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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

Tyla and the Dogs

Bloody Hell Fire

 

 

Disc 1 :
1. Bloody Hell Fire
2. Supreme Creator
3. Help Wanted
4. Bess
5. In The Name
6. Hang ‘Em High
7. Real Magique
8. 111 (Acoustic)
9. Alright
10. Best Friend
11. All Of Them Great

Disc 2 :
1. 111 (Electric)
2. The Lash
3. Rails
4. Saturday Night
5. Once Upon A Time
6. Restless
7. Story Of Our Life
8. Supreme Creator
9. The Rave
10. Killing Machine
11. Troubadour Of Truth
12. To Hell

I go way back with Tyla and the Dogs D’Amour. The first time I saw them was in the pre-China Records days at a dive of a pub in Nottingham and I’ve been along for the ride ever since. There’s a picture of me and the wife with the great man on my desk and a piece of his art on the wall. Not, you must understand, that will colour my review in any way.

So if I start with ‘bloody hell the boy’s a genius’ you may be a bit wary? I must admit I’m tempted though. Since the Dogs of old disintegrated following Tyla has been a bit like following a once great footballer who is the wrong side of thirty (aren’t we all). You got to see touches of class at every turn, and there were some sparkling performances along the way, but occasionally he’d play a shocker and whilst people like yours truly would still see all of the great passes and the vision; to an outsider it would just look bad. I must admit even I have grimaced on occasion at some of Tyla’s past releases when the quality of an individual song wasn’t always quite up to making you forget about the drum machine and the bedroom studio production! Though that, in my humble opinion was always the exception and not the rule.

‘Bloody Hell Fire’ could just well be Tyla’s best release since the Dog’s wrapped up ‘Uncharted Heights of Disgrace’ a thousand years ago. Whilst the undoubted song-writing genius has always been present in his solo works; it’s here and now that Tyla has managed to recapture that more cohesive Dogs-like sound. It may not be the best produced album of 2009 but it’s well enough produced to let the songs shine through. And what a bunch of songs we have here!

I felt like I was in a time warp to start off with, the spirit of the Dogs seems to be haunting the shadows at every turn and there are enough echoes of the past to bring a smile to the face of even the most discerning and disgruntled Dogs fan of old.

You feel like the King of Thieves has finally slipped back into those snakeskin boots and if not exactly sampled his past but had a bit of a reminisce about the bad old days! It’s great to see Tyla in such sparking form and whilst a few might wonder where Jo and Bam and Steve are these days be thankful for what you get here: and that is a blistering set of sleazy ballads which Tyla executes with the precision of a seasoned troubadour. I don’t think his voice has sounded as good in many a long year sand at certain points I’m reminded almost of Tom Waits for the sheer intensity.

As far as the songs go there’s a pretty mixed bag here and something that should please everyone. 23 Tracks on 2CDs: most new, but some reworked from earlier releases and some that could perhaps be considered sketches rather than completey finished songs. There’s rockers, there’s ballads and there’s even Tyla’s take on catchy pop songs(?) Still the overwhelming feeling is that this is a quality collection and to be honest based on the quality of his last few releases you could see this coming.

From the stuttering ‘Bloody Hell Fire’ to the last track ‘To Hell’ Tyla effortlessly shows us he’s still got it. He’s not only the balladeer but he can still rock with the boys. The inclusion of ‘111’ as both an acoustic ‘sketch’ and an ‘Electric’ finished product is a nice window onto his song-writing.

It’s only two tracks in when you know you are in for a real treat with ‘Supreme Creator’ which could have made any Dog’s album, with is T-Rex meets the Stones riff and great female backing vocals and horns. Its great fun and will have you tapping along in no time. The acoustic version on CD2 is perhaps not as interesting as the two versions of ‘111’ though.

Plenty of highlights follow but for me the best of the bunch for me are: '111', 'Alright', ‘Supreme Creator’, ‘Killing Machine’, ‘Rails’. 'Bess' and the reworked ‘All of Them Great' which kind of echoes ‘Wait Until I’m Dead’ from another time.

There’s lots of humour here and a certain amount of Englishness to counter the darker themes Tyla has dwelt on in the past; songs like ‘The Lash’ are for example not exactly what you’d expect unless you know your English colloquialisms. Just another charming aspect to the man. The thing I have always admired most about Tyla is his timelessness, like all great songwriters he really defies fashion, or age, and convention and could have been at home in any decade. It’s always the depth and poetic nature of the story-telling that sets Tyla apart from contemporaries.

There are of course also plenty of Tyla’s trademark ballads showcased here and all of them pretty strong. There’s plenty of tales (if not of Destruction then certainly) of Life and Death; and Love and Hate; and Heartbreak and Hope around every corner.
In the olden days nestling down with a new Dog’s release I’d knock back a couple of Jacks and crank it loud, these days things have changed and I think I’ll break out the single malt. By Jove! The Boy’s a Genius!
Oh and leave the CD play out after the last scheduled track for a bit of culture Tyla-style…

 

Mark