LIVE NO GUFF!
Released on April 13, 2018 (EMP Label Group)
Would the Killer Dwarfs be able to follow up their stellar first live album Reunion Of Scribes: Live 2001? That is the question that I was pondering as I found out that the Killer Dwarfs were going to release a new live album, which ended up being titled Live No Guff! and released via Megadeth bassist Dave Ellefson‘s record label EMP Label Group. I wasn’t quite sure whether the band could pull off another stellar live album because I had found their live performances to be a little bit hit or miss in the last few years.
There were definitely some highs over the last few years such as when the Dwarfs made their comeback appearance at the Rockpile East in Toronto, Ontario, Canada back in October 2013 and when they played the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA in May 2015. Both of those shows proved to be shining examples of the Killer Dwarfs electrifying their audience. A miss would be the recent Killer Dwarfs‘ appearance in Toronto, Ontario, Canada about a month and a half ago (which I didn’t bother reviewing) which coincided with the group’s CD release party for Live No Guff!. What went wrong you may ask? Well, I just didn’t feel that burning presence on stage from the band as things seemed a little flat (aside from when an enthused Diemonds frontwoman Priya Panda joined the band for a spirited version of “Dirty Weapons”). I suspect that the Killer Dwarfs‘ rabid hometown crowd might disagree with me but that’s how I felt seeing the Killer Dwarfs play that night after getting blown away by The Lazys the night before. Perhaps it was because Killer Dwarfs frontman Russ “Dwarf” Graham was constantly mentioning how old he was and how late the band was playing (which was a bit of a downer). Although I did pick up Live No Guff! at that Toronto show, I finally listened to it about a month and a half later given that I was a bit disappointed with the group’s last live show that I witnessed.
As it turns out, I should have known better. Live No Guff! is an excellent follow up to Reunion Of Scribes: Live 20o1. To start things off, the album has a great feel to it even though it was recorded at four different shows throughout Canada including the rather remote city of Whitehorse up north in the Yukon territory. I really like the overall sound and mix of the album. Graham sounds really good throwing in a few screams and sometimes diverging from the usual way that he delivers the lyrics, which again gives it a cool live feel. Gerry “Dwarf’ Finn‘s guitar playing sounds crisp and the rhythm section from long-time drummer Darrell “Dwarf” Millar and bassist Johnny “Dwarf” Fenton sounds tight. Songs like “Hard Luck Town” and “Driftin’ Back” seem to have a little extra step to them on Live No Guff!.
Although I prefer the overall setlist on Reunion Of Scribes: Live 2001 more than the one for Live No Guff!, it’s nice that the Killer Dwarfs dug up some different songs for their second live release. It would have been quite disappointing to get almost the same songs on Live No Guff! Each live album has 13 songs with seven tracks doing double duty. The nice part about Live No Guff! is that the Killer Dwarfs finally included what I consider their breakthrough song or the one that put them on the map for many young heavy metal fans at the time via Much Music and MTV — the classic “Heavy Mental Breakdown.”
In terms of the song changes from Reunion Of Scribes: Live 2001 to Live No Guff!, “Can’t Lose” and “Heavy Mental Breakdown” (from 1983’s Killer Dwarfs) were added in; “Believe In Me” (from 1986’s Stand Tall) got the boot; “I’m Alive” and “Startin’ To Shine” were replaced with “Tell Me Please” and “Burn It Down” (from 1988’s Big Deal); “Nothing’ For Nothin'”, “Last Laugh” and “All That We Dream” (from 1990’s stellar Dirty Weapons) were dropped; “Driftin’ Back” was added in (from 1992’s Methods Of Madness) and, the title track to 2013’s Start@ One was included. Given that I am not a big fan of the song “Start @ One”, I would have preferred if the band played “Down In Hollywood”, “Psycho Circus” or “Sky Is Falling” from the Start @ One album. I am also a little disappointed that “We Stand Alone” got snubbed once again because to me, that was one of the Killer Dwarfs‘ signature songs due to their video that got lots of airplay on Canada’s Much Music.
Live No Guff! finishes on a very high note given that arguably four out of five of the Killer Dwarfs‘ best known songs — “Stand Tall”, “Keep The Spirit Alive”, “Dirty Weapons” and “Heavy Mental Breakdown” — close the live album. Overall, the Killer Dwarfs deliver the goods with Live No Guff! Supposedly, a new studio album should be released sometime in 2019 and that will hopefully assist the band in revamping their setlist for perhaps another live album down the road.
01. Comin’ Through
02. Hard Luck Town
03. Tell Me Please
04. Driftin’ Back
05. Union of Pride
06. Doesn’t Matter
07. Can’t Lose
08. Start @ One
09. Burn It Down
10. Stand Tall
11. Keep The Spirit Alive
12. Dirty Weapons
13. Heavy Mental Breakdown
Russ “Dwarf” Graham – vocals, acoustic guitar
Darrell “Dwarf” Millar – drums
Gerry “Dwarf” Finn – guitar, backing vocals
Johnny “Dwarf” Fenton – bass, backing vocals
Produced by Fred Duvall and Killer Dwarfs
Executive producer: Rob Zakojc
Mastered by Fred Duvall
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, June 2018
Killer Dwarfs‘ Live No Guff! promo video:
KILLER DWARFS – LIVE NO GUFFNEW LIVE album, in stores 4/13/18 from EMP LABEL GROUP! Tracklist:TRACKLISTING:1. Comin’ Through 2. Hard Luck Town 3. Tell Me Ple…