So, farewell then, Detroit? Nah, we don’t believe a word of it. A city like that? Immortal. So, in due respect to Detroit, on the day it files for the biggest city bankruptcy in US history, we present our top seven sounds from the motor city. We could’ve had Aaliyah, we could’ve flirted with Slim Shady, we almost went with Was (Not Was) and we cruelly overlooked MC5, Diana Ross and The White Stripes. Yes, that’s the sort of city Detroit is.
Heatwave, Martha and the Vandellas
Appropriate enough, we think. This is Holland–Dozier–Holland at their blistering best – and was the song that broke Martha and the Vandellas, in 1963.
Nude Photo, Rhythim is Rhythim/Derrick May
The song that started it all, this 1987 electro firestarter preceded the classic ‘Strings of Life’ by a year, helping to kickstart the Detroit techno music scene, thanks to a nifty little sample of Yazoo’s ‘Situation’. While it’s mostly credited to May, it was Detroit techno-meister, Tom Barnett’s finest hour.
Model 500, The Chase
Detroit Techno Godfather Mr Atkins gave the world this track way back in 1989. And it refuses to sound anything less than box fresh, a quarter of a century later. Listen to that 808 and gurn.
Stevie Wonder, Superstition.
Stevie moved to Detroit when he was four, signing to Berry Gordy’s Motown as “Little Stevie Wonder” when he was all of 12 years old. This is his finest hour. Well, technically, they all are (apart from I Just Called To Say I Love You).
Good Life, Inner City
Just a great house song. Period. Often remixed, never bettered. Featuring vocals by Paris Grey, this song is so sunny it should be listened to with no less than SPF factor 30 over your ears.
The Passenger, Iggy Pop
After The Stooges imploded, Iggy Pop hunkered down with Ricky Gardiner to write his Lust For Life LP. From it came single “Success”, but it was the B Side, based on an itinerant’s lament by Jim Morrison, and with backing vocals by Bowie, that the radio stations all played…
Reach Out (I’ll Be There), The Four Tops
Another Holland–Dozier–Holland song, Reach Out was never destined to be a single, until a sharp-eared secretary at Motown had a quiet word in Levi Stubbs ear. It’s now considered to be up there with the very best of Motown’s unimpeachable cannon.