It’s funny how forgotten music finds you sometimes.
This week it was through a Seinfeld episode. It was a 1993 show titled “The Smelly Car,” where a restaurant parking valet with body odor infects Jerry’s car with the foul smell. Jerry and George return to complain, and have a run-in with the manager.
Stay with me on this.
The actor playing the manager was Michael Des Barres. And Des Barres, apart from a career in acting, is also a musician.
One of his more noteworthy projects was a band called Detective, which released two studio albums in the late 1970s. I own both those albums, but hadn’t thought about them much in decades — until seeing that Seinfeld episode on Wednesday night.
Like I said, funny how these things work.
The truth is Detective should’ve fared better. Criticized as a virtual Led Zeppelin sound-alike, the band nonetheless had some decent success.
Jimmy Page actually produced their debut album under a pseudonym, and the group included former Steppenwolf guitarist Michael Monarch and former Yes keyboard player Tony Kaye. Bobby Pickett and John Hyde rounded out the band.
Monarch also played with Janis Joplin in the late 1960s, while Des Barres also drew media attention when his then-wife, former groupie Pamela Des Barres, wrote a kiss-and-tell book, I’m With The Band, detailing the life of a rock and roll groupie.
Des Barres also did well as an actor, even in his minor roles. He had a recurring role on MacGyver, worked with Clint Eastwood in “Pink Cadillac,” and once did an episode of “WKRP in Cincinnati,” with Detective playing a fictional punk band, “Scum of the Earth.”
As far as the band itself, Detective released two albums, a self-titled debut in 1977 and a follow-up, Takes One To Know One, the following year. Some of the cuts, which clearly do resemble Led Zeppelin, got airplay and made it onto TV ads and promotions.
But it wasn’t bad stuff, and I remember picking up the second album in 1978 and having high hopes that it would have some of the rawness of the first. It didn’t. The band simply tried to put more of a commercial slant on the music, and it didn’t really work.
Obviously they stayed busy elsewhere, and Monarch and Des Barres both recorded solo albums and worked with other bands. Des Barres later replaced Robert Palmer in The Power Station. One story had it that he was even approached by the surviving members of Queen to join the band as Freddy Mercury’s replacement. Des Barres turned them down, or so the story goes.
Either way, and as I’ve said before, the beauty of music is that once you record it, it kind of sticks around for a while.
Just so with Detective, which somehow got lost but now is found.
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