Detroit City Grooves review by Dave Hamilton

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  • Released: Jun 27, 2003
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (1 vote)
Dave Hamilton: Detroit City Grooves

Sound — 9
There isn't much known about Dave Hamilton except he was more of a Motown record producer at the time but is also an outstanding guitarist and vibraphonist making a mellow kind of smooth soul jazz and funk fusion with hints of rock thrown in here and there. Hamilton did release a few singles under his name during the late '60s and did have an album released around 1963 which was more of a jazz effort. Dave Hamilton is outstanding and highly underrated his work is somewhat rare and mysterious, quite elusive for the most part to find, there have been a lot of compilations though around with Dave Hamilton and released by him along with the Detroit Funk Vaults and a couple of others that have now been made available. The sound quality is a bit grainy on some tracks like "Sweeter The Juice" possibly because some tapes were older than others and they were all from different studio sessions and it really shows that this is just a compilation as the tracks on here offer some really different styles from mainly mellow jazz to some stuff with nice guitar work but when there isn't any on most other tracks there is some nice Stevie Wonder jazz soul harmonica on tracks like "The Sweeter the Soul" and very haunting melodies on a track like "Yesterdays" that makes me myself ponder my yesterdays everytime I hear it as a sad song. "Brother Ratt" gives that funk type of music in an old '70s car chase type of scene depiction and definitely remains a smooth jazz funk track with some nice guitar work and smooth trippy vibraphones.

Lyrics — 8
This album opens up and continues to keep down the main soul jazz setting than envelopes later on throughout while getting more funkier on tracks like "Cracklin' Bread" and "Can You Dig It." The whole album itself is pretty much instrumental except a few lyrics on "The Deacons" and some vocals for the chorus. This CD compilation sticks solely to the instrumental soul-jazz-funk material the multi-instrumentalist cut between 1967 and the early '70s, about half of which would have probably comprised an unreleased 1970 album called "Soul Suite." That being said, this is a great piece of work conceived while there weren't very many others doing this same thing until albums like "Head Hunters" was released by Herbie Hancock in a sense of jazz and funk really fusing together, it's definitely mild for the most part but there is some all out quality funk here for those who really appreciate this type of music along with a smooth soul instrumental jazz with beautiful vibraphone and fretwork throughout, Hamilton offers some nice mellow solos and jamming on the track "Ain't It a Groove" while he goes more all out raw and funky on "Cracklin' Bread" which remains to be my favorite track of the album, clearly Hendrix inspired but still carrying a lot of the artist's own personalities and traits incorporated and passion in music. Very nice mellow jazz guitar funk and soul album altogether. The drumming on here can get quite tight along with some really funky bass riffs and the guitar is just nonstop jamming with the vibraphone to accompany.

Overall Impression — 9
There is a lounge-easy listening territory, but in some of the best senses of that description. Those who want something a little tougher won't go away starving, either, as "Brother Ratt" opens with some outer space wah-wah, sliding into a nicely funky workout with astral vibes flourishes. The guitars (often using wah-wah effects) and basses can get pretty hard-hitting in a smoothly percolating way, particularly on "Yesterdays," where some just slightly dissonant harmonica bleats add a nice edge. It's a modest collection, but an attractive one, and a more pleasurable listen than many an acid jazz reissue with more hip credibility. The vibraphones add to that sense of spacey feeling like on "Marriage Is a State of Vibes," "Tell Your Mama" sounds clean in jazz form and yet funky at the same time while it all just caves in for some pure funk soul jamming improv on "Pisces Pace" leading to the next "Pisces Pace 2" which opens with some fast and killer drum beats carrying on throughout in a faster tempo with good harp soloing and nice guitar picking that gives it a spacey repetitive jam music which is what you get hear at a premium quality of funk sound fusion, in a sense this stuff was ground breaking emerging from the late '60s and it makes sense that it did exist as funk and jazz had to meet somewhere even in the late '60s as both styles were so prevalent.

"Cracklin' Bread" is just the track where it gets all out funky and rockin in a mellower context but still lovely even if repetitious, it still has some solid grooving to it as do all the works on here, soft mellow or all out vibrant and forthcoming like "Cracklin' Bread" and "Can You Dig It" which was used by Chico and Buddy as these were written for other artists, proving that Dave Hamilton is yet another obscure legend yet to gain properly deserved recognition. I believe Bernard Purdie does contribute to this album and other Dave Hamilton recordings now being released which can explain for those lovely funky rhythms that chime in. I really love this album in it's entirety from more mellow tracks like "Tell Your Mama" and "The Deacons" to the all out funk dirges produced like "Cracklin' Bread," I love it for all the points it has to offer in just superior instrumental soul funk jazz fusion music in a raw form.

3 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Wow, so great music!!! Thanks for discovering this to me - this guy is criminally underrated...
    Oh yeah, I always think of him and Eddie Hazel when I think of Funk Rock pioneers. He gives smooth and mellow tracks with excellent vibraphone and impressive fretwork, he's highly professional at the very least. I love the contrast between two different variations- "Ain't It A Groove" and "Cracklin' Bread", the jazz stuff really does appeal to me too although I wish they had some alto sax or something to add that would be wicked but it is what it is and has great soul in all the instrumentation.
    I meant to say "The Sweeter The Juice" I always make mistakes. It's a shame this album isn't more available for free like on youtube or something, gotta buy the album.