Song of the day – 246: The Dirtbombs
Damn. The Dirtbombs have a new album coming out. Damn. You know how exciting that is? Damn. Have you actually heard it? DAMN!
Listen up. I don’t love everything Mick Collins does. Man, that would be insane. The dude’s prolific, you know? But man, the Dirtbombs were one of the original inspirations behind Careless Talk Costs Lives, if truth were known – I believe that it was originally Jennifer Maerz who tipped me and Steve off to their presence, and the ever-lovin’ awesome Ultraglide In Black album, very first issue. Of course they were on the cover, next time around. Incredible live. Incredible to photograph. An incredible interview (although I saw so myself) – and one of the main reasons I am hurting, nay begging, someone to put out a Careless Talk compendium these years. Everything is set out, straight down the line.
Here’s what you need: “Ultraglide In Black”. It’s the latest DIRTBOMBS album. Got it? Shove it on. Throw this magazine out the window… and the rest of your possessions too. Words: Everett True. Photography: Steve Gullick
Give me a definition of rock’n’roll.
“Rock’n’roll is about honesty and expression.”
Give me a rock’n’roll experience.
“That would be Mick and I throwing a set of drums down the stairs at our studio,” bassist Jim Diamond continues. “Throwing a computer out the window, and recording it.”
God fucking damn it all, I want to dance. I want to feel the sweet sensation of the ground moving unsteadily beneath my feet, one leg barely in rhythm with the other, brow covered by a stickiness not caused by alcohol or age, mouth working wordlessly, head bobbing up and down, infused with the exhilaration of knowing that this – this moment, this song, this sudden collision of electricity and melody – is what it feels like to be truly, gloriously, wantonly alive. I want to feel shivers cascading to my heels. I want to keep blasting the volume up and up. I want to be able to leap up on rooftops and shout it in the proletariat and Islington’s grey, uncomprehending faces: THIS IS SOUL! I want every next moment to be as glorious as the one before, to listen to the Isleys and The Saints and Troggs and half-a-dozen motorbikes braying in the deep shadows of night simultaneously.
I want to dress in black, cool, studied, shades a matted mess on my shaking face, life a riot of colour (pink and gold and red). I want to conga with Billy Liar, dance on the grave of dead and given-up friends and shout in their comatose skulls, leaven this existence with an enthusiasm that is all the more wonderful because it is so primal. I want to fuck the world and give birth to nobility, a new strain of life.
I have no sense of cool, no idea what’s right and wrong. Just 87 minutes ago, I switched a (classic, but dull) Bob Dylan album for ELO’s (wrongly derided) Greatest Hits because the time for poetry and Lenny Kravitz resumes is long past. I want to DANCE! Dance like we do down at Chris King’s Girl Group night at the Hanbury, the sweet/harsh harmonies of The Royalettes and The Honey Bees and The Whyte Boots shimmering in the air. Dance, like that time in 1980 at a Ramones show when I pogo-ed the entire breadth of the Electric Ballroom to embrace the only other shirtless person present, only to discover it was my brother, the man who’d turned me onto rock’n’roll in the first place. Dance, like there’s nothing corrupt in life whatsoever – just sinews and stutters and the occasional bittersweet burst of sex.
Spontaneity is still what matters.
I want The Dirtbombs.
Here’s one of the songs that started it all. And I’ve got to warn you. The new album, Party Store, might be even better. It’s like 1975 disco with a solid beating Detroit heart. Plenty of sliding drums, and jagged guitars. Lots of silence and repetition. Plenty of the deadpan Collins’ growl – as so brilliantly and brutally realised on the 2008 album We Have You Surrounded. (Damn it. If we’re going to start reprinting all I’ve written about the Dirtbombs over the past decade we’re still gonna be here in 2011.) As good as ‘Chains Of Love’? Damn it man. There I go with my crazy talk again.
I’d like to link through to one of their new songs so you can share in my unbridled enthusiasm but you know what? Ten short years ago we couldn’t do any of that shit. We simply had the passion and the self-belief and the sweet, sweet eloquence of our own voices to convince the outsiders. (Does that still hold true?) Four of the songs on the new album come in at over five minutes, with the show-belter ‘Big In The Bassbin’ boasting a statement-making 21.22 minutes, by the end of which you’re frankly begging for some form of mercy. Way better is the sinister and broody ‘Shari Vari’, which could be lifted from Kraftwerk’s Radio Activity album, if I place my Krautrock correctly – and I think I do. ‘Good Life’ is a Chic tribute – sorta, but brilliantly. It’s sparse and rudimentary and works a fucking treat.
Respect due those Dirtbombs fellows and ladies once more. Respect.