BLADES OF GRASS - Dirty Streets (Alive Natural Sound)
Been on a Humble Pie trip for a bit around the I-94 Bar and it struck me that the less pastoral and more excessive they became, the better those guys got. This Mississippi-via-Memphis trio Dirty Streets is coming from the same place and despite their album's misnomer of a title (there's no sign of rolling fields and English countryside here) they purvey a fine line in swaggering rock.
The Pie married the heaviest of boogie riffs to Steve Marriott's incredible bluesy voice. Volume was a by-word. Soulfulness was at the heart of their best work. Dirty Streets aren't playing with a matching hand of cards but are in the vicinity of the Pie on tracks like "Try Harder", a wholesome bag of raunchy goodness coloured ever so slightly by organ. The Streets have a more than capable rock vocalist in Justin Toland, who's also no slouch on guitar. Toland hits the mark, vocally speaking, on "Talk", but it'snot just a stab iun one direction.
The songwriting is in the classic early '70s mould. Jeff Beck Group gets a mention in the bio - and that's a fair call. Black Crowes and Allman Brothers fans would also take to Dirty Streets. The LP (their second) was recorded at Ardent Studios. There's a clue for what they were shooting for, just there.
One song, "Keep An Eye Out", says more about Dirty Streets than a ream of record reviews. Cocksure guitar and an avalanche of drum fills from Andrew Denham yield to burbling bass-work before a six-string led coda, it's right out of the Fillmore East playbook circa 1974.
It's not all stomping and rocking out. "Movements #2" pares it back to bare percussion, acoustic guitar and a stellar Toland vocal for one of those obligatory pauses-for-breath and it's damn effective. Back in heavy territory, "Heart of the Sky" throws harmonica into the mix. All that's missing are chick vocals or we'd be listening to "Shine On".
If Alive hasn't cornered the market on this sort of band it's attracted enough of them like moths to a bright light. It's no shock to see Dirty Streets working the US touring circuit with Radio Moscow. If blues-heavy wailing rocks your boat, you could do worse than cock an ear in this direction. - The Barman
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