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The Dirty Tones - Album Review: Can't Stop

02 Nov 2022 // A review by Nicholas Clark

The Dirty Tones' Can’t Stop is a ballsy collection of solid blues songs, but the attitude is less morose introspection and a little more punk.

The music slips neatly into the genre, operating exactly as you might imagine after reading the band’s bio or seeing a video of them live. This collection jumps right off with Can’t Stop Drinkin' Blues (perhaps the title track for the album that no doubt could not be named as such) and the song is pure Road house blues. It's an unapologetic, pro-drinking anthem. Vodka, gin and whiskey make an appearance while Tony 'Big T' Bullen extols the joys and dangers of over indulgence. It’s all predictable, but it's also fun and (from what I see online), a great song for live settings.

K Road Blues features a little influence from Dunedin-pop with a dream pop chord thrown in, but the song remains firmly in the blues world. This song is yet another tune about alcohol abuse and memory loss – but there’s something silly about the debauchery. The lyrics "Wearing someone else's underwear" might cause a cackle at a live venue if nothing else. Again, it's hard to tell if the song is warning or celebrating late night behaviour and perhaps it doesn’t matter – these songs are not cautionary tales.

Next up, Finding Love has some gorgeous high guitar leads with a short spring reverb a la Sun Records. This is purist blues, but the lack of rhyming lines is a little off putting. Emma Barton contributes vocals in the response of "Sweet love", making an uplifting, feel good song.

The real break out song here is Troll, and my personal favourite from the collection. The song leads up to a crescendo while Big T Bullen warns us: "he will take your soul, he’s the king of trolls". It's a fantastic song but perhaps the least bluesy of the bunch.

Dance With You features a nice little interlude before the song kicks in properly, returning to the blues but containing the most heartfelt lyrics. A rarity it would seem for the band.

Dark Desire almost begins with the forbidden riff of Stairway to Heaven, but it melts into a slow, lounge blues number that is sultry.

Cryin' Rain has a little more bite – the tone of the guitar is crunchy, the vocals a little more gritty. “Nobody cares and nothing is changing” spits Big T like George Thorogood.

Free is single material – catchy but a little angsty. "You don’t own me, you don’t know me ... I’m not yours". It all sounds a little like a husband talking to a spouse, but that might be presumptive. The song has a really impressive and expressive guitar solo played with a bright jazzy setting.

Keep Me Warm closes the album with an interesting non-blues intro, utilizing harmonics, but soon the band relaxes back into its bluesy formula where they both feel comfortable as players and shine as musicians. Unfortunately, the lyrics are a little too similar to the last song; "You say you love me, but do you know me that well?". However, there’s something hopeful about the simple poetry of "I don’t need saving, I’m alright" ending the collection of songs.

While the lyrics are a little predictable, the blues is played with feel, and the listener is certainly given what they expect with such influences so clearly evident from the first bar of music. Here the band covers a little more territory than most blues-based bands; there are female vocals, sad songs, amusing lines, clever guitar solos and unapologetic moments of opposition throughout. Even the title of the album is oppositional.

It's not the type of music for close scrutiny anyway, I can imagine it being played live in a bar or blues festival or in the background in a mechanics garage. The Dirty Tones do what they are expected to do very well indeed. You get what you see on the packaging, so to speak.

Rating: ( 3 / 5 )

About The Dirty Tones

The Dirty Tones are all about "Blues Rock at its Dirty Best", delivering a range of blues rock styles with high energy delivering a whole river of party. Their original song Can’t Stop Drinkin' Blues has had global radio play and the band has been in the top 10 of the Global Blues Artist chart, so far peaking at 4.

The Dirty Tones consists of Tony 'Big T' Bullen, Mark 'Fatt Max' Hill, John 'Wilksy' Wilks and Reggie Miller. Their influences are The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, George Thorogood, The Doors and The Velvet Underground, some soul, some funk and some punk!

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Dirty Tones


Can't Stop
Year: 2022
Type: Album

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