Dan Sartain - Dan Sartain Lives

by Rich Morris Rating:4 Release Date:2010-06-07

The Jack White-endorsed Dan Sartain determinedly plows a cool 60s furrow. Culturally, Sartain surfs back and forth between the rough and ready rock'n'roll and more sophisticated pop of the early to mid-60s, when coffee drinking beatniks handed the youth revolt baton to the spliff-toking hippes. It's not all indebted to 60s rock'n'roll - 'Walk Along the Cobras IV' has a rockabilly sneer, while both 'Doin' Anything I Say' and 'Voo Doo'' come with a great glitterbeat swagger.

It's all terribly ersatz, however. Many tracks, such as the head shaking likes of 'Bohemian Grove' and 'Ruby Carol', sound like something you might unearth on a compilation of long-forgotten German schlager, all third-generation Merseybeat poses and English-as-second-language lyrics. When Sartain sings "You got me swinging on a star/ Catchin' moonbeams in a jar" it's hard not to picture grainy footage of a 60s Eurovision entry. Sartain seems to keep his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek, which is ok on a song like the wry 'Atheist Funeral', but has the effect of making the overall album feel pretty inconsequential and throwaway.

Ultimately, it's hard to think who Dan Sartain Lives is really for. Surely anyone who truly loves music such as this would rather have the authentic deal? Then again, White's patronage (he released 'Bohemian Grove' as a single on Third Man) says different. Perhaps it's a case of being into a certain strain of music so much that even a less than stellar homage such as this seems perfect.

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