Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Sonic's Rendezvous—
Sweet Nothing


Released 1998 on Mack Aborn Rhythmic Arts
The Seth Man, April 2000ce
This CD must have shipped platinum the week of its release in Australia, it’s such an ultimate Detroit trip. This blistering live document of the spiritual continuation of the MC5’s total energy thing was recorded in a small Ann Arbor club called The Second Chance on April 4, 1978. This lineup of Sonic’s Rendezvous during their all-too brief career (1976-80) only changed once and stayed that way because it was so shit-hot perfect: Fred “Sonic” Smith (ex-MC5) vocals, guitar; Scott Morgan (ex-Rationals) vocals, rhythm guitar; Gary Rasmussen (ex-Up) bass and Scott “Rock Action” Asheton (ex-Stooges) drums. They released but one single during their existence, the amazing “City Slang (stereo)”/”City Slang (mono)”. That was it—just one song!! (A possible candidate for the B-side, the brutal “Electrophonic Tonic” has finally surfaced on the Alive/Total Energy compilation “Motor City’s Burning”). After hearing this album, you’ll weep that nothing else was ever released (although there was a sub-“Metallic K.O.” live bootleg released in the late eighties called “Strikes Like Lightning” that despite its quality -- which is nothing to speak of -- the tracks transcended it effortlessly with sheer raw energy.)

But “Sweet Nothing” is nothing short of a revelation, as the driving force of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band can now be heard in all its glory. The sheer outpouring of Fred Smith’s tearing round the bend driving his Mosrite and Rickenbacker at unsafe speeds around all their Detroit anthems is passionate and gutsy to extremes: “Dangerous”, “Let’s Do It Again”, “Hearts”...every track has a ripping, pulsing and driving heart. All respect to Wayne Kramer, but hearing Sonic’s Rendezvous for the first time made me feel Fred Smith was the driving musical force behind The MC5. All tracks are lean, fiery and threaten to explode at any minute—which they do, anyway. Rock Action never lost a beat in The Stooges, and here he’s just as determined and focused. Gary Rasmussen propels bass lines behind the two guitars that often merge into seamless yet converging lines of counterpoint and streamlined, spiky runs and general mayhem. They proceed to rave up “City Slang” for over eight minutes -- a long time to play any single, let alone a piece of transcendental punk that is probably the ultimate Detroit anthem of all time. Sonic’s Rendezvous, man -- they’re the real deal. As raw, alert and alive as anything from the usual laundry list of punk, this was the second coming of the MC5 and it’s a fucking outrage they were resigned to play the smallest of clubs. CREEM did run a review of “City Slang” around the time of its release and they backed Iggy on a 1978 European tour, but the field was already too cluttered with younger bands claiming the MC5 as an influence. It doesn’t make sense, does it?