For those of you who don’t know The Diamond Dogs were founded in the late 90’s by vocalist Sulo Karlsson and guitarist Anders Lindström who under the nom de plume of BobbaFett plays keyboards with The Hellacopters, which through reverse engineering, is how I discovered them. Musically the band is neck deep into the likes of The Faces, The Stones and The Pretty Things with a soulful garage edge and have over these Covid months been re-issuing their back catalogue.The latest is “Atlantic Juice” that collates the songs from the 2003 Jeff Dahl “Atlantic Crossover” split album and a selection from“That’s The Juice I’m On” that I think in turn was a compilation album itself.
Kicking the album off is “From Now On” that tells us ‘We’ll Be Strong’ and if anything is going to raise your spirits this is the perfect way to get things going in the right direction. “Scunthorpe Avenue” I’m sure wants to be “Gimme Shelter” as played by Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, with “Drink ToYa” the best song the Robinson Brothers never wrote and “You Captured My Smile” is the Diamond Dogs very own “She Talks To Angels”. “Get The Monkey Off” features some great electric Piano straight from the School of Billy Prestoncourtesy of The Duke of Honk, who along with Sulo in 2020 isthe only original member.
Even though the songs were recorded at different sessions “Atlantic Juice” comes across as a well rounded flowing record that could’ve been recorded in the 1970’s down in some Chateau in the South of France. The thing that stood out for me, especially on “Hurt You Twice As Much”, is how much these songs need to be played and heard live. In the meantime I guess we’ll just have to do with the very much appreciated vinyl and CD.
I think we’re up to reissue number sixty nine or something like that but I couldn’t care a less. When it’s the Diamond Dogs it’s all about the song and the Double D’s have ’em in spades.
Record label Wild Kingdom is re-releasing Diamond Dogs’ first 5 classic Long-Players (1993 – 2003). and including the singles and EPs from the same period.
Diamond Dogs were formed in 1991 in Katrineholm, Södermanland. From the very beginning hugely influenced by British Early 1970s R&B rock like Rod Stewart and The Faces, Frankie Miller, Dr. Feelgood, etc. and they are most unapologetic about that and so they shouldn’t be too. When a band rocks up with an opener like ‘Charity Song’ and along with that huge swing, they have more horns than you can shake a big stick at, and before you know it whatever shitty day you were having will be transformed.
By the time the band made it to ‘Too Much Is Always Better Than Not Enough’ they’d changed personnel a bazillion times except for the lifers and integral members the Diamond Dogs built a formidable reputation for their live shows, with the charismatic singer Sulo, as well as The Duke of Honk and his organ (ooh er Mrs) The sound and style of gritty rock’n’roll was cast in stone. Sören ‘Sulo’ Karlsson also being the main songwriter, and Henrik ‘The Duke of Honk’ Widen serving as the group’s principal producer. as long as the quality of songs was being written the sound was going to be died in the fabric of the bands DNA. Former Oddball Stevie Klasson has the deft touch of a Keith Richards or a Ronnie Wood and could crash out a chord when he needed to like his old boss Mr. Thunders. Such is his quality and the fact the guy oozes it every time he picks up a guitar he was exactly what the Diamond Dogs stood for and then some and he really came into his own on this record.
This their third proper album ‘Too Much Is Always Better.. ..Than Not Enough’ showed they weren’t done yet, the album was released in 2002 (almost twenty years!),it opened some cool doors enabling the band to tour with the likes of The Cult, Nazareth, Ian Hunter, Hanoi Rocks, The Damned, The Quireboys, Dan Baird/Georgia Satellites, Sensational Alex Harvey Band to name a few.
‘Bound To Ravage’ was released as a single and its slide guitar-driven upbeat rocker was classic boogie-woogie. but the band weren’t just about the good times as they mixed it up with the slower more reflective rockers ‘Sad To Say I’m Sorry’ and the epic balladeering of ‘Somebody Else’s Lord’ with the swirling organ is a match for the Rod the Mod classic ‘I Would Rather Go Blind’ or the Stones ‘Get Your Ya Yas Out’ version of ‘Love In Vain’ and I kid you not when I say that. Then to follow it up with the wonderful ‘This Ones For My Lady’ shows that The Diamond Dogs had many strings to their bow and were experts when dealing with the precious tunes that were bestowed upon them. They step back into the beginnings of Rock and Roll with the 50s inspired swing of ‘Desperate Poetry’. Strangely this album is preserved with the same twelve tunes that made up the original release but somehow after all this time the wonderful tones of Stevie Klasson have somehow elevated it for me and his playing gives it the edge on the previous releases. It might not have the bands best songs on it but as a complete album it’s exceptional.
Now had the Black Crowes continued on the trajectory of the first two and a bit albums I would hold them in the same esteem but alas they went all beardy Casey jones on us and fucked it up. It always puzzled me how the Robinson brothers could fill large arenas and got people wetting their panties at the prospect of their reunion to play the money maker album but the real tunesmiths are here hiding in plain sight. Ripping the shit out of rock and Roll and cooming up with top-notch album after top-notch album yet playing in local pubs. Sometimes life does indeed give you lemons but if my words help one soul turn the way of The Diamond Dogs then I’d be happy and if you remember the band who dished this treat of an album up almost twenty years ago and want the chance to hear it on vinyl – well this is your chance because Too Much Diamond Dogs is never enough just buy it!
Sweden’s much-loved and well-travelled charismatic rock ‘n’ rollers Diamond Dogs have returned to the scene and they are bringing re-releases of their first 5 albums with them. Released through the Wild Kingdom record label, these 5 LPs cover the first 10 years of their existence, which began in 1993 with the album Honked.
Honked set the scene for the coming years for the Dogs. Headed by the singer/songwriter Sulo, the band would at various points involve musicians from a worldwide spectrum of spectacular and influential bands. Honked was big news in Sweden, and it pushed their boundaries far beyond Scandinavia, with single ‘Blue Eyes Shouldn’t Be Cryin’’ making its way onto MTV rotation, back when the M meant Music and not Money. It would see them tour all over the world with some of the biggest household names.
The album now has been repackaged as Honked (All Over Again) and includes three additional tracks in Lucille (Richard’s, not Kenny’s), Sweet Sister Sunrise and Big Bayou (originally by Swampwater and then covered extensively). Many years following its original release, Honked is still brimming with that delightful charm that has always been instilled in the Dogs’ music. Raunchy and swaggering, the Dogs’ music is unapologetically 70s inspired rock ‘n’ roll, rolling in a sweet mix of the Faces and the Stones. The song writing and the energy captured in the production ensure that it still stands up now.
The Diamond Dogs have always delivered this music in the best way possible – with honesty and charisma. If you like the Black Crowes or the Quireboys, and for some cruel reason the Diamond Dogs passed you by, diving into these 5 re-releases should set you straight. And there’s no better place to start than right at the beginning with Honked.
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.
RELOAD, REWIND & RECALL ROCK N ROLL – Swedish glam boogie blue-eyed soul rockers DIAMOND DOGS are back to set things straight!
After the loss of saxophone player and longtime band member Magic Gunnarsson (who died in a drowning accident 2014) Sulo and the rest of DIAMOND DOGS called it a day. They released the album “Quitters & Complainers” in 2015 and went on a farewell tour ending in Oviedo in October together with Iggy Pop.
Since then Sulo’s been releasing 3 solo albums, working with Chris Spedding, Paul Young, The Crunch and the rest of the members been busy with other projects. During this time a lot of DIAMOND DOGS gig requests been dropping in from all over the world and when they found out that 4 of the 10 previous studio albums been out of stock for a long time and wasn’t available as download they started to make a plan.
Sulo & Honk (Henrik Widen), the remaining original members thought it was time to set things straight and release “that” compilation they’ve been talking about for many years. One thing led to another and soon they had a plan and even some new tracks to blend up the compilation with.
“RECALL ROCK & ROLL” (Cargo Records) will be a double album including 30 tracks. 25 old and 5 brand new songs. At the same time, Cargo Records will re-release 4 previous albums on Vinyl/CD & download.
The albums are: “As your greens turn brown”, “Too much is always better than not enough”, “That’s the juice I’m on” and the split album “Atlantic Crossover” with legendary US Punk rock singer Jeff Dahl.
“RECALL ROCK & ROLL” will be released in September/October and DIAMOND DOGS planning to tour Europe.
DIAMOND DOGS 2019 are:
Sulo – Lead vocals
Lars Karlsson – Guitars
Martin Thomander (ex Electric Boys) – Guitar, Backing vocals
Henrik “Honk” Widen – Keys, Backing vocals
Stefan Bellnäs – Bass
Thomas Broman (ex Glenn Hughes) – Drums
DIAMOND DOGS have over the years delivered countless hard rockin’ shows worldwide, they have also been on tour sharing stage with: Nazareth, Ian Hunter, The Damned, Hanoi Rocks, The Cult, Sensational Alex Harvey Band, The Quireboys, Dan Baird, among others.
Members of Diamond Dogs also have associations with such fine artists as The Hellacopters, Johnny Thunders, The Solution, The Dogs D’amour, The Nomads, Lisa & the Lips, Ian Hunter and The Crunch.
Considering his epic catalogue of releases I don’t think I can recall sulo ever making a “Bad” record luckily this very ambitious release can also be added to the ever impressive list. Diamond Dogs, The Crunch or Solo he has his distinct vocal and can easily flip-flop between styles sure they’re all Rock and Roll but this is a far gentler side of his work. Especially the ‘Nightshift’ side as it might suggest. Piano acoustic guitars duets its fairly standard arrangments for sure but the quality of the songs shines through. ‘Time To Alight’ is a wonderful and simple piano and guitar song with sparse backing vocals. I think its fair to say that if Sulo wanted to create a soundtrack to the dead of night then he has achieved that with some to spare. It’s gentle and soft in places and its personified in the albums title track with some beautiful piano rolls that sort of put a full stop on proceedings.
Sulo has always had great musicians working with him to compliment his writing and this is no exception. I love the swirling organ that stabs through the bleakness like on ‘I Swear To God I Don’t Believe’ I love the grandness of the backing vocals. Considering this collection has twenty seven songs it ebbs and flows wonderfully I know it won’t please everyone but if you want the guys gentler balladeering side then it’s here and if you want the Rock and Roll that’s present too the only thing missing is the punkier side but that’s why he does the Crunch I guess. Sure I think its fair to say you will be drawn to one CD over the other be it the darker melancholy side or the more uptempo and light side, me I’m somewhere in between as I think the best songs are on ‘Nightshift’ I do love it when he delves into that whole Faces groove but here its not quite that simple as ‘Brilliant Outsiders’ has got its country honk going on. If you ever liked someone like Chuck Prophet then you need to check this out – lap steel, duets, country honk Sulo has arranged for a whole record of players to duet with him from Stockholm to Florida and Nashville to London and everywhere between have lent a helping hand. He’s even managed to rope in the UK finest Country Band Los Pacaminos to back him up. So it would seem you can also add this style to his ever-bulging portfolio. It’s not quite the stretch you might think but the songs are authentic and sound like they’ve been brought from a good place and a happiness and Joie de vivre captured within.
‘Bring Down The Angels’ is fantastic and the band lives it up on ‘God Damned Jesus’ did somebody mention Mellencamp meets Waits meets Waylon? Oh, it was me. Well, that’s the ballpark we’re playing in here. I think its no good thinking you’re going to hear the Diamond Dogs or Crunch because that’s not going to happen you have to keep an open mind and just let the music flow. whilst it might have been an experiment too far for a lot of people for many others I’m sure an appreciation for the guy’s songwriting talent will win them over. Me – I’m happy to hear whatever Sulo throws my way I think he’s a talent we should champion no matter what style he delivers next. If you don’t raise a smile by the end of ‘A Song For Every Train’ then I feel sorry for you.