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"Hum to me baby," croons Glory Revival singer/guitarist Paul Lamb from the stage of Nita's Hideaway as the spry seven-piece band slides down into a Sly Stoneish passage. The horn's brassy meter and the seemingly looped groove of the rhythm section has female hips rotating in slow, deliberate gestures on the dance floor. Men look on, gaping slack-jawed as if witnessing a strip show. It's a moment of rock 'n' roll affirmation that's rare for a local band. Lanky, scraggle-haired, and wearing a workaday jeans/tee-shirt ensemble, Lamb seems an unlikely front man. But he has that charisma, like the stoner dude in high school that all the chicks dug. His voice commands attention, too, ranging in thick, melodious low tones and airy top notes. With eyes closed, one would assume Lamb's voice belongs to a much older black singer.
Long-armed, chick-magnet guitarist Ben Ashley has a sort of Hendrix/Ry Cooder thing going on. His melodies are as sympathetic to the song as is his exercise of restraint; here is a guitarist who truly understands the concept of air. Ashley also understands the concept of pop star; his subtle posturing and bounce make him a kind of blue-collar Mick Ronson. Drummer Doug Jackino and bassist Bryan Martin demonstrate that pockets ain't just for air and pants; the duo is the Revival's in-house groove merchant. The horn section blows in blips and spurts, taking counterpoint cues from choruses and vocals in a way that gives the songs a kind of underlying sexuality.
Glory Revival's originators, Paul Lamb and Bryan Martin, have an essential and sentimental grasp of rock 'n' roll history, and because of that, no drink-bewildered night can go without a debate. The tiffs span the trivial gamut. The two will spout for hours on why Free/Bad Company mouthpiece Paul Rodgers hasn't been worth his weight in Wotsits for years; they go on about why Detroiters like The MC5, Mitch Ryder, The Stooges, and The Rockets were left for the glue factory; they'll spar over which is a better record, Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall or Johnny Winter's Still Alive and Well.
Lamb and Martin are also dedicated students of rock's ivory-towered mythology. Their days are never unworthy of a hangover, particularly if it's borne of the preceding night's debauchery. For Glory Revival, life really is all about gigantic spliffs, Thin Lizzy and 6.5 percent beer. At a recent post-gig soiree at the band's spacious central Phoenix home (a faux ranch house with a middle-class-gone-stoner/milk-crate feel), Lamb was last seen at sunup floating in the backyard swimming pool. With beer in hand, his usual verve had been replaced with a thousand-mile stare; he was wearing nothing but a cowboy hat.
Back in '95, Lamb and Martin relocated here from their hometown of Harper Woods, just outside Detroit. It's a place better known for having the highest crime rate in the country than spawning rock 'n' roll outfits. "Brian and I grew up together in a little blue-collar community that sits with three sides of Detroit around it," recalls Lamb in his ragged but sturdy tone. "Brian lived in a slightly different neighborhood than me, and therefore there was the thing: If I rode through his neighborhood on my bike, they'd beat the shit outta me and steal my bike. And vice versa. But as you got older, your neighborhoods got bigger than you, and your friends became like a unit."
Their move to this sun-charred valley had more to do with the boys buying into the PR-puffed idea that Tempe had blossomed into some hipster launch pad for budding rock stars. For a short spell, it did seem like record deals were being doled out along Mill Avenue like plastic cups to happy drunks standing in line for free keg beer at some frat party. But Lamb and Martin quickly realized that the Tempe "scene" was really just a desert mirage that had spawned a couple of ephemeral pop stars and some heavily funded bands that were sadly mishandled by moronic A&R types.
"We thought Tempe was gonna be the place to be, and we had to get out of Detroit," says Lamb, laughing. "We came out here to the Tempe scene in '95 seeking rock 'n' roll fame and glory." Talk about glory; currently Lamb and Martin are employed as toilet-bowl cleaners, window washers and floor waxers for a low-maintenance cleaning service.
Martin's white-trash image, replete with handlebar mustache, lamb-chop burns and wife-beater tees, belies his articulate and well-read disposition. "My image is a mix of Rollie Fingers, Smokey and the Bandit-era Jerry Reed and Lemmy from Motörhead." Upon arriving in Tempe, the lads, of course, found girls who were in possession of a house. Martin secured a cozy closet as living space in the back while Lamb took to the floor in the front room.
Next, they coerced members from their last Detroit band to move west. The group -- including some girlfriends -- all moved into a house together in Phoenix. And it was a time for love. "There was nine of us living in this fucking house; it was an absolute catastrophe," says Lamb. "Because of the girlfriends, the house instantly was separated. Then the girlfriends were fucking the other people in the house, even fucking the other girlfriends. The whole house was fucking everybody."