* Prices may differ from that shown
In the late seventies (my youth!) there were two styles of punk music, there was the socio-political rock ranting from the likes of The Clash, TRB and The Ruts and in contrast there were bands that produced fast disposable slices of punk for your delectation such as the Ramones.
The Dickies were an American band and of the latter genre, didn't seem to take much seriously and were a welcome breath of fresh air in the depressing backdrop of late seventies Britain. Most of their singles were speeded up versions of other people's songs; Silent Night and Banana Splits being a couple of the more successful.
The thing that attracted young punks to the band was a combination of the tactile aspects of the releases as most of their records were released on colour vinyl plus the guarantee that the song would be fast and pogo-worthy!
The Dawn of the Dickies was released in 1979 on A&M records and was the second album from the band. In true tactile fashion the album was released on Blue vinyl that matched the Romero living dead themed cover sleeve.
The album featured ten songs and saw the band crafting some more complex songs than found on their debut album. The album also featured enough fast songs to keep the more demanding fans happy. There have been CD re-issues of this on the Captain Oi CD label which feature additional tracks, I am however reviewing the core albums tracks.
The album stars off with a huge auditorium style cheering and wolf whistling and you get the impression that the opening song "Where did his eye go" is a live song, it's obviously not as the Dickies didn't pull crowds of that size. The song is medium paced and has a great wailing saxophone intro and sounds like Roxy Music on amphetamine. The lyrics are suitably helium infused and tell a comical tale of a one eyed rock star -
"He used to be a star of the stage and screen
but now he only sees half of everything
a funny little man with straight black hair
he lost it in an accident but he doesn't care"
The second track "Fan Mail" keeps the tempo up and tells a slightly disturbing tale of an obsessed fan writing to his favourite band and demanding to know everything about there personal and professional live. The song has quite a pleasant tune and the vocals are delivered in a quite sombre mood. The track was also released as a single and had slight UK chart success.
The album retains in frantic pace and the third song "Manny Moe and Jack" is another song in the same musical pace and style. The lyrics are quite throwaway and have the singer recommending a car garage that offer good price tyres, steering wheel covers and fuzzy dice. The song ends with a sample of a car crashing which adds a kind of ironic twist to the song. This was released as a single on an appropriate blood red vinyl.
The next song "Infidel Zombie" takes the pace down and the song about a female Zombie hunting down her next victim is a very odd song subject. The music on this track sounds a lot more mature too and has some great sax work that is reminiscent of Raffety's hit "Baker Street".
After being lured into a false sense of musical security the band blast out a supersonic speed track called "I'm a chollo". The song is played at a blistering speed with fuzzy guitar and no sign of saxophones here. The song sings about the dismay of becoming a Chollo which apparently refers to a Mexican gangster (I could be wrong on that!).
Next up is the customary speeded up cover version and this time it's the Moody Blues song "Nights in white satin" that is given the Dickies treatment. Oddly though the band do a fairly slow (by there standards) cover of the song and the vocal harmonies in the track are surprisingly good. The track was also released as a single on an appropriate white vinyl!
The next song is "I'm stuck in a pagoda with Tricia Toyota". The song is relatively slow by Dickies standards and has Japanese overtones and harmonies throughout. The song is a love song about the singer cruising through Tokyo with newsreader and lover Tricia by his side. It's only after closer listening to the lyrics that your realise the whole thing is a dream that has been triggered by falling asleep whilst watching Tricia reading the news on NBC!
The pace is brought to light speed and the next song "I've got a splitting Hedachi" (no I have spelt that right!) is an aural assault about the singer refusing sex as he has a headache. Don't you just love role reversal!
The penultimate song on the album is "Attack of the mole men" and is probably the least punk sounding song on the album and sees the band almost foray into rock with the dual harmonic guitars and large vocal choruses; It's a pleasant enough song though.
The closing song "She loves me not" is a speeding wall of guitar and crashing drums where the lyrics solely consisted of the petals-off-daisies question of "she loves me, she loves me not". What was clever about this track is that the song continued to play on the run out groove of the record so depending on how the record was placed on the platter the record player arm would pick up randomly on either the "loves me" or "loves me not lyric". Genius! This effect didn't work on the reissued CD!
Sometimes it's really nice to throw an album on that is uplifting and doesn't really need much thought or interaction by the listener. This album is one of those records and the songs are jolly, fun and mostly throwaway. That said the songs have stood the test of time well and still sound as jovial and punky as they did nearly thirty years ago... crikey I AM getting old!
© M Jones (Otalgia) 2008
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Where did his eye go
2 Fan mail
3 Manny, Moe and Jack
4 Infidel zombie
5 I'm a chollo
6 Nights in white satin
7 (I'm stuck in a pagoda with) Tricia Toyota
8 I've got a splitting headachi
9 Attack of the mole men
10 She loves me not
11 Gigantor (Bonus tack)
12 Bowling with Bedrock Barney (Bonus track)