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Buy it at Insound!

Bloodbrothers was the first Dictators album I ever owned. I was in high school and picked it up for a couple of bucks in a rather un-savvy but inexpensive Texas used book and record store. I will plea guilty right now - while I had heard of The Dictators, I didn’t really know who they were - I was drawn in by the cover. And what a cover! Totally Warriors – the band stands gang-like, , and leather-jacketed in a dark fenced-in basketball court. After I heard it I wasn’t so sure – I guess it was a bit too middle of the road for my taste at that point.

A couple of years passed and, like a lot of folks, I became more interested in them from a historical perspective and decided to give ‘em another try. In the early 1990s I saw their live reunion tour and they put on one of the better rock shows of the time. I actually DJ-ed at the thing and, the little punk that I was, played one of their bootlegs to see if I could get ‘em going. Well not only were the band cool, but Handsome Dick, Andy Shernoff, and Ross the Boss signed the thing for me (Dick even explained that it was his hand on his girlfriend’s blue jean clad ass on the cover) – I guarantee you wouldn’t have seen the same behavior from the Doobie Brothers, particularly after the way they chastised Rerun – but that’s a whole other story. The point here is that I came to appreciate the straight-ahead mid-tempo rock of the Dictators and this became my favorite of their records.

So there’s good news for you poor schlumps who couldn’t get your hands on the vinyl because of the hording of a handful of fat greedy collectors that don’t even play their records - Wounded Bird just released the whole shebang on CD.

Go Girl Crazy!, because of a couple of standards, and the fact that it is pretty damn fun, is typically considered their best. And then there’s Manifest Destiny… But yeah, Bloodbrothers “Stands Tall” above the others in that it’s better produced, rocks harder, and dangit – the songs are there (hats off to Andy Shernoff). Even by 1978, The Dictators had more to do with the New York Dolls, MC5 (Back in the USA), or the Flamin’ Groovies than the punk going on at the time – and that’s a good thing. Here you even find a cover of the Groovies and a guest appearance by “The Boss” – not Ross, but Springstein. But speaking of Ross, the dual guitars of Ross the Boss and Top Ten are in the Smith/Kramer tradition while the rhythm section of Andy Shernoff and Stu Boy King lay down solid rock. This is also Handsome Dick Manitoba’s finest hour – featuring his best singing and strongest vocal melodies.

This time the Bronx boys don’t fool around - having, for the most part, abandoned fun themes in favor of more serious subjects. Before you get your dose of urban realism though, you must have at least two party anthems. One of their all-time hardest rockers, “Faster and Louder” and, one of the best guitar songs of the punk period, “Baby Let’s Twist.” Then “No Tomorrow” and “Minnesota Strip” are hard as their street oriented subject matter. “Stay With Me” might just be my favorite Dictators song mostly because 1) it’s perfect and 2) Manitoba, like Jolson, is best when he’s on one knee begging. “I Stand Tall,” a piece of lame nationalism, is the only thing here that really stinks – but maybe they’ll be able to use it for the Olympics or something. “Borneo Jimmy” is one of the best – a tribute to Richard Meltzer. “What It Is” gets funky. And it all ends up with a blistering cover of the Flamin’ Groovies’ “Slow Death.”

If you like your rock hard, straightforward, melodic, and anthemic, or if you are thinking of starting a 1970s New York blue-collar gang - this is a great place to start. Bloodbrothers – come out to play

© New York Night Train , 2005