The Dictators

Faster... Louder: The Dictators' Best 1975-2001

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The Dictators were a great band that unfortunately made the most sense in retrospect: they were fusing a tough hard rock sound with a snotty punk's sense of humor at a time when the two sides didn't get one another at all, and by the time the band finally figured out how to balance the proportions just right, they were on the verge of breaking up. However, when they did make their comeback decades after calling it quits, they achieved the nearly impossible -- they made a reunion album that's arguably the best record in their catalog. The Dictators' strange but brilliant body of work has long cried out for a decent cross-licensed compilation, and the folks at Australia's Raven Records have finally brought one into the world with Faster... Louder: The Dictators' Best 1975-2001. The set delivers representative cuts from all four Dictators albums: the goofball heavy rock debut The Dictators Go Girl Crazy! (1975), the uneven attempt to play nice for the arena crowds Manifest Destiny (1977), the lean and powerful Bloodbrothers (1978), and the miraculous comeback D.F.F.D. (2001). Just as it should be, Go Girl Crazy! gets the most songs (six), while Manifest Destiny gets the least (four, though they left off the genius pop tune "Sleeping with the TV On"), and the selections from each album gives a good picture of their individual sound and personality, as Andy Shernoff's songs get smarter and snarkier with each LP, Handsome Dick Manitoba evolves from the band's wacky sidekick into a hilarious but authoritative frontman, Ross the Boss' guitar work becomes more awe-inspiring with each downstroke, and Top Ten Kempner's rhythm guitar and harmony vocals keep the whole thing locked in and on point. When a band's worst album can include two songs as good as "Science Gone Too Far!" and "Young, Fast, Scientific" and they can come back after 23 years with tracks as incendiary as "Who Will Save Rock and Roll?" and "I Am Right!," you know you're talking about real genius, and if you've never been introduced to the Dictators' singular world-view, Faster... Louder is as good an introduction as you could ask for.

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