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KO & The Knockouts

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The Year 2000 was a good one to be a garage rock band in Detroit. The White Stripes were beginning their assault on the mainstream and there were a bunch of like-minded groups kicking out the rock. It seemed like everyone was starting bands and putting out records. Ko & the Knockouts formed when Ko Shih, who was bartending at Detroit hot spot the Magic Stick and had been the bass player for the Come Ons, was approached by Long Gone John of Sympathy for the Recording Industry to put a song on his upcoming compilation of Detroit bands. Ko, who sings as well as playing bass, rounded up Steve Nawara, who was a member of Rocket 455 and the Go, to play guitar and Jeff Klein to play the drums. The track "Black and Blue" was featured on Sympathy's Sympathetic Sounds of Detroit in 2001.The group began playing shows sporadically and after replacing Steve Nawara with Eddie Baranek, guitarist and singer for Detroit teen mods The Sights, in early 2002 released their debut self-titled album on Sympathy. The record was a uptempo garage gem that instead of slavishly imitating the sounds of the garage bands of the 60's, takes elements of that sound like the snotty lyrics, ringing guitars and pounding tempos and updates them with a touch of power pop melody and an indie rock lo-fi sensibility. Much like the White Stripes do with the blues. Guests on the record include members of Detroit rock royalty like the Von Bondies, the Detoit Cobras and the Dirt Bombs. After the release of the record, Ko & the Knockouts toured Europe and the States. They may never reach the heights of their pals the White Stripes, but they are real good rock & roll band regardless. ~ Tim Sendra

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