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.
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