If you enjoyed the streetwise allure of The Stooges and MC5, the debut from The Dictators (now released with a bunch of new slices) is well worth owning. Forget Adele and NOW That’s What I Call bloody Christmas, 70s’ proto-punk is where it’s at!
In 1975, The Dictators saw the birth of American punk rock, laying foundations of the New York punk scene. They weren’t to enjoy the success of many of their peers, though. Their debut, Go Girl Crazy! — a noisy yet sweet fest of proto punk, melodic guitar hooks and spirited smart-arsery — sold badly at the time, while direct forebears like The Stooges, MC5 and New York Dolls ended up with all the critical acclaim.
History has pretty much smothered The Dictators, as far as many listeners were concerned. Indeed, in the late ‘70s – having been unofficially christened ‘The ‘Taters’ – they were quite literally smothered while on tour with Foreigner, when roadies released a net-full of potatoes on them during their set. It wasn’t a brilliant omen. One of their number (the great “Handsome Dick” Manitoba) became a taxi-driver, while another (the equally great “RossThe Boss”) co-founded Manowar.
Still, in time Go Girl Crazy! was picked up on by critics as a pioneering force for US punk rock. Interest was rekindled among old fans and new converts alike, and they embarked on various reunions and shows. Now, forty years later – with the help of fan/singer/professional party boy Andrew WK – they’ve remastered the original tracks, ‘totally ruined/reimagined’ a couple of them (this is WK’s main territory) and collected some previously unreleased session outtakes.
Thematically it’s a mix of kitchen sink poetry and politically laced vignettes. “I’ve got Jackie Onassis in my pants,” they sing sweetly in Two Tub Man, which has been given a revitalised but loyal makeover by Andrew WK. “Who’s that boy with the sandwich in his hand?” they quoth in Teengenerate. Add a knowing, de-sugared cover of I Got You Babe; an instrumental take of the spiky, urgent Master Race Rock; the (previously unreleased) Stones-meets-Stooges rock’n’roll of Backseat Boogie…
So yes, if carols in shopping centres, Christmas food specials in magazines and mince pies suddenly appearing EVERYWHERE feel a bit much, refresh your palate with punk. Yeah.