The Dictators Go Girl Crazy

[Epic; 1975]

Styles: punk, glam-rock, mock-rock
Others: The Ramones, NY Dolls, Dead Milkmen

Before Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Tommy there was Handsome Dick, the wrestler, the musician, the punk. The taunts between the aforementioned musicians are well documented. According to Dick, the Dictators branded street punk music and attitude, only to have the Ramones steal it soon thereafter. A true punk though he was, this claim had little significance to him. Over the years it would serve only as a tickling point between the two bands. To make this declaration official, prior to mauling into the album’s triumphant glam opener, “The Next Big Thing,” Dick announces in his wrestling mat banter, “This is just a hobby for me. Ya hear? A hobby!”

So were the Dictators the first punk band? They did wish to reject the pretensions of early 1970’s rock; a highly punk endeavor. They utilized mock-rock covers of popular tunes (“I Got You Babe” and “California Sun,” later covered by the Ramones, go figure), assaulting guitar work, and satire to create a soundtrack for the displeased. Only instead of giving the finger to society, they do the only thing that’s more insulting: they laugh at it. The Dictators lured satire to the forefront of their music in order to express dissent and, more importantly, to find the voice of America’s disenchanted teenagers. It’s easy to imagine a hormone-ridden sixteen year old, sitting against the wall of their bedroom, fuming over the oppression at their school, of their society and being shoved over the edge by the opening chords of the album’s centerpiece “Two Tub Man.” That said, the band has little to say of politics. Instead they bring praise to the simple things that comprise the heights of teenage American hedonism. Dick claims in the mock Beach Boys tune, “(I Live for) Cars and Girls,” “The fastest car/And a movie star/Are my only goals in life/It’s the hippest scene/It’s the American dream.”

As Go Girl Crazy rejects conventions and mocks the opportunism of popular culture, it also presents some of the…well…stupidest music of the 1970’s. Its infusion of Handsome Dick’s spoken word taunts from the wrestling mat can detract from the album’s junk food and pop-a-wheelie aesthetic. It also encourages the youth to take pride in their failure while at the same time to aspire to richness and slick sport cars. In “The Next Big Thing” the Dictators tell us, “I’m a fuel injection legend/I don’t wanna be a bore/I just wanna live a rich life/And I wanna die poor.” Go Girl Crazy is surely not a journey for the rags-to-riches audience. Still, there is profundity within the stupidity, because really, who would listen to an angry teenager?

Go Girl Crazy makes no attempt to challenge society or to defend the high school drop-outs. It simply creates little odes to things enjoyed. During the 1970s, the Dictators drifted musically toward heavy metal, and abandoned driving three chord rock; hence Go Girl Crazy stands as the band's masterpiece. It exemplifies the glory behind having no glory and drinking Coca-Cola for breakfast. After all, isn’t that the true essence of punk?

1. The Next Big Thing
2. I Got You Babe
3. Back to Africa
4. Master Race Rock
5. Teengenerate
6. California Sun
7. Two Tub Man
8. Weekend
9. (I Live For) Cars And Girls