Note: This is the second post in The DFFD Blog Goes Girl Crazy! special — a monthlong series commemorating the 35th anniversary of the release of ‘The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!’
Dateline: Suburban Boston, 1975.
It was my senior year of high school, I wasn’t quite 18, and I was still worshiping at the altars of Elton, the Beach Boys, and the Raspberries. I didn’t know any better, because there really wasn’t anything better to know about. What else was there for a kid from the ‘burbs? J Geils was great, but they were homegrown and played in town 10 times a year, so we took them for granted. I hated Zep, hated Bad Company, the Coop was in the bottle, Grand Funk was over the hill. It was a musical wasteland. So, I went searching, and started digging in the used stores for stuff I’d never heard of, and reading reviews of new acts. I saw this one review of a new band called the Dictators that used the phrase “Nazi surf band.” “That sounds pretty good,” thought I, and seeing that there was a wrestler on the cover sealed the deal. I needed this lp, and added it to my search list. The problem was it was nowhere to be found! I hit every store in town — nada. I’d do a sweep every week — zip. Boston was not hip to the Dictators!!
1975 ended, so did 1976. I saw a few more reviews of GGC, all of them raves, but there was still no sign of this lp in town. 1977 rolls around. I read about the Dictators opening a lot of Blue Oyster Cult gigs, so I saw BOC for the first time at the Music Hall in hopes of getting lucky. Who did we get for an opener? Be Bop Deluxe. OY, the pain!! I’m buying new albums 3 days a week, and stumble across a used copy of “Manifest Destiny” in a Cambridge store for $3. “Hey, it’s that band!!” So I batted out of order, and spent most of summer 1977 getting introduced to the Dictators via the 2nd album, not the first. It was ok, pretty good in places, but nothing to throw your panties over. I was expecting wow, and instead got meh. But I kept looking for that elusive first lp.
FINALLY, sometime in Fall 1977, I’m looking through the bins at the Harvard Coop, and there it was. I’d been in this store 20 times without finding it, but that day it was there. Maybe it was there all along, misfiled, waiting for me to look in the right place.
It was love at first listen, my personal Big Bang. As clichéd as it sounds, it was as if it spoke directly to me, from a bunch of 20-year-olds to another. It was the first album I’d ever heard that was so exuberant, completely unself-conscious and full of FUN. It was influenced by the same blend of junk culture that was influencing me at the time. In one spot it hit home squarely; in those first couple of college years, I truly WAS doing my homework at the bar!
GGC served as my gateway drug, my escape from BOF rock and my intro to the new and exciting. Through no fault of my own, I was late to the party. But since arriving 33 years ago, I’ve never LEFT.
— Salvi C.
12 responses to “Love at First Listen”
Great story and I dig the picture. The list of bands they opened up for is ridiculous as it is such a wide range. I actually saw AC/DC open up for them at the Palladium and completely forgot that they were scheduled to open up for BOC and Thin Lizzy at the Palladium in 1978 for three shows but they cancelled. I went to one of those shows. I saw that as I was looking at a Thin Lizzy gigography yesterday.
By the way, Be Bop Deluxe were a heck of a live band.
Hope to see you on Monday at the Lakeside Lounge for Andy.
Thanks Adam – It would be great if you wrote your own story about the lp.
I would love to hear the story around Manifest Destiny. Let me highjack the topic to ask about the ugly stepchild in the discography – which I happen to love. My intro to the taters was hearing “Steppin’ Out” on WMMS in Cleveland and MD became my first crush album. It’s hard to believe it was produced by the same guys as Go Girl Crazy! After I discovered GGC as the “real” Dictators I wondered what where you guys thinking with MD?! The question has burned in my mind every since – and that’s a long time.
Were you following the the footsteps of BOC or was BOC following you? Secret Treaties is my favorite BOC record. The follow-up studio album was a completely different animal. Where ST was raw and dangerous, Agents of Fortune was slick, overproduced and contained a little ditty that propelled the band to arena mega-stardom.
I’ve always thought the jump between your albums paralleled BOC and it was only years later I noticed the common producers. Did Pearlman and Krugman (the producers for all four albums I’ve mentioned here) say “we did it for BOC and we can do it for you?” Did it go against your better instincts or did you think that was the future (at the time)? Thanks!
Manifest is tiway to heavenhe best by far. Steppin out is their Stairway to heaven, Science gone too Far,Young Fast Scientific , Sleepin with the tv on , Search and Destroy and Hey Boys WOW. No throwaways on this LP. If they would have stayed with this type of material they would have been a radio staple. Tits to you , Firemans Friend and Too Much Fun and 16 Forever were the type ofsongs radio was playing then. I was in radio 25 years and have been the biggest supporter of the band there was commercially, but they went in the wrong direction for the times.
Thanks for your comments. There is nothing else in either their catalog or their history that provokes more debate than MD. You might be right about them taking the wrong fork in the road. They hated that album, and probably wouldn’t have survived to do another if they had stayed on that path.
Me, I’m more frustrated by it than anything else. The album sounds bad, and the band sounds bored. I have the insider’s viewpoint that comes with having heard most of the cuts in demo form, and I have to say that every single song was surpassed by its demo. It could have been so much better, and maybe they wouldn’t have hated it, if they had knocked it out in a month instead of laboring over it for six. Hindsight is always 20/20, right?
Well there you go. Let’s see a “digitally unmastered” release of MD.
Every single reissue of MD sounds just as horrible as the original. I like the songs, but can’t think of any other album that sounds worse than that one.
All the masters for Manifest were destroyed in a fire at Elektra records in the 80’s. Theken from a clean copy of the album. Japanese reissue was taken from a clean copy of the lp. Steve Schenk gave me a cassette copy of the outtakes of the first 3 cd’s. There was some great stuff that never made it on the last cd. 2 versions of Too Much fun, Trish and Snookie outtakes and more that Andy didnt have copies of. 3 90 minute cassettes worth
Great info, I didn’t know the master was destroyed. So, can I pry copies of the outtakes from you? I have tons of stuff that I can send your way. 150+ live shows, I’ll send the list if you’re interested.
I wonder if a couple of those things with Tish + Snookie were the Rhythm Dukes demos, after they booted Manitoba. I’ve never heard those.
Too Much Fun , German Gun, Hogans Heroes in a foireign togue, what about Tits For You