Right out of the gate, Lady Dottie and the Diamonds' debut assaults you with loud garage drums; scrappy guitar licks; and big, husky vocals. The first four measures of this disc sound more like a Rocket from the Crypt record than the premier recording of a San Diego band with a bunch of blues awards to its name. The group gets its cred from 64-year-old Dorothy Mae Whitsett, a diner-cook-cum-blues-diva who grew up picking cotton in Alabama. Her backing Diamonds are a crew of thirtysomething SoCal rock guys who cut their teeth in groups like Earthless and Jejune. The blend is fun and explosive: Dottie belts it like she oughtta, while the Diamonds diversify their chops.
The record comprises seven covers and five originals; many of the new songs sound as timeless as the standards. Multiple generations meet on standouts like Huey "Piano" Smith's "Don't You Just Know It," and the closing track, "Movin' On Up," which sounds even better here than it did on The Jeffersons. At times the production isn't warm enough, and feels too raw, but those flaws don't detract from the overall energy in these songs. Lady D is, first and foremost, a force best experienced in the flesh, but this debut comes damn close to offering up a raucous night out with the band.