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The Dirtbombs Party Store Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

A curious collection of techno covers from the Detroit garage-rockers.

Mike Diver 2011

Certainly sure to be among the most curious releases of this year come December’s look back at all that’s been, The Dirtbombs’ fifth long-player finds the Mick Collins-fronted Detroit garage-rockers presenting their takes on hometown techno tracks from the 80s and 90s. It’s not completely virgin territory for the raucous quintet – a decade ago, their Ultraglide on Black album collected covers of soul and funk classics including cuts originally by Stevie Wonder, Sly Stone and George Clinton. But Party Store is rather braver than its similarly conceived predecessor – this really is taking some established dancefloor-fillers into new stylistic realms, and not always successfully.

But toss scepticism and sour-faces to the wind and much of Party Store is every bit as perky as the stock you’d hope to find in such an emporium – frankly, one’s next call would be to Trading Standards should the case prove otherwise. Inner City’s Good Life is one of the most immediately recognisable of these nine offerings, sticking as it does to the 1988 track’s basic structure – upbeat and instant, insistent but embracing. While the Kevin Saunderson-penned original scaled rather greater highs of euphoria, there’s no doubt that The Dirtbombs tackle the piece with great gusto. Strings of Life – a worldwide smash for Derrick May’s Rhythim is Rhythim, first released in 1987 – is another cornerstone of the dance world that few acts would be advised to approach with their own ideas. But, again, Collins and company do the right thing, recontextualising the piece without obscuring its heart or soul.

The 20-minute slog of Bug in the Bassbin might feature contributions from Carl Craig himself, but the Innerzone Orchestra version’s snappy percussion and endearing elan is absent, and the track’s placement – six of nine – rather detracts from the album’s rhythm. The Dirtbombs do a good job of keeping the listener on their toes for the first half of Party Store, but ruin their good work by asking too much of attentions suited to rather shorter offerings. Placing Bug… at the end of this set might well have improved the overall flow of proceedings. And it’d be a shame if the number put anyone off reaching this record’s end, as Tear the Club Up does just that, an inclusive pogo-along that’s somehow fists-in-face and silly grins at the same time. Breathless but desperate for more, it’s The Dirtbombs in a nutshell – an unexpectedly moreish, bizarrely techno-inspired nutshell.

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