After making a name for themselves with the outstanding singles collection Savvy Show Stoppers, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet managed to top themselves with their first proper album, 1991's Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham. As before, the group's music was deeply rooted in vintage instrumental rock and surf music, but with one more year's worth of live work under their belts, the Shadowy Men sounded even tighter and grooved a bit harder on these sessions. Brian Connelly's guitar work is even more explosive on this album, as he filtered the work of everyone from Chet Atkins to Link Wray through his instrument while investing the music with a fierce sense of fun that was miraculously free of hipster irony. Bassist Reid Diamond and drummer Don Pyle match Connelly beautifully, lending both mass and force to these tunes and allowing them to rock impressively without a bit of clutter along the way. And while many instrumental bands have to labor hard in order to give each song a distinct personality, SMOASP have enough twists and turns up their sleeves on Dim the Lights that these tunes cover an impressively broad canvas, from the dreamy pop sincerity of their cover of "In My Room" to the short, sharp shot of fractured noise on "Dewy Drops of Spring." And best of all, you can dance to nearly all of it. Without changing up their formula, the strength of Dim the Lights, Chill the Ham confirmed Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet were no novelty act, and it's a smart and snappy joy to behold.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming