I HAVE BEEN LISTENING TO a lot of music from the 1960s, it’s given me a broader understanding of the history of rock’n’roll. I also have an interest in the early to mid-70s, an era that is less renowned for its pioneering spirit. The transition from one decade to another was not merely numerical, the entrance into the 1970s left many of the great bands of the previous decade behind. While the Rolling Stones, Status Quo and The Who, to name but three, evolved successfully, most acts failed to grasp what this new era was about.
And so this trend continues. Bands can find a new niche or get stuck playing the same chords. I ponder this as I listen to The Datsuns’ Deep Sleep (Hellsquad Records). I recall the New Zealand outfit as one of those made some sort of impact with the revivalist New Wave of Garage Rock scene, and they didn’t fall off the cart while most of the peers did. More than a decade on, it’s fascinating to see how, or rather if, they have evolved.
From upstart no-bullshiters, who welcomed all Motherfuckers From Hell in 2003, Black Sabbath is now playing on every gadget in every Datsun house. And those houses are all over the shop, so getting together to make an album isn’t like a shouting to the neighbour over the fence if they want a beer. Part-time punks eh.
As you’d expect there’s riffs aplenty on Deep Sleep. That’s What You Get has a 1973 feel, grinding bass meets Dolf de Borst’s famously muted vocals which itch to holler for the chorus. There’s a brief guitar solo in here, followed by a briefer drum solo, but it reveals the legendary egotistical nature of all rock musicians remains.
As for Creature of the Week it is vaguely reminiscent of a psychobilly revival act accidentally booked at a garage rock festival and having to adopt quickly and subtly. Needless to say it sounds half-baked. Album closer Deep Sleep, is the partially hidden gem of the album of the same name, its psychedelic leanings reveals more about their influences than the previous nine songs. It’s a brooding beast, hypnotic and enthralling, and could signal a new direction for the band. Or perhaps de Borst, Christian Livingstone, Ben Cole and Phil Somervell may rely more on the gung-ho fever of the single Bad Taste that tips its hat to a Datsuns B-side or three of a decade ago.
Given that they took ten days to record and that family life and location means they interact far less prior to the recording process, Deep Sleep belies such apparent slackness. One last thing, the cover is one mighty image, a futuristic rocket ship created by cult psych artist Philippe Cazaumayou.
ANOTHER OF rock’s staples, Thurston Moore, meanwhile, continues his prolific way of working with a solo album, The Best Day (Matador). The former Sonic Youth frontman continues to harangue ears with a guitar style that sounds like a knife is being sharpened while Captain Beefheart is played at 11 in the background. The packaging contains some great black and white photographs of Moore’s parents.
As for the 1960s, it was a time when you were old when you got to 23. Now, you can continue to record and tour when you are 80 (take a bow Leonard Cohen) and The Datsuns’ 15 years together makes them seem like puppies.