THE DIRTY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO... - The Divine Brown (Wrecked Em)
Didn't know whether to laugh or cry at first hearing this English four-piece. The MC5 references on the cover art alone (an exhortation to "come join the Electric Congregation" and lots of raised fists testifying, motherfuckers) are about as obvious as you get without calling yourself DKT and going on a world tour. The music within wears leather and a sneer, with titles like "I Got The Fire" and "Street Salvation".
But you know what? A couple of listens was that was needed to transcend the feeling that these guys knew just another collection of Marshall freaks who knew the Motor City was burning and just lacked the airfare to go over and throw fuel on the fire.
When it comes down to tin tacks, The Divine Brown's modus operandi owes as much to the Psychotic Turnbuckles (excuse the Australian comparison, but "Fistful of Fuzz" should wear a green wig) as the Five. Or the American Ruse, if you want a UK reference point. There's a solid bedrock of fuzz guitar and a second, separately articulated guitar cranking out leads.
It's a fine line between taking yourself seriously and playing it for laughs. The bravado is there in Brother Lloyd Loud's vocalising, but the tongue is lodged firmly in cheek. You gotta give the Brits one thing: they do irony well - and that's the approach that lifts The Divine Brown clear of the mire.
Who's fooling who anyway? If you're reading this you're probably as much a devotee of the Dee-troit rock thing as the person writing this - or The Divine Browns, for that matter. And it's wonderful to hear a band cranking out catchy, simple singalong tunes (with chorus like "Fuck you...I can see through you") instead of twee Britpop or lame hip hop.
OK, so it's nothing original - but this far down the time continuum, there's little in rock and roll that is. These guys are good players and the songs more than worthwhile. Unlike their namesake, they patently DON'T suck.
The Divine Brown might not save rock and roll on their own, but they're in there fighting the good fight. They also wear the stamp of a band who leave the punters sweating and having a good time. Can we ask much more? - The Barman
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