REVIEW: Killer Dwarfs – Reunion of Scribes Live 2001

The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
 Mike and Aaron are doing simultaneous daily reviews of albums that these two intrepid music reporters have sent to each other. Buckle up, buttercups, it’s gonna be a blast!

 

 

“You guys do like to drink, don’t ya?  You are Canadian aren’t ya?  Most of us are Canadian in here, except for there’s one guy that I know of.  Security!”  — Russ Dwarf

Scan_20160313KILLER DWARFS – Reunion of Scribes Live 2001 (2002 Bullseye)

Aaron scored this for cheap at his “junk shop” and passed it down to me.  It was the only Killer Dwarfs CD I was missing — and for good reason.  I had the chance to hear it once, at the Record Store, while I was working for a stretch in Hamilton.   I didn’t think much of it then.  Has anything changed?

The Killer Dwarfs quietly went extinct after their final studio album, 1992’s Method to the Madness.  10 years later, the band reunited including Mike (Hall) Dwarf, who had actually left the band prior to 1992.  This is a full reunion of the classic lineup:  The Dwarfs Russty, Mike, Darrell and Bad Ronbo.  Let’s “Go DuNK” and see what the Killer Dwarfs 2001 sounded like.  At one hour and 11 minutes, Reunion of Scribes is the longest Killer Dwarfs album to date.

Strangely enough for a Canadian band, the concert begins with a recording of “The U.S. Air Force” (also known as “The Wild Blue Yonder”) before the band emerges with a limp version of their own “Dirty Weapons”.  What’s the problem?  It’s certainly not Russ Dwarf, who sounds vintage strong.   The guitar is too thin, and blemished with sour notes here and there.  Hey, it’s been a long time since Mike was a Dwarf!  The drums also sound disconnected from the song from time to time.  Chock it up to a bad recording?  (At the Docks, in Toronto.)  “Stand Tall” also suffers: the guitar needs to be front and center.  The sound of the band suddenly becomes sparse and weak every time Mike Dwarf stops playing the riff in order to lay down a solo.  The bass isn’t fat enough to fill the gap.

Another weakness to this recording is a concentration on songs from 1988-1992.  There’s nothing at all from their first self-titled album, even their first single “Heavy Mental Breakdown”, the song that helped put them on the map.  Instead the Dwarfs focused on more radio-friendly later music for this set.  Of that tunage, most of the hits are here:  “Stand Tall”, “Keep the Spirit Alive”, “Dirty Weapons”, “Doesn’t Matter”, “Hard Luck Town”.  Their first big label single, “We Stand Alone” is missing from the set, which instead includes lots of notable album cuts.  The best of these include “Believe in Me” from their second album Stand Tall.  Russ Dwarf’s ageless voice delivers hard-edged numbers like “Starting to Shine”, “Last Laugh”, “Nothin’ Gets Nothin'”, and “Comin’ Through” with all its usual intensity.

The most emotional moment (for fans) has to be the ballad “Doesn’t Matter”.  “Roll the dice and play the game, for the fortune and the fame.”  The Dwarfs did roll the dice, at least they tried.  “Doesn’t Matter” is a pretty simple lyrically:  get out there and give’r.*  The live recording doesn’t deliver its full power, but I do get the feels to hear them return to Toronto and play this song for their friends.

Most of these songs are still high-quality hard rock workhorses.  While Russ Dwarf brings it all and then some, the poor recording renders Reunion of Scribes an album that will only get infrequent plays at LeBrain HQ.

2/5 stars

* The Killer Dwarfs are the only band I can think of who actually used the word “give’r” in a song lyric.

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11 comments

  1. Mmmm yeah your right about them being off…but hey Go Dunk and give a round of applause for Live Slop Rock!
    The one thing is though they could have butchered this thing up in the studio and than plunked it out…
    Always thought Bad Rondo was a decent back up singer….
    Cmon Mike give them at least a 3…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked it more than you! Probably because I have nothing I can compare it to, and the tunes rocked enough that I got a sense of what it was like to be in the room that night. The sound wasn’t the greatest, I think Deke is right, they must’ve mucked it up in the production after the show. It’s very thin or something, I don’t know the term for it. A bit like it’s trapped in a box. But I thought the band did alright, and the singer friggin’ nailed it (just like on the acoustic record from a couple of days ago. That guy can really wail).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I really don’t think they would have sounded this thin if you were actually standing right there. Too bad! Oh well.

      And yeah Russ STILL has the voice. He also sings a couple tunes on the World With Heroes Kiss tribute CD…Hard Luck Woman was pretty damn good.

      Like

    1. It’s not the greatest lyric, but I sure found it inspiring at 18!

      “Put all your hope in some dreams
      Throw it to the wind let it all begin
      I see you’ve made it this far
      Rolled the dice and played the game
      for the fortune and the fame

      “It doesn’t matter at all
      Who you are or where you’re goin’ to
      You can figure it out
      It doesn’t matter at all
      Who you are or what you’re goin’ through
      You can make it through somehow”

      So given a nervous 18 year going to university for the first time, those lyrics meant something to me.

      Liked by 1 person

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