I’m a little late with this review due to a technological nervous breakdown.
When I’m tooling around town and not listening to the billion or so songs on my iPod, I tune into the Underground Garage on Sirius XM. Every now and then over the past few months, they’d slip in a tune by The Dahlmanns which would invariably cause me to go over the speed limit due to the kinetic energy flowing through a body exposed to kick-ass rock-and-roll.
Hey, if a girl has to keep both hands on the wheel and feels like jacking off to a particularly hot song, that energy has to go somewhere!
Not wanting to forget the name of the band, I grabbed my iPhone and tried thumbing a note to myself, a practice that is illegal while driving and resulted in unintelligible garbage.
Some time following those first lame attempts at memory jogging, I upgraded to the iPhone 4S and got Siri. The problem I ran into is that activating Siri also activates the Bluetooth hands-free system in the car, meaning I had to try to communicate with Siri by shouting into the steering wheel over a background of road noise. On my first attempt, Siri heard “Dahlmanns” as “Communist” and started looking up online versions of the works Das Kapital. After several lame efforts and a near-miss with a semi, I pulled my ass over, parked and wrote out it all out using a technology called “pencil and paper.”
So, I want you to know that I went through a lot of hassle, stress and danger to secure a copy of All Dahled Up, and goddamn, was it ever worth it!
There are two essentials to great rock-and-roll: energy and rhythm. The singer may be off-key, the guitar riffs may be simple, the drummer may not do much beyond keeping the beat . . . but if the performer feels it and the rhythm section drives it, it’s going to sound like magic. You hear this most often in the early rock performers of the 50’s, like Little Richard and Buddy Holly: the excitement, the delight, the feeling of release that characterizes great rock music. The Beatles definitely had it, The Ramones had it, but lately, I haven’t heard much of it in the releases from the Anglo-Saxon universe, except on some of the songs from the Mind Spiders’ latest.
Silly me! I should have gone to Norway!
The Dahlmanns are a Norwegian band spearheaded by André Dahlmann (formerly of the Yum-Yums) primarily on guitar and his wife, Line Cecile Dahlmann (what a great name) serving as the primary lead singer. Apparently they gathered some other Dahlmanns and now there are five. I don’t know if they’re real Dahlmanns or rent-a-Dahlmanns, but there are five of them.
Even with all those Dahlmanns, this is a band with discipline and a focus: simple, no-bullshit, melodic rock. What makes All Dahled Up such a great album is the band feels it. The themes may be classic rock themes, the riffs may be classic rock riffs, but the songs are performed with such energy and sheer delight that it all sounds fresh and new, like a teenage crush or a mid-life crisis (“forty-eight, goin’ on sixteen”).
That little phrase is from the killer opener to the album, “Candy Pants.” Right from the get-go you have to love Line’s voice: disciplined, understated and textured without all the dramatic crap that Americans have come to adore through American Idol and the Amateur Olympic Competition of Who Can Stretch Out a Crappy National Anthem with Vocal Pyrotechnics. The simplicity of her delivery makes you connect with her: she’s one of us, headed out to the bar in the big city on a Friday night in search of a good time and some freedom from the daily bullshit. Line’s voice is the expression of someone stripping off the veneer, getting real and becoming a living, breathing, fucking human being again. I should also add that Andre’s guitar solo on this song is pure energy, a no-pause-for-bullshit-let’s-fucking-rock kind of solo that knocks me out every time I hear it.
The band best expresses their naked energy on four of my other favorite songs on the album: “Shake Me Up Tonight,” “Bright City Lights,” “Get Up Get Down” and “Teenage City.” All are sublime expressions of the joys of love, nightlife and sexuality. When Line delivers lines like “Get up, get down and stop foolin’ around,” and “I know, you know, we’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow,” I feel a rush of “yeah, that’s exactly what it feels like.” “Get Up, Get Down” is all the more remarkable because it’s really only a slight variation of the “Louie, Louie/Hang On, Sloopy” chord structure but it sounds as fresh as a saucy little wench sneaking a cigarette from the parents.
I’ve singled out five songs, but there isn’t a stinker on this album. Song after song, you hear the energy, the sincerity and the sheer love of rock and roll. The key message is this: when you’re feeling low after dealing with the deadness that dominates much of modern existence and you need a pick me up to get back in touch with your mojo, you can find the cure in All Dahled Up. To paraphrase Vic Fontaine, if this doesn’t get you going, look in the obituary column, because you’re probably in it.