|Looking back through the fog of time, it's hard to fully comprehend just how brightly this band burned.
Gary Shane and the Detour pulled down numbers that had never before been seen at WBCN-FM,vfirst with Johnny's Coaltrain, the rock homage to jazz legend John Coltrane, which rode the charts for the better part of a year, then with Man and Machine, another monster Detour hit that, unfortunately, was posthumous. The band fell apart in just about a year, in the wake of personnel changes and, as always, creative differences.
That was back in the days of skinny ties and power-pop, during the brief era of the so-called new wave, a fabled time when an unsigned, local band could still make it on the strength of a few good tunes and a lot of hustle -- even without a marketing plan or a Madison Avenue makeover.
And now, two decades later, The Detour is back. The band is playing just as hard, but better, and demonstrating again the power of its original musical vision.
This fact is amply documented by the bootleg copies of The Detour's full-assault comeback concert in September, a set that gives new meaning to the expression "rock-and-roll slugfest' or from even a cursory spin of One More Time Now, a new Detour disc scheduled to come out at the beginning of the year.
The new Detour features two members of the original lineup: Shane and drummer Carl Bergman. Bassist Collin Bodge and guitarist Ron 'Ronno'Erickson are now living in Los Angeles and will not be involved in the project.
The rebirth of The Detour came about almost by accident when Shane, now living in Ipswich, ran into Portsmouth, N.H., guitarist Dennis Munroe at a lakeside retreat in New Hampshire. Munroe, whom he knew from back in the day at Sanctuary Records, where Shane recorded much of his early material, expressed an interest in reviving the Detour catalogue and, if possible, the band. Shane, then in the midst of remastering archival Detour and Shane-Champagne Band material, had already been pointed in that direction by Steve Ruest, bassist in Shane's most recent band, the New Ensemble. He got the Detour bandwagon rolling earlier this year when the band dusted off and began performing an updated version of Johnny's Coaltrain.
Shane had some doubts about the project, about whether The Detour sound could be recreated and whether he could keep up with it. The guitarist was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disorder, in 1985. He still walks, with some difficulty, with a cane. But he was willing to give it a shot, to see if they could pull it off. And, man, did they pull it off. "It just fell together," says Shane, "it was just meant to be."
In concert, expect classic Detour hits like Johnny's Coaltrain, Working on a Deadline and Forever on Your Way, the title cut from the first and only full-length Detour album. You'll also hear lost classics like I'm a Shark, the B-side of Johnny's Coaltrain, and new-to-you rockers like Wallflower and Deviated Rock, all of which are unreleased tunes or demos. But don't expect a nostalgia act. That will never happen. And don't expect the sound to be static because, while remaining true to itself, the music is alive and moving forward. Shane, perhaps, has taken a musical detour, but his band -- this Detour -- is taking no prisoners.
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