Today in 1996 found the Little Kings playing their only Boston gig ever. The Little Kings were a combination supergroup/superstar comeback. Living legend Dion DiMucci teamed up with Scott Kempner and Frank Funaro from the Del-Lords, and Mike Mesaros from the Smithereens.
Dion, was, is, and always will be one of the coolest and most important artists in rock. He was an originator and an emancipator. But instead of working the oldies circuit and resting on his laurels, a right he most certainly had earned, Dion’s vision with the Little Kings was to do it again, from square one, as a new band.
While the concept was noble, the downfall of being a new band is that you sometimes get the shoddy treatment a new band suffers. This show, sadly, found the band treated quite poorly by Mama Kin. The set time got moved twice, the sound guy was rude and dismissive, and they were told not to bother with the second night of the booking before they’d even played the first night! I remember Frank exclaiming, “Why did they invite us if they didn’t want us?”
It’s word eating time. In our Jan. 16 post, we unfairly dismissed the 1/16/81 “Guitarmania” gig as “just another garden variety rent party.” Well, through an incredible case of serendipity, we turned up a recording of said show, and guess what? It was tremendous.
The night’s billing as “Guitarmania,” with Ross billed above Wayne Kramer, was actually a bit misleading, and no doubt an attempt to pad the room with Dictator fans. It actually was a Wayne Kramer Revue, with a couple of MC5 songs, a couple of solo things, a few obscurities, and a few covers.
I know that doesn’t sound compelling at face value. But Brother Wayne assembled a top-notch backing band for the night, with Charlie Giordano from the E Street Band on keys, Carol Coleman from Kid Creole and the Coconuts on bass, and of course RTB on lead guitar. They completely delivered the goods, as both the material and performance were top shelf.
We’re working to get a copy of this show into Brother Wayne’s hands for possible inclusion on a live cd.
2. I Still Hate
3. The Harder They Come
4. 25 Miles (Edwin Starr!)
5. Ramblin’ Rose
6. Everybody’s Taking Something
7. Modern Romance
8. Shake the Beat
9. It’s Only Money
10. Valentino’s Moon
11. Tutti Frutti
12. Kick Out the Jams
13. (encore) Shout
– Salvi C.
Yale University, the epicenter of Yuppiedom. A student population dominated by Biffs and Muffies, getting edumacated on daddy’s dime, all the while planning their next excursion to the Hamptons to watch the yacht races and lament on the price of good help.
On this date in 1977, these future WASPs of America must have dropped their monocles, wet their whale pants, and gasped in terror, as Yale University’s Woolsey Hall was invaded by a NYC punk triple bill of the Ramones, the Dictators, and the Cramps.
This was the only show ever at this venue for all three bands. One has to wonder if school administrators simply found the entertainment too out of character for a room designed for symphonies.
Woolsey Hall has been the site for Yale’s graduation ceremonies since 1901, and has been graced by both George W. Bush and Bill Clinton during in their frat boy phases. I like to think that the antics of those 2 party boys provided cosmic inspiration for Lux’s onstage pants-dropping insanity.
– Salvi C.
Feb. 1 means two things to us in DFFD land: 1, winter is halfway over, and more importantly, B, we have an excuse to run a couple more of these fantastic pictures from the Dictators’ first-ever New York concert, which took place at the Capitol Theatre on Feb. 1, 1974.
Photos are property of Ross Friedman, and are not to be reproduced without his permission.
– Salvi C.
After a quiet couple of months in terms of opportunities to see our guys, we suddenly have an embarrassment of shows, starting this week.
The Del Lords have an all too rare NYC show tomorrow, 12/11, at the Rock Shop, a benefit for Mark Spencer, whose recording studio was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Ticket info can be found here.
Scott’s in the middle of an East Coast solo tour with Elliott Murphy, the highlight of which in our POV is a gig this Friday, 12/14, at the Record Collector in Bordentown, NJ, where he shares the bill with Andy Shernoff. That’s two Dictators for the price of one, a sure-fire value in these difficult times. Tix for the Record Collector gig are available here.
Daniel Rey has 3 gigs backing Ronnie Spector’s “Best Christmas Party Ever!,” starting this Friday at BB King’s, and ending Saturday, 12/22, at the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun. Your humble reporter will be in attendance for that one.
Finally, what better way can there be to ring in the New Year than to share the mishegas with Manitoba at the Bowery Electric? Tickets are going faster than free hotcakes, but are still available here.
– Salvi C.
Courtesy of the Roubick Archives
Here’s a great-looking poster from a gig that never actually happened. The Dictators were on their way to this show when they were mistaken for a then-prevalent German terrorist faction called the Baader-Meinhof group. If you’re wondering how a bunch of greasy, long-haired musicians paying the dinner fare with foreign cash could be mistaken for a bunch of murderers, then here’s the short answer — Mark the Animal.
The guys were held captive for hours, on their knees in the mud, with helicopters overhead and machine guns in their faces, until they finally convinced the authorities it was a case of mistaken identity.
The entire incident was immortalized, virtually word for word, in the band’s final 1978/1979 recording of “Too Much Fun.” TMF ranks as one of the very best “lost” Dictators tracks, and it featured a one-time line-up of Scott on all guitars, RTB on bass, Andy on keys, Rich Teeter on drums, Clarence Clemons on sax, and Tish + Snooky on backing vocals. The track was started in the summer of 1978, and finally finished up in early 1979 to serve a solo demo for HDM. The “Lonesome” Dick demos were meant to showcase HDM as a potential soul man a la the Wicked Pickett, while the rest of the band planned on soldiering on as the Rhythm Dukes, but it was never to be.
Look for “Too Much Fun” to be included on “Every Day Is Saturday Vol. 2,” currently scheduled for a fall 2027 release.
– Salvi C.
This week in 1977 found the Dictators at the mid-point of their first-ever European tour. In support of the Stranglers, who were the biggest band in England at the time, the guys were stuck in the dreaded opening slot for most of the tour.
Opening acts here in the US of A are met with disdain and indifference. Opening acts in the UK were literally spat upon, which invariably was met with physical threats from either Scott or Mark. It’s a safe bet that the waiting rooms at local dentist offices were standing room only when our guys were done distributing the hurt.
The tour wasn’t all phlegm and broken teeth. Seeing the CIash and Generation X enthrall their audiences led our guys to transition from their alignment with the heavy metal dinosaurs (looking at you, Heep) to the younger, sharper, stripped down sound of the new wave. The now-classic “Bloodbrothers” sound — no frills, all thrills — was conceived right here.
If you’re one of the many Spanish fans of the Dictators, but were unable to make it to a Manitoba show on their recent tour, Chaqueteros will be doing a tribute set at Atiza in Madrid.
Then hop in your personal jet, and get to Fresno, where Manifest Destiny will be doing a set at the Starline. If the band is half as good as their posters, then I want to go to there.
– Salvi C.
October 1999: The WMBR concert report for the week ended with “Oh yes, there’s a Dictators show in Middletown, Rhode Island, on Saturday.” What better excuse could there have been for a road trip! After checking the map to find out just where the hell Middletown was, we hit the road, and finally stopped for info at a 7-11 on Rte 138, which was really the only way in or out of this podunk. The very helpful girl behind the counter said, “Well, I never heard of your band, but the only place they could be playing is Sebastian’s. Take a right, go behind the Ames, and you can’t miss it.”
To me and anyone from Massachusetts, “behind the Ames” was either where the dumpsters were stored, or where the homeless set up. But we weren’t in Mass. any more, Dorothy, and behind this Ames, sure enough, stood Sebastian’s, a bowling alley/billiards/nightclub, the entertainment mecca of southern RI.
The first thing we noticed when we walked in was that there was a drunken dwarf staggering around the place. Or maybe he was the last of the Oompa Loompas. In any case, the little person, who we shall refer to as Stumpy from here on in, was falling down drunk, and staggered from table to table, at one point literally resting his head on our table while exclaiming “Yer purty!” to my date for the night.
(click to enlarge)
Today marks the anny of the Dictators’ first-ever appearance at Coney Island High. CIH was the short-lived punk rock clubhouse on St. Mark’s Place in NYC, and was a precursor to the Bowery Electric.
This date was the Dictators’ only U.S. show for the year. They were fresh home from 2-plus weeks of kicking it in Spain and Sweden. There’s an excellent, full-length video of this show that hasn’t yet migrated to YouTube, and it shows our guys to have been in excellent form for this show. RTB was wearing his Marvin the Martian shirt, HDM was sporting the ponytail, and Frankie Funaro featured a brand-spanking new “Manifest Destiny” era logo on the bass drum.
• 1. New York, New York
• 2. Haircut and Attitude
• 3. Master Race Rock
• 4. I Want You Tonight
• 5. Faster And Louder
• 6. Baby Let’s Twist
• 7. I Am Right
• 8. Call Me Animal
• 9. The Party Starts Now
• 10. I Stand Tall
• 11. Weekend
• 12. Science Gone Too Far
• 13. You Had It Coming
• 14. Search and Destroy
• 15. Next Big Thing
• 16. Stay With Me
• 17. Sonic Reducer
• 18. Two Tub Man
• 19. Minnesota Strip
• 20. California Sun
– Salvi C.