Michael Des Barres Band
One way or another, you're bound to know Michael Des Barres. As much from his minor role in the famous 60's youth classic To Sir With Love, to fronting 70s bands like Silverhead and Detective (the latter featuring Tony Kaye of Yes and Jimmy Page's backing and signing to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label). Or maybe you saw him take over for Robert Palmer as the singer for Power Station in 1985.
Since then he's written hit songs, married groupie extraordinaire Pamela Des Barres, and had acting roles on MacGyver, Seinfeld, Frasier and movies like Pink Cadillac. Des Barres offered up one of his seminal rock and roll acting moments as the lead singer of the fictional rock band Scum Of The Earth on WKRP in Cincinnati, uttering the immortal: "We are scum, scum of the earth" a line I use to this day. Now, with his own Michael Des Barres Band, this rock and roll survivor has recorded the 10-song album, Carnaby Street.
The medium paced "You're My Pain Killer" features Des Barres' raspy vocal over a Jebin Bruni organ. The title track roils along, a truly autobiographical take with Des Barres sounding a bit like Ian Hunter, as he declares in a lyric: "I was 19 in 1967, on the streets of London. I was in Heaven. I was Oscar Wilde in velvet jeans. Everything you've heard is everything I've seen."
Bassist Paul Ill is in fine form providing a simple but effective low end on the positively infectious "Sugar." Carnaby Street was recorded live, sans a few percussion overdubs, and the fun of making music this way certainly shows on a song like "Sugar." A slow ballad gospel, "Please Stay" is a bluesy sway with the understated guitar work from Eric Schermerhorn and a poignant lyric you just know Des Barres lived through.
Once again, I am reminded of Ian Hunter on the rocker "Little Latin Lover," one of the best tunes on Carnaby Street. Things get good and jangly, like a Keith Richards' solo, on "Hot And Sticky." The disc ends with a great rocker called - what eels? - "My Baby Saved My Ass." Carnaby Street is a celebratory loose-where-it-should-be-but-tightly-played blues rock collection of well-crafted tunes played by cracker-jack musicians and fronted by a guy who certainly has been there for some rock and roll's most memorable events.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.