FIVE SPANISH MINUTES - Dee Rangers (Screaming Apple)
There have been scads of Farfisa-driven wonders over the years, but you'd be hard pressed to name many from Sweden. That's where Dee Rangers come in.
2003's "Pretty Ugly Beat" hummed like a cyclotron, powered by the dynamic hazard-pay-and-double-shift-premium guitar work of Nick Ohman, Mike Eriksson's scuffed-up 40-grit pipes, and Parsley the Lion's naggingly insistent (that's a good thing) keyboards.
Two years later and Eriksson's long gone, replaced on "Five Spanish Minutes" by Per Nystrom, who doesn't lose any points for a slightly more er, refined delivery than his predecessor but one which doesn't preclude him from coming completely unraveled over the course of 12 songs. Feel fee to connect the dots between Nystrom's state of mental health and the album's primary subject matter; girls.
Electric like neon, smoked like salmon, Dee Rangers climb in, set the controls for the stratosphere, and spiral onward and upward before collapsing in a heap, panting with their tongues hanging out, still agog at the prospect of pegging a VU meter or two and violating their local noise ordinance with loud, fuzzy, dirty, unrepentant and burned-around-the-edges rock 'n' roll.
The opening riff to the Romantics' perennial frat house favorite "What I Like About You" gets stripped down, cuffed about the head and shoulders, and dumped in a Cass Corridor alley on album opener "You Gotta Understand," Ohman and Parsley conjuring pure hellfire and Nystrom with his heart on his sleeve, howling like Bette Davis in "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane." This is what a hit single sounds like, at least to those of us old enough to remember those flat, black, circular 7-inch things.
Ohman, Parsley, and Nystrom sound as down to earth as they do dangerous, imploding with overcaffeinated edginess and poaching ideas from Nuggets-land, shuffling, jumbling, and kneading them together and spitting them back out as unique, astonishing chainsaw murder scenes of swirling mayhem, the engine room of Johnny Elfstrom and Ulf Pettersson doing their best to remain vertical and in time.
The only respite from this floating miasma of wanton tumult comes in the form of the rather ominous "Out In The Jungle," which is what Deadbolt would sound like if they got a little more caffeine and fiber in their diets and the mangy, debased blues of run-out track "Dee Day," where Nystrom tears his heart right out of his chest cavity and holds it up for some nefarious wench (and the entire world) to see. Throw in a bi-lingual version of Joe Tex's "Show Me" and you've more than enough reasons to put
down the mouse, turn off the tube, and forget about the fact that we're all plummeting headlong toward death.
While it's obvious that Dee Rangers are blessed with attitude, inspiration, and finger-bleeding dedication to their craft in spades, they're not quite the peanut butter on Iggy's chest, the spike in Keef's arm, or the warts on Lemmy's forehead, but I always say icons are best kept at arm's length anyway. Your results may vary.
- Clark Paull
3/4PRETTY UGLY BEAT - Dee Rangers (White Jazz)
This could very well be the great lost Fleshtones album except that it was recorded by four guys from the southern suburbs of Stockholm, Sweden. Compartmentalize them as you see fit - garage rock revivalists, pre-psychedelia parodists, beat merchants -but one thing's for sure - Dee Rangers, on only their second album, have managed to stake out a major piece of turf in an already crowded genre.
"Pretty Ugly Beat" manages to harness the adolescent, primitive energy of the original wave of garage bands without succumbing to awestruck nostalgia. Yes, it contains plenty of fuzz guitar, Farfisa organ, and lyrics about cheating girlfriends, but Dee Rangers tromp a little harder on the gas than some of their contemporaries as they're backing out of the garage.
If there's such a thing as a retro guitar god, then his name is Nicke Ohman. Ohman (Oh, man!) is all over the place, powering "Come On (I'm A P.U.B.)" into the stratosphere, hanging ten, surfin' and spyin' on the reverb-drenched "Musta Petteri," and generally filling in every available space with chunky, Wilko Johnson-like power chording. He's the straw that stirs the drink. Singer Mike Eriksson is a certified double-threat. Blessed with a beefy and primal voice, his harmonica squalk is a thing of beauty, at times recalling that of the late Yardbird Keith Relf, especially on "Get Me Out Of Here" and album-closing rave-up "I'm Lost."
At the risk of lapsing into Ted Nugent-speak, drummer Uffe Pettersson and bassist Johnny Elfstrom are locked, loaded, and ready to wail. Producer Liam Watson (who has also fiddled with the knobs for The Neanderthals, The Kaisers, Dr. Explosion, The Kills, and The White Stripes) keeps things bright and lively without glossing things up too much and Parsley The Lion lays down a thick ground cover of Vox and H
ammond organ. Don Craine of Downliners Sect bangs on the maracas and tambourine and sings a bit, too. "Pretty Ugly Beat" is anything but. It's packed to bursting with a volatile combination of muscle, enthusiasm, and creative thinking. There's a party going on within these grooves and you don't have to look very hard to find it.- Clark Paull
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