Category Archives: Dictators Assembled

The First Time Is the Best Time

To continue with the 40th anniversary celebration of ‘Bloodbrothers,’ here’s a piece we ran a while back about my first time seeing the Dictators, which was 40 years ago today.

My First Time With the Dictators

(And They Were Not Gentle With Me)

Here’s HDM on 10/20/78, again sporting his Mr. Potato-Head shirt. Let’s hope it hit the laundry pile between 9/19 and 10/20.

September 19, 1978. A summer of scouring the Phoenix concert listings finally yielded the Holy Grail: The almighty Dictators were going to be making their debut at the Paradise on Sept. 19. Darest I go? I had chickened out earlier in the year, when the band made its Boston debut with a couple of stealth gigs at the Rat, but those were on Mondays and Tuesdays, which were no-gos for a working slob such as myself. No excuses this time — it was a Friday, and I was THERE!!

The Paradise at the time was still brand-spanking new, and had the cachet of being Boston’s premier new music venue. What a bummer to get inside, and find out that A. Dancing was not only discouraged but could get you tossed, and 2. The tables and chairs were actually nailed to the floor, so if you didn’t get a chair facing the stage, then you were in for an evening of neck-strain. It didn’t matter to me. These were the Dictators. I would have endured standing on my head if that’s what it took to see them.

After an OK opening set by Thundertrain, who were one part Dolls mixed with two parts Aerosmith, the boys hit the boards to thunderous applause and ripped into “What It Is.” My immediate thoughts were “THAT’S Manitoba?!? He’s so skinny and short!” and “How come Scott is louder than Ross?”

HDM wasted no time before he was dissing Boston fans and sports teams, proclaiming NYC’s superiority to Bostin in every category. Thank God the gig wasn’t two weeks later, after the Bucky Bleepin’ Dent debacle at Fenway, or else we would have never heard the end of it.

Manitoba also displayed excellent sartorial taste, as he sported a homemade T-shirt with a caricature of his head atop Mr. Potato-Head’s body. That was a shirt that they really should have marketed. Another missed opportunity.

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40 Years of ‘Bloodbrothers’!

Bloodbrothers ad

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.

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Fall Preview, Dictators Style

It’s always either feast or famine with these guys. After a year of not much of anything to report, we have 4 major happenings on the immediate horizon.  

In order of appearance, and in no order of importance:

Ugly Things 40

November 8th is the street date for Ugly Things #40, which features an epic interview with Stu Boy King, conducted by yours truly. Stu was extremely gracious and patient with my incessant questions, and had a ton of great stories from the GGC days. He also proved to have an amazing memory — I can’t remember where I parked my car this morning, and he can remember stuff from 40 years ago.  

The Dictators NYC depart on another swing through Europe on November 10th, a tour that will feature the debut tune from the tag team of Manitoba and Friedman. The new song is called “Supply and Demand,” and we’re thrilled to report that it sounds like a Dictators song!! It will be available as a 45(!!!), first at the foreign dates, and then at the annual New Year’s Eve gig at the Bowery Electric. The B side is a live take of “Kick Out the Jams.”

Dictators Next Big Thing EP

2015 is the 40th anny of “The Dictators Go Girl Crazy,” and Sony is commemorating it in true style by releasing a limited edition (2500 copies) of a 10 inch featuring remixes and outtakes from the album. Andrew W.K. is doing the mega-mixes and promises everything to be louder and prouder than ever before. The 10 inch will be released on Record Store Day, which is Black Friday, November 27th.

Finally, early December will see the release of a 2-LP/double-length CD of the same album, featuring outtakes of every tune from the LP, plus “Backseat Boogie,” and 2 more Andrew W.K. mega-mixes. There won’t be any overlap between the 10 inch and the extended release, so you’ll need both to complete your collection.

— Salvi C.

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On With the Show, This Is It!!

Note: Last month’s lively discussion about the merits of ‘Manifest Destiny’ led to a comment of “it would make for a great musical on Broadway!” This, to me, was sheer genius, so with no further ado, we present…

MANIFEST DESTINY – THE MUSICAL

A study of Ambition, Control and Ego

md-the-musical

Songs by Andy Shernoff (“Hey Boys” by Shernoff/Kempner)
Concept by Adam RealMan
Adapted for the Stage by Salvi C

Starring:

  • Adrien Brody as the Tortured Artist
  • Jack Black as the Creation
  • Christopher Walken, as Bruce Dickenson, as the Producer
  • Amy Adams as Mary-Anne, or maybe Jane Krakowski once Amy turns it down
  • With The Dictators as themselves
  • Featuring the Steppin’ Out Dance Troupe and the Two Tub Men’s Choir

FIRST ACT

We open with the TA huddled over his keyboard, arguing with the Producer over his role in the band, and his desire to be a studio-only musician.

1st song: Exposed, sung by TA

Producer explains his position, and basically forces TA into being an on-stage performer in the band.

2nd song: Heartache, sung by the Producer

TA wanders the stage, struggling to reconcile his ambition with his lack of desire to perform. Heartbroken, he falls into fitful sleep.

3rd song: Sleepin’ With the TV On, sung by TA with the choir

Dream ends with the Creation rising from the mist, immediately going into…

4th song: Science Gone Too Far, sung by TA and the Producer

5th song: Disease, sung by the Creation

-INTERMISSION-

SECOND ACT

Opens with the Creation sitting at a lunch counter, being serenaded by Mary-Anne.

6th song: TEENGENERATE, sung by Mary-Anne

Scene change — we cut to TA, alone in his bedroom, looking out into the night, lamenting Mary-Anne’s sudden shift in amour.

7th song: HEY BOYS, sung by TA

TA argues, again, with the Producer, over his role in the band, while the Creation wanders through with the band hovering around him.

8th song: STEPPIN’ OUT, sung by TA

TA leaves the stage, probably forever. The Creation now dominates the action.

9th song: NEXT BIG THING, sung by the Creation

GRAND FINALE

The Creation and the TA duet on 10th song: YOUNG, FAST + SCIENTIFIC

ENCORE

We once again see the TA, now exclusively a songwriter, only now on the West Coast, happily married to Mary-Anne. In a beach scene, he sings…

Finale: CARS + GIRLS

-CURTAIN-

— Salvi C.

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NYC’s First Time With the Dictators!

coventry

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the very first Dictators gig in New York City. Our boys invaded the Coventry on March 13, 15 and 16 of 1974.  

The Coventry was the only club in NYC that allowed original bands a place to play and grow. It was located on Queens Blvd in Sunnyside, Queens, and was a big place with a 700-person capacity. Kiss spent their embryonic years there, and Joey Ramone hung out there in his pre-Ramone days. The current occupants at the club’s old address are a Bliss Drugs (provide your own joke here) and a Chase bank.

— Salvi C.

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Rock and Roll’s Big Bang

Property of Ross Freidman

Property of Ross Freidman

Feb. 9’s well-deserved fuss over the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show” serves as a reminder that Feb. 2 was our very own equivalent thereof. That date marked the 40th anniversary of the first-ever appearance in New York by the Dictators. It took place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester. It was the second Dictators show ever, and our boys opened for Blue Oyster Cult and Iggy and the Stooges.

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‘Manifest Destiny’ — Yay or No Way?

manifest destiny

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.

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