Sunday, October 9, 2011
Jeff Dahl- Ultra Under (Triple X, 1991)
Thirty-nine cents! It's tough finding a goddamn Snickers bar for less than that amount of lint-covered coins, but spotting arguably Dahl's best album on tape in Camelot Music's cheapo bins inside Virginia Beach's Lynnhaven Mall circa 1995 surely satisfied (albeit temporarily) my ears' hunger for fresh sounds. Judging by the thick nest of frizz on the cover (Mark Bolan with a perm from Hell's hairdresser?), the sleeveless Stooges tee, a dedication to Stiv Bators and song titles like "Junkies Deserve To Die" and "Mick & Keith Killed Brian," I was readily eager for Ultra Under to acquaint itself with the deck of my Magnavox boombox. After the fourth or fifth complete rotation of Dahl's promising platter, I made the following mental declaration: "Man, this dude's like Iggy Pop and Johnny Thunders rolled into one human being!" Indeed, Dahl's shoveling The Stooges' "Dirt" was so spot-on, my New Jersey-based friend (who'd acquire Ultra Under on CD within a week after wearing out the dubbed copy) thought it was Mr. Iguana himself. Said bud also gave high marks to the take of The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb," for it served as a template for Dahl's oft-girly vocalisms. Remember The Sweet's version of "Reflections"? Same shit, different era. It was the opening whine ("Touchy, Touchy Baby") that initially impressed us the most, however. Personally, I dig lots of '80s hair bands (as recipients of my grit comps would confirm), but this wild child sipped its glam formula with punk rather than metal. Because Dahl spat out lines in the same way a toddler extracts Cheerios ("So many questions got you on the spot/You don't bother to answer/Just give it up/Plain as day, but she can't see/Just shrug your shoulders/Ah, c'est la vie"), we sang along to Ultra Under in my amigo's rental car during his return to Tidewater.
Mr. New Jersey is no longer a friend of mine (100% his fault, but whatever...), but Jeff Dahl can still be counted upon whenever a rock 'n' roll jolt is necessary to power bleak days and nights. Recounting the true story of a horrible night amidst the '70s punk scene in Los Angeles, "Elks Lodge Riot" puts you in the middle of the chaos ("Flying vultures overhead/Tracking my every move/Sirens running thru the streets/Sets such a dangerous mood"). An absolutely stinging guitar riff from Chemical People's Jaime Pina (shades of Cheetah Chrome) heightens the tension. Dunno what kind of household Dahl grew up in, but "God Don't Care" is an answer-back redolent of many an artist a la Jim Carroll and Patti Smith ("Take it any way you want/It ain't blasphemy/If you sell your soul, baby, you ain't free/Put all you've got in the collection plate/Yeah, you can buy salvation if it ain't too late"). "Somebody" and "Pretty Blonde Hair" (another Pina lead!) are apt tributes to Stiv, as both throw flames with the white-hot intensity of the cookers on We Have Come For Your Children (the BETTER of the two Dead Boys albums!). Sparse piano and voice could be the stuff of your mom's favorite Jeff Dahl composition ("Just Amazin'"), though the tale of succumbing to addiction keeps it out of the recital realm. Elton's preferred instrument is also utilized on "Chemical Eyeballs," which blinks with a mid-tempo groove reminiscent of primo Bowie and Mott The Hoople.
Thank you for letting me share my thoughts. All 39 pennies' worth.
Posted by Rutledge at 1:45 PM