I’ve talked a bit before about Dirty Vegas, an act who have always seemed to me to be a rock band trapped inside a dance act’s body. Fifteen years ago this week saw the release of their eponymous debut album, and despite some of the misgivings I have about their later career, it’s worth reacquainting ourselves with the release that kicked things off for them.
It opens with I Should Know, which starts off sounding like a gentle piece of pop-rock, until the beats kick in a minute or so later. It’s a great, catchy song, and a strong start to the album. Second single Ghosts is next, a catchy, throbbing dance track which had a great video too.
There is, of course, some filler on here – Lost Not Found isn’t great – but it never lasts too long, and we soon arrive at the brilliant Days Go By. There is, of course, nothing else on the album that’s anywhere near this good, although honestly I’m not entirely sure that its extended album version really does it too many favours – the charm was entirely encapsulated by the four-minute single.
Then there’s some deeper dance with Throwing Shapes, which is kind of fun, but I’m not sure how much it really adds to the album (it might have made a good b-side though?)
By this stage you should be pretty familiar with what this album is likely to offer you, and so Candles should either be great, or more of the same. I tend to err towards the latter with this one. Fortunately it’s very short, and then we’re on to All or Nothing, which is definitely one of the best songs on here.
Alive is a bit questionable though, as is 7am. There’s nothing phenomenally bad here, but you basically have to choose on most tracks between having something that’s interesting dance music, or a good song; rarely can you have both. The Brazilian is really just a very short deep house track with a bit of extra electronica and warped vocal samples.
But then something strange happens – we get an acoustic guitar, playing the chord sequence from Pink Floyd‘s Another Brick in the Wall (Part II). Which sounds pretty great actually, after some of the things that came before it. Simple Things, Pt. 2 is great – a new song based on the classic hit – so of course, this had to be the third single. In the end, it morphs into a cover version of Another Brick in the Wall. Fantastic.
For me, the best version of Days Go By is Steve Osborne‘s acoustic version that appears on the single, but the live acoustic take that turns up at the end of the album as a hidden bonus track is pretty great too, and definitely a good way to close the album.
So Dirty Vegas is a mixed bag, indisputably, but there are some great tracks on there. It’s definitely a cut above their second or third albums. You should buy only one Dirty Vegas album, and it should be this one.
You can still find Dirty Vegas at all major retailers.