DALTON – Pit Stop

Dalton - Pit StopGuilty pleasures! Isn’t that a really stupid f**king word? Words. Sentences. Phrase, Whatever. Isn’t using them the same thing as admitting that you actually like something you shouldn’t because it sucks? I, myself am guilty of using that phrase at times and I cringe every time I do because there’s nothing about music to feel guilty about at all. You either like or you don’t and there really is no good or bad music per se, just different tastes. The reason I’m writing about guilty pleasures here is that Swedish pop metal five piece Dalton are probably one of those bands that goes by the guilty pleasure moniker for a lot of people, a band that you might like while on your own, but you really don’t speak out loud about it and if I’m honest, they has been for me too, until the day I decided to not have any guilty pleasures anymore, only pleasures. So, here it comes, I like Dalton, always has. Some record more than the other, but I like them and I think it’s a shame that they never got the recognition they deserved. When Dalton started out, they were known as “Treat’s little brother” in Sweden much because the fact that both their look and style of melodic hard rock were reminiscent of Treats’, but also because drummer Mats “Dalton” Dahlberg was the drummer on Treat’s debut album Scratch And Bite (1985). It was Mats who started this band and the name Dalton comes from his nick name, of course. They released their first album The Race Is On in 1987 and the band became mostly known for getting their first single and only hit “You’re Not My Lover (But You Were Last Night)” from Bon Jovi, a leftover from their Slippery When Wet sessions. They also got a song, “I Think About You”, from Michael Bolton that became a mini hit in Sweden. I remember digging that album hard when it came out, but listening to it today, it sounds rather dated and hasn’t aged that well at all. “You’re Not My Lover”, a song I loved in 1987, sounds embarrassingly dated today and I understand now why Bon Jovi didn’t want to use it. Much better, though was the follow-up Injection from 1989, a bit heavier and more authentic record than its predecessor. Unfortunately, when it was released, most people had lost interest in the band and it bombed. That album deserved a much better fate. When Dahlberg wanted to go on in a heavier direction and the rest of the band wanted to go even more AOR, Dahlberg left and the rest of the guys tried to continue with a new drummer for a short while before they found it best to lay the band to rest. Fast forward to 2013 and by now every 80’s hard rock band has reunited and why not Dalton? The guys decided to try to do a reality show out of the reunion, but what came of that, I’m not sure. If they even decided to do it, I dunno and I haven’t heard anything of it airing anywhere. But the idea made the guys – brothers Bosse and Anders Lindmark (vocals and bass), guitar player Leif Westfahl, keyboard player Ola Lindström and Dalton himself – reunite for some gigs to see how it worked out and at they same time they released a best of album and when they found out that the chemistry was still there, the idea of a brand new record wasn’t far away.

Now, brand new isn’t the whole truth because many of the songs on this album was written back in the early 90’s for a third Dalton record, but when the band split, nobody ever used the old demos for other projects so these songs has been lying on wait up until now. By using tracks that were written over 20 years ago you might run the risk that those songs might sound dated and old, so it’s important to make them sound contemporary while preserving the sound you had back then and that, my friends, is a lot harder than one might think. To make that happen, an outside producer is often necessary and the guys brought in Chris Laney to produce at first, but when that didn’t work out, they used Erik Mårtensson (W.E.T. / Eclipse), a really good choice, it turned out. Mårtensson might be a young guy, but he loves his AOR and melodic rock and he has managed to make his two day jobs climb high on the quality ladder. But what to make of Dalton then? Keep in mind, this was a band that had a very short career span with only two albums out of which one didn’t really stand the test of time. Even though I was really curious of how this would sound, I must admit my expectations wasn’t that high. But opener “Ready Or Not” set the record straight right away. A really strong melodic rock song that sounds like Dalton all the way with Bo Lindmark’s personal voice on top. “Hey You” makes me even more convinced that this reunion is a good thing, the song could have been off their debut as the best song on there. “Don’t Tell Me Lies” is a fabulous AOR ballad that would have been all over the radio waves in a perfect world and the same goes for “Follow Your Dreams”, although that one is more of a power ballad – really great stuff. “Up And Down” is awesome and in 1988 – 1990, this would / could have been a huge AOR hit. My guess is that one is one of the old demos. “Bad Love” rocks a bit harder than the rest and even though it’s a mostly great song, the chorus falters – too bad. That can’t be said of “One Voice” though – it has a chorus that’s catchier than super glue. “Something For The Pain” knocks me out, down for the count, a brilliant melodic hard rocker and a hit to be – with a little / lots of luck. “50/50” goes all Bon Jovi on us – the Bon Jovi that were great, that is. The melodies and hooks are all very Slippery When Wet – influenced, but not in a clone kind of way. The album leaves us in a party mood with “TGIF” (stands for “Thank God It’s Friday”), a great melodic party rocker that reminds me of the poppier moments on Treat’s fantastic album Organized Crime.

I have a big smile on my face after one listen and the smile gets even wider after a few more spins. This is good! This is really good! It might be unfair of me to draw such clear comparisons to other acts here, but the fact is, Dalton hasn’t reinvented the wheel by any means and that was never their intentions from the start. The play what they love and if they show their influences a bit too much here and there, then so be it. It doesn’t matter when the songs are really strong as they are here and they put their own stamp on whatever influence they might bring out. To be honest, I’m a little surprised just how good this is. Even though this has a clear late 80’s vibe, it doesn’t sound dated at all and I just hope that this isn’t just a one-off because I have a feeling that Dalton might just have a future and that they really are relevant in 2014. If I must say something I would have wanted different, then for the next album (hopefully there will be one), I’d like the over all sound to be a bit fatter and more in your face. Maybe Laney will be available then? Still, that’s just a minor note from my view. This album will not leave my playlist anytime soon and for anyone with an open mind and a love for melodic hard rock and AOR, to note purchase this wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do. Well done, boys.

On a sadder note, while writing this review, I got the news that keyboard player Ola Lindström was hospitalized for heart failure of some sort and that his condition was pretty unstable. We send our wishes to Ola and his family and hope that he will get well as soon as possible.

Jon Wilmenius (8/10)

Tracklist:

1. Ready or Not
2. Hey You
3. Don’t Tell Me Lies
4. Follow Your Dreams
5. Up & Down
6. Bad Love
7. One Voice
8. Here We Are
9. Something for the Pain
10. 50/50
11. TGIF

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s