The Dogs D’Amour are a bit like Marmite – you either love them or hate them – and if you hate them it’s probably because you haven’t taken the time to listen to their albums, possibly because you once judged them on their slightly camp name. The ‘Dads D’Amour’ as a friend of mine recently joked they must now be called in middle age, are arguably living legends of British rock history, and here’s why…
Back in the ‘80s we saw The Dogs D’Amour play live at London’s Marquee, spent weekends at record fairs collecting their vinyl and copying the artwork (just one of the reasons I failed A Level Art.) And now, thirty years since they began and over twenty years after they last played live, I found myself in London’s Borderline, at a reunion gig and damn it was a good night, quite unlike any other in so many ways.
The Dogs D’Amour have come a long way in 30 years, from the time when Punk met Glam head-on after The New York Dolls had made way for Hanoi Rocks. A ‘guyliner’-wearing kick against the harshness of pure Punk and a wild and sexy alternative to the very tame New Romantics of the time. It was Blues meets Punk meets Rock - gloriously sleazy in its sound.
They were a central part of the 80s glam punk scene, with bluesy overtones and notable influences of the Rolling Stones and The Faces and yet a sound and a style all their own, with references in their lyrics to 60s and 70s comedy icons including Tony Hancock and Monty Python, and literary giants Charles Bukowski and William Burroughs. Theirs was a romantic and poetic lyrical style, quite unlike similar bands around at the time. They reached a certain amount of commercial success in their day, reaching no. 26 in the charts with Satellite Kid in 1989. Hell, they were on Top of the Pops!
In Wait Till I’m Dead, a song about Tony Hancock featuring the lyrics:
“Wait till I’m dead, and you will see, what all the fuss was about,
Wait till I’m dead, and you will see, what all the shouting’s about…”
The song goes on: “1968…” (the year Hancock committed suicide) and has an eery audio clip of his voice on the end, urging listeners to “Go on, buy the record, don’t mess about!” Like the best music, it does much more than entertain, it makes you think.
Indeed another layer to their cultural depth is the accomplished album artwork of lead singer Tyla, with its stylised caricatures of the band. No one could write them off as just another 80s rock band, there was always so much more to them, and there still is.
The rock n roll fundraiser – Cancer is a Cant
Lead singer, Tyla stepped away from his solo career to put the most famous line-up of Steve James, Jo and Bam back together, to raise funds for old friend Paul Hornby, the band’s former drummer, notably once compared to Keith Moon. Hornby played drums on the album The State We’re In and is now fighting stage 4 colorectal cancer… in some style, it has to be said. Dressed in a smart suit, bandana and hat, with his usual pirate style earrings and now a walking stick too, Hornby was there in the audience with his beautiful wife Catheryn, having flown over from their home in LA just days before.
I had got to know Paul through the rock ‘n roll radio show The Dark Heart of Camden and got in touch with him as I wanted to help raise awareness of the Cancer is a Cant fundraiser. He told me of how supportive his old friends had been and came over for the reunion.
At their first live show of the latest tour the music was as gloriously high-energy as ever with all the old favourites including the wild and upbeat Last Bandit and the slower ballad of the Bullet Proof Poet plus a handful of new tracks including the memorable Flameboy. Tyla's thought-provoking lyrics and sexy ‘gravel on velvet’ voice was just like the old days.
Die-hard fans had flown in from all over the world to be there. I have never been to a gig where every person there knew every word of every song played – even the new ones. And what an atmosphere of community there was with founding members of fan clubs meeting up with like-minded online acquaintances for the first time. This was a long awaited reunion and the atmosphere was electric.
The set list also included: Last Bandit, Firework Girl, The Kid From Kensington and Wait Until I'm Dead and, of course, How Come It Never Rains.
Live show rating: 4/5
Interview response from lead singer: 0/5
The Kid From Kensington
Wait Until I'm Dead
Everything I Want
Billy Two Rivers
Bullet Proof Poet
Victims of Success
Trail of Tears
How Come It Never Rains
Drunk Like Me
Ballad of Jack
No Gypsy Blood
What You Do
I Don't Want You to Go
Please read more of Kate's writing at http://katethompson.webs.com/music