September 2018 is a monthlong celebration of the 40th anniversary of the ‘Bloodbrothers’ tour. After the huge misstep that was ‘Manifest Destiny,’ aka ‘The Dictators Get Housebroken,’ ‘Bloodbrothers’ was seen as a fresh and enthusiastic, stripped-down display of both the band and their sound. It took three tries, but it finally looked like it was best foot forward with this chance at grabbing the brass ring.
There was a five-week delay between the album’s release on June 25 and the beginning of the tour on August 2, presumably to allow for reviews to roll in to build the press kit. While it’s now common opinion that BB was the best album of the original three, it really wasn’t received all that well at the time. Reviews, while generally positive, weren’t glowing. There were disses about “one-dimensional sound” and “still not musical enough” and a whole lot of faint praise: “at least it’s better than MD.”
It was an ominous sign that Asylum’s enthusiasm in the band seemed to drop off between MD and BB. The promo ads for BB were few and far between, and the label didn’t even bother to prepare a “push” 45, where MD got three. A promo edit of “I Stand Tall” was prepared, but was never pressed, and I never once heard it on the radio. The album cut got a smidgeon of airplay, as did “Baby, Let’s Twist.”
Behind the Aragon in Chicago
It seems inconceivable that “Stay with Me,” the most enduring track of the album, and indeed one of the highest profile songs the band ever had, was almost completely ignored at the time of the LP’s release.
With hindsight being 20/20, it seems a shame that the album was recorded so quickly in April that there wasn’t time to include “New York, New York,” which was already in the live set by early June. Imagine how much stronger the album would have been with NYNY replacing one of the weaker tracks from Side 2. You pick which one.
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.
Check out these great pics we found at regionrockmemories.com of the Dictators in Hammond, Indiana, from Oct. 14, 1977. Our boys opened for BOC and Ram Jam (?!?) at the Hammond Civic Center.
The recording of this show has been floating around Bootleg Universe since 1978, and either everyone in the band took exactly the same amount of Qualuudes at exactly the same time, or else the original tape ran a little slow, because the usual 35-minute opening set takes 39 minutes here.
What, exactly, IS that round object in the lower picture?? It’s either a weather balloon that broke off its mooring, or it’s a 13-month pregnant groupie on the search for Junior’s vagabond daddy. “Look, Zeke or She-Zeke, that there’s the roadie who told me he loved me behind the sound booth last winter!”
Thanks to Mike Vanagas for use of the pics.
Set list from Oct. 14, 1977:
1. Master Race Rock
2. Science Gone Too Far!
4. Next Big Thing
5. Search and Destroy
6. Two Tub Man
— Salvi C.
Until we hear back from the librarian at Prince George Community College, and we’re not waiting underwater for that to happen, we’re going to go with the assumption that this is the very first review our boys ever received. This beauty is from the Village Voice issue dated May 2, 1974, and it covers what looks to be gig #10 or 11 of the Dictators. “There’s no way for them to miss out on superstardom.” Sigh.
Thanks and a tip of the miner’s helmet to our friends at streetsyoucrossed.blogspot.com, who did all the heavy archeological digging for us.
— Salvi C.
The Dictators’ Kentucky Tour, May 10-11, 2002
Another year, another Dictators-related road trip, this time to the land of the Kentucky Derby, Muhammad Ali, mint juleps, Fort Knox and the Louisville Slugger.
As soon as Salvi arrived at Midway early Friday, we hit the road toward the glorious bluegrass of Kentucky, by way of Cincy, home of our future RTB friend, Dawnowar. Passing Riverfront Stadium (we shoulda caught a few innings), and it’s still-under-construction replacement, crossing the Ohio, into sleepy Newport, Kentucky, home of the Southgate House, site of the Dictators’ first-ever Kentucky gig.
The Southgate House is on my shortlist of cool rock venues. A huge mansion near the river, a bar & restaurant upstairs, and in the basement, a ballroom/concert hall that had served as the birthplace of the Thompson Submachine Gun (see Al Capone). Tables and chairs surrounded a dance floor, great sound, good sightlines and cold, cheap beer.
Cincinnati band Thee Shams opened with a tough set. The Dictators took the stage, clawing through a 19-song, 76-minute set — heavy on “D.F.F.D.” — with HDM proclaiming, “We can’t curse tomorrow night, so we’re gonna curse a lot tonight.” (He did). At one point a tipsy, short-shorts-wearing Kentucky woman hip-checked our table, sending my old film Kodak flying, never to take another picture. But like a bat broken delivering a game-winning hit, it died happy. The Dictators’ set flew by in a blur, it wasn’t until we later listened to Sal’s tape that we realized just how fierce that set was. The weekend was off to a kickazz start.
Can we nominate Bill Graham for sainthood and be done with it? After years and years of having no live footage of the 6-man line-up available except for 1 tune from the Old Grey Whistle Test, Wolfgang’s Vault comes across with an entire 50-minute set, from Winterland in San Francisco on 7/30/77. Fantastic quality, multiple cameras, many Jewfros, arena stage moves by the galore. Grab a beer, and prepare to be amazed:
Wolfgang’s Vault: The Dictators
— Salvi C.
April 12 marked the anniversary of 1997’s star-studded Tom Clark Benefit at Brownie’s in NYC. The DFFD Blog asked Dictators fan Adam Gerstein for his memories of the show.
So I get an email from Sal, who I have not heard from lately, asking me to remember the night that the Dictators played at the Tom Clark Benefit at Brownie’s in 1997. How can I forget that night — it was the night I rediscovered the band who probably has been my favorite band of the last 15 years … and that is saying a lot, as I go to a lot of live shows. Below is a review I did after the show for the Babel list (Patti Smith list) in 1997:
“Lenny Kaye was the first band that I saw last night. I used to see the Lenny Kaye Connection all over NYC and they were always fun. However, I always appreciated Lenny more of a backing musician with Patti rather than on his own due to the limited range of his voice. He put on an animated set and the interplay between J.D., Tony, and Lenny was great.
Jim Carroll surprised the hell out of me. I have seen him stumble on many stages since the seventies, but last night he looked fit (hard to imagine) and healthy. Then again he never played with a band as good as the guys last night. In addition to playing with J.D., Lenny, and Tony, he also played with Adam Roth, who added tasty slide leads. “Catholic Boy” and “People Who Died” were the standouts last night and Carroll definitely impressed the crowd.
This excellent article by Bob Colby is reprinted with kind permission of Kathei Logue’s “Killer Children” magazine #1 from Fall 1979:
Here’s a little taste:
The DICTATORS, my favorite American rock & roll band of the mid-70’s, are gone, and though that may be a tragedy, it was also more of a formality than anything else … The situation is still a damn shame, but before I get into details of that shame, let’s begin at the beginning with a little HISTORY.
“Rise of Rock Fandom, Fall of the Dictators” (click to download the entire article in PDF form)
— Salvi C.