New York, New York: The Dictators Live

The Dictators

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New York, New York: The Dictators Live Review

by William Ruhlmann

New York, New York is a CD reissue of the 1981 Dictators live album Live: Fuck 'Em If They Can't Take a Joke with three bonus tracks, among them the favorite "Master Race Rock." In his new liner notes, bassist/vocalist/songwriter Adny (or Andy) Shernoff takes issue with Richard Meltzer's original liner notes, denying that the recording, made on February 11, 1981 (the bonus tracks are from "the early '80s"), represented a reunion show since the Dictators, despite appearances, had not broken up even though "there were occasional gaps of a few years between some shows." In this case, it had been three years since the Dictators had been active, but it only took the opening chords of "Next Big Thing" to establish the band's claim to being a major influence on the Ramones and thus on the entire punk/new wave movement of the second half of the '70s. By 1981, punk had been just about absorbed into mainstream pop/rock, but the Dictators returned to their unique blend of hard rock and humor (the latter an element missing from most punk), at least for one night, adding Velvet Underground and Stooges songs to their repertoire. ROIR issued the result on cassette for a fitting coda to the band's career, and years later the album sounds as raucous as ever and at least a little bit improved sonically, though the sound quality is still nothing to write home about.

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