Following the recent reissues of ‘Honked All Over Again’ and ‘As Your Greens Turn Brown’, Wild Kingdom continue their Diamond Dogs ‘First 10 Years’ reissues with release number three. ‘Weekend Monster‘ brings together their two classic, long out of print EPs ‘Among The Non Believers’ and ‘Shortplayer’ on one sexy slab of coloured vinyl, with a new running order and cool as you like new artwork.
Laid down in a session just before the recording of ‘As Your Greens Turn Brown’ in 2000, ‘Among The Non Believers’ was meant as a taster for the upcoming second album from Sweden’s best kept rock ‘n’ roll secret. Again in 2001 ‘Shortplayer’ was a snapshot of what to expect on their third (and finest) album ‘Too Much Is Always Better Than Not Enough’.
Legendary producer Tomas Skogsberg takes the helm as usual to capture the 70’s vibes to the max, and it’s the classic line-up on these recordings. So joining long time singer/entertainer Sulo and keyboard wizard Henrik (The Duke Of Honk) Widen are the likes of Bobby Lee Fett, Mattias Hellberg and Stevie Klasson lending their guitar and vocal prowess.
The raw recording and deliver y of the title track is a perfect way to open proceedings. A melting pot of The Rolling Stones, The Faces and The New York Dolls is pretty much as good as it gets. An anthemic, live favourite that set in stone the classic sound that this band would take as their own. Guitars all over the shop, swathes of Hammond, but it’s the gritty vocalisin’ from main man Sulo that steals the show.
Up next ‘Throw It All Away’ is as good as it gets. Stabs of keys, guitars delivered from the crotch and a classic, timeless chorus. Could a song be any more 70’s sounding in 2001? Creating a sense of euphoria in music is not an easy thing to achieve, but Diamond Dogs deliver in spades again and again. With its lazy, rock ‘n’ roll riff and great percussion ‘Lunatic, Eye Rolling Delivery’ is a late night, boogie-woogie jam. Juke joint music, designed to share a whisky and a dance with friends. It sounds like it was recorded live in one take, fuelled by wine, women and last night’s party…I could be wrong!
Like a fine red wine, Diamond Dogs songs age well. And it’s safe to say 20 years on that these 10 songs sound as fresh and vibrant as the first day I heard them. Although I must admit to playing these two EPs and the following third album to death when I first got my hands on them. (On a third generation cassette I hasten to add) Remember, no one was doing this sort of rock n roll around the turn of the century. Punk pop was the flavour of the month and to quote Lenny Kravitz; “rock and roll is dead! “
But Lenny was wrong. You may have forgotten, or you may not even be aware how many classic songs this band has in their arsenal. Its song after song, even with these hastily recorded and put together EPs. I mean c’mon…’Poison Honey’ is heartfelt balladry at its best, and ‘Passing Through My Heart’ could’ve been a long lost Faces ballad for sure. The beautiful backing vocals giving that Jagger/Richards vibe that many copy but rarely match. English isn’t his first language, but Sulo is hands above his contemporaries in mastering the English language in the context of heartfelt rock ‘n’ roll.
They tip their collective hat to their influences with two choice cover as well. The New York Dolls ‘Pills’ is suitable raw and ramshackle, but The Stones ‘Connection’, I feel they actually make it their own here, what do you think?
The fact that these 10 tracks were ‘between album songs’ not destined for general release is testament to the quality of songs Diamond Dogs have at their disposal. And while they went on to release many quality albums through the ensuing years, I feel the band reached their pinnacle with their third album ‘Too Much Is Always Better Than Not Enough’.
All great bands have a magic period where they can do no wrong and the songs just flow, seemingly out of their control, as if written by someone else. For me, Diamond Dogs golden period was between 2000 and 2002 and therefore this album is an essential vinyl purchase.
Author: Ben Hughes