The Dictators - El Sol, Madrid
25th November 2001
Hey Andy, you tell us that your generation ain't the salvation of this r&r beastie but I beg to differ.
Mr Shernoff sir, If what I just witnessed in Madrid is anything to go by, then you guys are pretty much our only hope. Wishing that Sergeant Pepper never taught the band to play is a sentiment i've harboured my entire life. There are evil know-nowts plotting to dupe us with hype surrounding a bunch of unremarkable NY youngsters with privileged upbringings which cannot mask their mix and match corrie-fisted guff. A media fed disease which the masses are blithely eating up yum. Granted, white stripey crampisms and novelty oddness are cute, but where da songs? What's up with that, exactamundo?
One whiff o' The Dictators "Pussy and Money" (if you'll excuse the vernacular) will separate the wheat from that rinky-dink chaff immediately and indicate exactly where the songs are. The hair-raising guitar harmonics and "You can't get a date but you're getting screwed" backchat is utterly infectious. Being funny is something that has gone against the grain with regard to these guys acceptance into anything approaching the mainstream. Like - how dare they be this cool and have a heightened ability to jest also? Their masterstroke of having cut and shut a Beach Boys/Who powerchord sensibility to a Stooges/MC5 frame was patented in 1975 and has run like a champion ever since. If people had actually got to hear these guys on the radio or TV then the band would be filling stadiums. The Dictators have been deemed too punk for metal chumps and alleged to be too metal for what passes for a punk. Considering some of the fogies who were really reaching first time out that are still hauling punk bumperstickers around on zimmer frames, The Dics sinewy freshness and outright primo entertainment value is probabably alarming. You're either with them or somewhere your sorry tush deserves to be. If that seems like I'm getting all G. Bushie on yr bahookie then maybe the fuck I am. Seeing and hearing a packed club of 500 rabid believers go cerimonially doollallington, singing every song and bouncing four sheets to the wind in utter abandon was a total vindication.
Manitoba is a frontman and a half, a top MC and shit-stirrer par excellance. He and his bandmates serve up heart and soul music for every occasion and their chemistry is what really sets them apart. After you add the chutzpah which their native NY has bestowed on them, yonder blue touch paper is history.
Nobody could ever have predicted that this last surviving combo would be at the peak of their powers in 2001. Blowing Grade A+ chunks of Vintage NY punk like Sonic Reducer (because let's face it, they DID know Stiv in the day). A fantastic chug through Blitzkrieg Bop (dedicated to Joey) reached a spiritual crescendo that summoned me to the heart of the seething mass in front of the stage to give praise in sweat and believe me, I'm old enough to know better ... there was nobody in the vicinity to hold my glasses or I would probably have gone all the chuffing way.
During an encore of "Weekend", the "Time to go a bit insane, beating up the kids from Spain" line tugged a heartstring or five-hundred. These Spanish kids will take us many beatings as their heroes see fit to dish out. The fact that the band can go to Spain once a year and play to packed houses with muchas Ramone T-shirts and Radio Birdman patches in attendance is really something. At the Louie Louie bar after the show, Fleshtones posters deck the walls and Nine Pound Hammer tunage belts outta the dj booth, r&r ground zero or what? The Dictators are treated like stars here, the way it should be across the rest of the planet. Their savvy sounds could be your salvation too. They'll be touring the heck out of DFFD and listen, if you haven't seen 'em then you haven't seen anybody. I don't care what name you deem to trot out.
Ol' NYC has taken a pasting of late and now that city's finest are sonically speaking, out to do a bit of damage themselves. In a perfect world, "Who Will Save Rock and Roll?" would be Aerosmith big. They have a song called "New York, New York" too and it says more about their Big A than the recently Bonjovi-fied Ryan Adams ever could. These Dictator fellas trade in cleansing, mountainous rock'n'roll, as gloriously stupid and overwhelmingly insightful as anything before, since or in betwixt.
Like the best burger and brew you ever ate - only for your ears and peepers.