It’s interesting that even the press release that came with “Slap Bang Blue Rendezvous” talks about the Diamond Dogs “cult status”.
We all know what that means. It means they are a brilliant band that people love, but who don’t have the gold records in their bathroom that they should – or to give it a more modern outlook, the fact they took their songs off Spotify in protest at some idiots’ podcast wouldn’t be headline news.
But, to some of us, Sulo, The Duke of Honk and the rest, are heroes. A quick story: I was (as I have written many times) in an online record club in the late 90s. It was the birth of the internet, and we’d be up late talking about what we’d bought (I was there because of my love of The Hellacopters) and amongst a section of us there, The Diamond Dogs achieved almost a mythical status. They were like The Faces with an “Exile…..” era Stones type cool, except they had a horn section, and, well, maybe obvious given the name of one them a honk. A further point, because unlike a Tory MP, I’ll declare my interests, in 2004 they released a song called “Hand On Heart” that is my one of all time favourites.
There, we are up to date, I think, and that brings us to this: “….Rendezvous” their return, and my God, it’s a hell of a statement. 24 songs, a double record, an hour and a half of lo-slung goodness, which Honk has called “my white album”. Don’t let that put you off, its way better than the Beatles, there’s real rock n roll in these songs (don’t @ me, I don’t like them and never will and I am paying for this website and will write what I like!)
In fact I’ll go further, if you can’t find something to enjoy on the opening slice of the horny (I mean its drenched in horns, calm yourselves down) “Alright Brutus, I’m On” then you might as well skip the rest, because that, right there is the quintessential sound. That is the rock n roll of this band, and they aren’t changing for you or anyone else.
There’s always been a kind of British invasion thing going on with the double D’s, “What If I Knocked” for example, has a touch of The Who going on, and the way “Everything’s Fine” builds is reminiscent of The Kinks. It is, in all honesty, tremendously gratifying that the modern world hasn’t even permeated this, “Rocked, Wrecked, Robbed And Ruined” might sound a touch like the Dandy Wahols, but then you realise that even that was 20 odd years back.
They were always capable of changes of tone, and “You Got A Diamond In Me” is one of them, a sweet slice of raggedy balladry, which just a couple of songs later they switch to the Spector-ish “You Shouldn’t Be Lonely On A Saturday Night” and the almost Americana “Ghost Pain Of Your Love” which – and I apologise – seems to have the same hook melody as “Don’t Look Back In Anger” (least it did in my head).
The second half of this carries on in the same vein, too. “Slap Bang Blue” is all relaxed barroom piano and slide guitar, a thought that “Rock It, Roll It” takes on and runs with it a little further, and there’s a kind of Diamond Dogs disco thing in the shape of “Common Form Of Life”, as if it is desperate for a return to normality.
Then there’s a few that – just by the titles alone – you know are going to be just ace. “Rocket Ricochet” is full of soul harmony, “Suicidal Idol” is surely an offcut from the first Quireboys record, as it comes in with a brilliant energy, and “Vanity Villains” still thinks it’s the 60s and will not be persuaded any other way.
The last one is brilliant too. Dog’s D’amour fans need to get to this straight away, because “Blind, Broke Patron Saint” is exactly the type of thing that Tyla made a career out of, the Bard of Wolverhampton would be proud of it, too.
When all is said and done, though, do you know what the best thing about “Slap Bang Blue Rendezvous” is? That there’s not a single dip. Incredible really when you think of its length. The key to why that is, is also the key to why this and has been a favourite to a lot of us for getting on for 30 years and its this: this is just a load of guys playing the music of their heroes, and doing it to the best of their ability, with a love and a craft.