Music » Record Reviews

Dirty Streets Live Platter Takes You Back to Pounding ’70s Riffs


Don't sleep on the Streets! Good advice in any context, but in this case it means keep Dirty Streets, the band, on your radar. Because if you need a fix of slamming old school hard rawk, they deliver it and then some on this year's release, Rough and Tumble (Alive Naturalsound).

They've honed their sound for over a decade on the Memphis scene, to the point where this live album has an offhand power and precision bespeaking years on the stage. In this case, the room was the sound stage at Ditty TV, the internet broadcast studio on South Main that mixes live performances with a steady feed of music videos. It's ostensibly Americana-oriented, but the diversity of their programming makes it clear how inclusive that genre has come to be.

Whenever a band performs on Ditty TV, they receive a video of the moment that they can use any way they see fit. This also goes for the multi-track recording, often engineered by the great Doug Easley.  That's exactly how it went down when Dirty Streets performed there, and this album is the result.

For that very reason, it may be the least rowdy live album ever recorded. Performances at Ditty TV typically have few if any audience members — certainly, there are none to be heard on this album. Indeed, the performances are so tight that many may not realize it was recorded live. Nonetheless, that setting of a live taping for broadcast seems to have brought out in the band a focused energy and drive that rarely comes out in purely studio-based recordings. These songs were slammed out one after the other in real time, with no overdubs after the fact. And the consistency of this album is a tribute to how together this band really is.

What they deliver is a wide ranging set from their catalog, brimming over with hard rock nuggets that might have had them touring with Free or Nazareth back in the day. Justin Toland, the power trio's singer and guitarist, has the classic voice of the soulful rocker, well suited to shouting tunefully over pounding guitar riffs. Indeed, when they try their hand at not one, but two songs by the classic writer Joe South, the rock/R&B hybrid that emerges evokes the similar aesthetic of Detroit's Scott Morgan.

The rest of the set is a stroll through their originals, which, like the White Stripes, can feel like a tour of ’70s riffs without the cringe-worthy sexism that usually goes with the music of that era. For my money, the highlight is "Take a Walk," where Toland breaks out the wah-wah pedal to great effect. 

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