Riding The Roots Chariot

By the start of the '70s, it was all over. The wired and furious sound of Detroit rock'n'roll had been largely ignored by the public ...

BY THE START OF THE ’70s, IT was all over. The wired and furious sound of Detroit rock’n’roll had been largely ignored by the public, and its two main exponents – The MC5 and The Stooges – were heading for collapse. As Iggy Pop made his way to Florida (apparently, to take up golf), The MC5 struggled on, issuing their last album – ‘High Time’ – in October 1971 before splitting. ‘Sweet Nothing’ is the sound of what happened next.

Built around a nucleus of MC5 guitarist Fred ‘Sonic’ Smith and Stooges drummer Scott Asheton, Sonic’s Rendezvous were a band that carried on where the battered metallic feedback of ‘Kick Out The Jams’ left off. Supplemented by bassist Gary Rasmussen and guitarist/ songwriter Scott Morgan, they played together over a five-year period, leaving behind only one seven-inch single (‘City Slang’).

‘Sweet Nothing’ is taken from April 4, 1978. Released now, four years after ‘Sonic”s death, at his wife’s (Patti Smith) bequest, it’s an incredible live document of the band’s raw, explosive sound. The bleeding riffs and sheer wild energy that characterised much of The MC5’s short career can all clearly be heard here (particularly on ‘Hearts’ and a final epic eight-minute assault on ‘City Slang’).

At a time when punk was starting to break in both New York and London, ‘Sweet Nothing’ shows that ‘Sonic’ and his contemporaries had neither blanded out nor lost any of their invention in the seven years since The MC5 called it a day. This album is a fitting tribute to that, and the enduring legacy of the Detroit sound.