Category Archives: Music Review

If You Have the Demand, the Dictators NYC Have the Supply!

Supply and Demand cover

Hearing rumors that the Dictators NYC were working on a new song was met with equal parts excitement and anxiety in these parts. “New stuff? Yay!! Umm — don’t release the doves just yet. Andy’s written the entire catalogue up until now, and the quality of the tunes has been consistently top-shelf. I know the rest of the guys are all experienced writers, but they’ve never written for the Manitoba persona. There’s no doubt that they have the strength and the reach, but do they have the intestinal fortitude? What happens if this thing, you know — stinks? Are we going to have to avoid eye contact and golf clap every time they play it?”

Rest easy. I’m here to tell you that “Supply and Demand” is an excellent addition to the set, and more importantly, sounds like a Dictators song.

The subject matter, concerning the band members getting off their collective arses and answering the call of duty, is as much a mission statement as WLSRnR was. HDM barks, “We had to do it for them, we had to do it for us!” as if their collective lives depended on it. There’s no RTB solo, but he makes up for it by cramming bits from 6 or 7 solos into his intro to the tune. The whole thing is done at 2:07, making it the shortest song in the set.

Look, no one likes change. The comfort that comes with routine is kicked out from under you like a cheap joke in an old movie. But sometimes change is necessary, and a good thing. If the pipeline of Shernoff tunes is truly closed, then judging from their debut tune, the songwriting duties are safe in the hands of the tag-team of Manitoba and Friedman.

There may still be some copies of the 45 for sale at their upcoming shows, but you can always grab the download here:

And don’t forget to vote for it as the Coolest Song of 2015 here!

— Salvi C.

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The ‘Next Big Thing EP’ Is an Instant Party!

Dictators Next Big Thing EP label

Christmas arrived early this year with Black Friday’s release of the Dictators’ ‘Next Big Thing EP.’

Andrew W.K. did a fantastic job with his three remixes. I’m hearing details and flourishes that were previously buried, and he compliments each tune with organ or piano parts. The rhythm section gets a lot of love here–Stu now plays lead drums on NBT, and Andy’s bass is much higher in the mix of “Weekend.”

The three outtakes are a complete head rush. This version of “Backseat Boogie” is a monster and blows the familiar demo version out of the water! The early take of NBT has Andy singing, “They didn’t know we were DUDES!” Finally, the instrumental version of “Weekend” is rifftastic and will undoubtably serve as a karaoke bed for upcoming holiday parties.

I can’t overstate how much fun this EP is. For diehard fans of the band, this release is akin to a religious zealot being given a newly found Dead Sea Scroll.

— Salvi C.

Andrew W.K. and Andy Shernoff Discuss the ‘Go Girl Crazy!’ Remixes


Filed under Cool covers, Music Review, Video, Vinyl

‘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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Filed under Dictators Assembled, Music Review

We Got Your Humbug Right Here!

Had enough of being force-fed the same 10 Christmas songs everywhere you go? Here’s the perfect antidote, a cleansing for your musical palate. Add it to your mix CD for Xmas Eve with the family, and odds are good that “go tell the elves to f*ck themselves” will induce the Xmas lovers to shoot eggnog out of their noses.

— Salvi C.

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‘Coal for Christmas’

JP “Thunderbolt” Patterson’s brand-spanking new holiday tune, “Coal for Christmas,” is ready to drop. It will be available as a free download at starting on Tuesday, Nov. 27.

We got a sneak preview of the song during a recent visit. It’s a witty tune, anchored by toy piano and sleigh bells, full of great quotes such as “working hard on my business, with St. Nick as my witness.” The intro is reminiscent of Run DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” and Dean Rispler’s solo channels the best of Robertson/Gorham.  

Save a slot for the song in between the Kinks’ “Father Christmas” and the Reducers’ “I Ain’t Getting Nothing for Christmas.” It’s a welcome relief from the holiday horrors.

— Salvi C.

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‘Don’t Fade Away’

The debut CD from Andy Shernoff has hit the streets! “Don’t Fade Away” is a 4-song EP, released by CD Baby. Extended plays have a curious history of being the red-headed stepson of records. Halfway between a 45 and an LP, they usually served as ways to get the public to buy the same old for a 3rd time. Andy explodes tradition here, with 4 brand-new songs, in 4 different styles. These tunes, along with another batch that’s scheduled to hit the streets next spring, were recorded in the fall of 2011 in Springfield, MO, with the country’s greatest bar band, the Skeletons, acting as back-up. The Skeletons have always served them up fast and short, firm believers in the SWAT team approach of “get in, get out, and don’t give the audience time to get bored.” This EP adheres to that concept, with the whole shebang clocking in at an economical 12:09.

Batting lead-off is “Let’s Get the Band Back Together,” which is one of the funniest things Andy has been part of since “The Dictators Go Girl Crazy.” It’s very glam and catchy, with a call and response of “Come on!” that is total ear candy. I’m thinking the over/under for feather boas in the accompanying video will be 3.
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Life’s Rich Pageant

It truly has been a long, cold, lonely winter.  Now that the overcoat and shovel are finally put away for the year, it’s time to start thinking about the summer.  As a sneak preview “must add” for this summer’s soundtrack, our favorite renaissance man, J.P. “Thunderbolt” Patterson, has sent along an early mix of his forthcoming single. The new tune is called “Life’s Rich Pageant,” and it is 2:40 of pure pop for now people.

Like just about every tune on his 2009 CD, “The LP is Dead,” which is still available from No Fun Records, LRP is right at the sweet spot where the Raspberries meet Thin Lizzy. A punchy intro, a soaring and ascending chorus, a ripper of a guitar solo, and the whole shebang is done before you have a chance to say “wow!” Multiple plays are obligatory.

The final format for Life’s Rich Pageant,” whether cyber-single or an actual 45, is still up in the air, but we’ll share those details once the dust settles. In the meantime, be sure reserve space for the tune on your next mix tape, so you’ll be able to blast it while cruising in your b*tchin’ Camaro with your main squeeze.

— Salvi C.

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Hail Hail “Hailstorm”!!

The new Ross the Boss album, “Hailstorm,” has been out for a couple of months now, and if you’re like me, you’ve been eyeing it with much trepidation. Let’s face facts: Most Dictator fans have not had an easy time with Manowar. Liking both bands is like trying to be a Democrat and a Republican at the same time, much easier said than done. Ross’ current band is cut from the Manowar template, so the question of the day is, does “Hailstorm” have anything that your average beer-swilling Dictator fan can enjoy?

First things first. There are a few basics that have to be accepted. Like every project Ross has ever been associated with, he’s the best thing here by a factor of about a million. No surprises there. The bigger pill that has to be swallowed is the crush-kill-destroy Viking imagery that permeates the lyrics, vastly different from Shernoff’s smart-a** NYC-centric point of view. Much like your fat aunt, this is difficult to get your arms around, and is a reluctant embrace.

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Filed under Music Review, Ross the Boss