I wrote about the Dirtbombs a few months back, placing them among my “Top 20 Concerts List“. Ultraglide In Black, an album consisting of (mostly) old soul and funk songs – (“Your Love Belongs Under a Rock” is the only original).The album will turn 10 this week, so now is the perfect to write about this under-rated gem. Like the songs that The Dirtbombs tackle here, Ultraglide in Black is a full-on party album.
The Dirtbombs attack these song with punk furor, but never taking away what made the originals so great and timeless. It would be easy to suggest that The Dirtbombs were trying to put a contemporary spin on these songs, but the album plays more like musicians playing songs they love, because they want to. With two drummers and two bassists, The Dirtbombs have turned these covers into tightly controlled jams, that lie somewhere between absolute chaos and sheer enthusiasm. Singer Mick Collin’s voice in an instrument in itself. He’s clearly in command here, pushing his bandmates as he shouts his way through J.J. Barnes’ “Chains of Love”. Elsewhere on, “Kung Fu”, he croons in a soulful voice that is more than homage to the music that has clearly inspired him. Smokey Robinson’s “If You Can What” is a sing-along fury, that nearly flies out of control. Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For The City” is given a slow, fuzzed out treatment, that sounds like a cross between funk and the noisy experiments of the Velvet Underground.
Ultraglide in Black is the sound of a great band deciding for one drunken night that they are the best soul and funk cover band. And with one listen to the album, you’d be crazy to think otherwise.