Review by Teresa Hopkins
Artist: SLIGHT RETURN
Album: WELCOME TO THE D
Label: Raunchola Productions
Release Date: March 25, 2015
1. Welcome To The D
2. Shake Your Detroit Right
3. Hail The Heroes
4. Stone Free/Third Stone From The Sun
5. Horse Left The Stable
6. Funky People
7. Tale Of Two Bands
8. Move ’em On Out
10. Big K
12. Subscribe Now
The members of SLIGHT RETURN are very proud of their Detroit, Michigan (USA) heritage. Detroit is very proud of them, too. And yes, if you were wondering, their name is a reference to Jimi Hendrix, one of guitarist Mark Kassa’s biggest musical heroes. It also well represents the band’s musical direction, evoking the past, present, and future with sounds reminiscent of Hendrix, Robin Trower, and Rare Earth, and a few respectful tips of a wide-brimmed black hat to bands like Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Funkadelic.
Having played the Detroit music scene for years, the guys are seasoned musicians, and together as SLIGHT RETURN, they’ve opened for bands like Grand Funk Railroad, Rare Earth, and Robin Trower. Lyrically as well as musically, they love to groove, and do so seemingly effortlessly. But they also dig a little deeper, often provoking thought and action to social issues yet unresolved. The quartet’s tight rhythm section—Ronnie Karmo on drums, Tony Mitchell on percussion, and Mike Schneider on bass—provides the perfect foundation for Kassa’s funky, rocking, bluesy, and at times psychedelic guitar licks. Though Mitchell does the singing on several of the cover tunes that the band performs live, Kassa is the primary vocalist, with a commanding, rapping style akin to that of Rage Against The Machine’s Zack de la Rocha.
Check out the video for a glimpse into SLIGHT RETURN’s fifth release, “Welcome to the D”:
The title track is the band’s signature song and opens the album. The song title plays triple duty, as it is also the name of a local TV show hosted by Kassa and fellow audiophile, producer/friend Bill Von Linsowe. Welcome To The D (the show) celebrates music of all genres, and often features interviews with notable acts as they come through the city to perform shows. Some of their guests include Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad (also a Michigan native), Gil Bridges of Rare Earth, Ken Hass of Reverend Guitars, Reeves Gabrels (David Bowie, The Cure) and metal bands ACCEPT and SABATON. Near the end of the shows, Kassa (a graduate of the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA) does a segment called Man vs. Guitar, demonstrating new gear, and Prime Cuts, showcasing various classic rock albums that have shaped music history.
To say this man and his bandmates love music is a vast understatement. They enjoy making music as much as supporting their heroes, influences, and friends who do—and several were invited to join them in performance and production on this album. George Clinton, of Parliament and Funkadelic fame, joins the band for ‘Shake Your Detroit Right’, along with Tony “T Money” Green (The Dramatics, SNOOP DOGG, DR. DRE, TUPAC) on bass. Pat Lewis (ISAAC HAYES, ARETHA FRANKLIN, GEORGE CLINTON) apparently dropped by the studio one day during the recordings to visit George, and he handed her a mic too! George is also featured on ‘Funky People’. Billy Cox (of Hendrix’s BAND OF GYPSYS) sits in on bass guitar for a terrific combined rendition of Hendrix’s ‘Stone Free’ and ‘Third Stone From The Sun’, performing vocals also on ‘Stone Free’. This, according to Bill Von Linsowe, is the first and only time Cox has ever played ‘Third Stone From The Sun’.
Davey Pattison, whom you may remember from Gamma and Robin Trower , mans the mic on ‘Horse Left The Stable':
Dennis Coffey (legendary guitarist and co-writer for Motown hits like the Temptations’ ‘Just My Imagination’ and ‘Cloud Nine’ and Edwin Starr’s ‘War’) graces the track ‘Tale Of Two Bands’ with a guitar solo, and up-and-comer Melanie Monsters plays piano on ‘Subscribe Now’.
On the production side, those involved with the album include Jim Diamond (recorded WHITE STRIPES’ first two albums); Jack Endino and Chris Hanzsek (Seattle WA Subpop Music Label for NIRVANA, MUDHONEY, TAD, and SOUNDGARDEN); Alan Sanderson (who’s worked with Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, BB King) and “Cornbread” (United Sound Studios in Detroit for MARVIN GAYE, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS, MILES DAVIS, PARLIAMENT, FUNKADELIC).
When putting together a labor of love, there’s no better way to celebrate the kind of music that inspired you than to invite those who created it to join in on the fun. And it sounds like they all had an awesome time.
SLIGHT RETURN is:
Mark Kassa: Guitar, Vocals
Ronnie Karmo: Drums
Tony Mitchell: Percussion, Vocals
Mike Schneider: Bass, Background Vocals
Also, be sure to visit their YouTube channel to check out some live performances, as well as their Welcome To The D show with many special guests!