I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out where Jeff Dahl belongs on the music biz food chain. He's managed to make a career out of the underground punk rock n roll scene WITHOUT a major label contract, MTV videos, or baseball stadium concerts. He's been signed to Triple X Records, a Los Angeles based independent label for over a decade. In addition, he publishes his Sonic Iguana Magazine periodically and tours in Japan and Europe. I guess you could call him a small market cult figure or something. He's been playing the same three chords since the 70s, fusing elements of blues, glam, pop, and garage into his own brand of punk rock.
I had originally intended to review his last CD, "I Was A Teenage Glam-Fag, Volume 1." It was a collection of 70s glam rock covers including songs by Alice Cooper, David Bowie, Suzi Quatro and some other more obscure glitter bands. It was the stuff of beautiful rock n roll. Most of the riffs were played wrong, the vocals were awkward, and the difficult guitar parts were replaced with easier Johnny Thunders-style licks. Jeff was like a kintergarden student who was trying to recreate famous works of art with finger-paint. The sincerity and passion made this CD a diamond. A better musician would have fucked it up with modern technique and effects. The problem is that only 500 copies were made, most of them have been sold, and there won't be any more. So why even review it? If your friend has a copy, steal it from him even if a friendship is at risk.
Dahl's latest release "All Trashed Up" sounds very similar to the Glam-Fag CD in terms of studio sound. It's very loud and warm and it sounds just like an old glam record. The bass lines are amazing too. I'm not familiar with Jenni Sex or her band Sin City Girls but on this record she delivers flawless walking bass lines, reminiscent of Billy Rath from the Heartbreakers. The album also features Michael Brooks from the Beat Angels on some of the tracks. The Beat Angels are very song-oriented and his guitar parts are usually built perfectly to fit the tune. This time you hear a more spontaneous Michael, improvising with basic rock n roll licks.
The CD opens with "Miss Thing," which is pure sleaze circa 1972 with some cool lyrics about booze, cigarettes, sex, and all that healthy and gratifying stuff. The organ sounds reminded me of "Death May Be Your Santa Claus" by Mott the Hoople. Some other great tracks are "There She Goes" and "Desert Roses." These two sound like Raspberries songs that were given the Ramones treatment. The track called "Silver Star" is interesting. In the underground, it's common knowledge that Dahl quit drinking years ago. I wonder if he relapsed and drank a few cold ones in the studio for this one. It has a boozed up, swaying sound with some very appealing backups. Overall, the record is cool. A couple of songs seemed like they were unconsciously recycled from his work in the past. As far as studio work goes, this is my favorite kind of mix. Well, at least it sounds good in my headphones anyway.
c/o Ultra Underground
Cave Creek, AZ 85327
VIsit Jeff Dahl's Website
Review by Jay Smith