Everyone who has heard of the late 70's hard rock supergroup Detective, please raise your hand? Not too many of you, right? Well, don't feel left out, as this 'supergroup', who signed to Led Zeppelin's Swan Song Records in 1977 and released two solid albums for the label before splitting up to little fanfare, never seemed to really hit the radar of the masses, and it's a damn shame. Comprised of lead singer Michael Des Barres (Silverhead/Power Station), keyboard player Tony Kaye (Yes/Badger/Flash/Circa), guitarist Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf/Kozmic Blues Band/Hokus Pokus), bassist/vocalist Bobby Pickett (Sugarloaf/Stone Furnace), and drummer/vocalist Jon Hyde (Hokus Pokus), Detective mixed their brand of hard rock with plenty of funk, R&B, fusion, and pop, coming across like an exciting mix of Led Zeppelin, Bad Company, Trapeze, Humble Pie, Jeff Beck Group, and The Faces. How this band wasn't one of the 'mega-groups' of the late 70's is still a mystery. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Wounded Bird Records, both the self-titled debut as well as It Takes One to Know One have been reissued and are available to be discovered once again by rock fans of all ages.
Opener "Recognition" has that L.A. sound, sort of like a cross between Steely Dan and Toto, featuring De Barres' smooth crooning and some tasty guitar licks from Monarch. Things really start to get interesting with "Got Enough Love", a ballsy rocker with plenty of rhythmic thump thanks to some meaty bass work from Pickett and Hyde's 'Bonham-like' drum pounding. The 'Zeppelin-meets-Bad Co.' comparisons continue on the heavy rocker "Grim Reaper" complete with some snarling vocals from Des Barres and plenty of Monarch riffs and that ever present thick bottom end. The ballad "Nightingale" could have easily come off of a Rod Stewart solo album from that time period, and Kaye's honky tonk piano drives the crunchy "Detective Man", an old fashioned rock and roll piece in the fine tradition of The Rolling Stones, The Faces, or Humble Pie. Des Barres is probably more known as an actor than a singer, but he proves to have pipes aplenty here, as his vocals fit squarely in the Marriott/Plant/Stewart/Rodgers/Hughes mold. In fact, the whole band channels Trapeze circa their Medusa period on the heavy metal bombast of "Ain't None of Your Business", the album's heaviest piece with menacing vocals, thick guitar riffs, and raging Hammond from Kaye.
In a surprising twist, the band channel their inner fusion leanings on the tasty instrumental "Deep Down", with Monarch laying down some fine Beck Blow By Blow period leads and Kaye's keyboards adding the atmosphere. "Wild Hot Summer Nights" is pure funk, and closer "One More Heartache" once again sees Detective deliver some heavy hitting Zeppelin styled heavy rock, fueled by some powerful drumming from Hyde and Monarch's stinging riffs & biting solos.
The 1970's best kept secret? Perhaps. My guess is Swan Song were so eager to find the next Zeppelin & Bad Company, that any band deemed 'the successors' were bound to fall short. In reality, Zep and Bad Co. were still viable acts, at least for another few years, so perhaps there was too much competition for poor Detective. Regardless, if you didn't check out this stellar debut back in 1977, now's a good a time as any to take the plunge.
2. Got Enough Love
3. Grim Reaper
5. Detective Man
6. Aint None Of Your Business
7. Deep Down
8. Wild Hot Summer Nights
9. One More Heartache