Rocket 455 is a Flamin’ Groovies-loving garage rock band formed in Detroit in 1992 after the breakup of local scene essentials The Nervo Beats. Although this was Rocket 455’s third single, it was the first that featured the new, longest and current line up, including founding member Marco Delicato back in the fold as well as Steve “Disco” Nawara from the Electric Six. This 7″ was released on Devil’s Night in 1997 and is notable as the first record ever produced and released by Italy Records.
The Dirtys were a totally raw garage punk band originally from Port Huron, MI. Their energy, coupled with a sound somewhere between the Oblivians and the MC5, is what makes a live show worthwhile. Celebrated Detroit garage hero Mick Collins (Gories, Dirtbombs) played guitar on the A-side “It Ain’t Easy,” which was unsuccessfully pitched to the Detroit City Council as the new official anthem of Detroit.
Italy Records was founded to release this single by these knuckleheads before the release of their debut LP on respected German label Crypt Records. For one reason or another, this Dirtys 7″ actually ended up being Italy’s second release. Regardless, it’s as punk as it gets and demands your full time and attention.
Hentch-Forth (1998) is the The Hentchmen’s only album that includes Jack White on bass. This extended edition includes the “Some Other Guy” single that also features Jack on guitar plus a couple phenomenal bonus tracks.
There’s a joke and a fun fact regarding this record that would have been all but lost over the decades. Italy Records and the artists included “with Jack White” on both the 7″ and the 12″ because they thought that it would look like one of those old British Invasion records that would have an old bluesman or rocker as a guest. And for all the White Stripes trivia-heads — The Hentchmen’s “Some Other Guy” and The White Stripes’ “Lets Shake Hands” were recorded AND released at the same time, before the world would know what hit them!
Hailing from Tucson, AZ, The Fells were churning out high quality, catchy singles throughout the ’90s with the same ferocity as well-known contemporaries the Mummies or New Bomb Turks. Their Italy Records single, which was the ninth 7″ in the Fells’ discography, is one of their most heavy-hitting and finest. The A-side “Close Your Eyes” is practically bi-polar with all the pep, bop and swing that makes a single worth snatching up!
The backstory of this recording is one totally reliant on chance, and almost didn’t happen. The Fells’ van broke down while on tour from Tucson and they were stranded at The Hentchmen’s house, aptly called the Hentch House. With time to kill, the group toted their gear over to their buddy Jack White’s house and recorded these two killer songs for later release on Italy Records. It notably features special guest Johnny Hentch of The Hentchmen on piano.
As key players in a scene of like-minded minimalist garage groups, vocalist, guitarist and master of harmonica Johnny Walker and drummer/future Third Man Records co-founder Ben Swank, were playing shows in Detroit so often, it eventually just made sense for Ben to pay Jack rent and become his roommate. This single features Jack playing a metal snow shovel on the B-side, “Johnny’s Death Letter”.
Although not technically a Detroit-based garage group, this Cincinnati band fit in as honorary Detroiters by the time this single was released. The Greenhornes were purveyors of period-perfect 1960s rock n roll a la the Pretty Things and the Kinks. Plus, they were immediately set apart by their grim reputation of touring in a ’67 Cadillac hearse.
This single was recorded at Jack White’s house in southwest Detroit right before the release of the Greenhornes’ debut LP and the b-side is a re-imagined version of one of their 2nd LP’s strongest tracks “Shadow of Grief”. Band members Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler would go on to be the rhythm section in the Raconteurs while Brian Olive would later join the Soledad Brothers and make serious contributions to Dr. John’s revered “Locked Down” album.