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It Came From Detroit

Two Perspectives

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating


It Came From Detroit

It Came From Detroit

Image courtesy of It Came From Detroit

I have two perspectives on this film. One is as a journalist; that side says this is an excellent film that paints a vivid picture of Detroit's garage scene. It covers bands that have been and are essential to what Detroit music was and is. There are interviews with legends like Wayne Kramer of the MC5, and almost everyone involved in the scene from beginning to present is represented.

The second is as someone who was there, who has an intimate connection to what was on screen. That part of me says this is the best film I've seen in a long time, because it's a documentary that I connect with and feel a part of.

There were interviews with bands that I've known for a long time. It was a bit like a rock and roll family reunion. Fortune and Maltese used to be my neighbors, the lead singer from Blanche lived in my house before me, and Tyler from the Wildbunch held an advertising agency job years ago that I replaced him at when he left (which prompted me to laugh out loud when he mentioned onscreen how bad the job was – I had to agree).

There was footage of shows that I had been at (including a Wildbunch show at the Magic Bag that was the best performance of theirs I witnessed) and interviews with personalities and club managers that I consider friends. And there was Steve. Steve Nawarra, who has been friends with my wife since they were in junior high, gobbled up tons of screen time simply because he's been a guitarist for several bands that have been important in Detroit music(Rocket 455, Wildbunch/Electric Six and the Detroit Cobras).

The Electric Six

Photo by Antal Zambo

Where's Jack?

Conspicuously absent were the White Stripes. They were covered, and a lot of people who knew them talked about them, but they were not interviewed and their music was not in the soundtrack. I'm guessing this came down to rights, but without anyone saying it, I also sensed that I was getting the vibe that there were mixed feelings about the band, especially when the Von Bondies' Jason Stollsteimer discussed his now-infamous altercation with Jack White.

I'm pleased as a whole with the friendly, down-to-earth way the Detroit music scene was portrayed, as well as the fact that Detroit's problems as a city were neither ignored nor dwelled upon.

In the long run, it will be very interesting to see how the world as a whole reacts to this documentary. With an insider's perspective, I think it's entertaining, fun and interesting enough to command the attention of anyone unfamiliar with the material, and perhaps it will turn him or her onto some great music by the likes of Detroit's lesser-known bands. The Detroit scene is very small (fans call it inter-connected, critics stoop to use the word incestuous) but I think the filmmakers have done an amazing job keeping away from excessive inside jokes, and made a piece the world can get into.


Photo by Antal Zambo

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