The Dickies

All This and Puppet Stew

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Only their sixth album of original material in 24 years (ahh, the productivity of heroin addiction!), All This and Puppet Stew proves the Dickies are at least incapable of making a bad one. They broke half their formula on the previous two records, dropping the sidesplitting comedy that made their first four LPs ageless gases. They'll never banish the glorious power pop punk that's forever been their hallmark, but the bandmembers now care about making more genial loud guitar pop as scintillating as the stack of 1960s records they cherish. "Marry Me, Ann," "I Did It," and "Huge" all reach back for the hummable, lovable, heart-tug-able greatness of their old Quick cover, "Pretty Please Me." Stan Lee still keeps the fat power riffs coming, and Leonard Phillips wraps his thick, boyish, goofy-sweet voice around the abundant melodies with his voluble charm. There's nothing about hunchbacks, pagodas, Asian TV anchorwomen, gorillas, Sammy Davis, Jr., the Pep Boys, waterslides, cholos, zombies, the Germs' bassist, mole men, talking penises, or even covers of cartoon themes, but there are some clever/funny-dumb songs in "Wack the Dalai Lama," "He's Courtin' Courtney" (ha ha!), and the first-rate "My Pop the Cop." Meanwhile, the Dickies-ized covers this time are "See My Way," "Donut Man," and the Human Beinz hit "Nobody But Me." The next album should be released in, oh....six years, 11 months, 21 days, 17 hours, and nine minutes. (Fans will get that, from the joke Phillips tells about the precise length he's been free of drugs, before saying, "Just kidding!") That they've somehow managed to exist uninterrupted -- however sporadically -- for a quarter century with this sort of quality control in the studio, and that they've done it despite some unfortunate personal habits, is as much a marvel as their LPs are so enjoyable.

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