The Blue Van is recording for the wrong era. The cover of the Danish quartetï¿½s debut full-length, The Art of Rolling, has the pop-art stench of 1966 in its random cut-up placement of the paisley-clad band members, vintage equipment and shaggy hairdos. Revisiting the days of Cream and key parties may be old hat by now, but to hell with whatï¿½s hip: these guys donï¿½t seem to be much concerned with any kind of ï¿½now sound.ï¿½ The Blue Van might have fared pretty damned well at the Monterey Pop Festival, even with the ominous possibility of being outclassed by Jimi Hendrixï¿½s showboating theatrics.
Three tracks into The Art of Rolling there lands an explosive act of pop nostalgia: ï¿½I Remember the Days.ï¿½ The track is more like a tribute to ï¿½60s psych wonders Creation, without the naked girls and bowed guitar. Singer Steffen Westmark whines confidently over his unrestrained peers as they smash through a lovelorn tale of rags to riches and cheap motel rooms. ï¿½I Rememberï¿½ is a blast, man: backup laï¿½s and thick organ chords that call for nothing less than throwing televisions and bulky pieces of furniture across the room. Same thing goes for ï¿½Revelation of Love.ï¿½ Just the sound of it suggests bringinï¿½ someoneï¿½s daughter home way late, Animal House-style, and headinï¿½ back into town for beer and unreasonable behavior, perhaps with someone elseï¿½s daughter.
The Blue Vanï¿½s Zeppelin affinity enables them to venture into a string of brown acid on ï¿½The Bluverture,ï¿½ too. Cribbing everything from the post-soul period of the Small Facesï¿½ Ogdensï¿½ Nut Gone Flake LP to Jimmy Paigeï¿½s smoky high school jeep soundtrack ï¿½No Quarter,ï¿½ ï¿½The Bluvertureï¿½ donï¿½t have no lyrics, but it has plenty of swirling mellotron tones and even a whistling solo. Itï¿½s as if drummer Per M. Jorgensen is isolated without the studio headphones on this one, bashing carelessly through his own romp and falling just short of knocking the set over. Perhaps the no-lyrics idea might have worked on ï¿½What the Young People Want,ï¿½ because the songï¿½s Carnaby Street vibe is entirely too transparent in mentions of ï¿½flared jeansï¿½ and statements like ï¿½I wanna be like the Mods.ï¿½
The Art of Rolling has a few forgettable numbers, but the album never really runs out of gas — it just falls a bit too close to the records that got the band here. The Blue Van canï¿½t be faulted for looking back at some of the greats, but a bit more looking ahead might help.