I REMEMBER THE WALLOP of the Dirtbombs' '96 EP, All Geeked Up, 'cause it meant MORE Mick Collins. Collins is the Dirtbombs' frontman and he was important—he'd been in the Gories! Fifteen years back, along with the Gibson Brothers and a spiteful Pussy Galore, no R&B-driven garage band was more important than the Gories. It was the Gories who brought the old two guitars plus drums blues/R&B combo into contemporary focus. So I knew the Dirtbombs would be heavies—and they were, but they weren't BLACK like the Gories. Still, it was dead on and, over the next couple years, more singles and EPs trickled out.
Then, with their first LP, Horndog Fest, I heard their gritty "garage" immediacy sorta getting lost. I liked the LP, but it seemed, given a chance to spread out, their influences and experiments bogged 'em down without consolidating their sound.
Next came the soul covers album, Ultraglide in Black. I thought this was it, the Dirtbombs were staking their claim. Everyone else agreed, too, and they were instantly considered the harbingers of the next "garage" sound... SOUL!? But the Dirtbombs weren't a soul band—they were a garage band covering soul songs. Unfortunately, not everyone understood, and subsequently some garage bands went "soul." Embarrassing for those bands, but a HUGE testament to how closely the scene listened; the Dirtbombs were tastemakers. Then in '03, another turn... the slick radio rock album, Dangerous Magical Noise! DAMMIT... I almost gave up 'cause they'd abandoned the traditional garage-rock shitty shit sound.
But then one day I suddenly understood what they were doing. They DO NOT care about pleasing ME or being garage rock! The Dirtbombs ONLY wanna write great songs... PERIOD. So, they'll write whatever they wanna write, however they wanna write it—and there ain't no labeling what they do besides rockin'! They write for themselves, like any good band should, and if folks happen to like it, kick ass... 'cause they do rock the shit outta what they got.