What do you really need to know about The Mutts? Only one thing really, and that is that they are probably the most exciting rock bands around at the moment. Admittedly much of Life In Dirt harks back to an era that is regularly being exhumed, but that doesn’t really matter, it all depends on who’s breathing the life back into Rock’s grizzled corpse. Fortunately The Mutts have performed something of a miracle, Rock lives again, and this time it doesn’t stink.
Life In Dirt is very much a garage album, taking a lot of its direction from MC5 and The Stooges. It’s an album that virtually drips in engine oil, and if you didn’t know any better you would have to assume The Mutts hail from Detroit (they come from Brighton).
Guitarist Bryan Shore throws out riff after riff each fusing blues and metal perfectly. So perfectly in fact that he even manages to come up with AC/DC‘s Let There Be Rock on Let Me See Your Face. But recycling and borrowing riffs is always part of the deal, and if anyone can hijack Let There Be Rock and remould it accordingly, then it’s The Mutts.
Driving these songs are the vocals of Chris Murtagh whose take on Jim Morrison is uncanny. There’s a swagger and glint in the eye you can practically feel in his delivery – if Murtagh doesn’t wear leather trousers and dance around with a giant naked Indian at least some of the time I’ll have to eat my copy of No One Here Gets Out Alive.
As if Murtagh’s Morrison antics aren’t enough, another ghost hangs heavy over the band in the shape of Keith Moon. Drummer Adam Watson is practically possessed by Moony over the majority of this record.
All of these facts could lead you to believe that The Mutts are nothing but a bunch of copyists with a pretty cool record collection and a neat line in impersonations. Nothing could be further from the truth. Blood from a Stone, for instance, finds The Mutts hurtling down Route 66 at the head of a convoy, windows down, eyes wide and the bullhorns constantly sounding.
Then there’s the fantastic rumble of closing track From The Trenches, the pace may be slower but it’s like a Harley running at idle: it sounds great and you know there’s plenty of muscle left to flex.
The Mutts have come up with the kind of album that reminds you how great the likes of Sonic Smith and Iggy were, but it won’t have you searching for your copy of Fun House, because with Life In Dirt, you’ll have everything you need.