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3 July 2012

The Dictators - 'Go Girl Crazy!' (Epic)

"Smart" stupid music is genius, and this might be where it really started. Though I guess the Stooges could be argued for, yet they are more avant-garde leaning than most give 'em credit for - the Dictators can speak to the common man and celebrate rock music's pyrotechnics as much as they mock them. Go Girl Crazy was a record I wanted to hear for years, because when I was about 11 I bought Chuck Eddy's genius book Stairway to Hell, a chronicle of the best "heavy metal" records of all time. Much has been made of Eddy's idiosyncrasies, such as putting two Kix albums and Teena Marie in the top 11 - but this book stayed with me for years, and I'm still uncovering gems that I first read about in the early 90s. #18 was this album, which boasted a picture of this brilliant cover and looked sorta like a joke but possibly one that I wanted to get in on. I used to think of this as pre-punk, something bridging the Velvets and the Ramones maybe, but there's more fun involved than either would have. Melodies and harmonies and the tinge of romanticism are all OK because this is music from the suburbs of America, for sure - it's descended more from Bruce Springsteen, whose Born To Run I guess came out this same year (1975). 'Back to Africa' and 'Master Race Rock' are back-to-back cuts that toy with political incorrectness, but I don't know that the master race has anything to do with skin colour. The liner notes boast that the lyrics may prove hazardous to your health, but they have some great guitar solos so who cares? The Dictators could sure play, but they're not overly musical; they're funny but not overtly ha-ha - and there's an energetic spirit that's certainly not for everyone but I like it lots. '(I Live For) Cars and Girls' sums up the ethos about as perfectly as possible, but 'Teengenerate' is the real winner; it's a bit Sparks, a bit 90s pop-punk, and a lot of that recent revival of bands like Nobunny. 'California Sun' really opens up this pipeline, and Handsome Dick Manitoba's spoken monologue at the beginning of 'Two Tub Man' I think namedrops E. Bloom from Blue Öyster Cult, who was also produced by Sandy Pearlman. Maybe this should be a litmus test, a record to play for anyone if one wants to determine if they like rock music or not. Cause it's smart to be dumb, and it can be dumb to be smart (though I love my Eno records even more than this). I used to think I had to choose one of these camps but now I try to lumber between both. That's another reason I like music so much - there's a zillion personalities for us to choose from.

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