KILLER DWARFS "Big Deal" (1988)
by Jim-Bob Dwarf
Cover: 4 Tricycles out of 10.
What the fuck?! It’s a photo of Russ Dwarf crawling around on the floor. The original cover concept showed the band around a table signing a mountain of contract papers, which was more tongue-in-cheek and synonymous with the clever title "Big Deal". At the last minute, the marketing geniuses at Epic replaced it with the one of little Russ grinning like a loon. I don’t know what to say. It’s not really ‘metal’ in concept nor is it suggestive of being techno-rock or something. Maybe the promotions department was trying to push Russ Dwarf as some sort of superstar frontman. But the Killer Dwarfs were never known for having really cool album covers anyway.
Booklet: 6 Smashed Crates out of 10.
It must be noted that there are 2 versions of this CD – the 1988 original and the 2000 reissue. The reissue has a more modern package (full-color CD imprinting, reverse tray-card photo), but lacks the lyrics and has a misinformed bio. I’m looking at the original release which you’re more likely to find in a used CD bin. It has all the lyrics, thank-you credits, and some cartoon-like line art of dwarfs and big scary executive types. Again, not really ‘metal’ but it has everything you’d expect in a CD booklet regardless of musical genre.
Songs: 8 Hand Stands out of 10.
The album starts off strong, but just when my interest starts to wane a little bit, the tunes start kicking again big-time. There are some really good songs here. It’s fun, energetic hard rock late 80’s style, often lighthearted, witty lyrics, and tunes with an uncanny pop sense. No sappy ballads either! The songwriting team of Russ & Mike Dwarf was just beginning to mature in 1988 and offered something a little different from the standard fare of the day. These are top musicians at work and Russ inarguably comes off as a monster vocalist and poster-child for Ritalin. (For what it’s worth, rumor holds that Sebastian Bach used to warm up for gigs by singing along with some of these tunes.)
Comments: This album was the Dwarfs’ major-label debut (hence the title) and their first time recording with a significant budget and a big-name producer. I’ve always felt that Big Deal is somewhat lacking the energy of the Dwarfs’ earlier albums and isn’t as heavy as their later efforts, but it’s not their worst either. There’s something for everyone here. Unfortunately, the Killer Dwarfs never cracked into the top 40 like some of their contemporaries, but they did land an international arena tour with Iron Maiden in support of this album and got a lot farther than many other bands of the day.