The band name Dust may not strike much of a chord in the collective memory of music fans, but the its the members were involved with a few years later might: KISS, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Ramones, and others. Before their more famous exploits, the three band members and producer/co-writer collaborated for a pair of albums that are excellent examples of early '70s hard rock. Dust and Hard Attack both avoid some of the bloat of their more arena-ready contemporaries, and thanks also to their crisp, clean production still sound fresh today.
Their self-titled debut was released in 1971 by then Buddah-distributed Kama Sutra. The label at the time was mostly avoiding the direction rock music had been heading for the past few years (proggy art rock, hippie country, blues jams, etc.) and was still largely releasing some pretty straighforward rock albums, including then-ignored classics like Teenage Head by The Flamin' Groovies and the power-pop debut by Stories, along with great obscurities like Hackamore Brick and Gene Vincent's last albums. Even some of their groups that did sell -- such as The Jaggerz, early Charlie Daniels Band, or Sha Na Na's excellent second and third albums featuring original songs -- aren't exactly what passed for hip music at the time.
Dust comes off somewhat like a cross between Flamin' Groovies' Stones-isms, The James Gang's crunchy guitar, the proto speed-metal moments of Deep Purple, and the ponderous riffs of Black Sabbath, with a few trendy psychedelic touches thrown in for good measure. This may not make for the most original package ever concocted -- and has a tendency to change direction rather abruptly -- but taken as a whole is much better than your average obscure '70s hard rock album.
Hard Attack is more consistent -- and hookier -- than their debut, sounding more like a coherent statement than a stew of their influences. While still solidly in the hard rock/proto-metal zone -- the Frank Frazetta cover art even visually aligns the group with the genre -- there's also a nearly power pop cast to many of the songs despite the downer lyrics, a feeling that's helped by the album's trebly sonics and Marc Bell's rock-solid drumming. Many songs feature a blend of acoustic guitars topped by electric riffage, and there's even a song that's not sunk by the ambition of a string arrangement.
Soon after the album's release, bassist/slide guitar player Kenny Aaronson moved on to play with a later lineup of Stories; he'd play again with drummer Bell and Wayne County for awhile. Bell also played with Richard Hell before becoming Marky Ramone. Meanwhile, singer/guitarist Richie Wise and producer/lyricist Kenny Kerner were at the helm for a few major pop hits for Kama Sutra while their own albums were languishing, including "Brother Louie" by Stories, and the second version of personal favorite "Back When My Hair Was Short" by Gunhill Road. They parlayed that into a job when label head Neil Bogart started his new Casablanca label, producing the first two KISS albums. After being forced out of the KISS camp by Bogart, they walked into an even tougher situation, working with Badfinger on the ill-fated final sessions by the original band. (Kama Sutra, 1972; available on CD from Repertoire, Germany)