The T-Shirt serial celebrates the incredibly fertile musical culture of a city that was once the fifth largest in the U.S. and synonymous with America’s world-beating automobile industry, but now famous for its decay. From John Lee Hooker to Eminem, from Derrick May to Jack White, Detroit can lay claim to some of the boldest and most vibrant pioneers in pop music’s history.
In the third Sound Of Detroit edition Carhartt WIP pays a homage to Model 500, Elvin Jones, Was (Not Was) and Yusef Lateef. To accompany it we introduce each T-Shirt with a little text about the record whose cover is printed on it.
Below all designs and short stories, written by Alex Chase. All T-Shirts are available at Carhartt WIP stores, online, and in selected retailers around the world.
Model 500 - Deep Space (R&S Records 1995)
Deep Space is the debut album by Juan Atkins, the mastermind behind Cybotron and one of the godfathers of Detroit techno. Released 14 years after Atkins’ debut single, Deep Space was his first full album – a rarity in a scene that generally tended towards 12” singles for club use. Deep Space was released on the iconic Belgian label R&S and engineered by Basic Channel’s Moritz von Oswald, illustrating perfectly the connection forged between Detroit and Europe via techno in the 1990s. The cover of the record depicts the Eta Carinae nebula, a hypergiant star over four million times brighter than the sun.
Elvin Jones - Elvin (Riverside 1962)
One of ten siblings, the legendary drummer Elvin Jones was born in Pontiac, just outside Detroit. There was music in the Jones’ blood: his brothers Thad and Hank had notable musical careers of their own, and both play on this album of tough straight-ahead jazz. Elvin! was made during Jones’ stint playing with John Coltrane in a quartet widely considered among the all-time greats: that’s him you hear on A Love Supreme. Roy DeCarava, a former painter best known for his photo portraits taken in Harlem during the ‘50s, was behind the striking cover image.
Yusef Lateef's Detroit: Latitude 42º 30' Longitude 83º (Atlantic, 1969)
This album of funky, swinging and Eastern-tinged jazz paid homage to a Detroit that was scarred and more racially divided than ever following the 1967 riots. In his musical dedication to the Motor City, Yusef adds a Motown-style backbeat to songs about various Detroit landmarks, celebrating the city that provided him with such a rich source of inspiration while he lived there in the ’50s. The cover image was taken by Joel Brodsky, a famed photographer perhaps best known for his picture of Van Morrison on the cover of Astral Weeks.
Was (Not Was) - Was (Not Was) (ZE Records 1981)
Was (Not Was) is a mad hybrid of disco, new wave, punk-funk and spoken word, but this landmark self-titled LP from Was (Not Was) very nearly never existed. Don Ferguson had been about turn to a life of crime – the story goes that he had been planning to rob a dry cleaner’s – but got together with David Weiss just in time to record Was (Not Was). Ferguson and Weiss tricked Ze into releasing the album by calling the label and recommending the record to them in David’s capacity as a music critic for a Los Angeles newspaper. Thanks to this bizarre chain of events, the world was able to hear such disco-not-disco hits as Wheel Me Out and Out Come The Freaks. Weiss and Ferguson made the artwork themselves under the suitably strange alias “Maverse Players”.