Sören “Sulo” Karlsson is a true giant of Swedish rock n’roll. If you know him at all, it’s probably as frontman of the superbly sleazy Diamond Dogs, but the prolific vocalist has a quiver full of far more arrows than that, and his contacts list contains a host of truly great names from the last forty years of rock n’roll. If it’s sleazy, punky, or Stonesy – Sulo wants in. And if it’s all three of those things, so much the better…
Overall, Sulo’s Full English isn’t too far from the Diamond Dogs, if we’re being honest. Opener Lady Jane is a raunchy slice of early-seventies Stones, whist second track Something About That Girl is the sort of country-inflected barroom threnody that Casino Steel made his own in the mid eighties.
It’s simple stuff, but so sincerely presented that it’s hard to find any fault. In a world where many musicians are happy to go with the flow just to make a buck, Sulo paddles manfully against that tide, making music purely for the thrill of it and damn the torpedoes. An admirable stance.
Sorry for the Young has a rollicking Mott the Hoople/T-Rex vibe going on, and makes for a perfect single; Among the Angels is a beguiling slice of honky tonk miserablism – fans of Dogs d’Amour will lap up Sulo’s wistful, cracked delivery, and the pedal steel and strummed acoustics build the atmosphere perfectly.
Run For Your Life is poppier, but booze-soaked rock n’roll purists might like to skip that track and head straight for the honking Hit Me With Your Rock n’Roll, which is a stupendous barrelhouse hymnal and then some. Every polka-dot shirted cliché lays within its two minute and forty seven minute duration, but that doesn’t matter. Like everything else here, the enthusiasm for the task is palpable, and infectious. When rock n’roll is done this well, there’s no point putting up a fight; best to crack open your weapon of choice, get it down your neck and start partying!
The world-weary Lightning Strikes Twice calms things down a bit, but the pulse rate is stoked up by the divine noise of Is It Love on Your Mind; Like a sumptuous cross between Leonard Cohen and the Witchita Lineman himself, Jimmy Webb, this is a goosebump-inducing slice of early-seventies rhinestone pop that throws everything into the mix (horns, soulful backing vocals, Bakersfield-twangin’ guitars, the lot) with riotous results.
Final track My Bounty From Above continues the feel of Is It Love… though where that song is life affirming My Bounty… ploughs a distinctly darker furrow. However the result – pure listening pleasure – is the same.
But wait – there’s more. A bonus disc of seven tracks accompanies the main release, featuring guest appearances from the like of Rockpile’s Billy Bremner, Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson (on a loose jam of The Feelgoods’ Roxette), Sham 69 man Dave Tregunna (on a fine version of that band’s Borstal Breakout) and Quireboys frontman Spike (helping out on a version of his very own Roses and Rings), to name but a few. There are some surprises on this disc for sure, but it’s a great little group of tracks that go some way to showing what moved Sulo as an artist back in the day.
Obviously this isn’t going to appeal to all of Sentinel Daily’s readership, but if you’re already a fan of this kinda schtick, then this is absolutely an essential purchase.
Sulo will release his Full English through Livewire/Cargo Records on October 27th. Get involved.