Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dalton is back in for another Pitstop!

An Introduction To The Band
Dalton was one of Sweden's premier melodic hard rock bands during the mid to late 80´s and early 1990´s. The band's hard rock with hints of AOR here and there were perfect for the era and commercially viable. They were like a little brother to bands like Europe or Treat touring and making their mark on the 80´s hard rock scene in Europe. Often branded as Scandi-AOR along with fellow bands like Alien, Nasty Idols (first album), Bad Habit, Return, Stage Dolls and Treat they released two great albums in the 80´s; the debut album called The Race Is On in 1987 followed by Injection two years later in 1989.

Press photo for debut album
Let's take it all the way from the start. The year was 1986 and Sweden's hair metal wave was exploding worldwide through Europe's success with The Final Countdown. There was still room for plenty of contenders! Treat's original drummer Mats ”Dalton” Dahlberg (nicknamed for being a lookalike of the Lucky Luke antagonists) left Treat in 1986 after playing on the band's debut album Scratch and Bite (1985). He formed a new band which he named after that nickname – Dalton. He found singer Bosse Lindmark (ex-Bedlam, ex-Avenue) through one of Sweden's largest newspapers (Aftonbladet). Bosse brought in his brother Anders ”Kebbe” Lindmark on bass. The band was complemented by guitarist Leif Westfahl and keyboard player Ola Lindstöm. The band's ”Wild West Heritage” look proved in line with current trends and the band quickly established themselves as one of the major contemporary bands.

Photo by Magnus Elgqvist
First Album-The Race Is On
Together they set out to achieve stardom. Dahlberg had built up a network in the industry during his years with Treat and very soon they were picked up by EMI Sweden. Through Stefan Edman at EMI they got two songs by external songwriters: ”You´re Not My Lover (But You Were Last Night)” penned by Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child and ”I 
Think About You” by Michael Bolton and Martin Briley. Managing to get original songs from these masters of their craft was no small achievement at the time. The debut album, The Race Is On was released in 1987 and ”You´re Not My Lover (But You Were Last Night)” was released as the first single and became a hit in the Scandinavian countries. It is, still today, the band's most well-known song. This album is now a sought after gem (along with Injection) from the glory days when melodies and irresistible hook lines were just as important as the image. Dalton embraced both sentiments!

In 1989, the sophomore effort Injection was released and on this album, they leaned toward a harder edge without losing their skill for catchy melodies and big choruses. In my opinion, the strongest effort by the band so far. Some of the lyrics to the songs may seem a bit juvenile today but hey, this was the 80´s and sex was the thing to write about. The album is filled with catchy songs, huge choirs and choruses and stands out even today as a massive effort. Westfahl offers some great chops and every song is filled with memorable hooks and guitar licks. Lindmark provides some great and personal vocals making this a real gem in the genre. Listening back to this album – all you want to do, is go out and have a party with your best friends in the warm summer breeze!

The Band Go Their Separate Ways
Sadly the story ended in 1990 when Dalton did not agree with EMI on how to produce the third record. Mats ”Dalton” Dahlberg left the band to form Speedy Gonzales with ex-Talk Of The Town singer Thomas Vikström (later in heavier bands like Candlemass and Therion) and guitarist Tommy Denander. The band continued on with new drummer Adam Korsnäs and recorded a demo for a proposed third album. The option for a third album with EMI expired. Stefan Edman provided them with yet another song from Michael Bolton and a song from Jean Beavoir (Voodoo X, Crown Of Thorns). A deal was struck with Virgin but then EMI bought Virgin and canceled all contracts. At the same time, a great change in the music climate could be felt with grunge making their way in. Dalton did not want to adjust to the current trends and so just gave up but stayed friends. Mats ”Dalton” Dahlberg left the music business after a couple of years when Speedy Gonzales did not go anywhere. Anders and Bosse Lindmark formed RAW together with guitarist Michael Larson and Christian ”Kicken” Lundqvist (The Poodles). They released two albums in the mid 1990s; First (1995) and Now We´re Cooking (1997) before calling it a day.

The Reunion
Fast forward to 2012! Sonny Erlandsson from the film-production company Sto-Cph was looking for a band to film for a documentary on reuniting an old band. Being a hard rocker at heart, the
choice fell on Dalton and he approached Dahlberg with the idea. Dalton fired on all cylinders and started contacting all the other members who said yes. Lead vocalist Bosse Lindmark was the hardest one to persuade, being very busy with his current projects. He ultimately said yes and Erlandsson has been following and documenting the band from the first meeting, the first practice, first gig and so on. In a couple of years, the documentary will be released. The band got offered a spot on the huge Rockklassiker (radio station in Sweden) show in December 2012 headlined by The Scorpions. It was a great success playing to 7000 people and just then and there they decided to make a new album! At the same time, EMI released a Best Of album with three b-sides as bonus tracks, making them available for the first time on CD. Westfahl dug out the old demo tape from 1990 and the band made a new 3-song demo with Eric Mårtensson of W.E.T. and Eclipse fame. Frontiers Records soon offered the band a deal and the new album Pitstop was recorded and released in October 2014. Finally, the third album is here – it only took 24 years!

Pitstop – Track By Track Comments
The new album starts off in fine style with ”Ready Or Not and you immediately recognize the Dalton signature sound. Just enter the time machine and teleport back to 1990! It´s a mid-tempo rocker with a great chorus about making difficult and life altering decisions by following your heart. The melodies and the hook lines are still there, some great keyboards from Lindström starting off the song. This is followed by another melodic rocker, ”Hey You”, from the Mårtensson produced demo with the an interesting melody for the verses and a nice chorus. Lyrically it´s about falling in love with a married woman. Next song is ”Don´t Tell Me Lies” which is a slow rocker about the usual heartbreak and being left alone. The song has a really nice vocal melody for the chorus. The album is turning out to be a really positive surprise and Dalton hasn´t lost one bit of their sense for a great melody. The song features a nice and very melodic guitar solo from Westfahl. Next up is the first ballad called ”Follow Your Dreams” which could have been a huge hit had it been released in 1989. The song title says it all really on what it is about. Never stray from your dreams! Parallels could be drawn to ”Heaven” by Warrant or ”Love of a Lifetime” by Firehouse. A really strong chorus and fantastic vocal from Lindmark throughout makes this one of my favorites of ballads released in 2014. It's not becoming wimpy at any point. The highlight of the album so far. Next is another pure 80´s rocker called ”Up & Down”, starting out with a great acapella choir continuing on with an interesting beat during the verse and finally exploding in a chorus where Lindmark is joined by the rest of the band. A strong straight ahead rocker. Lyrically it´s about the rollercoaster ride of being in love can be. Next is one is ”Bad Love”, also from the Mårtensson produced demo. A heavy rocker that is really good, not the strongest song on the album but still a great chorus line. Next song is ”One Voice”, which has been penned together with Erik
Dalton live at release party for Pitstop-Photo by Dalton
Mårtensson and you can clearly hear some Eclipse influences in the beat and the texture of the song. Some nice and clear vocals from Lindmark on the verses with a melodic chorus. A deeper lyric with more political content than usual, this song is about Martin Luther King and his dream of one man, one voice. Great song but more of an Eclipse feel than traditional Dalton. Next up is ”Here We Are” which one of the strongest songs on the album. A mid-tempo rocker with some great choirs in the verses and a really catchy and interesting punchline. The song is about peace and a positive note that we all can change and unite the world. Next song is also a co-write with Mårtensson and it gives me chills how similar this is to the old era Bon Jovi. ”Something For The Pain” is not only lyrically similar to one of their songs but also musically. That can´t be a bad thing in my book. The lyrics are again about broken love and the need for a pill that could fix it all. Then ”50/50” follows suit and again Bon Jovi shows up big time in my head. I´m sure this song should have been on New Jersey or Keep the Faith, the lyrics and the song structure are similar and now Lindmark even starts sounding like Jon in ”Sleep When I´m Dead”! It's about the hazards of love again and having a 50/50 chance on me. "Let's choose, heads or tails". The regular album rounds off with TGIF (Thank God Its Friday)” where Pontus Norgren (ex Poodles, now Hammerfall) gets a credit for having co-written the song. It´s an edgier party hard rock song about finally reaching Friday and picking up a new woman (the last one left when you proceeded to fast haha!). A nice rocker! Fortunately, I have the Japanese pressing so it continues with one of the strongest efforts on the album (wonder who chose to make ”Beautiful” an exclusive Japanese bonus track? He or she must have had a really bad day on the job!). Of course, this slow rocker should have been on the regular album. Very melodic in both verse and chorus, this instantly sticks in your head and never leaves! Some might say too commercial - I say a very strong song with a memorable hook and really nice keyboard fills from Lindström. A song about true love and how beautiful that can be. The album closes with an acoustic version of ”Follow Your Dreams (Acoustic)” which does not add anything in particular. It is a fantastic song in the original version so there is no need for this extra version. In that way a great bonus track!

Dalton 2014. Photo courtesy of melodicrock.it
All in all, this is a surprisingly strong comeback album. You never expect a technical album or a groundbreaking album from the band. That wouldn´t be Dalton and Pitstop is not!  They were really great when I caught the band at the reunion show on the ”Rockklassiker” Festival, but I didn´t think they would hit back with a really strong album like this. They continue on in their established genre of melodic hard rock and you can easily recognize the signature Dalton sound! That's a really good thing because this is not a blueprint copy of the previous albums. There is not a really weak track on the album and it´s very consistent. I would even say that it´s stronger than the debut album and nearly as good as Injection. I would even give it as high of a grade as 8 out 10 points. I´m pulling off 0.5 points for placing one of the strongest tracks as a Japan exclusive. One of the strongest albums of 2014 and a really nice comeback!
On November 10th, the band issued a press release that keyboard player Ola Lindström had been hospitalized with a serious heart condition. We wish a speedy recovery and hope to see him back with the band as soon as possible.

I´m really looking forward to catching Dalton live at Väsby Väsby Rock Festival this summer. Let´s hope they keep it together and make another album! Go out, buy it and get Daltonized!

The Lionsheart

 Dalton on facebook

Buy the new album here!

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