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Published: 2013/07/26
by Brian Robbins

The Dirty Streets
Blades Of Grass

Alive Naturalsound Records

Oh, boy: here’s 11 tracks of sheer rockin’ blues happiness, boys and girls, wrapped in a late 60s/early 70s-vintage vibe and served up all fresh and steamy. The Memphis-based trio Dirty Streets powerdrive their way through a selection of tunes on their newly-released Blades Of Grass that resound with echoes of all sorts of blasts from the pasts, handcrafted into something that is totally their own.

Drummer Andrew Denham, bassist Thomas Storz, and guitarist/vocalist Justin Toland may have been tucked into Memphis’ Ardent Studios for the Blades Of Grass sessions, but they didn’t rely on a lot of studio gimmickry to bolster their sound. What you hear sounds raw and immediate – and when some talented friends swing by here and there, it feels like a mid-set sit-in on a sweaty midnight stage.

Do you (or did you) miss the days when Free and Zep roared and stomped the face of the earth and Humble Pie laid it down in a blistering mix of Saturday-night raunch and Sunday-morning soul? Fear not – the Second Coming of such has arrived and kicked the door in. The Dirty Streets have just what you want/need.

Right off the bat, the opener “Stay Thirsty” establishes two facts: Toland’s vocal pipes share some bluesy DNA with those of Paul Rodgers (which ain’t a bad thing) and these lads come by their swagger naturally. And if you need further reinforcement of those facts, the next track – “Talk” – will seal the deal with a walloping tar pit bass line by Storz leading the way. The song implodes into sonic weirdness in the final minute (yes, okay: here you do have some classic creative fader work and panning play, but it’s just what’s called for) before shrinking to a pinpoint of multi-colored mist. “Movements #2” is one of those cuts that would have ended the first side of an LP in the old days: cool hand percussion; tasty acoustic guitar work; a bit of shimmery electric 6-string in the background gazing at its navel and snarling under its breath; and a vocal that pleads a bit without ever sounding weak. Perfect … and you know they’re about to drop the big hammer again when it’s over.

There are whiffs of Zeppelin: “Heart Of The Sky” morphs a bit of “When The Levee Breaks” drum lurch and harp wail (courtesy of bud Adam Maxwell) with Storz’ thudding monster bass sound holding the works together. “No Need To Rest” offers up a taste of Marshall-stack-in-an-English-country-garden Pageness before swinging into total stop-and-go Riff City.

“Twice” combines some Fillmore-flavored guitar raga with a stately Baker/Bruce drums/bass tumble; guest Rick Steff’s B-3 on “Try Harder” adds a touch of cool to the tune’s rumble (think Booker-T-sits-in-with-the-Pie); Denham’s drum work on “Keep An Eye Out” could be Exhibit A in the Corky Laing School Of Rock Rhythm; and “I Believe I Found Myself” takes things home with one more blast of everything that was good about the previous 10 tunes, roaring down the highway with all the windows rolled down and the dash pulsating with the wumpthump of the bass and drums.

Simply put, The Dirty Streets’ Blades Of Grass is a true rarity: a rock ‘n’ roll classic at birth.

*****

Brian Robbins has the windows rolled down and the dashboard pulsating over at www.brian-robbins.com

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