Category Archives: D

501. Drive-By Truckers – “Go-Go Boots”

One major disappointment on arriving in NYC was discovering these guys had played there the week before.  I bought this latest effort as consolation.

Revisiting my old reviews I am struck by my wavering views of the band’s consistency. In many ways that sums up my response to this album

At its best, this album matches the grimy storytelling of ‘Dirty South’, especially on the title track and Used to be a Cop. But the remainder of the saga about a licentious preacher murdering his wife and running off with a pole-dancer is a mess and way too forced. The pivotal track The Fireplace Poker is meandering, unenergetic and just plain frustrating.

The band redeems itself, however, on the overtly country Cartoon Gold and the downright acidic Weakest Man:

Those two acoustic videos of Mike Cooley doing his thang highlight one of the three reasons I keep going back to the DBT well – his voice.  It is irresisitable, as is the energy when the bang gets up a head of steam (the third prompt to purchase is the damn cover art which captures my eye like a bright shiny object).

Now, I just wish the band would show some goddamn discipline.

File under: Sexy at times, but often uncomfortable

499. Death Cab for Cutie – “You Can Play These Songs with Chords”

Another CD I picked up in recent months.

album cover Death Cab for Cutie You Can Play These Songs With Chords Cd Review blogA trap for young album purchasers is accidently buying a ‘for the fans only’ album like this one.

This is a pastiche of the 8-track demo that got DCFC ‘noticed’, plus ten other early recordings from the infant act. As you’d expect, it is a bit of a hit and miss affair with no end of experimentation, loads of tentative steps and half-formed ideas, plus some misfires.

I don’t want to sound too negative, however, as the A&R folk were right to get excited about the promise here, and there are loads of hints of how competent this guys would get (and in a pretty short period of time too).

The upsides of the CD are the diversity of ideas, and the ease with which Ben Gibbard appears to produce well-penned tracks built around rhythms that start to mesmirise. I am glad he got over the dated tape-looping and the more bratty power-punk efforts.

I also love that he messed up the lyrics of a Smiths classic, thus pissing of a posse of pompus prats who take some sort of fundamentalist view of the sanctity of the:



485. Terence Trent D’Arby – “Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D’Arby”

I’m breaking up the (very long) run of Lucksmiths albums with my usual ‘back catalogue’ reviews.

Here’s another CD from my generous reader/friend Andy.

I presume he gifted me this in recollection that I once taped (!) a copy of this off his vinyl (!) version.

For an album I wouldn’t have heard in more than twenty years, this sounded scarily familiar.

For the young’uns out there unfamiliar with TTD, this skinny bloke burst onto the scene with the hubris of James Brown and on overt love for 60s soul/funk.

He has a falsetto that is surprisingly masculine and a good pop ear. He does focus a little too much on the affectation and histrionics side of this genre (i.e. he often seems like his play-acting rather than truly soulful, but who am I to judge?).

I prefer TTD when he get’s up on his toes and funky. So Dance Little Sister and the middle ground of Wishing Well outrank the soppier Sign Your Name for me:

It turns out TTD has gone all Prince-like and changed his name (to Sananda Maitreya), which is a bit of a coincidence, in that I once declared my DJ name to be Terence Trent T’Owling…It never caught on.

File under: You call that hard?

367. Various Artists – “Dirty Dancing” (Soundtrack)

And thus I take the greatest risk at marital disharmony of my reviews so far.

This record is a definite favourite of my wife Catherine, and one I make many unnecessarily snide comments about.

So, I’ve been overly cautious and given this album many more listens of the past couple of days than it deserves.

Sure, I don’t like the associated film and all it represents, but perhaps the tunes sound good when released from the visual prison of Swayze’s snake-hips and Grey’s whininess.  Alas, that is not the case.

This collection is a testament to all that is wrong about mid-’80s Hollywood’s interactions with the music scene.  All too often pompous, over-produced no name bands (and desperate lead singers going solo) were trotted in to pump out grandiose facsimiles of genuine genres.  That’s what goes on here.

The Blow Monkeys commit fraud, pretending to be early ’60s crooners, not British pomp-popsters.  The lead singer of Surrender (a third-rate Foreigner) cribs Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer.

And I’d prefer to not to acknowledge the contributions of Carmen, E., and Medley & Warnes who have left their mark irrevocably on the world of Karaoke.

The actual highlights on here are the genuine late ’50s and early ’60s from the Ronettes, Bruce Channel and Mickey & Sylvia. The lowpoint of not just this album, but surely my entire collection is The Swayze Incident/War-Crime:

File under: I need a shower

270. The Dirtbombs – “Ultraglide in Black”

As usual I’ve been slack in keeping my eye on my vinyl collection. I missed at least two Ds. Here’s the first of them.

You may recall my delight with the work of The Detroit Cobras. Well here’s some more Michiganites with a love of old soul, and a propensity to get down and dirty.

The Dirtbombs don’t usually do covers, but this release is a bit of a tribute to icons of soul music.

Mick Collins has a fantastic soulful voice, but with a garage sensibility. He’s not concerned with perfect pitch or lusciousness. Instead it’s about the energy and party vibe. He’s more at the James Brown/Screaming Jay Hawkins end of the spectrum than that of his clear idol – Stevie Wonder.

The album highlights include a grungy version of Wonder’s Living in the City and Thin Lizzy’s Ode to a Black Man which is much more amped up than this acoustic version:

OK, here’ it is in full live band format:

As you can see it is four-to-the-floor fun. I love having these sort of records to spice a dull Thursday evening. Add these guys to the growing list of artists I should see when next they cross my path.

File under: Get your motor running…

261. Bob Dylan – “Blonde on Blonde”

OK, lest we have a repeat of the Beach Boys ‘to do’, I’ll come right out and declare my application for citizenship of Philistinia.

I’ve spent a day with one of Dylan’s purported classics and it has left me rather cold.

This is the album where he embraced electricity thus alienated a sizeable portion of the folk-Luddite community. 

I’ve always assumed this historical moment saw him laying down some meaty riffs and scaring wildlife.  The reality is just a little bit of amplification and a fuller sound.

Gone, however, is the humour, energy and exuberance of his previous effort. Sure the opening track (Rainy Day…) has the schoolyard entendre about getting stoned, and he gets all whacky mocking a Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat later on.

Outside of the brilliant Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again I have never fallen for anything else on this album.  Bobby boy seems to have lost much of his idiosyncrasy and diversity.

I don’t want to give up on him, however.  Tell me fans, which of his albums should I chase up?  What will engage me as much as “Another side of…”?

File under: Diminishing blondes’ reputations for fun

260. Bob Dylan – “Another Side of Bob Dylan”

Bob Dylan is one of the music legends that hovers around any discussion of influencers, innovators etc, and one of the few such icons to grace my CD shelves.

Album cover CD Another Side of Bob Dylan

I picked up this album because I wanted to hear what all the fuss was about (beyond having the most parody-prone vocal style in all of popular music). I was also a big fan of one track (Motorpsycho Nightmare) which was regularly covered by local live stalwarts Dan & Al.  

It seems I picked a winner.  Each track on here is packed fill of fantastic couplets and imagery.

Bob reveals himself to be a funny chap. The aforementioned track a hilarious take on the old farmer’s daughter yarn.  He tops it with the rollicking I Shall Be Free No. 10 chock full of Ali-mimicking boasts that get increasingly ridiculous.

He also delivers his big folky political commentary epics (i.e. Chimes of Freedom), romance (Spanish Harlem Incident), lovelornness (I Don’t Believe You…) and some great stompy acoustic blues (Black Crow Blues).

This is an artist bursting with creativity.  Beyond the specificity of some political commentary, this an album that still sounds fresh and exciting.

File under: Get on side

259. Dub Narcotic Sound System meets the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – “Sideways Soul…”

The full title of this album is a mouthful: “Sideways Soul: Dub Narcotic Sound System meets the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in a Dancehall Style”.

Album cover CD Sideways Soul Dub Narcotic Sound System meets the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in a Dancehall StyleI’m typically pretty dismissive of such lengthy titles, but at least this one is informative. The meeting of minds here is a wonderful combo.

Calvin and Co’s pop sensibilities hook up with the filthy, sloppy blues grooves of Spencer and his buddies in what must have been some action-packed recording sessions.

It sounds like we stepped in near the end of a pretty wild, yet laid-back party, where some close and talented friends are taking the piss out of their shared acquaintances.  There are loads of in-jokes and adaptations of well-known lyrics.  Johnson’s vocals are hilarious and seemingly effortless.  The band get a series of funny intros.

Fudgy the Whale is 10 mins of lazy beats and all of the above elements:

I’ve been listening to this while chilling at a Thai resort occupied by a British version of the cast of Cocoon. I’ve kept this album inside my headphones lest I cause a spate of broken hips as my fellow guests find the grooves irresistable. It’s their loss.

File under: This soul is how I roll

258. Dub Narcotic Sound System – “Out of Your Mind”

I’ve been silent for the past couple of days as I transitioned from the hurley burley of Bangkok to the ludicrously laid-back vibe of the island of Koh Samui.

Album cover CD Dub Narcotic Sound System Out of Your MindThe soundtrack of this neck of the woods seems to be ocean waves, motor scooters, jetskis, Bob Marley and (inevitably?) Jack Johnson.

This bass-heavy work from Calvin Johnson alas does not get much airtime.  It is a little more layered and funky than necessary for these environs.  I suspect it would have worked much better in the visual smorgasboard and mash up of the nation’s capital.

The approach on this album is rare (at least for my collection). Guitars are set up almost in opposition to basslines, with the latter given much more ammunition.  Johnson then piles on some pretty much spoken word vocals. It is a little like Beck’s early work, but with none of the folk pretences.

Sometimes this patchworking comes together brilliantly.  The title track here (with some saucy female vocals) is a treat.  Most of the tracks are very listenable and not too jarring.  Occasionally the din outweighs the groove.

I suspect this album was loads of fun to make, and that it would work better live.

File under: Not hammock music…

257. Drive-By Truckers – “Brighter Than Creation’s Dark”

Listening to this trio of releases from the DBTs has been a strange journey.

I was taken with the raucousness of album #1.  The MOR #2 was pretty hit and miss.  And this one is a curious middle ground.

The vibe is much more country than the predecessors – country of a mature, slow-paced nature. So we’re talking laments and tales of woe.

It doesn’t have the energy and aggression of #1, and I must say that was the DBT incarnation that got my blood flowing and my excitement levels up.  Instead of picturing them in a dangerous bar (with chicken-wire) belting it out with abandon, now I see me seated, slowly sipping a beer and swaying along on a wave of their luscious tunes and entertaining tales.

So, I’m pretty happy with this one.  Female lead vocals on three tracks is a nice addition, and it breaks up with it is a long albums (19 tracks in all).

If I’d never heard The Dirty South, I’d perhaps view this album as classic.  So, give it a listen.

File under: Not so bright I’d need shades