The Dogs


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French rock & roll is usually heaped with ridicule, deservedly so for the most part. There are exceptions of course like Jacques Dutronc and Plastic Bertrand's "Ça Plane Pour Moi." Add to that list the tough and melodic post-punk/new wave/power pop group the Dogs. Their debut record from 1979, Different, is a little gem of a record full of spiky guitars, frantic tempos, and solid songcraft. The disc sounds like a lost Only Ones record; singer Dominique Laboubee has a world weariness in both his voice and his lyrics similar to that of Peter Perrett. At the band's best, on tracks like "Stranger Than Me," "A Different Me," the aching ballad "The Greatest Gift," and the Buddy Holly-esque "(I'm Gonna Learn To) Live With It," they almost reach the heady level of the Only Ones or the Real Kids. The only thing holding them back is too much restraint and cleanliness in the production of the record. Still the record deserves to be heard by fans of classic post-punk songcraft and power pop hooks. It's a perfect rejoinder to anyone who says the French can't rock. [The album was reissued in 2003 with a raft of bonus tracks, including three songs from their 1977 Charlie Was a Good Boy single and five tracks from the 1978 EP Go Where You Wanna Go. The songs from 1977 lack the studio polish of the album and are really good, especially the pounding "19." The EP tracks are closer in sound to the album but possess a touch more energy and verve; the songs are on par as well. "Go Where You Want to Go" is a stately rocker that calls to mind mid-period Flamin' Groovies and features some of the band's best guitar work. "You're Gonna Loose Me" sounds like a lost Heartbreakers song with some very Thunders-like guitar. These tracks are a perfect addition to an already great album.]

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