In 1984, Danish born Henrik Ostergaard moved from Pennsylvania to LA along with members of his band at the time, and started a new band called Dirty Looks. That band released three independent albums before getting signed and releasing ‘Cool from the wire’ in 1988.
The style of music here is 80s hard rock, a world away from the pop stylings of Poison and Ratt at the time and closer to bands like Krokus. The vocals from time to time are attention getting for the degree to which they are modeled on Bon Scott (check out the breakdown in Oh Ruby), but most of the time he has an OK rock voice, and there’s plenty of gang vocals. The band are all decent, but the effect here is not of a star player, but of a strong team who work together well.
The other band of that time that the music in particular evokes is Kix, another terrific and grossly underrated band. The single from this album, Oh Ruby, is high energy and lots of fun. In a lot of ways, it’s a fun listen but there’s other more rewarding songs on the CD. You have to wonder how Can’t take my eyes off you would have fared. The break down in this absolutely channels the best moments of Kix.
Wastin’ My Time brings in the blues influence that Cinderella made popular at the time. Starting soft, with acoustic and slide guitar, it eventually brings in the big guitars and drums and turns into another riff rocker. Put A Spell On You is not a Screaming Jay Hawkins/Creedence cover, it’s another straight up Dirty Looks rock song.
The style really doesn’t vary much. These guys had a sound and they did what they did. The album finishes strongly, with perhaps the three best songs on offer. The fact they seemed to be looking back to the 70s a bit stops this album from drowning in 80s production values, but you’re more likely to love this if you love the era it comes from. The lead playing is definitely from this era, it’s good, but it’s typical of the time and doesn’t stand out. Overall, what’s fun about this album is the groove they sit in, how cool their riffs are, and how much they lean in to a classic heavy rock sound. It’s not hard to see why they slipped through the cracks at the time, but in 2017, they are more fun than if you got out some Skid Row or Ratt. Like Cinderella, you get the feeling they slotted into the glam movement because that’s where they got the most attention, but what they really set out to do was be a straight up rock band.
The follow on album, ‘Turn of the screw‘, was a bigger chart success, but then grunge hit and their fortunes faded away. The band reformed in 2007 and went on to release 3 albums, all of them worth checking out. Sadly, Henrik died of liver failure in 2011, putting an end to Dirty Looks.