Forget all that you know about what is being claimed as “garage rock.” While it seems that anything recorded lo-fi with three chords these days has that label on it, The Blue Van is the real thing. These guys are stuck in a time warp where they are living in 1965, even sporting the hairstyles and clothing of that era as well. And, if you can put out an album as good as this, then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Hailing from Copenhagen and taking their name from the vehicle that hauls around mental patients in their mother country, The Blue Van is here to bring back the genuine regalement of Paul Revere and the Raiders and The Sonics on their joyously ragged sounding debut album The Art of Rolling, an album so elegantly ragged that Steven Van Zandt should dedicate a whole hour to it on his syndicated radio show Little Steven’s Underground Garage. The foundation of this audacious young band is sculpted upon the boisterous voice of lead singer/guitarist Steffen Westmark, the proliferating old-time Hammond organ of Soren Christensen and the hard-hitting techniques of drummer Per Jorgenson, whose skills just might convince some listeners that the ghost of Keith Moon was hanging out in the studio while these guys were recording the album. The members of this Nordic quartet may have been born forty years too late but they have still managed to pull it off just as good as the pioneers did themselves.
“Word from the Bird” has the swagger of the Troggs and the shimmy of the Count 5 adjoining Christensen’s keen organ hooks as followed by the good-time twiddle of some fuzzed out funkiness on “Product of DK,” where bassist Allan Villadsen retains a thumpy groove with Jorgensen’s beats.
“I Remember the Days” has some surf-rock fury that zooms around like a hummingbird on Dexedrine and could have been the proper song to be playing in Animal House as John Belushi’s character Bluto was gallivanting about in a beer-soaked stupor as he dons a toga. The Kinks meets The Ventures on “I Want You,” with its insolent riffs and pulsating sexual energy from Westmark’s lyrics. And “The Remains of Sir Maison” carries the rustic blast from the Kings of Leon. The semblance of Ray Davies just happens to work overtime again with the disobedient nature of “What the Young People Want” paired with a towering percussion avalanche from Jorgenson.
A stew of every slow song from Rubber Soul and Beggars Banquet is thrown together to make for some balladry on “Baby I’ve Got Time” which is set to the tune of some soulful organ resonance and a twangy slide-guitar zephyr. The ascendancy of the Fab Four is showcased once more on the Sgt Pepper meets Ennio Morricone track “The Blueveture” that sounds like it could be placed in a psychedelic spaghetti-Western with the haunting whistles that are heard every time in the “Dollars” as Clint Eastwood is getting ready to blow someone away.
“Revelation of Love” has the “la la la’s” amongst the liberated vibe of a high school kid who throws the party of the year while his parents are out of town for the weekend. Remember the spastic freakout that Alvin Lee and Ten Years After put on in the Woodstock documentary? That same exertion is exhibited thirty-six years later on “Cour de Lion” and the eight-minute high voltage jam of “New Slough” where Christensen has the psychedelic organ tinges of the Zombie’s “Time of the Season.”
The Blue Van should not be characterized as revivalists. Instead they take the glory of the past and push it in a new direction forward. This quartet is could be quite possibly the most brazen and wildest young men to come out of Denmark since Hamlet’s Uncle Claudius. The Art of Rolling should do a good job of telling their fellow Norsemen, the Hives to sit out the rest of the innings in 2005.