by Andy Snipper
A couple of years ago, those fine folks at Floating World reissued the second and third albums from The Dictators, much to my pleasure as I have long known that they were the great lost New York band. Now, at last, the label have come up with the band’s first album and it is every bit as good as the other two.
For those who don’t know, The Dictators were a band from New York, led by Andy (Adny) Shernoff and Ross (The Boss) Friedman (billed as Funichello) and featuring Stu ‘Top Ten’ Kempner on guitar. The whole thing was topped off by Richard Blum whose alter ego, ‘Handsome Dick Manitoba’, ended up adorning the front cover although he was actually the band’s roadie!
Ok, so far so much rock ‘n’ roll.. They had a shared love of British bands like the Yardbirds, Detroit’s MC5 and through Shernoff’s contacts at Crawdaddy magazine the managed to get a management and production deal with Klugman & Pearlman who just happened to be doing the same for Blue Oyster Cult and Pavlov’s Dog. The signs for the band were great – AC/DC opened for The Dictators on their first US tour, Springsteen played gigs in a Dictators t-shirt and they were the pick of the city in 74 & 75.
They wrote songs that dripped with satire and took in rock, doo wop, teen angst, surf rock and every other fetish that American youth were into. They could also play like demons; Shernoff was (and is) a killer bassist and Stu ‘Boy’ King hit the drums like a steamhammer while the two guitarists were no slouches either.
The result is pop/rock with real Noo Yawk attichood and tongue stuck so far in their cheek they could have starred in pornos.
When I first heard the album I was completely freaked – this was a band who really understood the American music idioms and had a sense of humour as well – unfortunately the Americans who needed to buy this were not aware enough to understand the satire and it bombed.
So, thirty eight years on, is it any good? Does the Pope like the woods?
The louder it’s played the better it sounds – these guys really can/could play.
It is 34 minutes of great rock and even better pop. Even after all this time they bring a smile to my face as Shernoff intones “Edjumacashun ain’t for me .... I just wanna screw and screw” or they do the dumbest version ever of I Got You Babe (yes, that one). The gonzo entrance to Next Big Thing and the nasty Master Race Rock - all good stuff.
Anyone who is into the Tubes should check out the Dictators – New Yorkers do it with more attitude.