Dan Sartain – Too Tough to Live

Thirteen tracks in 19 minutes. Dan Sartain obviously doesn’t see a future where he draws a crowd by playing a classic album in its entirety. He should, however, expect modern audiences to buy into his spirited take on punk. Never mind that the few people who’ve heard of Sartain already think he’s a punk act. It’s kind of true, anyway – but the Alabama rocker has also knocked out some amazing blues, rockabilly, and easy listening.

You could hear all that on 2010’s Dan Sartain Lives, where he needed an entire half hour to put out 13 songs. Too Tough To Live is a lot more direct and desperate. Anyone who’s met Sartain can tell you that the wiry little guy is the exact same way. He’s easily the most pleasantly disgruntled guy to ever find himself on a fashionable UK indie label. It would be a fair guess that Sartain’s now just trying to prove how easily he can knock out an album that would’ve counted as a punk classic back in 1977. If so, it’s tough to argue with the guy. This could’ve been a debut album up there with Pink Flag and Another Music In A Different Kitchen.

There’s also Ramones-styled mayhem on songs like “Rona” and “Swap Meet,” but Sartain’s mostly sounding serious enough to aim for the far side of the pond. “Fuck F*iday” is an attack on the 9-5 world that’s only matched by Joe Jackson’s similarly scathing dismissal on 1979’s I’m The Man. Sartain even goes far enough to ridicule the notion of having a weekend barbecue. That’s clearly wrong, but Sartain still has a point. Things get more reasonable on “I Got Insurance,” which really does seem to be a celebration of how Sartain has automobile coverage in case the driver next to him is insane.

Sartain isn’t kidding with the sparse grindcore of “Even At My Worst I’m Better Than You,” either. His frustration with his contemporaries has always been one of Sartain’s finest influences. He’d probably agree that Too Tough To Live is better than a lot of overrated punk debuts from 1977. Pink Flag can’t claim an opening like the blurry twin blasts of “Nam Vet” and “Now Now Now.” Sartain doesn’t even wait for the next album to start maturing. The brooding album closer of “In Death” fools around with post-punk, and “Indian Massacre” must be a nod to English prog acts. It’s over two minutes long.

Dan Sartain
Too Tough To Live
[One Little Indian]