Welcome to today’s edition of Point/Counterpoint. We will be debating the merits, or complete lack thereof, of the Dictators’ second album, “Manifest Destiny.” The “pro” argument will be presented by our esteemed colleague and fellow Dictatorologist, Mike Mindless. The “con” viewpoint will be covered by resident nitwit Salvi C. Gentlemen, please present your opening statements:
MM: Manifest Destiny (abbreviated as MD from this point on) is 38:25 of magnificence.
SC: I think this album stinks on ice. It’s the Millard Fillmore, the Irlene Mandrell, the Joe Besser of Dictator LPs.
MM: This was my first introduction to the band. I purchased the LP because the cover reminded me of the gatefold in “On Your Feet or On Your Knees.” How can you deny songs like “Disease, “Science Gone Too Far” or “Young, Fast, and Scientific?”
SC: Which reason do you want as to why I don’t like it — the horrible sound, the bored performances, the weak tunes, the 3 sped-up songs at the end, or the fact that the whole direction of the LP was a huge over-reaction to the commercial failure of “Go Girl Crazy?”
MM: This LP had the best vocal mix and showed the widest range for the band . . . sure, the production is “big” arena, and the band kinda gets lost in that. I don’t think the tunes are weak so much as introspective. I actually really love songs like “Heartache” and “Hey Boys,” coming to this band from a hard rock background. I’m not sure if I would have been as big a fan if I had bought GGC first. It was almost too raw for my ears then and took a while to like as much as MD, which I loved from the very first note. MD was also their biggest success sales wise.
SC: I also like the 2 tunes you mention, but I can’t listen to most of this album. It’s doubly frustrating to know that the pre-LP demos are better than a lot of the final versions. It could have been so much better.
MM: I’d blame the producer for that. He had a way of making bands suffer. The Clash, especially Simonon, hated working with Sandy Pearlman, as he was forced to play the the bass parts over and over. The search for perfection is the antithesis to what music should be — live, immediate, and in your face. I also heard there was a lot of struggle in making MD. It went on forever, and the producers did things the band didn’t even know about, like bringing Allen La
nier in on keys.
SC: We’re supposed to be arguing here, but I totally agree that a huge part of why I dislike the album is due to its over polished sound. God, the band just sounds soooo bored. OK, so let’s go through this stinker track by track.