The Dictators Return!

Lou Reed’s European Son ‘spit on those under 21’, and I am glad to tell you that in true Proto-Punk fashion, The Dictators are back, are well over 21 years of age, they are gnarly and they haven’t forgotten how to make a crowd gob in delight. Two new tracks have been released this year, to not nearly enough fanfare at all. The line up is stellar: Shernoff on bass and vocals, Ross The Boss and Kempner on guitars and Albert Bouchard (of Blue Öyster Cult fame) on drums. Just don’t mention Handsome Dick…he isn’t very happy for reasons I can’t quite fathom, but would like to.

They sound fresh, they haven’t lost their energy, the melodic jangle that partially inspired the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and a whole herd of other famous and never quite made it CBGB’s royalty, alumni and wannabes. The Dictators were the poppy punky part of the Velvets evolution of the music equation that brought punk out of the New York slime to irritate hippies everywhere. Did I mention I love the Dictators?

These two tracks are fun, more infectious than covid, happier than a groupie who just spotted Joey Ramone looking wasted and lost on his way back from the bathroom, and I have to say, the boys are looking positively healthy! What’s all that about! God Damn New York has (whispers theatrically) LYRICS! Yeah…you heard me right, it has fucking lyrics! It SAYS THINGS. Punk as social commentary, be still my Clash worshipping heart. Some of the catchiest female backing singing on a New York related track, since Lou’s girls went do be do be do on the Wild Side. Best drug reference of the year in a song (so far) – “now the oligarchs shop for bling, where the junkies used to sing.” They even wear masks, like decent citizens, and make sure their punk asses support BLM in a way that would make Lester Bangs proud. This stuff is really good, so good that if they boys are ever so desperate that they come out to California (I’m pretty sure they hate California…all good New Yorkers do) you will see me in the crowd in my CBGB’s Bowery Tee and a freshly shaved head. I promise not to spit, but am definitely up for some gentle pogoing.

Lets Get The Band Back Together is good not so clean fun, “the drummer’s drunk, the singer’s bald, I can’t even remember the chords,” ok so far so good …

Yeah, Yeah
we’ll have a good time , we’ll do a few lines –
Yeah, Yeah Yeah
forget the time that I nailed your wife

After I had finished snorting my non punk cuppa out of my nose in laughter, and remembered just how much I had missed this band, I stood to attention for my new old favorite punks, and gave the Dictators a cool one fingered salute. Fabulous, boys, just fucking great. I love ya. See you in San Francisco in ’22?

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