Like the man said its just a shot away
It happens Lord everyday
And she says it feels good
Damn I make her feel alright
And it’s a damn sight better than I got from you
Damn woman she makes me oh so blue
Like a motherfucker from hell
Oh yes, welcome to the oasis of refined good taste, restraint and grace that is The Datsuns, their self-titled 2002 debut. Obviously they get massive 1537 bonus points for swearing a lot, alluding to a line from ‘Gimme Shelter’ (above) and additional ones for adopting the whole band-name-as-surname-approach I love and even more for peddling their hormonally unhinged brand of maximum volume hard rock. I vaguely remember the Datsuns being lumped in with the Vines as being part of some Antipodean invasion at the time, inventing movements being what bored rock journalists do for fun, shame though because it meant that the Datsuns never got recognized as the king hell rockers they are.
I rather liked the fact they were from New Zealand too, hardly the gleaming hub of the rock world* and without, I hope, being remotely patronising it does have a real, no frills, provincial hard rock sound to it – just the way I love it; being a provincial, real, no frills type myself. When The Datsuns was released it was roundly praised for being very retro but in a non-specific way, I don’t think they sound much like anyone else here at all** and the best I could do is the Stooges covering ‘Highway Star’ as a very general style guide, although there is a touch of Motörhead’s Fast Eddie Clarke on a track or two, ‘What Would I Know’ especially^.
Right from the opening guitar intro to ‘Sittin Pretty’ to the finale of ‘Freeze Sucker’, The Datsuns doesn’t let up for a second; ballads? reflective musical passages? that’s not rock as far as the Datsuns are concerned. The wonderfully alliterative Dolf de Datsun is the real star for me, every single word on every single song on, umm, every single this album, is shouted and bawled as though his very life depended on it being heard three streets away. The Datsuns doesn’t have a lyric sheet with it, but if it did I would expect every single word to have an exclamation mark after it, possibly two to demarcate the bits where he got really excited.
All of which would be nothing without a really loud band behind him, Christian, Matt and Phil Datsun are this and more they are a really tight unit too. Showing just enough virtuosity to tide them over but most of all a real dedication to THE RIFF. When they change it about a bit rhythmically on ‘Harmonic Generator’, with some great Cult-like stop-starting riffery and chick backing vocals it knocks on the door of brilliance, especially when the guitar solo kicks in. Every single dial and switch used in the recording of this record was turned up to the maximum, things red-lining, failing and distorting everywhere – the studio electricity bill must have been skyscraping.
I’m gonna push the button flick the switch today
‘Cause you got nothing I want, I got nothing to say
It’s been 16 days since I seen your ass
Heading to the city, you think your high-class
Like a hyperactive kiddie after two days of eating nothing but blue sweets and drinking bright green fizz, The Datsuns won’t let you read, talk or cogitate whilst it’s on, being far too busy shouting ‘Daddy! Look at me!!’ every 6 seconds. If you can feel the testosterone coursing through your system and you’re in the mood to rawk this album is a great call. Just spin my sweary favourite, ‘MF From Hell’ if you don’t believe me. Wallop! Right between the eyes, no protective irony here, this is just raw, immediate music with everyone involved just going for it, like it was their first and last chance to ever make a record. You gotta love rock debuts.
I case you didn’t get the message from the cover and all the artwork, this is a very black and white LP. I can see how this would just be one long headache for the wrong folk, or even for the right folk on the wrong day but as far as I’m concerned I am bang up for a slice of howling, relentless, two-fisted rock action – just let her rip!
*and that’s a damn good thing. Flight of the Conchords and Crowded House being the only other NZ acts I can think of that I own records by.
**although next time out on their John-Paul Jones produced follow-up they were certainly channelling Deep Purple.
^listen to the intro of that track and tell me it doesn’t sound like a guitar line from Bomber!