Diamond REO - Dirty Diamonds

Diamond REO – Dirty Diamonds


The true spirit of unabashed 70’s hard rock was captured by many a great band during the decade, including Pittsburgh outfit Diamond REO.

Written by: Dangerzone

ALBUM: Dirty Diamonds
LABEL: Kamasutra
SERIAL: 940 549
YEAR: 1976
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List

LINEUP: Frank Czuri – lead vocals, keyboards * Norman Nardini – bass, backing vocals * Warren King – guitars * Rob Johns – drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 All Over You * 02 It Ain’t What You Say, It’s What You Do * 03 Scratch My Back * 04 Mamma Let My Love * 05 It’s A Jungle Out There * 06 Lover Boy * 07 Power * 08 Bad News * 09 Boys Will Be Boys * 10 Helter Skelter

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The true spirit of unabashed 70’s hard rock was captured by many a great band during the decade, but how many people ever stopped to consider this particular slab of vinyl in the high stakes game of 70’s rarities? Well Diamond REO’s ‘Dirty Diamonds’ isn’t rare by any means, but it is overlooked as a sonically advanced piece of late 70’s hard rock mayhem.

Led by the semi legendary Nardini, Diamond REO rose out of the steel town of Pittsburgh in the early 70’s to sign a deal with Atlantic/Big Tree, resulting in 1975’s self titled debut and lucrative tours with luminaries such as Kiss, Rush and Ted Nugent.

Legend has it that Diamond REO were a tad too excessive with their off stage antics and dropped by their label and manager Al Nalli, the man behind Axe and Blackfoot. The band wasn’t done however, and returned with this remarkable crushing set of pure US hard rock that is leagues ahead of more than a few contemporaries of the time.

The Songs

Nothing soft or laid back to be found here, just an endless stream of heavy riffing and rock and roll with aggressive guitar work found at every turn. The only misnomer is a cover of The Beatles ‘Helter Skelter’, which doesn’t matter in the onslaught of the nine originals which come before.

Right off the bat is the raunch of ‘All Over You’, with Frank Czuri causing a storm with his vocals amidst the first barrage of riffs that make Jimmy Page look small by comparison.

The undisputed classic here is the rapid fire ‘It Ain’t What You Say, It’s What You Do’. Those who think of Starz or Aerosmith as late 70’s US rock gods may want to catch a snippet of this, it blows them away and is on par with anything by AC/DC for mayhem circa 1976. Mind blowing to say the least, and the melody levels are equal to the wall of noise.

‘Bad News’ isn’t far off either and this is the sound Gus And The New Breed adopted on that 1983 special ‘On The Verge’, nothing fancy, no frills rock. ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ is 1980’s party metal before it existed, and this is so far ahead of its time that it might be 1987! Listen to that hook, that’s what rock is supposed to represent, defiance and FUN. Nothing else can be faulted of the remaining tracks, and if you can get to grips with how heavy this really is, then the rewards are worth the effort.

In Summary

Nardini has been pegged as the perennial artist who never made it and quite how Diamond REO slipped away is sad and a pathetic statement of the music industry. Nardini went solo and formed Norman Nardini And The Tigers, signing to CBS releasing a pair of albums in the early 80’s with the help of Jon Bon Jovi and David Bryan amongst others.

With titles like ‘Heat Of The Night’ I think it’s safe to say Nardini went AOR which means those albums would be worth tracking down. Nardini continues to rock away to this day, now regarded as a legend in his parts, and the wild atmosphere of ‘Dirty Diamonds’ sums this guy up. Isn’t it amazing people once considered punk to be the hip antidote to the supposedly limp late 70’s? Compared to this, punk has no balls, then, now and forever. This is the ultimate rock experience.

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1 thought on “Diamond REO – Dirty Diamonds

  1. [seand] A philly soul band who somehow ended up playing hard Rock lol.

    [Rkbluez] Played this one the other day…have the Rock Candy version…good kick ass 70’s hard rock.

    [Gdazegod] Actually seand, Diamond REO were a Pittsburgh based band formed in 1974. They were not from Philly.

    [Dangerzone] This album perfectly represents what the 70’s were all about. Hard as nails hard rock.

    [Gdazegod] I had some dialog with Frank Czuri during 2017/2018. He shared some interesting thoughts about the band during that time.

    [Smokey] Not hard to figure why the album’s called Dirty Diamonds, it’s about the purest, most scuzzy hard rock ever laid down on vinyl. I don’t even know what you can compare it to in terms of rude, macho attitude – off the top of my head all I can think of is the raw filth of Iggy And The Stooges ‘Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell’.

    > @smokey said:
    > I don’t even know what you can compare it to in terms of rude, macho attitude – off the top of my head all I can think of is the raw filth of Iggy And The Stooges ‘Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell’.

    I compare it to the one-off Granicus record from 1973.

    [Smokey] > @gdazegod said:
    > > @smokey said:
    > > I don’t even know what you can compare it to in terms of rude, macho attitude – off the top of my head all I can think of is the raw filth of Iggy And The Stooges ‘Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell’.
    > I compare it to the one-off Granicus record from 1973.

    I’ve had that album bouncing around in my files for years, listened to it a fair bit back in the early years of the century. No doubts about it, the album’s right up there in the raw power stakes of early 70s hard rock. Some of the tracks crush like no one’s business, bruising as hell. Having said that, I wouldn’t compare it to Dirty Diamonds. To me Granicus is locked into a heavy psych rock mindset, what with the slower tracks interspersed between the harder ones. That effect lends the album more of a contemplative air, more of a Vietnam era, soul searching vibe. I don’t get that feeling at all with Dirty Diamonds. I listen to the songs and it sounds like the late 60s never existed; what I hear is an extreme version of the condensed form of US hard rock pioneered by the likes of Montrose, Kiss and Aerosmith . The sensibility is totally different, all 70s macho punk. Diamond Rio is the hard rock version of Tony Manero in Saturday Night Fever – at least as he is in the first half of the film. That strain of being would carry on into the 80s, starting in earnest with Crue’s debut in 81 – which I think might be the closest example I can find to Diamond Rio’s dirty street attitude.

    [Dangerzone] I listen to an album like ‘Dirty Diamonds’ and it could almost have been released last week. Same goes for mentioned bands like Kiss, Aerosmith and Montrose at the same timeframe. Bands like Grand Funk, Bang, Dust, Bloodrock etc, were mired in that late 60s, early 70s sound. I’m always amazed how backwards American bands were to the British up to that point. That’s why I also fail to understand why Punk was considered so cutting edge. I mentioned it in this review and others too, compared to the attitude of a band like Diamond Reo the punks sounded tame and weak. I’ve never understood it. To me that was contrived.

    [Smokey] About the whole punk love affair in the 70s, my theory is you can lay that at the rock journalists of the time. Let’s face it, man. Most of them were nerds, thought of themselves as intellectuals. You just need to read the reviews of a guy like Christgau to see that. I read that guy’s stuff and I can barely understand what he’s on about. He had an admitted hatred of hard rock and metal, mainly, I think, because of what I said in the post above: it was too macho and aggressive, too white boy cock rock in attitude. Far as I’m aware the only journalist who digged that stuff was Lester Bangs – and I haven’t read enough of his stuff to know why that should be. Anyway, it’s not hard to see why dudes like Christgau would be taken with punk and champion the hell out of it. The songs of an issues based band like The Clash appealed to notions of how they saw themselves: as high brow sophisticates whose knowledge of the world was beyond the mere mortal in the street. Pete Townshend made a great song about this snobbish elite on Empty Glass: Jools And Jim. The funny thing is, how many of the punk bands those pompous nerds championed have actually stood the
    test of time – listening wise, I mean? I’d say not many, a handful at most, especially when compared to 70s hard rock and metal.

    [Gdazegod] Christgau was a NYC snob. His reviews were always championed in Creem magazine. His faves included Patti Smith, New York Dolls, Television and Lou Reed. Lol.

    [Gdazegod] So, we never got around to writing about the 1975 Diamond REO debut album?, Might need to correct that.

    [Smokey] In fairness to Christgau, I do find that I often agree with him. The dude knows his stuff, has written a ton of insightful articles regarding rock’s history and evolution. He wrote some top essays on punk during the 70s, really zeroing in on why it was so revolutionary. It doesn’t bother me that he pretty much writes off hard rock and metal as crap, I don’t go to him for that.

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