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« June 21, 2013

Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock & Roll in America's Loudest City

Detroit just wants to rock & roll all night
Review by Kevin Curtin

Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock & Roll in America's Loudest City

by Steve Miller
Da Capo Press, 336 pp., $16.99 (paper)

An oral history of Motor City music told through singers, scenesters, managers, producers, club owners, and others who lived to recall the Midwest's hardest rocking town, Detroit Rock City offers insider access to over 50 years of down-and-dirty rock & roll. "How could you trust a guy who didn't get high?" wonders early MC5 Svengali John Sinclair about Ted Nugent, whose Amboy Dukes, along with the Stooges, Alice Cooper, and to a lesser extent Kiss, dominate the book's early chapters. Their exploits with drugs, guns, and shady business, commingled with cameos from the Who, Zeppelin, Bowie, and Johnny Thunders provide plenty of intrigue. Later, the insurgence of punk and hardcore bring forth grimy greats like Negative Approach and the Meatmen, before the millennial garage boom turns half the scene into potential celebrities. DRC layers factoids, including how Iggy Pop earned high school valedictorian honors and how Dirtbombs' lead man Mick Collins has a furry fetish. There's also Jack White beating the shit out of Von Bondies' singer Jason Stollsteimer in 2004. With its scriptlike format, Detroit Rock City doesn't draw any overarching conclusions, but it does one better: It makes you feel like you were in the scrum.

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