The Dharmas

The Dharmas – Album Review:

*This review was originally published in the final issue of ‘Music Files’ magazine in September 1998. It has not been edited, except to correct some spelling mistakes*

Here it is at last, the album that Dharmas fans thought would never see the light of day.

This CD contains 70 minutes of music, taken mostly from their unreleased album, plus a few extras. As the sleeve notes say, the band wanted to show everybody that they had something “positive, uplifting and different”. Well, they were certainly that and more besides. It is definitely an album to revive many happy memories.

From the funky, the folky, to the uplifting, or the more experimental, here are 16 very good reasons why The Dharmas were such a unique band. Anyone who saw the band towards the end of their career will recognise most of the songs here.

The album kicks off with ‘Natural Satisfaction’, an old live favourite and one of the more danceable songs. Next is ‘Fly Again’, which in typical Dharmas fashion builds slowly and then grabs you. It even has a slight Latin feel to the verses.

‘Lifelong Shiner’, the next track and possibly my favourite, was only an intermittent live song. It has a good drum line and some effective percussion towards the end.

‘Save Them’ follows, another live favourite with a sing-along chorus. This was originally on the ‘Channel Hopper’ single. ‘Letters To A Loved One’, which is a new song to me is typical Dharmas, starting acoustic and building.

Next is ‘All Our Summer Days’, a nice summery song. This starts gently and will you singing along after a couple of listens, like most of the songs on the album.

‘What If’ is another new track. This is more subdued and slightly different, but is still very strong. It shows the range of songs that the band wrote.

‘Book Inside You’ is a different version to the one previously released. An un-plugged version with double bass? I think it works better than before.

‘High Altitude’ is a classic 3 minute pop song, with a guitar riff and a definite sixties feel. I’m sure that this would have been a hit had it ever been released as a single.

For the old hands, two extra tracks ‘Whole Earth’ and ‘Raise Yer Head’ come next. These were recorded live and are very similar to the old cassette versions. I wish they had been recorded fully in the studio.

The sixties feel returns with ‘Shake Up’, another possible single. This has always reminded me of The Beatles, no bad thing.

The final single ‘Channel Hopper’ follows, then ‘If It Happens Again’. A good little song, with a great dreamy ending.

We’re into the home straight with ‘No Time To Celebrate’, an excellent and slightly different  song. This features intelligent use of multi-tracked strings. Yet another example of the bands diversity.

Last up is ‘1,000 Points Of Light’, an 8 minute epic funked out rollercoaster of a song. Always a live favourite, it has great keyboards and percussion and includes one of Simon’s  little rap like segments. A splendid way to end the album.

Anyone who has ever enjoyed The Dharmas music will not be disappointed by this album. These are excellent songs, performed by excellent musicians.
Listening to the CD makes you realise how all the different elements of the band played their individual parts in creating The Dharmas sound. Their music cannot be pigeonholed and maybe that was their downfall?

The album is released as a limited edition, so get it while you can.
It is a very worthy permanent reminder. Buy it as a thank you, but buy it just the same. You won’t regret it.

Andy Gunton.

Update:

I still listen to this album on a pretty regular basis and i still love it. Unfortunately, i don’t think there is anywhere to either buy, or listen to the album now.

Some more info about The Dharmas and Steadman, who came afterwards, can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steadman

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6 comments on “The Dharmas

  1. cathy hill on said:

    Please does anyone have or know where i can get a copy of the original dharmas album. I had tracks including Living for the day and dear lady. I think it was a white label I think.I know i picked up my copy at a festival in leeds. It got pinched when my car got broken into and i still miss it. Any help is much appreciated. Thanks Cathy

    • Hi Cathy,
      I’m not sure that you can anymore. Simon was allowing free downloads of all the songs, but that has stopped now.
      I have a well worn copy myself, which I bought when it was released. I’ll try & find out if it can still be purchased.
      Andy

      • Fraser on said:

        I have a couple of the early EPs if any good to you on CD …. We are talking around 1995 or 1996 I think …. I had seen them at the Guildford Folk and Blues Festival as the headline act on the small stage …. I still remember the gig, they were fantastically refreshing …. Still listen to them today and still sounds great …… They should have been huge !

        • Thanks for that Fraser. Which EPs are they?
          I’m with you & also feel that The Dharmas should have been huge. I’ve always said to people that all they needed was a bit more luck. An appearence on Later with Jools Holland would have done it I reckon.

          • The Dharmas are one of my favourite ever bands and I was proud to call myself an avid fan. They should have been massive but…well, thats another story. They became a new band Steadman in the late nineties with a more indie guitar sound (still brilliant and underrated songs). Anyway, I have an extensive collection of Dharmas and Simon Steadmans songs from then until now…He’s still writing and releasing songs on movie soundtracks mainly it seems. Feel free to email me I’ll be happy to let you have copies of them :)

            Cheers

            Steve

  2. Hey, Steve,

    I’d love to get in touch – is there anywhere where I can find your email address…?

    Cheers,
    Jon

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