Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Dictators

  • Go Girl Crazy [Epic, 1975] B+
  • Manifest Destiny [Asylum, 1977] B
  • Bloodbrothers [Asylum, 1978] B-
  • The Dictators Live: Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take a Joke [ROIR, 1981] B-
  • D.F.F.D. [Dictators Multi/Media, 2001] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Go Girl Crazy [Epic, 1975]
If you love the Dolls you'll like the Dictators. Maybe. New York smart-asses who have fastened on circa-1965 California teendom at its dumbest, they play punks rather than embodying punkdom, with a predictable loss of tone. But the production is three chords of pure power and the jokes are often good ones. Anyone can can make a sobersides like me laugh at a song called "Back to Africa" can't be entirely devoid of subtlety, and I love this bit of Inspirational Verse: "We knocked 'em dead in Dallas/We didn't pay out dues/We knocked 'em dead in Dallas/They didn't know we were Jews." B+

Manifest Destiny [Asylum, 1977]
Their offensiveness is typified quite nicely by their name and the name of their album--anyone smart enough to fool around with such terminology ought to be decent enough not to. Their excuse is that their galumphing beat, their ripped-off hooks, and their burlesqued melodrama are funnier than ever, and I admit that after dozens of playings I like this almost as much as I did their first. But I liked their first instantly, which is the way dumb jokes should work, and anyway, no one has answered my big question: do they play their own instruments? B

Bloodbrothers [Asylum, 1978]
Because they're nice Jewish boys deep down, and sincere to boot, they offer good-humored satiric putdowns of kinky sex and teenage alienation, encouragement for R. Meltzer, and a patriotic anthem that might be scary if they were capable of sustaining the mood without cracking up. All of which is grounded, unfortunately, not in the great common store of stoopid-rock readymades but in the grade-C Blue Oyster Cult moves that their gradual accumulation of instrumental competence has earned them. B-

The Dictators Live: Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take a Joke [ROIR, 1981]
Twelve toons, which because they include three new originals and two new covers don't even constitute a half-assed best-of. As annotator Borneo Jimmy points out, "Rock and Roll Made a Man Out of Me" is for these boys an admission of defeat. To dig their stoopid smarts you'll have to seek out Go Girl Crazy, cut before they turned into grown-up buffoons with pro-am chops, and funnier without stage patter than this is with. B-

D.F.F.D. [Dictators Multi/Media, 2001]
"My generation is not the salvation/Who will save rock and roll?" ("I Am Right!" "Pussy and Money") *