The Dictators – Go Girl Crazy! (1975): Review

dictators

Produced by Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman
Label – Epic

Musically, The Dictators debut from 1975 is a rough and ready rock n’ roll, bubble glam collection, that bares more similarities to Kiss than Iggy and The Stooges or The Ramones. Maybe it’s the association with “superfans” Legs McNeil and John Holmstrom that directed the perception that the band were pioneers of a vital sonic revolution, just around the corner. The pair went on to create “Punk” magazine, an early zeitgeist for a movement that was gathering attention and followers as the decade wore on. That said, it’s the subject matter of the songs that links the band to the explosive changes that beckoned punk rock to mainstream consciousness. Delinquent stories of teenage misdemeanor, juvenile excess in drink, food, girls and cars, it literally represented everything commercial, white, middle class rock music didn’t. Led by alleged wrestler, Handsome Dick Manitoba, The Dictators “secret weapon” had the ability to bristling vocal intensity, turning writer Andy Shernoff’s lyrics into an encapsulation of the mindless unpredictability of teenage America. Sandy Pearlman and Murray Krugman’s production is understandably loose, allowing a hardened “live” sound that emphasizes the band’s penchant for lifted riffs, and crude vocal lines.

dictators1

Side one of the record is unfocused, and considerably less appealing than the flip side. It feels like the band need an introductory run up before they can deliver the necessary attack, with only the incendiary “Master Race Rock” raising the temperature. Their cover of “I Got You Babe” is unusually sedate, drawn out, and longing for an aggressive gesture which sadly, never arrives,and the glam rocker “Back To Africa”, is functional filler. Side two is a consistently exciting proposition, with a frenetic version of The Rivieras’ “California Sun”, and the electrically charged mix of surf pop and garage rock of “(I Live For) Cars And Girls”. If there is a correlation between this record and punk, it comes via the excellent “Two Tub Man” and “Weekend”, which one could believe had some kind of influence on The Ramones.

“Go Girls Crazy!” can’t boast two full sides of manic, panic genius, but there’s enough disquietingly dissonant noise to understand why The Dictators led a vague route to the future of rock music.

7/10

Track Rating
1 – The Next Big Thing (7)
2 – I Got You Babe (5)
3 – Back To Africa (6)
4 – Master Race Rock (8)
5 – Teengenerate (7)
6 – California Sun (8)
7 – Two Tub Man (8)
8 – Weekend (8)
9 – (I Live For) Cars And Girls (8)

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8 responses to “The Dictators – Go Girl Crazy! (1975): Review

  1. I can’t believe I still haven’t heard this yet. That’s a few times I’ve read about it fairly recently and each write up has been pretty enthusiastic.

    So, aye, this is another thumbs up then. I haven’t seen a copy when I’ve been out and about, do dare say this’ll be an online purchase – I need that cover!

  2. Seeing that cover appear in my ‘reader’ immediately brought a smile to my face.
    I’d agree the 2nd half is stronger – but Cars & Girls would be an 11 in my books!

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