolutionaries" and when it comes to mixing music and politics Johnny has views, beginning his quest for the ultimate response…"it’s just pathetic not to express your opinions", "popstars think they are the centre of the fucken’ universe but their views may be a gateway for young people’s opinions, we don’t live in bubbles". Almost Johnny but it’s hardly "your country need you", "Politics permeate society, they’re not a separate entity". That’s it. Listen up Mr Bush this guy’s got slogans! And after a few Stripes mentions (Miss Meg is in the house to see her boyfriend Oliver Henry much to this reporter’s bladder weakening excitement) and some dubious mullet comments we slink off with Motor city already roaring up on stage.

Live, the Brothers are an entertaining entity; Swank pounds, Henry puffs (on the Sax) and Walker pouts. Amp-humping and drum pounding fills the mind and, if it weren’t for the enchanting blues onstage one may be a little more worried about the Jesus-alike dancing a la Brent in the corner. ‘Break ‘em on Down’ and ‘Teenage Heart Attack’ flash by in a storm of retro-riffery. At one point Johnny jumps down and delivers that Soledad beat to the nearest sweatmasters. Harmonica solos ensue interspersed with bass-free dancibility and our mini-Motor city rocks with the sound of re-energised revolution. In truth The Brothers really are De Stijl.

Review and photos by Alex Lawson

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