Nice 'N' Ruff: Hard Soul Hits, Vol. 1

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If AC/DC decided they wanted to hire a female vocalist and become an R&B band, the results might sound a lot like the Dt's, and that's a serious compliment. As the world's leading purveyors of "hard soul," the Dt's play rough but passionate rock & roll with a punch worthy of Highway to Hell or If You Want Blood You've Got It, and while singer Diana Young-Blanchard might sound a bit like Janis Joplin (and does a killer version of Joplin's classic "Move Over"), she's got the speaker-shattering lung power of Brian Johnson (or even Bon Scott in her best moments), and the comparison would be apt even if this band didn't cover "What's Next to the Moon." The Dt's started out strong with their 2004 debut Hard Fixed, but the band ups the ante in a big way on their sophomore long-player, Nice 'N' Ruff: Hard Soul Hits, Vol. 1, which is louder, prouder and stronger in every respect. Like Angus Young and company, the Dt's are all about power without waste on this album; Dave Crider's guitar work is pure beef without a single note of filler, and Phil Carter's drums and Scott Greene's bass drive the performances with plenty of energy but a welcome lack of clutter (Carter proves he's a good hand with a funky fill, but he packs enough muscle and edits himself with enough concision to keep things from getting messy). Unlike Hard Fixed, which focused on the group's original material, Nice 'N' Ruff is devoted entirely to covers, but the Dt's give these interpretations the sort of balls-out, revved-up treatment that makes it clear they aren't coasting though a set of other folks' tunes, but taking some great songs and making them their own. Full of high-voltage electric stomp and no-quarter passion, Nice 'N' Ruff makes it clear the Dt's are a force to be reckoned with.

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