“I opened the door for a lot of people, and they just ran through and left me holding the knob,” Bo Diddley once said. The Detroit Cobras have been through this door on more than one occasion. For each occasion they haven’t failed to pay the past masters the courtesy of a hello and a firm hand shake, the most recent being last year’s mini-album Seven Easy Pieces.
More or less the same could be said for their third covers album Baby. In the industry this might be referred to as their ‘sell point.’ But for the uninitiated, this is no mere covers outfit. There is something quite special about the Cobras. Rough Trade noticed this and have footed their second Cobras release rather than Rachel Nagy (singer) flogging them off the back of a Robin Reliant. (Ok she never did, but she was a stripper).
Baby once again revisits the Cobras murky plough through the obscurities of blues, fifties pop and motown. They instantly serve up a dozen sweaty nights in a dirty old bar, happily kicking it to some unknown band pumping out cool versions of great songs.
For this outing, the Cobras have decided to put out one of their own songs: the hilariously horny pop-rocker Hot Dog. Fans who have been holding their breathe may be left feeling slightly disappointed given the doo wop leanings of 2001′s Life, Love and Leaving, or the dusty garage feel of Seven Easy Pieces. Still it’s a good song, if a tad stoopid.
Good ol’ big lungs Percy Sledge gets a thorough garage gloss on Baby Let Me, with the new take as danceable to as the original. No doubt either you’ve seen that annoying coke commercial with that cool sounding song. Yes, Cha Cha twist should help prise open those floodgates, even if it didn’t in 1998 when it featured on the Cobras debut Mink Rat or Rabbit.
Of course back in those days a White Stripe and a Von Bondie were extraterrestrial beings from some forbidden planet. Why it’s taken the Cobras a good five years from theNoughties rock and roll renaissance to really toss their hat in – despite early tips – is anyone’s guess.
The material certainly isn’t a problem. Just like past outings, Baby clocks in at cool and quick pace. I Wanna Holler sums up the Michigan Lake quintet best as it drifts and rumbles behind Nagy’s fluidic vocal range. Before you realise it, you’ve been abducted to a world away from the Gary U.S Bonds classic.
It’s a rather fudged affair whether Baby actually pushes the Cobras forward. The inclusion of Hot Dog certainly signifies a desire to. While this round of reinterpretation may be a more varied and solid affair, in some arcane way, their ‘older material’ is better. In any case it should prompt much abuse of file sharing software for the originals. It may even get your grandparents on the hop too. Meanwhile Bo will still be there holding that door knob. But at least he’ll be doing it with a smile.