Following the recent news of an upcoming ‘best of’ package and vinyl re-issues of four classic albums, Sweden’s finest purveyors of glam slam boogie the Diamond Dogs are back with a new long-player of brand new music to whet the appetite.
It seems you can’t keep a good band down, and four years after they called it quits, following the tragic death of saxophonist Magic Gunnarsson, original members Sulo and keyboard player Henrik “Honk” Widen decided it was time to get the band back together. Joining the duo are long-serving guitarist Lars Karlsson, fellow guitarist Martin Thomander, bassist Stefan Bellnas and Thomas Broman on the drums.
While a revolving door of band members has come and gone over the years, the sound remains the same. Let’s just say, if you dig the cool as you like vintage rock ‘n’ roll of The Faces meets The Stones, then grab a Jack & Coke, drop the needle and sit back and enjoy!
Now, when I say new music, all is not quite as it seems. If you were to purchase this album on vinyl then you could say side A is Diamond Dogs originals; recalling their rock ‘n’ roll roots. And then side B is their own tribute to Soul legend Sam Cooke; six cover versions of classic cuts from the Soul singer, reinterpreted in their own classic style.
While their last few studio albums have been a bit patchy, this is a banger of an album from start to finish. Their trademark rock ‘n’ roll shuffles bring to mind a golden age of early 70’s British rock. Anyone from The Stones, Slade and Quo comes to mind at any given moment. You know the score.
Opening song ‘Recall Rock ‘n’ Roll’ sets the bar high from the off and sees singer Sulo in introspective mood as the band fire on all cylinders behind him. “Let’s turn back time and make it roll!” he suggests before blasting into a euphoric chorus. The likes of ‘Valentina (Queen Of Broken Hearts)’ and ‘Heavy Swing’ have that classic Sulo chorus refrains in abundance. High energy rock ‘n’ roll, with a tinkling of the ivories and key changes that takes it up nicely to the climax. No one does Mott meets The Faces better.
There’s a hint of sadness to the soulful balladry that ‘Singin’ With Elvis’ brings to the table. Sulo reminisces about times gone by and the ghosts of the past. “I walk down the street where we all used to meet, but it was all dark and quiet” he sings in an almost broken rasp. Swathes of Hammond organ and great, Stones inspired backing harmonies make this essential Dogs material.
The uber-cool ‘There Is A Fire Down There’ has a Black Crowes swagger, with trademark killer backing vocals and a wild n’ crazy slide guitar solo. No one does rock ‘n’ roll rapture quite like the Diamond Dogs do these days.
The album is split down the middle by ‘Soul Folks’, a re-recording of a Sulo original that first appeared on his album ‘Hear Me Out’. Sulo’s own tribute to his soul hero that actually comes across like an Exile-era Stones outtake. Cracking stuff indeed.
Now, the Sam Cooke side of things includes a bunch of guests. First up, we have Quireboys frontman Spike lending his gravelly tones to the good time rock ‘n’ roll of ‘Good Times’. Handclaps, sax and heavenly, female backing vocals bring the soul and help get the party started.
The good time boogie of ‘Don’t Fight it, Feel It’ and the 12 bar blues stomp of ‘Somebody Have Mercy’ are delivered in fine Diamond Dogs style, you wouldn’t even guess they were old Soul songs on first listen.
They breathe new life into ‘Keep Movin’ On’. Faster and more uplifting, that killer chorus introduces a song that sounds like it has always been in your head. Hellacopters main man Nicke Andersson adds his dulcet tones to this banger.
Thunder frontman Danny Bowes duets with Sulo on ‘Nothing Can Change This Love’. With the lyrical sentiment and the sparse musicianship, it retains the soulful feel of the original, but it’s given the Diamond Dogs treatment. A rendition that sounds like it was recorded 50 years ago, not six months ago.
‘Sugar Dumpling’ closes the album and is my favourite of these cover versions. Featuring Swedish rapper Papa Dee, they take to another level entirely. To me, it comes on like The Dave Clarke Five meets The Archies, classic 60’s pop and a surprise finale. What a tune!
‘Recall Rock ‘n’ Roll And The Magic Soul’ will not only satisfy Diamond Dogs fan who have been craving more material, it will also remind those who forgot exactly why we missed them in the first place.
Ok, so it may not be an album full of original material. But as the title suggests, this new album is a throwback to the roots and the influences of what made Diamond Dogs one of Sweden’s greatest musical exports. And that is something we should all celebrate.
Buy The Album Here
Author: Ben Hughes