Black Chameleon Prayer - The Dogs (Astma Records)
It’s said you should never judge a book by its cover and the same goes for records. This is apparently Album Number Three from this Oslo, Norway, six-piece and they sound nothing like the middle-aged lay preachers standing ankle deep in water under a bridge that they appear to be. Hallelujah.
The Dogs (not to be confused with the late French band or the still kicking one from L.A. via Detroit) rock like they mean it. They worship at the shrine of the ‘60s garage/‘80s garage revival scenes but they bring enough manic energy to these songs that makes them stand apart from the rest of the pack. Cock an ear to the furious “Stay Away From Her” with its Dicatoresque vocal and melodic bass-line behind its driving guitars to know as much.
Part of the appeal is in Christopher Schau’s soulful voice, a well-honed instrument in The Dogs’ armoury.Hear him to great effect on the dark closer, "Those Blackouts". Another plus is the fluid garage grooves laid down by bassist Roar Nilsen and drummer Henrik Gustaven. As usual, the engine room at the heart of the machine makes all the difference.
Fairfisa never goes astray in this sort of ‘60s-inspired music either - like on the malevolent “I Don’t Wanna”. There’s an edge to some of the twin-guitar attack on “Anything You Don’t Regret“ and the bluesy lead break in the more subdued “I’m Not Talking To You” that holds them in good stead.
If you're familiar with the whole garage revival thing you'll know what to expect. There's a parallel with Finland's Flaming Sideburns or even the early Nomads from Sweden in the path The Dogs have chosen to follow. They probably wouldn't get a minute's airplay on mainstream radio in their homeland but they'd be a killer Saturday night out.
The Dogs remind me of The Maharajahs (look them up on Germany’s Screaming Apple label if you know what’s good for you.) The music on “Black Chameleon Prayer” is bullshit-free and recorded live in the studio, with only backing vocals over-dubbed.
You’ll need to be quick to get hold of this LP - it’s a short tun of vinyl although the band say they may press up some more, if demand requires.
Where these Dogs sit on the ladder of Norwegian rock and roll I have no idea. Presumably they’re all Weekend Warriors who hold down day jobs during the week and kick out the jams on their nights off. If so, they’re shining proof that you don’t need to teach an old Dog any new tricks.