Artist: The Dictators
Title: “Viva Dictators!”
Label: Escapi Music
Release Date: July 12, 2005
Having held the distinction of being one of the pioneering groups of New York punk for over three decades, one must ask a simple question in regard to the Dictators: exactly why the fuck are they still around? Even during what passed for their heyday they weren’t really anything special, so their longevity is both inexplicable and perplexing. But there are those who love the Dictators with the affection normally reserved for a worn out old hound dog, so what do I know? This live retrospective of the band’s body of work didn’t do much for me, and provided somewhat-watered-down versions of the few Dictators tunes I genuinely give a shit about — “Master Race Rock,” “Pussy and Money,” “Minnesota Strip,” and the awesome “New York, New York” — but being as long in the tooth as they are doesn’t help the band, nor does it lend them much cred as champions of the New York-centric rock since that position will be filled for all time by the far superior Ramones (and to some extent, Blondie before they became a hit machine). Perhaps I’m being overly harsh to the venerable Dictators, but I’m merely calling it like I see it, and what I see is kind of like witnessing your Uncle Fred take the mic on “Punk Nite” at the local karaoke lounge, his hairy beer gut undulating as he belts out tunes about getting laid and generally being rude in that instantly recognizable punk way that’s much more effective coming from bands over half his age. Time to hang it up, guys, but I do give you points for longevity and integrity.
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