Brownsville Station – Motor City Connection (1975)

FrontCover1.JPGBrownsville Station is an American rock band from Michigan that was popular in the 1970s. Original members included Cub Koda (guitarist/vocalist), Mike Lutz (guitarist/vocalist), T.J. Cronley (drummer), and Tony Driggins (bassist/vocals). Later members included Henry “H-Bomb” Weck (drummer) and Bruce Nazarian (guitarist/vocalist).

They are remembered for the top-10 hit single “Smokin’ in the Boys Room” (1973).
Brownsville Station was formed in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1969. Brownsville Station’s early albums included song covers from bands which had inspired them.[2] In 1970, they released their debut studio album, No BS, on a Warners Bros. label. Their biggest hit, “Smokin’ In the Boys Room”, written by Michael Lutz & Cub Koda, from their 1973 album Yeah!, reached No. 3 on U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 27 in the UK Singles Chart. The track sold over two million copies and was awarded a gold disc status by the RIAA on 15 January 197
After drummer Cronley left the band, Van Wert, Ohio native Henry “H-Bomb” Weck was called on to fill the position left by Cronley.

The band’s second-highest Billboard charting single was “Kings of the Party” which topped out at No. 31 in 1974.

BrownsvilleStation01.jpg

In 1977, Brownsville Station recorded “Martian Boogie”, one of their seven singles to chart on the Hot 100. The song was also a feature on Dr. Demento’s radio show. “(Lady) Put The Light On”, their penultimate single, also charted in the Hot 100, at 46.

Original members of Brownsville Station disbanded in 1979 and their final studio album together, Air Special, was released by Epic in 1978.

Cub Koda was the most visible Brownsville Station member after their break up. He recorded a number of solo albums and toured with his own group The Points as well as blues man Hound Dog Taylor’s backing band The Houserockers. His solo repertoire included the albums Cub Koda and the Points, It’s the Blues, Box Lunch and the career spanning compilation Welcome to My Job. In addition, Koda, a rabid collector of rockabilly, doo wop and blues, wrote liner notes for numerous retro releases (including Jimmy Reed, Freddy Cannon and The Kingsmen) and countless music reviews for the All Music Guide series of books and website. He also wrote a popular column (“The Vinyl Junkie”) for Goldmine magazine and co-authored the book Blues For Dummies. In addition, he hosted The Cub Koda Crazy Show for Massachusetts radio station WCGY during a period in the early 80s. Koda died of kidney disease in July 2000 at the age of 51.

BrownsvilleStation02.jpg

Mike Lutz went on to produce many bands, including Ted Nugent’s Spirit of the Wild album, and toured in the 1990s with Nugent. Lutz still resides in Ann Arbor, teaches guitar and bass at a local music store called Oz’s Music, writes and produces many acts.

While still in Brownsville Station, Henry Weck engineered and co-produced the Strikes album for Blackfoot, which produced two hit singles, Highway Song and Train Train (on which Koda played harmonica). Weck continues to record and produce in Memphis, in Ann Arbor at Lutz’s Tazmania Studios and is the co-driving force of the re-united Brownsville Station.

After T. J. Cronley left Brownsville Station, he spent a career in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Marine aviator, and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1992. He is currently a pilot for FedEx and resides in Yuma, Arizona. He is also an artist.

BrownsvilleStation03.jpg

Bruce Nazarian went on to produce, engineer and perform with his band “The Automatix”, who released their debut LP on MCA in 1983. He was the CEO of Digital Media Consulting Group and ran a popular digital media website “TheDigitalGuy.com”. Nazarian also produced and hosted The Digital Guy radio show in addition to being a music producer, concert impresario and artist manager. His last band, “The Brotherhood” is slated to release their debut CD “(It’s) All About The Groove” in early 2016. Nazarian died in October 2015.

Through the band’s early days, Weck captured over 500 hours of Brownsville demos, rehearsals, live shows and even some special events. In 2012, Lutz and Weck began sorting through the recordings in Lutz’s Tazmania Studio. The result is Still Smokin’, featuring new songs and updated versions of the band’s “My Friend Jack” and “Smokin’ In The Boys Room”.

Augmented by new players Billy Craig, Arlen Viecelli and Brad Johnson, Brownsville Station returned to the road in 2013. (by wikipedia)

BrownsvilleStation04.jpg

If Yeah! and School Punks were nonstop parties, Brownsville Station’s fifth album, Motor City Connection, is the hangover, the one where the group reckons with the aftermath of having a good time all of the time. Most of the original numbers are racked in guilt, heartbreak, and self-recrimination, tales of broken hearts and loneliness, highlighted by the moody and driving opener, “Automatic Heartbreak,” the bitter yet swaggering “Self Abuse,” and the proto-power ballad “You Know Better.” In between these moments of introspection are a couple of good covers — J.B. Hutto’s “Combination Boogie” and the Little Walter instrumental “Crazy Legs” — and the album ends with the suite “They Call Me Rock ‘n’ Roll,” a nine-minute epic that is the closest old-time rock & roll ever came to art rock. Cub Koda is now firmly the band’s frontman — Michael Lutz only sings a segment of “They Call Me Rock ‘n’ Roll” — and the group is more musically ambitious here, trying a little bit of everything. Not only is there the aforementioned suite, but there’s a variety of guitar sounds; it’s not all pedal-to-the-metal distortion. There are some synthesizers in the mix and the entire sound has been streamlined, so it’s sleek and hard-hitting, bringing them away from their patented boogie rock and closer to the mid-’70s mainstream. While the bandmembers were most at home tearing it up — as evidenced by the hardest-rocking numbers here — they still sounded good with a little more polish, and that variety makes Motor City Connection one of Brownsville Station’s more intriguing albums, even if it’s not among their most consistent. (by Stephen Thomas Erlewine)

Inlet01A.JPG

Personnel:
Cub Koda (guitar, vocals, harmonica, steel-guitar)
Michael “Sam” Lutz (vocals, bass, keyboards, guitar)
David “H-Bomb” Weck (drums, percussion)
+
Albhy Galuten (synthesizer on 03.)
Bruce Nazarian (guitar on 08.)

BackCover1.JPG

Tracklist:
01. Automatic Heartbreak (Koda/Lutz) 2.54
02. One That Got Away (Koda/Weck) 5,32
03. Self Abuse (Koda) 2.54
04. Crazy Legs (Jacobs) 3.22
05. Give It To Get It (Koda/Lutz) 3.18
06. Combination Boogie (Hutto) 2.27
07. Load Of Love (Koda/Lutz) 4.29
08. You Know Better (Koda/Lutz) 3.28
09. They Call Me Rock ‘N’ Roll (Koda/Lutz) 9.33
09.1. They Call Me Rock ‘N’ Roll, Part 1
09.2. God Bless Rock ‘N’ Roll
09.3. Can’t Wait For Friday Night
09.4. Welcome
09.5. They Call Me Rock ‘N’ Roll, Part IILabelB1.JPG*
**