Liner Note Authors: Gary Rasmussen; Robert Matheu.
Recording information: Second Chance, Ann Arbor, MI (02/22/1977).
Photographers: Sue Rynski; Jaan Uhelszki; Robert Matheu.
For 20 years, a one-song single represented the entire recorded legacy of Sonic's Rendezvous Band, fronted by former MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith and arguably the greatest American rock band to never make a studio album. But in the late '90s two collections of live recordings appeared from a small label in Detroit, and the floodgates opened in 2006 with the release of Easy Action's six-disc box set Sonic's Rendezvous Band, a massive and revelatory collection of live shows, demos, rehearsal tapes, and studio sessions that finally allowed the full scope of the group's music to be appreciated. Since then, a handful of single-disc releases have been drawn from the box set, and now Applebush Recordings has unearthed an unreleased SRB live show, committed to tape at the Second Chance in Ann Arbor, MI, on February 22, 1977. Anyone familiar with the box set knows that of the four live shows represented there, the two best came from 1978, and this 1977 concert finds the band just edging into genius; the band would be a bit tighter in 1978, but the guitar interplay between Smith and Scott Morgan was already fully on point, Smith and Morgan were both singing with soul and ferocity, and the rhythm section of Gary Rasmussen and Scott Asheton drives this music like a classic muscle car with a full tank of high-test. Unfortunately, while most of the live material on the Sonic's Rendezvous Band box set was mastered from good- to excellent-quality soundboard tapes, The Second Chance appears to be an audience recording, and while it's well short of bad, it lacks the clarity this music deserves, though it's plenty loud and has punch to spare. And these aren't the definitive recordings of "City Slang," "Earthy," "Song L," or "Soul Mover," though the songs here are great and the band rises to the occasion on every tune. The Second Chance offers more concrete evidence that Sonic's Rendezvous Band were a group to be reckoned with, and you don't have to be a Detroit rock obsessive to love this, but if you're looking for a introduction to SRB at their finest, the Masonic Temple: Detroit 1978 album is a better place to start. But if you really love rock & roll, you won't mind having both. ~ Mark Deming
Mojo (Publisher) (p.120) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "[With] lengthy guitar solos, relentless bluesy jams and Scott Morgan's soulful vocals....There's no denying their paradigmatic raw energy and attitude."
Record Collector (magazine) (p.97) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "It's an absolute blast....The two CDs show a band firing on more cylinders than should be allowed, threatening to run off the rails gloriously by third track 'It's Alright.'"