Diamond Dogs are a Swedish rock band that has been playing since 1992 and the fact that their popularity is still somewhat in the shadows, is both a mystery and not. The band has its influences in the late 60’s and early 70’s and bands like The Faces, The Rolling Stones, Humble Pie and Mott The Hoople are all pivotal for the sound of Diamond Dogs. David Bowie is, of course, a big influence, especially his 70’s stuff and it was his 1974 album that gave this band their name. But if you’re looking for more “modern” bands in the same vein, then look no further than The Black Crowes and The Quireboys. Musically, their first 10 (yes, the first TEN!) albums are full of catchy, groovy and swinging rock and roll that could make a dead man rise to the dance. That’s why it’s a mystery that Diamond Dogs aren’t a huge arena act by now. Well, at least the common rocker should know who they are and at least have heard their biggest hits. If they had any hits, that is. The reason it’s not a mystery that they aren’t huge is because they have never cared to even try to make a name for themselves. Whenever they release a new album you’d be so lucky to find any info about that and where to get hold of said album and when they’re playing live, it’s not like they’re doing tours or try to get a support tour to bigger bands. No, sire, what they do is to play small venues without almost any advertisement at all. To be honest, the fact that a link to download this record popped up in my mailbox came as a big surprise to me. Will 2015 be the year when lead singer and only remaining original member Sulo will actually show the rock world that they’re still alive and kickin’? See, even yours truly who has always loved to find new music and has a soft spot for this kind of music hadn’t even heard of this band until the late 90’s when a good (and then new) friend told me that I just have to watch them as they were playing on a ferry that had a rock theme that particular weekend, a ferry we were on. Of course, I was floored by their gig and to this day, the Diamond Dogs are one the best live acts I have ever seen. The groove and the soul and the action they bring with their extremely swinging music is impossible to ignore. However, the quality of their music has been sinking in later years. Their last great album Black River Road came out in 2004 and the follow-ups, Up The Rock (2006) and It’s Most Likely The Diamond Dogs (2008) had lost most of their hard rocking groove and reminded me more of later Status Quo – they had started to sound old and lean and the rock and roll, the way it should be played, had almost disappeared. Signs of hope were being showed with 2012’s Set Fire To It All (reviewed here), an album that maybe wasn’t great, it was an uneven effort still, but at least showed that the band wanted to get back to their roots and were trying to rock it up again. So with the release of their new record, I could see a ray of hope for the old geezers.
The album starts with “Runaway Romeo”, a swinging old-time rocker with a huge 70’s vibe, lots of organ and a big Mott The Hoople influence. I’m smiling because this tune tells me that the Diamond Dogs has found their way back to their roots – finally! “Alright, Alright, Alright” keeps the swing going and makes me think of a faster kind of rocking Black Crowes. For a big Rolling Stones fan as myself – I completely adore the Stones between the years 1968 – 1974 – “Stop Barking Up The Wrong Tree” is heaven-sent. This is Stones in 1972 – fantastic! “Broken” is a slow, bluesy ballad, completely cheeseless and full of feel and emotion. “Silver Star Delight” is a real motherf**ker of a song that puts Rolling Stones, The Faces, Black Crowes and the Quireboys in a blender and pushes the “on” button. It’s groovy as Hell and the best song the Dogs has written in ages. I also get the feeling the song could be a hit, if they play their cards right. “Back To Babylon” keep on kicking our asses. It’s a fast aggressive rock ‘n’ roller full of honky-tonk piano and groovy guitars – awesome! “Black Ribbons (For Magic)” is a slower, yet groovy rock song dedicated to saxophone player Mr Magic (Mats Gunnarsson) who was found drowned the 28th of May 2014. Rest in peace, Magic, you were the coolest sax-player ever! “Goodbye Troubled Soul” is a bluesy, soul-rocker that borders to balladry like the Stones made them in the early 70’s. Do I have to say that the song is brilliant? More Stones: “Rollercoaster” sounds like an outtake from their 1981 record Tattoo You. Now, most of the songs on that album are leftovers from the 70’s, so there you go. Killer song! They close the record with “Out Of My Heart”, a classic Diamond Dogs sounding good time 70’s rock ‘n’ roller with the piano at the front. The tune make me think about both Bowie and the Stones and even some Mott The Hoople. It’s a party track that make me want to down a few beers – and then some. What a great closer!
I’m a happy camper. This is the album I have been waiting for from these guys since 2004 and the brilliant Black River Road. To me, this is exactly how the Diamond Dogs should sound. Not only is the music going back to their rocking roots, there is also a spark and a will to kick some major ass that has been missing on the Dogs albums since 2004. To put it simply, the Diamond Dogs rocks again. They also sound good, the guitars, the bass, the drums and of course the piano and organ from The Duke Of Honk is right there with Sulo’s (Sören Karlsson) distinct, but at times a bit wobbling voice. So what if he don’t hit all the notes and that a sour tone rears its head every once in a while – Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart weren’t always faultless in that department either. I can also recommend the deluxe version of the album. If you spend some extra green on that one, you’ll get a bonus 18 track live disc – Live In Bilbao – from Bilbao, Spain, a country the Diamond Dogs has been visiting quite frequently. This CD shows exactly what kind of live act the Diamond Dogs are – a kicking and screaming god damned rock ‘n’ roll band that puts their hearts at the front. If you’re already a fan, this record is a no-brainer, but if you have never heard of this band before – if you’re not Swedish, there’s a big probability you haven’t – and has a soft spot for this kind of music, then get this. Like the title of that old Quireboys record – This is rock ‘n’ roll!
1. Runaway Romeo
2. Alright, Alright, Alright
3. Stop Barking Up The Wrong Tree
5. Silver Star Delight
6. Back To Babylon
7. Black Ribbons (For Magic)
8. Goodbye Troubled Soul
10. Out Of My Heart