The Dictators - Go Girl Crazy! - Review
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critics' view

The snotty debut from these delinquents with attitude was only slightly spoiled by the vaguely cartoonish nature of their attack. For me, there’s too much tomfoolery and not enough seethe to be truly effective as a punk classic, but they are blazing a trail, respect is due. The evidence is there for all to see and hear, left, right and centre; Hippies are squares with long hair and they don’t wear no underwear, Lou Reed is a creep, getting drunk, driving fast cars and screwing pretty girls is the way to go.

Group leader and songwriter Andy Shernoff spoke about their image: “We shunned glam clothes for leather jackets, jeans and sneakers. We played the Coventry in Queens, where a young Joey Ramone, whom you couldn’t miss in the audience, was wearing glam platforms with bad posture.

At the time of release in March ’75 the Dictators were: Andy Shernoff (20, songwriter, vocals, bass); Ross ‘The Boss’ Friedman (21, lead guitar); Scott ‘Top Ten’ Kempner (21, rhythm guitar) and Stu Boy King (drums). As well as this lot, Richard ‘Handsome Dick’ Manitoba (21) was described as their “secret weapon”; not just a roadie, he provided backing vocals here and there, even stepping up to lead for “Two Tub Man”, one of the best tracks on the album. Being so handsome, the natural selection process dictated that he would be the cover star.

Dick’s voice is actually first to appear – his trademark low-down New York drawl is emphasised from the get go with a spoken-word rant: “I don’t hafta be here, ya know? I don’t hafta show up here! With my vast financial holdings, I coulda been baskin’ in the sun in Florida! This is just a hobby for me! Nuthin’, ya hear? A hobby!” ‘Tis he who obnoxiously chants “I’m the NEXT-BIG-THING” as the album’s riff-tastic opener reveals itself.

I Got You Babe”, one of two covers on the set, is next up and is a bit disappointing, not at all necessary. The pop-punk of “Back to Africa” seems to vaguely take its cues from the Kinks “Apeman”, but all sense of cool is lost with the ill-advised “oogah chaka” chants. No wonder the black girl dumped the goon.

Master Race Rock” is clearly “Punk” in the ’77 definition and bursts in at 3:30 with “let’s go… let’s go… let’s go” which positively screams “hey-ho… hey-ho… hey-ho” on every off-beat. It won’t be long now ‘til the master race rock will be usurped by the blitzkrieg bop.

The album highlight turns out to be the second cover, “California Sun”, which has just the right sneering tone to keep the party cool. This band could really play some, but I imagine the young, dumb and full of fun thing was a deal breaker for some.

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