Articles - Obsessive/Compulsive Rock N Roll - Dirtbombs - 02.07.01

Sorry this took longer than usual. I broke my wrist skating, so typing has become a tedious adventure. --Mark

Dirtbombs – Headlights On/Jolene 7" & Brucia I Cavi 7"

Let's get one thing straight, right off the bat: you're gonna have to look high and low to find yourself a copy of the Headlights On/Jolene single by the Dirtbombs. It's another record released by Solid Sex Lovie Doll, an Italian label that specializes in ultra-limited, super trashy, great singles, mostly by bands who make the Memphis-Detroit connection (Reatards, Walter Daniels, King Louie, etc). Granted, it's a record worth getting, no doubt about that, but don't walk into your local store expecting them to have a copy sitting in the bin next to the new Green Day 7".

For that reason, I've added the also-new Brucia I Cavi single to this review. This is on Hate Records (also outta Italy), and should be considerably easier to find. Besides, much of what I'd have to say about this one applies to the other. They're two Dirtbombs records, recorded around the same time by the same guy (Jim Diamond!). They're two new Dirtbombs records. That's all you should need to know, really.

The Dirtbombs are a band full of very talented musicians, but really, with Mick Collins in a band, all eyes are fixed squarely on him. From the Gories onward, he's sunk his teeth in primal, stompin' music and hasn't let up yet. At times (like on "Jolene,") Collins and the 'Bombs lay out a solid Bo Diddley beat and build a locomotive of a song around it. Other times they take the exact opposite approach, shooting fuzz and distortion everywhere, like scattering buckshot.

The two songs on the Solid Sex Lovie Doll Release really only wet your appetite for more. "Headlights On" rushes through a blast of verse-chorus-verse drenched in Jim Diamond's patented distortion. On the flip side they offer a meatier size serving—a touching rendition of the now classic, "Jolene." Not a lot more to say. It's limited to 300 copies, with about three or four different sleeves, making this something really only needed by big Dirtbombs fans. For the rest of you, the single on Hate Records is what you should look for.

The Brucia I Cavi 7" really only offers two full songs, but they're two really awesome songs; the best songs the Dirtbombs have released since "Stuck Under My Shoe."

On the first side, they run headlong into a song that sounds more like a Gories number than most Dirtbombs' songs. The biggest difference is full, enveloping sound, like a great white shark with its jaws open wide, shaking you down for your lunch money. Flip it over and the first song on the second side, "Insecure...Me?" gives you what you came for. Here's a song that showcases Collins at his best. It offers a little personal look at Collins and does so in a stunning storytelling style that seems to have been completely lost in rock 'n' roll these days. Take a deep breath before you dive into this pool of dense distortion, because once you're dragged in, there's not much breathing room amidst all the crashing chords, two sets of drums, screeching feedback, racing vocals and a nice thick bass to fill in all the nooks and crannies. Once the song's over, you'll wanna pick up the needle and dive back in.

The second song on side A, "Temp" and the title track (second song on side B) both sound like little more than the band fucking off in the studio. On "Temp," the Dirtbombs race through a mediocre hardcore song (think really early Bad Brains...sort of). And Brucia I Cavi is nothing more than a spout of a guitar feeding back, cutting out and a drumbeat to go along with it. Both are somewhat interesting and fun, sure (and are better than some bands' real efforts), but this coulda been a perfect two-song single with just "They Saved Einstein's Brain," and "Insecure...Me?" These two filler songs are just that—filler. They turn down the heat on what would otherwise be a scorching record.

Both of these singles mention being part of the "No Series" series (Headlights On is #2, Brucia is #3...what's #1?), be sure you get 'em all.

It feels like ages since we last got a good slab of vinyl from Mick Collins. These 7"s here are tasty; they certainly make for good snacking, but lordy, I'm hankerin' for another mean full length. Whatta ya say Mick? Please?
(Solid Sex Lovie Doll c/o Federico Zanutto/Via Rualis 101/33043 Cividale (UD)/ITALY)
(Hate Records/ gianicolense 112/00152 Roma/Italy

Other 7"s of Note:
Mighty John Waynes – Kill That Girl 7"

This record is loaded so thick with garage punk clichés, it'd be easy to understand why you might pass it up. From the cover all the way through to the sound in the grooves, you've seen and heard it before. But the Mighty John Waynes do the unthinkable and make you want to stick around and hear it all again. It's a record that, had it come out in 1993, would've been worshipped. And it's a record that, had it come out in 1997 or '98 would have been dismissed as terminally late for the trend. Here it is 2001, like 13 years since the Mummies started wrapping themselves. Are you ready for another go?

So, what is it that makes this record stand out, given the utter flood of snotty, snarling garage punk flooding the world since the Mummies and Supercharger were born? Well, for one, the Mighty John Waynes do the Mummies/Supercharger/Rip Offs thing better than any fucking band since the originals imploded. Mr. Jim Kuczkowski (mastering guru for Rip Off Records) recorded this monster slab, so you know the sound hits all the right marks. It's got a good thick layer of dirt covering everything, but doesn't have that horrible "recorded in a milk carton" sound. You can actually hear everything, which, unlike some turds floating around out there, is a good thing. The vocals are dead on—not overbearing in trying to sound indifferently obnoxious. The guitars and rhythm section both keep it fucking simple, adding a little spice with occasional fills and hot licks, but only when absofuckinglutely necessary. The first side is better than the second. By the time they reach the second side, these Indianapolis boys let the songs go on just a bit longer than my short attention span can take. And thank god they don’t try to load their songs up with abused psuedo-Metal riffs. What is it with punk bands these days? Too much fucking AC/DC in their diet, not enough Pagans.

While it's obvious the Might John Waynes are trying to be like the Mummies and the Rip Offs all in one, it doesn't come through as a contrived bunch of bullshit. They manage to get not just the sound, but more importantly, they get the feeling, the lip curling, spine tingling feeling that makes you unsure whether or not they're gonna grab you from the audience to dance with you or throw you on the floor and kick the shit outta you. It's that element of danger mixed with healthy helpings of fun that makes this platter sizzle. Get 'em while they're hot.

Rock and Roll Adventure Kids – S/T 7"

Okay, I'll be honest. If you buy this record, put it on your turntable and expect musical genius to leap outta your speakers, you're gonna be disappointed. In all fairness, this is actually kind of a shitty record.

The three songs on here were recorded live at a party. Instead of getting a great Premiers "Farmer John"-like sound, it sounds more like someone accidentally recorded these on a nearby answering machine. First they launch into a stumbling version of the Tamrons' "Wildman" (off Back from the Grave #2), a good sign. From there, the fall into an original song, "She's a Dork & I Like Her," which is poppy, yet still smothered thick in wonderfully teetering musicianship – at any moment they could lose it. Finally the Rock and Roll Adventure Kids wrap up this single with rousing off-key, outta tune rendition of "Twist & Shout."

Did I mention the same three songs appear on both sides?

If you take this record at face value (which too many people will), you have another cruddy garage 7" with a shoddy live recording, photocopied sleeves and hand-drawn labels. Look even just a little deeper and you'll find an amazing record.

These Berkeley kids put more into this record than most bands who've been putting stuff out for years. There's a real magic about putting out your very first record. It's something that sends chills down your spine and turns your stomach like being on the Cyclone with a belly full of Nathan's hot dogs. Unlike so many records, that feeling comes through on this record. This record rules because these kids aren't trying to be something they're not. They're having fun and you can tell. In case you're wondering if they're really having fun, the little stickfigure drawings of themselves on the insert all sport gaping, wild smiles. Objective complete. The sound isn't great, but it's really like being at a crowded Oakland party with a band bent on having a good time shaking things up East Bay style. This record is untempered, unadulterated raw, gut-wailing passion. What a wonderfully rare thing to find these days.

The garage wave has thankfully come and gone. Now there's room again for bands who are more concerned about making fun music than looking cool or that they're covering the right songs. And really, I don't care if people pan the Rock and Roll Adventure Kids – the less terminally hip assholes the better. This is really a record you should check out though, if at least just to remind your jaded self what it sounds like to be doing something because you love it.

Hives – Hate To Say I Told You So 7"
(Green Hell/von Steuben Str. 17/D-48143 Münster/Germany
Moorat Fingers – I Hate to Love You/I Don't Know 7"
(Radio Blast?)
The Stooges – Lost In the Future/Slide (Slidin' the Blues) 7"
(No Address)
Golden Guineas/Randy Captain Dynamite Hornrocker and His World Famous Loaded Hoods – split 7"
($5/3£; Ken Rock/Fariksgatan 39B/412 51 Goteborg/Sweden

Mark Murrmann
PO Box 11906
Berkeley, CA 94712 USA

© 2003