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Detective: It Takes One To Know One (remaster)

Having moved on from Silverhead earlier in the decade, by the mid 70s, singer and actor Michael Des Barres found himself going undercover with Detective. Considered something of a supergroup at the time, the band was completed by one-time Yes keyboard player Tony Kaye, Steppenwolf guitarist Michael Monarch, Hokus Pokus drummer Jon Hyde and Sugarloaf bassist Bobby Pickett. The quartet released a self-titled debut in 1976, which scrapped into the top 150 of the Billboard charts, before hitting the road with Kiss. However, record label, Swan Song, were keen to keep the studio ball rolling, hence Detective were suddenly called back in to record their second album, It Takes One To Know One (with this reissue, the album available for the first time officially on CD outside of America, Japan and Germany). With their Led Zeppelin associations through the legendary band's label, Swan Song, comparisons were inevitable, however they were also accurate, Hyde from the big booming school of Bonham, Monarch as capable of a bold riff and guitar dramatics as Page. Des Barres on the other hand went for a slightly less histrionic approach, his wonderful vocals more Paul Rodgers meeting Rod Stewart and unsurprisingly bringing a more Bad Company or Faces vibe to proceedings, than Robert Plant's lemon squeezing.

Opinions are split as to which of the band's two studio albums are better, Hyde suggesting in the insightful liner notes that he never cared much for It Takes One… at the time due to it's rushed beginnings. Although Des Barres disagrees, saying "I love both our albums. The second has some of my best vocals." And it's hard to argue, his authoritative bark impressive throughout, although with a real bluesy swagger in his armoury, he's as likely to seduce as he is to intimidate. Hyde's hammering drum work dominates, in a good way, right across the whole album, the way he and Pickett lay down swathes of gigantic groovin' goodness something to behold. Add in the unexpected keyboard flourishes and Monarch's killer riffs and the only question is why didn't It Takes One To Know One gain more notice at the time? Something else the liner notes try to get to the bottom of.

Hitting hard through an excellently remastered sound, sample the insistent persuasion of "Betcha Won't Dance" to hear Detective in full flow, before the cutting riff and thunderous percussion of "Fever" gets all hot under the collar. Closer, "Tear Jerker", where Hyde gets to show off his bag of tricks behind the kit – including cowbell – sounds like a long lost classic from Zeppelin's In Through The Out Door, as a darting riff and sharp vocal provides an urgent, almost skittish attack. Opener "Help Me Up" possesses a more considered Faces feel, a carefree head tossing, hair shaking vibe a superb introduction. However with only nine tracks on show (no bonus cuts I'm sorry to say), there's all meat and no fat here, "Competition" seductively slithering, "Something Beautiful" adding a slight country feel to the more masculine fare heard elsewhere.

Long considered a cult classic, with It Takes One To Know One, it's easy to hear why so many view Detective as one of those bands that were let slip away all too easily, the evidence here suggesting that this lot were a match for many a name still long celebrated today. However it wasn't to be and after an aborted live album, Live From The Atlantic Studios (also reissued by Cherry Red as part of this Michael Des Barres retrospective), Detective went their separate ways. Thankfully they left a legacy of tremendous music behind them and depending on who you speak to, it doesn't get any better than It Takes One To Know One.

Track Listing

Added: November 20th 2016
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: It Takes One To Know One at Cherry Red
Hits: 2015
Language: english

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