The Dickies

Great Dictations: The Definitive Dickies Collection

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If there's one place to plunge into the joy, madness and mayhem of the Dickies' late-'70s / early-'80s period glory days, this is it. Featuring the classic line-up, including the utterly underrated keyboardist Chuck Wagon, Great Dictations draws on both A&M studio albums and the slew of EPs and singles that made them demi-stars in the UK and cult heroes in the US. Given rock's tendency to valorize "serious" music -- or fun music taken "seriously" -- the Dickies are the perfect response, serious musicians unafraid to goof out and let loose. A stone-cold bunch of great performers, they knew how to rock the house, but didn't worry about looking silly. Lee's guitar work is as badass as those of his heroes in the Stooges, the arrangements are powerful and fun -- the Ramones parallel is obvious, but Phillips' nutty yelp and the group's embrace of even more trash culture than the New York legends sets them apart. Where to start? The giddy "I'm OK, You're OK," rips through one of mellow '70s sillier manifestos; "Give It Back," is a tale of outwitting local bullies that turns out all wrong in the end; the brilliantly barbed "Fan Mail," a hilarious vision of said material at its most banal and obvious. Then there are the covers: "Paranoid," "Sounds of Silence," "Nights In White Satin," "Eve of Destruction," all done in ways likely unimagined by the songs' creators. Top that off with their two legendary kid show theme remakes, "Banana Splits" and "Gigantor," and a very rare romp through "Silent Night," and it doesn't get any more entertaining.

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