Forty-five years later, the singer Michael Des Barres listen to Detective’s self-titled debut album and hear the tantalizing potential for greatness in its grooves.
A bluesy hard rock band, it found its way to Swan Song Records through Des Barres’ friendship with guitarist Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, the band behind the label.
His 1977 debut was made amid all the excesses of the music industry at the time, recorded for a year at the Record Plant in Los Angeles at a cost of $1 million.
But for all its benefits, Detective, the band and the album, quickly disappeared — until today, April 23, when thanks to a bit of luck and a few twists of fate, a new limited-edition vinyl release from “Detective” falls on Record Store Day 2022.
Record Store Day, of course, is the annual celebration of independent record stores, for which record labels big and small will rummage through coffers for music that, like Detective’s, may be out of print. , forgotten or overlooked, but which looks and sounds like something worth rediscovering and re-releasing.
“This record is so (beep) powerful, and it just slipped through your fingers,” says Des Barres. “It slipped through my fingers because I think it was bluesy hard rock and of course they compared us to Zeppelin, and they said Zeppelin played on it and all that crap.
“Yes, we were influenced by magic, but not by chord structure,” he says. “So it’s a delightful thing to get him out now.”
Org Records, which acquired the master recordings of Detective’s two studio albums and a live show recorded in New York, decided to release the debut album on Record Store Day to make its return to the turntables something special. .
“They were big Detective fans,” Des Barres says. “And they thought that would be a great way to do that, rather than just posting it, you know, easy to understand, here it is again.
“And that’s what we did,” he said. “We have this huge party thrown at Benedict Canyon. T-shirts and all the merch and everything you could want from a rebirth and reincarnation, so to speak, of a band that we all loved.
The Detective albums had long since disappeared from record stores, and it may have stayed that way, but for a kind and unexpected gesture, Des Barres says.
“It didn’t happen bureaucratically, it just happened like magic in my opinion,” he says. “Anything to do with Led Zeppelin, and certainly Jimmy, has a flavor that I don’t think anyone else has, or any other band has.
“So what happened is that the years went by,” Des Barres says. “I was in different groups, and the guys were in different groups. About a year ago I got a call from a lawyer saying, ‘Do you want the masters back from Inspector ?” Jimmy would like to give them to you.
“I said, ‘By all means,’ you know, because I really wanted them to come out, and those albums to be heard,” he says.
Page and Des Barres met in the early 70s when Des Barres was the frontman of British glam rock band Silverhead.
“Jimmy and I met in a crazy orgiastic situation,” he says of their meeting. “We talked, and I was sort of finding out what (English occultist) Aleister Crowley was, what tarot deck was, what spirituality I believed in.
“There were so many relationships before the detective,” Des Barres says, noting that Page had dated Pamela Ann Miller, a famous rock groupie known as Miss Pamela, before she and Des Barres met and get married, and she became Pamela Des Barres.
“We kind of cared about each other and the vibe,” Des Barres said of Page. “Not on a musical level, but on a spiritual level.”
One night in Birmingham, England, Silverhead played a gig for around 20 fans at a small club in Birmingham, England. From the back, the four members of Led Zeppelin watched: Page, vocalist Robert Plant, bassist John Paul Jones and drummer John “Bonzo” Bonham.
“It was the most surreal nightmare,” says Des Barres. “People were looking, ‘Oh, Silverhead, they’re awesome’, and then they look out the back and the four (beeps) members of the biggest band in the world are standing in this sleazy little club, which, by the way, is the only way to play rock and roll.
Flash before a few years. Des Barres parted ways with Silverhead and England for Los Angeles and Miss Pamela. A promoter put him in touch with guitarist Michael Monarch, drummer Jon Hyde, bassist Bobby Pickett and keyboardist Tony Kaye, and the young detective started playing together.
“The second week of rehearsals, Zeppelin is coming to town to play, you know, 105 consecutive nights at the Forum or whatever gig,” Des Barres said. “Jimmy comes up to us and he says, softly he says, ‘Would you like to be on our label?’
“And that was it,” he said. “Crazy man. How amazing.
The Swan Song connection provided all the money needed to make the record. All the money to buy the drugs and alcohol needed to make the record, too, says Des Barres.
“We spent so much time in the Record factory hot tub,” he says. “I mean, it was ridiculous. It was Nero. It was ancient Rome (beeper). And then we would drop into the studio and get something.
“We fell in and let ourselves go,” Des Barres said. “Who wouldn’t? What 22-year-old kid isn’t going to fall into those temptations. It’s a miracle that we made both albums.
The band played to huge crowds as the opening act for Kiss. The single “Got Enough Love” appeared on the sitcom “WKRP In Cincinnati”, on which Des Barres appeared as a member of a fictional punk rock band in one episode.
“I think my most famous band I’ve been in is Scum of the Earth,” he laughs. “I swear to god, except for my banter with Power Station.”
Bad decisions, however, soon led to the detective’s disbandment. At one point, they were offered the song “I Need A Lover” by still little-known singer-songwriter John Mellencamp. They turned it down and a few years later Pat Benatar had huge success with it.
“Stupid,” Des Barres said of the move. “Young band, delivered a clear hit, and we were so pretentiously regal that we thought, ‘No, no, no, that’s all of us. “”
The lack of commercial success hurt his morale, the drugs finished him off.
“I don’t blame the drugs; you can’t blame a drug,” Des Barres says. “‘You naughty needle, how dare you!’ It’s your choice, and we chose ill. We became the victims of narcotics and we ruined everything.
Des Barres hopes this Record Store Day re-release will re-introduce the band to listeners and lead to the release of second album “It Takes One To Know One” and the live album recorded in New York.
There’s also a recording of the band doing “I Need A Lover” that was never released at all in the material Page returned to the band, the kind of thing a future Record Store Day might see in stores.
“It’s rock and roll, you know,” Des Barres says of Detective’s music. “It’s, ‘Boom, bap. Ba-boom-bap bap boom-boom. Bluesy, big fat spaces. Now the music is sort of cluttered, it seems.
“It’s so produced and ‘who gives a fuck’, you know?” he says. “”Let’s take the guitar riff that’s at the top of the chorus and put it in a solo, then bring it out of the bridge, and we’ll just drop it. “
“The producer says that I am leaving. I say, ‘(Bleep) you, that’s not rock and roll.’ I hope you are joking?”