Monday, May 27, 2013

Now Hear This: Dirty Looks - Turn of the Screw


     Dirty Looks formed in San Fransisco in 1985 when Danish-born Henrik Ostergaard, who had tired of playing in a cover band in Pennsylvania, arrived in the Bay Area intent on forming his own band and recording original material. The band's first self-titled album was released by a French label called Axe Killer Records. Apparently disillusioned with the San Fransisco scene the band relocated back to Pennsylvania in 1986 and recorded a second album called INYOURFACE. That record and its single "Oh Ruby" got the attention of the major labels and in 1987 the band signed with Atlantic Records, who released the band's Max Norman produced major label debut, Cool From The Wire, in 1988. They got a little airplay on MTV and flirted with the Billboard charts but the album (now a cult classic) wound up in the cut-out bin. Undeterred the band soon entered the studio with producer of the moment Beau Hill to record the follow-up but were dissatisfied with the results and started over with a new producer, John Jansen, who had produced Britny Fox's hit debut the previous year. 

     Dirty Looks were one of several bands of the era (Rhino Bucket, Dangerous Toys, Johnny Crash, Nevada Beach, etc) that displayed a rather obvious AC/DC influence, but the band's second record for Atlantic, Turn of the Screw, is quite impressive in its own right. The album opens with the raucous title track, "Turn of the Screw." It's Aerosmith meets AC/DC. The song is immaculately put together.

     Up next is the single, "Nobody Rides For Free." This song might even be better than the title track, both songs are similarly constructed. Great verse with a nice singalong bit and then a very melodic chorus that rides a groovy riff.

     The band manage to inject quite a bit of melody into their nuanced take on the AC/DC brand of rock and roll. The songs are well-written and bursting with personality. Those first two songs stand out above the rest but the whole album is good. A hyper track called "C'Mon Frenchie" is followed by the in your face awesomeness of "Take What Ya Get."

     Side Two opens with a slick rocker called "L.A. Anna," nice groove and a huge chorus.

     The next song, "Slammin' to the Big Beat," is a shameless AC/DC imitation, Ostergaard sounds almost exactly like Brian Johnson on the track. After a formulaic metal tune called "Love Screams" the band deliver the requisite ballad, "Go Away," not surprisingly the worst song on the album. The album ends strong with a killer riff rocker called "Have Some Balls."

Dirty Looks - Have Some Balls

     The band churned out five more records between 1992 and 1996, then broke up. They regrouped in 2007 and released a few more albums, unfortunately Henrik Ostergaard passed away in 2011 at the age of 47.

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