WE HAVE YOU SURROUNDED - The Dirtbombs (In-Fidelity Recordings)
More properly entitled "They Have You Confounded", the latest long-player from Detroit's most off-the-wall band hits the racks in Australia just in time for the band's umpteenth tour of these parts. In true Dirtbombs style it knows no one stylistic master.
Pushed to pigeonhole, "Surrounded" is living on the same block as the glammed-up "Dangerous Musical Noise" especially on the lead online track "Sherlock Holmes" and the tub-thumpin' "Leopard Man At C & A", but there's as many infectious fuzz pop ("Indivisible") per square inch as there are scraggly rockers ("I Hear The Sirens".)
There's also the electronica cacophony of "Race To The Bottom" where Suicide does battle with Donald Trump's hairpiece in a Detroit techno danceclub. Best not to play this one near the old and infirm or small animals.
The Dirtbombs have always rolled out an array of weird and wonderful covers. Reading the tracklist, I briefly thought they'd picked on The Loved Ones' "Ever Lovin' Man" (the Black Diamonds got a work-out at their hands.) No, it's an original and this time it's INXS' "Need You Tonight". A dull, insipid song is a dull, insipid song no matter what way you cut it. It's a hidden track - which is what it should have stayed, despite the Dirtbombs' best efforts.
The overriding lyrical theme is urban paranoia and how this whole damn planet is going to hell in a handbasket. Detroit's probably a good place for a band to come from when enunciating such scary thoughts. "Fire In The Western World" embodies those sentiments pretty damn well.
Back to the big picture and it's hard to feel that these guys have trod water, not doing as expected and pushing into some bizarre new territory. Then again, what does that matter? It's a solid effort by any measure. Plus, Mick Collins and Co could read the Metro Times classifieds accompanied by the hidden tape recorder soundtrack of Pammy and Rick on their honeymoon and most of the garage rock hipster world would be as happy as termites in a boxful of balsa wood.
- The Barman
IF YOU DON’T ALREADY HAVE A LOOK – The Dirtbombs (In-Fidelity Recordings)
Excuse the gush but this double-disc collection of largely unheard material by Detroit’s most style-averse band is the bee’s knees. One disc is originals, culled mostly from the interminable limited edition EPs and 45s that the Dirtbombs have unleashed on an unsuspecting world. The other boasts 23 (count ‘em) covers of songs by people as diverse as Smoky Robinson, the Cheater Slicks and the Bee Gees.
The liner notes break things down into a track-by-track from some of the constant members of this ever-changing band, but it’s Mick Collins’ intro that puts the whole Dirtbombs story into perspective. We knew that he never thought the Dirtbombs were going to be a going concern 10 years down the track, but what’s been less apparent is that they were conceived as a band with a beginning, a middle and an end. If “Horndog Fest” was a conscious paen to punk, “Electraglide in Black” an fully-realised ode to soul and “Dangerous Magical Noise” a planned exercise in exorcising the demons of glam, Collins reveals that the next full-length may be pure art noise.
Makes sense, as does the Collins contention that seven-inch records are the purest distillation of what a band has to offer. Hence the fact that most of the released songs here, come from EPs and singles on labels like In the Red, Corduroy and Sympathy.
Every Dirtbombs album is different but the basic elements are the same: Dual drummers, a big bottom end (often replete with fuzz bass), in-your-face guitar, Collins’ warm vocal and production running anywhere from the sublimely rockin’ to the ridiculously lo-fi. Lot of people call it “garage”, which is a lazy term to be used at your own risk within earshot of the band, lest you earn an old fashioned Motor City kicking.
Doubters of the perverse sense of genius that’s at work need go no further than the cover of the Stones’ “No Expectations” that graces disc two. Now, I know people who think fucking with the work of Jagger-Richards is on a par with cracking Hitler jokes with the Pope or taking kids to a Michael Jackson show, but i marrying this song to the chorus of “Sympathy” AND working in the “Na-na-n-nanananana-na-nananana-na” outro of “Hey Jude”(!) is purely inspired. If slaying sacred cows is a Dirtbombs stock-in-trade, this album is the sonic equivalent of an abbatoir.
On a parochial level, Aussie reference points abound (even disregarding the error that has Melbourne re-located to New South Wales), with a couple of shots of Mick Collins proudly sporting a Rocket Science T-shirt. The other reassuring thing is that the Sydney Sunday Telegraph’s resident music guru (and Delta Goodrem fan) gave this collection two stars out of five, describing some of the songs as “excruciating”. Now there’s a reason to know that you know you’ll love it!
This may as well be a new Dirtbombs album for most (there are eight unreleased tracks) because there are none of the tracks that you might have picked as highlights of the albums. I’m in tow minds whether this collection is a good starting point for the uninitiated or a convenient purchase for completists. Either way, it’s a sure bet and a must have, get the drift? - The Barman
DANGEROUS MAGICAL NOISE - The Dirtbombs (In-Fidelity Recordings)
Thumbs up to Australian label In-Fidelity for grabbing the local rights to the third long-player by Detroit's wonderful Dirtbombs. No excuses now for not tracking down a copy through the local Ma and Pa record shop, if you're not inclined to order online. Shit, even the clueless crew at Sanity should be able to order this in.
Long-championed by late, great Melbourne's Au-Go-Go shop, The Dirtbombs leave most of their competition for dead. So what is it? Don't call it "garage" unless you really want to give the band the shits. Garage is such a devalued term anyway, with different interpretations all over the world. This album is basically soulful rock and roll with very deep '60s roots - no surprise if you're a fan of band leader Mick Collins, whose Gories were a big deal on the early '90s Detroit underground scene.
Plus there's a deep streak of glam running through songs like "I'm Through With White Girls", but don't let that scare you away. It's meant in the best possible way (like musically, not visually).
There aren't many bands with two drummers and two bassists. (None that I know of have Detroit's best producer, Jim Diamond, on bass.) And while the liberal use of fuzz bass really works well against Collins' guitarwork, I'm unconvinced the dual drums adds a lot. Then again, I missed their Australian run of dates in support of You Am I so maybe, in the live context, it works. Thankfully, first drummer Patrick Pantano and his counterpoint Ben Blackwell play it pretty straight and don't get into complicated patterns and embellishments.
Two things I do know. One is that this is a more "rocking" effort than the last album, "Ultra Glide in Black", which was a formidable collection of soul covers, some obscure, some well-known, and more melodic than thje songs I've heard on their debut, "Horndog Fest". The other thing to note is that the central role is played by Collins' voice. The guy has a great set of pipes and can croon along or crank it out.
If the live version of "I'm Though With White Girls" outdoes the version here, I need to catch the Dirtbombs in a grotty pub sooner rather than later. Collins turns in a great vocal on "Stop" - a rare easing of the pace that's all the more powerful for it - and bores it up retro music in "Stuck in Thee Garage". The Dirtbombs dip into a bag of dirty funk for F.I.D.O. and move into soul-ballad territory on "Sun is Shining" where Collins gets to display his range. The changes are rung with adept cohesion.
Without getting into a track-by-track, there are highlights all over this record and enough ideas to keep it in high rotation. The Oz version gives you two bonus tracks: A bouncy Brian Eno song "Kings Lead Hat" that's covered in wonky keyboards and "Executioner of Love", a Robyn Hitchcock tune that might be more familiar and gets along on martial drums and a nasty fuzz guitar edge.
Call it "Deeply Righteous Noise" but grab it. - The Barman
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