There are only a few bands that seem to come to life the minute they hit the stage, and almost none that can capture those special nights and make you feel like you were there when the songs are put on CD. Whether it's Live at Leeds, The Apollo or Folsom Prison or something completely unique like Unplugged in New York there are live albums that everyone seems to have and hold on to because the sound is terrific and the record defines the band.
But there are a few records, like Kick Out the Jams, Live at Sin-E or Otis Redding's Live in Europe that shows an artist transforming in front of us; becoming something bigger than you could ever imagine. The tape hiss and static crackle are ignored, and the current of electricity that runs through the set and becomes a part of us. It's that energy that people can't let go of and the reason people trade shitty bootleg copies and listen with strained ear and volume cranked.
Well, Alive/Natural - a long time supporter of the band - has done us all a favor and transformed one of those hiss filled sets into a CD recording. In 1978, the Ramones grabbed a hold of Fred "Sonic" Smith's band, Sonics Rendezvous Band, and requested they open for them in Detroit. End result? Well, for 36-minutes the power of the band dominates your ears. The sound is rough and ragged, but hot damn does it move. I'm not saying this white hot set should be placed on a pedestal like some of the other "live" staples, but it helps you remember that Detroit was kickass and why so many people were influenced by this super group.
From the minute the set starts, Fred's guitar and voice are piercing and Scott Asheton refuses to let up on the drums. I have no idea how he didn't kick a hole in the bass drum, but even on this converted recording - remastered from an old tape recording - the bass drum feels like it might pound through your chest.
The guitars on Gone With the Dogs are unrelenting and the last 2 minutes are almost overwhelming, but somehow they are able to keep the energy going when Scott Morgan takes the mic on my favorite track, Love and Learn. By the time Sonic signs off with City Slang, you are left broken and battered and have to wonder if even for one night in 1978, the opening act was able to upstage the Ramones and renew faith in the Detroit scene. - Herohill