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Soledad Brothers (band)

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Title: Soledad Brothers (band)  
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Subject: Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit, Alive Naturalsound Records, The Greenhornes, Italy Records, Ides
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Soledad Brothers (band)

The Soledad Brothers were an American garage rock trio from Maumee, Ohio. Taking strong influence from blues rock, the band consisted of Ben Swank on drums, Johnny Walker on guitar and vocals, and Oliver Henry (formerly of The Greenhornes and who was recruited just before the release of their second album) on sax and guitar. The band produced four albums: Soledad Brothers (2000), Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move (2002), Voice of Treason (2003), and The Hardest Walk (2006).

Band history

Taking their name from a Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette— incarcerated at Soledad Prison, the Soledad Brothers formed in 1998 in their hometown of Maumee, Ohio (near Toledo).

The origins (Freedom fighters and musicians) from whence their name came have not yet been released from prison, but have rather been thrown away and seemingly forgotten about by many. Originally part of the San Quinten Six, one of the jailed members has been locked away in Solitary Confinement now for around 50 years. It seems as if he has had been allowed to make one, maybe two phone calls in that time. He is not the only member still in incarceration. More information

The band's foundations began with Johnny Walker (Johnny Wirick) joining the punk blues band Henry And June, in which Benjamin "Swank" Smith was already performing as drummer. Henry and June existed from 1994 until 1996. Wirick continued playing with drummer Doug Walker in the two-piece blues outfit 'Johnny Walker'. The Soledad Brothers began in early 1998 after guitarist/vocalist Johnny Wirick (a.k.a. Johnny Walker) asked drummer Ben Smith (a.k.a. Ben Swank) if he wanted to play a show. When traveling north to Detroit for a few gigs, the duo was approached by Italy Records owner Dave Buick. The label recorded the band, releasing the single "Sugar and Spice", which attracted Estrus Records. This led to the release of "The Gospel According to John" single along with a number of others, the success of which prompted Estrus Records to put out the band's first full-length album.

The self-titled album was engineered by Jack White of The White Stripes, who also produced their second single. Meg White performs some percussion on this album. While both the Soledad Brothers and the White Stripes were Detroit bands heavily influenced by blues, the relationship between the two was also personal. Ben was Jack's roommate for some period of time, and Johnny played slide guitar on two songs from The White Stripes' debut album, as well as teaching Jack how to play slide. Oliver Henry and Meg White had a long-term relationship while the Soledad Brothers were still together.

The band followed up with the 2002 album, Steal Your Soul and Dare Your Spirit to Move. The blues influence is still very prevalent, but also saw the introduction of the heavier '60s and '70s Brit-rock influence.

The Soledads' third release came in 2003, Voice of Treason, on Loog Records in the UK. It saw the band expand their sound with some jazz influence, and some strange atmospheric sounds. The bulk of the album still retained their distinctive blues-rock style.

Their fourth album The Hardest Walk, released in 2006 on Alive Records in the US and Loog in the UK, transcends the rampant garage blues that had so characterized the band's previous work by taking in a diverse range of influences, from Dr John and Albert Ayler to Syd Barrett and early Neil Young, with some Brit pop melodies and soul grooves added.

It was announced within weeks of the album's release, however, that the band was breaking up. Upcoming shows were cancelled and the band's final gigs were at the Magic Stick in Detroit and the Southgate House (The birthplace of the Tommy Gun) in Newport, Kentucky.

Post break-up: Cut In The Hill Gang

This marks the first release of Little Room Record Co. The tracks on the single are "Quixotic Dream" and a White Stripes cover, "Sugar Never Tasted So Good". The single became available February 12, 2008. There were 500 7-inch records pressed on black vinyl. A full-length LP was released by the Little Room Record Co. on May 19, 2009.

Henry Oliver reclaimed his real name Brian Olive and released a solo CD for Alive in 2009 called Brian Olive.

Soledad Brothers Discography


  • Sugar & Spice/Johnny's Death Letter 7-inch (Italy Records, 1998)
    • Jack White appearing on "Johnny's Death Letter".
  • The Gospel According To John/Mysterious Ways 7-inch (Estrus, 1999)
    • mixed by Jack White
    • first pressing: red vinyl
    • second pressing: black vinyl (limited pressing of 1000)
  • Good Feeling/Magazine 7-inch (Polydor Limited, 2006)
    • cd-maxi includes video + tracks Magazine and Circle Girl


  • Master Supertone CS (self-released/no label, 1998), 20 copies
  1. Sugar And Spice (same version as Italy 7", different mix)
  2. Rocket 88 (featuring Jack White on piano)
  3. Johnny's Death Letter (same version as Italy 7", different mix)
  4. Bootleg
  5. Long Legged Baby
  6. Skidmore, Texas
  7. Gimme Back My Wig
  8. St. Ides of March
  9. Little Red Rooster
  • Soledad Brothers LP/CD (Estrus, 2000), 300 copies on Red vinyl
  1. Gospel According to John
  2. What Hath God Wraught
  3. The Weight Of The World
  4. Front St. Front
  5. Lovin' Machine
  6. Cadillac Hips
  7. Shinning Path
  8. Rock Me Slow
  9. Handle Song
  10. St. Ides Of March
  11. Sugar & Spice
  12. I-75 Boogie
  13. Do The Heartstopper
  14. Gimmie Back My Wig
  15. Mysterious Ways
  • Steal Your Soul And Dare Your Spirit To Move LP/CD (Estrus, 2002), 400 copies on Blue vinyl
  1. Prince Among Thieves
  2. Prodigal Stones Blues
  3. This Guitar Says I'm Sorry
  4. Break 'em On Down
  5. Good Friday The 13th: Part I
  6. Nation's Bell
  7. Hammer Me Down
  8. Michigan line
  9. Good Friday The 13th: Part II
  10. .32 Blues
  11. Ray of Love
  12. Skidmore Blues
  13. Miracle Birth
  14. There's No Sunshine When She's Gone (Bill Withers)
  15. Good Friday The 13th: Part III
  16. The Illucider (Alt. version, Japanese release only 2004)
  • Live LP/CD (Sweet Nothing, 2003)
  • Live LP/CD (Dim Mak, 2003)
  • Live CD (Smash Music, 2004), recorded Live At The Gold Dollar June 2000, Dim Mak version, 300 on White vinyl
  1. Stand Up
  2. Break Em On Down
  3. Johnny's Death Letter
  4. Goin' Back To Memphis
  5. Teenage Heart Attack
  6. Up Jumped The Devil
  7. Gospel According To John
  • Voice Of Treason LP/CD (Polydor, 2003)
  1. Cage That Tiger
  2. The Elucidator
  3. Lowdown Streamline
  4. Sons Of Dogs
  5. Lay Down This World
  6. Only Flower In My Bed
  7. Boogie With Viner
  8. Sights Unseen
  9. On Time
  10. I'm So Glad
  11. Ain't It Funny
  12. Handle Song
  13. Lorali
  • The Hardest Walk LP/CD (Alive Records, 2006), 1000 copies on Purple vinyl
  1. Truth Or Consequences
  2. Downtown Paranoia Blues
  3. Crying Out Loud (Tears Of Joy)
  4. Crooked Crown
  5. Sweet And Easy
  6. Dark Horses
  7. White Jazz
  8. Good Feeling
  9. Let Me Down
  10. Mean Old Toledo
  11. Loup Garou
  12. True To Zouzou
  13. Dirty Beef in C(only on cd)


  • Purr Like A Kitten LP (Style Over Substance Records, 1997)
  1. Hell Or High Water (early version of 'Gimme Back My Wig')
  2. Lipstick
    • band info: 1.'Johnny Walker' featuring Johnny Wirick + Doug Walker. 2.'Cumsisters' featuring Ben 'Swank' Smith on drums. Album also featured tracks from Jessica Bailiff and Static Rituals, among others.
  1. Shaky Puddin' (featuring Jack White on backing vocals)
  • X-Mas Surprise Package Volume 4 7-inch (Flying Bomb Records, 2001), clear yellow or black vinyl
  1. Hang My Star
  • The Estrus Double Dynomite Sampler Volume 3 CD (Estrus, 2002)
  1. Break 'Em Down
  2. Teenage Heartattack
  • X-Mas Surprise Package (The Collector's Edition) CD (Flying Bomb Records, 2002)
  1. Hang My Star
  • FabricLive.07 mixed by John Peel (Fabric 2002)
  1. Break 'Em On Down
  • Dim Mak 2003 Sampler CD (Dim Mak, 2003)
  1. Goin' Back To Memphis
  • New Blood - The New Rock N Roll Vol 3 CD (Artrocker, 2003)
  1. Prodigal Stones Blues
  • Root Damage 2xLP/2xCD (Sympathy For The Record Industry, 2003)
  1. Shakey Puddin'
  • Smash Music Sampler CD (Smash Music, 2004)
  1. Stand Up
  2. Break 'Em Down
  • Detroit Breakdown - The Rocked Out Motor City Music Sampler CD (PBS 106.7FM, 2004)
  1. Johnny's Death Letter
  • Superfuzz CD (Lowfly Records, 2005), featuring Dooley Wilson
  1. Still A Fool (Recorded live at Le Cat, Bordeaux, France 3/2004)
  • This Is Punk Rock Blues - Vol No. 1 CD (Punk Rock Blues, 2005)
  1. Handle Song
  • He Put the Bomp in the Bomp (Bomp records, 2007)
  1. Walkin' the Dog

Music Videos

  • Handle Song, directed by James R. Petix (2004)
  • Good Feeling, directed by James R. Petix (2006)


  • They appear in Detroit Rock Movie.
  • They appear in the documentary It Came From Detroit, directed by James R. Petix
  • A cover of the song Goin' Back to Memphis can be found on The White Stripes 2004 released live DVD Under Blackpool Lights. Which was also covered by The White Stripes on The Conan O'Brien show

Further reading

  • "You want to relish that bad feeling", The Guardian, March 3, 2006.

External links

  • Band profile at Alive Records
  • Soledad Brothers at Myspace
  • Review of the Steal Your Soul... album from the Soul of Rock n' Roll

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