Detroit punk legends feted in DVD/CD package
Courtesy of Rockin’ J
“I wonder if what I think about what happened in The Dogs’ day,” asks legendary MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer in liner notes to this set, “means much to anyone outside of the small tribe of music nuts who can’t get enough trivia about their favorite artist.”
Doggy Days… The Dogs Live L.A. To Tokyo and The Dogs Tribute… Doggy Style are, respectively, a five-hour-long DVD and 35-song tribute CD documenting and honoring the career and revival of one of Detroit’s most influential cult rock bands.
Along with The Stooges and MC5, The Dogs helped forge the template for punk in the late ’60s and early ’70s with a snarling, anti-establishment attitude, and industrial-sized slabs of Motown power chords. After years of obscurity, these bands saw, along with the rise of Detroit’s White Stripes, a resurgence of interest in the new millennium that for The Dogs—the least known of the three—culminated in their first tour of Japan in 2007.
The answer to Kramer’s rhetorical question is that he’s right—his thoughts on The Dogs probably do only matter to a bunch of music nuts. But for them, they mean a great deal. For these devotees—and curious rock fans who happen across this collection—Doggy Days, produced by Tokyo resident “Detroit Jack,” provides a fascinating, if long-winded, window into a little-known side of rock history.
Beginning with footage of The Dogs performing in LA in 2001, the DVD takes viewers both backwards to their early days in Detroit and LA, and forwards to their riotous Tokyo gigs in 2007.
Despite the jerky quality of the footage and low-budget editing (which in some ways impart an authentic flavor), what really makes Doggy Days a good view is the sheer charisma of the band, in particular frontman Loren Molinare. White-haired and balding he may be, but Molinare retains the DIY energy and f#*k-you attitude of someone one-third his age.
Producer Detroit Jack says the reason Detroit bands like the Dogs resonate with young Japanese rockers comes down to one fact: both groups view rock as a way out of a life of soul-destroying, low-paid work.
“Factories are oppressive places,” he says. “Machines are not sympathetic to the humans that are forced to become a part of them, and neither is management. This feeling of powerlessness is shared by Japanese in a culture that emphasizes the group above the individual. There is a struggle going on inside many in Japan that is very similar to the struggle of the factory worker in Detroit.”
For trainspotters of Japan’s live house scene, the concert footage from Tokyo looks pretty convincing. And The Dogs Tribute companion CD, containing covers by underground Japanese legends like Melt-Banana, is a story in and of itself.
“Is this important?” Kramer again asks.
“I think it is,” he answers.
“Why?” he asks again.
“Because it tells me I’m not alone. I’m not the only nutcase out here who cares.”