James Iha’s signing of Detroit’s the Sights to his Scratchie imprint on New Line can be interpreted one of two ways: either he wanted to make his roster look cheeky by recruiting a band to complement a band he already lined up called the Sounds (what’s next, the Smells?), or that whole thing is a coincidence and he was ultimately taken by the sixties-era hard rock style of the young band trying to find their way in a town ruled by the White Stripes, the Von Bondies and Eminem. While Jack and Meg have cornered the market on blues based guitar and drums, and the guy who was clocked in the coconut by Jack fades into obscurity as just another band ripping off the Stooges, Eddie Baranek and the Sights belt out music inspired by the soulful sixties.
Usually a band names their debut album after themselves, but in a way, the Sights’ third album is their debut. Not many people had heard of them prior, and they could have easily been lost in the shuffle of similar sounding names that even leaves us at Treble dizzy. Now, with the backing of a larger label and a popular name behind an imprint, the Sights are ready to take their spotlight. The catch is, it’s a spotlight that’s been held already, by bands like the Who, the Faces and, yes, even the Black Crowes.
Although they play it well, there is really nothing here that hasn’t been heard before. In fact, after the opening track, a cover of a Mahalia Jackson gospel song, “Circus” plays like Marilyn Manson singing a T.Rex song. It’s the third song, “Will I Be True,” that makes you wonder why Daltrey and Townshend aren’t suing the band for stealing the riff, the style, nearly everything from “My Generation.” Sure, the Hammond Organ really rocks and the guitar and drums wail and pound like a true rock band should, but we’ve been there, done that. But, some might say, at least it’s not ripping from the eighties like every other band is right now! A point well taken, but most of those bands add a new flavor to their Duran-esque songs whereas the Sights have little originality to contribute. They even named a song after the Stones’ song “Waiting on a Friend!”
If you’re into the sixties flavor in a big way, that is you like the above mentioned acts, jaunty Hammond organs, and the harder edge of the British Invasion, then you’ll enjoy the Sights. I’m sure the band is wonderful live, energetic and crazy, I just wish that bands that are only good live would not get signed to do studio recordings. The Sights are getting huge kudos in England, of course, the Brits looking for something that mirrors their own past rather than the Yanks’. The trick is, they are equal opportunity thieves, drenching their pop with American guitars, a blues tradition and a down and dirty Southern atmosphere.
The Black Crowes- Shake Your Money Maker
The Who- The Who Sings My Generation
The Faces- A Nod Is As Good As A Wink…To A Blind Horse