Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1978)
- Dyan Diamond (aka Roni Lee, aka rhonda Lee Ryckman) --
vocals, guitar, syndrums
- Jerry Ackerman -- bass
- Chris Darrow -- mandolin, accordion, guitar, slide guitar,
- Joseph Fitzgerald -- harp, keyboards
- Craig Magee -- lead guitar
- Randy Whelpley -- drums, percussion
- Roni Lee (solo efforts)
- Venus and the Razor Blades (Dyan Diamond)
Genre: new wave
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: In the Dark
Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+
Comments: cut top corner
Catalog ID: 31297
After the 1977 collapse of Venus and the Razorblades, promoter/manager Kim Fowley turned his attention to promoting front woman Dyan Diamond as a solo act.
Signed by MCA, the 17 year old Diamond made her solo debut with 1978's "In the Dark". Produced by Fowley, the collection spotlighted Diamond's deep and rugged voice. Listening to her cover of the Jimmy Reed classic 'Baby What Do You Want Me To Do' or the original 'Somebody Like Me' and it's hard to believe she was only 17 at the time the album was recorded. Elsewhere, overlooked by virtually everyone, were Diamond's songwriting talents. Nine of the twelve tracks were written, or co-written by Diamond (and you had to wonder how much co-writer Fowley contributed to the album's four collaborations). Lyrically much of the material was clearly biographical, inspired by her mid-'60s LA lifestyle ('Western Ave.') and while the material reflected occasional traces of her Venus and the Razorblades punk roots, rockabilly and Americana dominated much of the album including songs like the title track, 'Back On the Strip', 'Teenage Radio Stars' and her cover of Elvis Costello's 'Mystery Dance'. Twelve songs with the longest clocking in at under four minutes ...
The album attracted positive reviews, but had minimal sales. MCA quickly dropped her. She then spent the next couple of years performing on the LA Club scene under the name Roni Lee. For anyone interested, Lee has a web presence with plenty of biographical information at http://ronileegroup.com/
Dark" track listing:
1.) Baby What Do You Want Me To Do (Jimmy Reed) - 2:04 rating: *** stars
Kudos to Diamond for have the courage to cover this R&B classic. I won't lie and tell you her version will change your life. It won't. On the other hand, her version was energetic and did not bring any shame with it.
2.) Western Ave. (Dyan Diamond - Kim Fowley) - 3:11 rating: *** stars
While she didn't have the most diverse voice I've ever encountered, there was something quite beguiling in her gruff, bad-girl delivery. Wonder how much of this Fowley actually co-wrote ...
3.) Hot (Dyan Diamond) - 2:29 rating: *** stars
So 'Hot' wasn't the most complicated tune you've ever heard. Basically Diamond breathing heavy and moaning a bit over a infectious little guitar and harmonica riff. Still, you had to marvel that she was just 17 when she wrote and recorded track.
4.) Teenage Radio Stars (Dyan Diamond) - 2:52 rating: **** stars
Courtesy of Chris Darrow's mandolin, 'Teenage Radio Stars' found Diamond adding a bit of Tex-Mex/Americana influences to the punk/new wave mix. I've always been surprised this wasn't the tune MCA tapped as a single.
5.) Someone Like Me (Dyan Diamond) - 2:47 rating: **** stars
With a radio-friendly melody the mid-tempo ballad 'Someone Like Me' was one of the album's most commercial performance and would have made a dandy single.
6.) Back On the Strip (Dyan Diamond) - 1:56 rating: *** stars
Punk energy meets rockabilly ...
1.) Mystery Dance (Elvis Costello) - 1:42 rating: *** stars
Given Elvis Costello's status as a late-'70s critics favorite, I guess it shouldn't have come as a surprise 'Mystery Dance' was the song MCA pushed as a single. Diamond's performance was certainly energetic (if brief), but she really didn't bring anything magical to her cover.
- 1979's 'Mystery Dance' b/w 'Western Ave.' (MCA catalog number MCA-40959)
2.) Animal Girl (Dyan Diamond - Kim Fowley) - 2:33 rating: *** stars
Kicked along by some nifty wah-wah guitar, 'Animal Girl' was a nice slinky new wave tune.
3.) Nervous (Chris Spedding) - 2:45 rating: *** stars
Her skitterish cover of Chris Spedding's 'Nervous' was pretty awesome, though the Donna Summer moans weren't really necessary.
4.) Your Neighborhood (Dyan Diamond - Kim Fowley) - 2:42 rating: **** stars
Classic '60s girl group updated to the late-'70s. With her vocals multi-tracked, this one has always reminded me a little of something out of The Bangles catalog. Complete with subtle nods to '60s history, I never would have expected something like this to work as well as it did.
5.) In the Dark (Dyan Diamond) - 3:57 rating: *** stars
Judging by the rockabilly-on-amphetamines paced title track, it was a shame Dimaond was about a decade ahead of popular tastes ...
6.) Gonna Rock Ourselves To Death (Dyan Diamond - Kim Fowley) - 2:17 rating: **** stars
'Gonna Rock Ourselves To Death' closed the album with the collection's best rockabilly tune ... killer guitar performance.
The Diamond discography includes one mysterious non-LP single (aptly released on the shot lived, California based Mystery label). I've never heard the 45, let alone seen a copy:
-1978's 'Bend Me, Shake Me' b/w 'Is It Love' (Mystery catalog number MR 102A/B)
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