Sound: It's 1975. You're sick of Yes and Emerson, Lake, & Palmer. You want loud, fast rock and roll. You also love wrestling, hamburgers, girls, and partying. You're a Dictator. This is the first Dictators album, performed by guys who were just out of their teens, and it's a perfect representation of that age. All of the snottiness, macho posturing, goofiness, and willingness to make a fool of ones self for a laugh are here in spades. It's now regarded as a proto-punk classic, but, at the time, there was nothing like it to compare it to. It was too silly for "serious" musicians to appreciate, and too well-written and played to be written off as a joke. But there are jokes galore here. Even the song titles - "Master Race Rock", "Teengenerate", "Back To Africa" - tell you that something funny is on the way. There are tons of hooks in these songs, and lots of singalong, anthemic choruses. The guitar solos are almost metal.
In fact, the lead guitarist, Ross "The Boss" Funicello, went on to form Manowar, for better or for worse. A couple of songs sound like they could have been a little faster to ramp up the energy, but that's the result of age. This was fast for its time. Bassist Andy Shernoff wrote the songs, and it's a perfect distillation of the early 70s "anything goes" mindset. In fact, they're still together, without the pathetic "old guys trying to keep it alive" story. The music they release these days is just as good, and occasionally even better. Countless bands have stolen from this album, and it's a must-hear for anyone with an interest in good music. And a sense of humor. // 8
Lyrics: If you ask Handsome Dick Manitoba who the best singer in the history of rock and roll is, he'll probably say "Me". As rocking and catchy as the songs are, it's the lyrics that will keep you coming back. Consider this gem from "THe Next Big Thing": "I knocked 'em dead in Dallas/and I didn't pay my dues/I knocked 'em dead in Dallas/They didn't know we were Jews". Or "Who's that boy with the sandwich in his hand? /You won't miss me, even though you can/He could make a dead dog laugh/And watch me kick my mother on her a-s" from "Teengenerate". It may look distasteful on paper, but hearing them in the song context is hilarious. I'm not sure that there's a serious moment in any of the lyrics. Between songs, we even get to hear Handsome Dick boast of his wrestling prowess and "vast financial holdings". Classic. There are also 2 covers - "California Sun", which The Ramones stole almost note for note from this version, and Sonny & Chers "I Got You, Babe", which is played utterly straight for maximum heartfelt comedy. They had the chops to take themselves a lot more seriously. Thank God they didn't. // 10
Overall Impression: 9 songs. 7 are perfect. The 2 covers are excellent versions, but with the original tunes bookending them, they feel like a distraction. The Dictators own songs are superior to either of them. "Two Tub Man", "Weekend", and The Beach Boys send-up "(I Live For) Cars and Girls" are the songs unmentioned previously, but that doesn't mean that they're lesser songs. People often say that an album contains no weak tracks, but The Dictators' "Go Girl Crazy!" lives up to that promise. The production is even better than you'd expect from the time period, with great clarity given the limited technology of the time. Give it a listen. If you hate it, don't worry - one of your friends will steal it. And that's the guy The Dictators would want to hang out with. // 9