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Articles Home » 1988 Articles » Dirty Looks - 1988 Cool From The Wire
Dirty Looks - 1988 Cool From The Wire

ARTIST: Dirty Looks
ALBUM: Cool From The Wire
LABEL: Atlantic
SERIAL: 7 81836-1 (LP), 7 81836-2 (CD)
YEAR: 1988
CD REISSUE: 2013, Rock Candy Records, CANDY230


LINEUP: Henrik Ostergaard - lead vocals, guitar * Jack Pyers - bass * Paul Lidel - guitars, vocals * Gene Barnett - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Cool From The Wire * 02 It's Not The Way You Rock * 03 Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You * 04 Oh Ruby * 05 Tokyo * 06 Wastin My Time * 07 Put A Spell On You * 08 No Brains Child * 09 Get It Right * 10 It's A Bitch * 11 Get Off


For every Motley Crue and Poison there sits a record executive thinking if only I could've discovered them. So what do they do? They go out and see if they can discover the next band with the wow factor. What usually happens, they sign anything that smells of one of those top bands, record an album, and leave them to rot, as the next latest fashion takes hold. Among those second tier bands signed on the rebound, they end up falling short and failing to take the opportunity. While some would record a great album, maybe gain some moderate exposure but usually miss out on money and success, but the honest music listener will still revel in such an album all those years later. So who are some of these nearly men? Well, Spread Eagle, Royal Court Of China would be two, and add this one to the list, Dirty Looks with their major record label debut, being 'Cool From The Wire'. Dirty Looks based in San Francisco, at least had pedigree and experience, before this album, they had already released a string of independent albums and ep, and led by Henrik Ostergaard, who at the relative young age of 47, sadly passed away in January 2011. Obviously a born trier, but this is not going to focus on what might have been, this is just an article of how much I enjoyed this album and another chance to relive my youth and highlight that fine contribution Henrik and the boys made.

The Songs
The title track is one of my most favourite tracks of the 80's. Even after all these years I know each riff, each naughty lyric, each dive and tailspin as Henrik wraps his voice around this poem. This is as smooth as Richard Black's (Shark Island) stage moves (pinched by Axel Rose I might add) around a microphone stand, as penetrating as Usain Bolt hitting flies in a 100 metre race, total insect carnage, they didn't stand a chance and nor did your musical genes being infected by the rhythms.. epic.

Banging around next is the 'It's Not The Way You Rock', the sneering dialogue, this is more GBH and total damage. This is dirty leather jackets, unwashed denim compared to silks and spandex, an illegal crunching high tackle to the ears, magnificent.

Dirty Looks could also do melody; take a listen to 'Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You', like a grown up TNT from their 'Tell No Tales' through to 'Intuition' days. The drummer, Gene Barnett and bassist Jack Pyers motor along like a Volvo, safe, consistent and reliable, while the guitar solo is in Lamborghini mode.

'Oh Ruby' is a speedfest, early AC/DC screaming from the outback, this is Bon Scott and not from 'Up North', our Mr Brian Johnson, yes, it's Bon down to a T, but who cares?, especially during Henrik narration, he even sounds Australian. Probably would've had Angus Young calling up the lawyers, but not to sue for copyright, but how he could pack Brian off to a retirement village and install Henrik instead!

I have always liked 'Tokyo', slightly blacker, a dark alleyway, a seedy joint, it's the 'come on, come on' chants and the deadly chorus, like a coiled spring let go, and the energy just disperses, all over the walls. The verses just fade effortlessly into the chorus and what's that? Yes some keyboards in the background, followed by a blazing solo, was this tune an opener or encore material?

Note Cinderella, rather than Poison for the downbeat 'Wastin My Time', and if I was to stretch this point, then maybe Led Zeppelin. It then explodes into a Tesla, groove ridden monster which shows another side of Dirty Looks.

Side 2, pushes off with 'Put A Spell On You', and the lyrics need to be mentioned, what about 'I got a magic wand, pointed right at you', 'I am heavy, like a Chevy', while the 1st line may well have come from the Malcolm and Angus Young dictionary, the 2nd part, must be from Jeremy Clarkson, the oaf (and that's James May description, not me) from TV Top Gear. Still a great song, it has grit by the lorry load, but doesn't stop the melody and flow of the tune to a safe speed.

While 'No Brains Child' is raw and ruthless in delivery and this puts them in a different subset, in addition the melody beckons the likes of Jag Wire and Hittman and even Icon when they let rip.

More acknowledgements with 'Get It Right', people like Great White and shades of Dokken, more of a snarl from Henrik, even though the chorus is pretty basic, but there is a small melodic guitar interplay not to dissimilar to Guns N Roses and Bon Jovi, whoa whoa.

Maybe it is already becoming somewhat apparent with the basic song titles, that maybe this album is lacking the finishing speed of Mo Farrow, being more of a Paula Radcliffe or Brendon Foster, depending on your age, with the formulated titles of 'It's a Bitch' and 'Get Off', but Dirty Looks do try the odd change to a tried and tested formula, for instance during 'It's A Bitch' the momentarily light guitar play, just helps, so assisting the chorus flow more melodically.

'Get Off' begins with a Twisted Sister riff from the good old days of 'Under The Blade' (remember the appearance on The Tube, up there with Queen at Live Aid, for snatching 15 minutes of fame). This makes the likes of Airbourne and The Black Spiders sound like they can't drink anything stronger than a selection of fruit juices.

In Summary
You can't get too much of a good thing can you; well that's what the record company thought, because in the space of 12 months, the follow up 'Turn Of The Screw' was already released. I wonder who was screwing who? As mentioned on that album's title track, because even upon release I rushed out to buy it, 7.49 at Andy Records, quite a lot really, no wonder why this East Anglian chain went bust, it just didn't stack up against this release. Maybe it was on par with the tracks on side 2, but nothing like what was found on this side 1, no 'Cool Cool (yes twice) From The Wire' or 'Oh Ruby'. Probably due to my disappointment I lost touch with Dirty Looks, but it does seem Henrik still chiselled (nice DIY link with the title) out a career, releasing numerous other albums, in fact, even up to 2010 with I.C.U, and none of them seemingly undersold in terms of price. It's amazing how much output there was before this and after, so really the Anvil story could have easily followed the Dirty Looks timeline. At the time this really blew the hairspray from the likes of Poison and D'Molls, this is honest, this is real, this is why you should buy the Swedish language version of the new Sabaton album, because that's how it was meant to be. Absolutely watertight.

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#1 | gdazegod on June 10 2012 05:51:35
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#2 | reyno-roxx on June 10 2012 14:16:46
Good review! I too loved this record and was disappointed with the follow-up (which Beau Hill had been set to produce but the band seemingly rebelled and John Jansen installed instead).
#3 | AOR Lee on June 10 2012 16:20:49
Don't know this band but the review makes me want to investigate
#4 | AORboyo on June 23 2012 23:47:32
Bloody great album, loved it back in the day and still luuurrrvve it today.

An absolutely must have album to crank up the volume whilst getting ready for a night on the town, a few monster party anthems to be heard on this gem of a release.
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