Beast / Sanctuary Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/24/2000
"Welcome to the real world," sings Pete Franklin on the leadoff track of Real World, the second release from Britain's Dirty Deeds. Following the cancellation of the Iron Maiden tour where the band was making their debut and the shuttering of Velvel Records (who were supposed to release the band's debut Danger Of Infection), that phrase probably rings too true to the band.
Unfortunately, the phrase applies to the entire album Real World, which fails to break any new ground for the band and tries unsuccessfully to build on the strong foundation they laid with Danger Of Infection. It gets tiring to refer to the "sophomore slump," but Real World is, sadly, a textbook case of this - and it's frustrating when you know this band is capable of better.
There are, admittedly, some moments where it sounds like Dirty Deeds has things running full steam ahead. "Kill The Pain" is a definite pick for a radio track, integrating a little more of the harmony vocals that this band underuses so much. The guitar work of Franklin and Barry Fitzgibbon shines on this track.
Regrettably, this is the only strong track on the disc. "Welcome To The Real World," which kicks off the disc, sounds like a re-tread of "Nothing To Lose," the first song off Danger Of Infection. When you start repeating things like that early in the album, you can see the red flag being raised. Granted, the song isn't a note-for-note cover of "Nothing To Lose," but it's disconcerting to hear two albums in a row led off by a song in the same key, in the same tempo.
For that matter, most of the songs on Real World don't vary much in tempo. Normally, this isn't a thing to worry about, but add in to the mix a drop in the quality of the songwriting, and the concern factor increases tenfold. Tracks like "Nightmare," "Hell On Earth" and "Cyber Babe" just fall flat, failing to inspire or encourage the listener. One could even say that the album has a dull ring to it.
What is discouraging about this is that Dirty Deeds is a band capable of so much better work. Danger Of Infection and their live shows have proven this. (I've also gone on record to say that Dirty Deeds's magic is better captured in the live setting rather than the studio.) But Real World does more than fall short of expectations. In a sense, it's almost as if the band wasn't trying hard enough to create an album that took them to the next step. And that, children, is the greatest disappointment of all.
Dirty Deeds is a strong enough band to come back from such a setback with killer material. But one wouldn't have expected their stumbling point to come on only their second album.