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Album Review

Yet another wrinkle of 1977 L.A. punk, the Dickies' weapon was humor, often silly yet funny. But if all they'd had to offer was comedy, their goofy appeal would not have lasted beyond those days, decades ago when new wave oddballs reveled in being absurd, or at least marvelously, ridiculously foolish (it sure felt liberating for a while!). Nor should these nutty clowns be known solely as the first group to seize on the gag of doing double-speed punk versions of old hit pop tunes, cartoon themes, metal anthems, and classic rock sacred cows, like their astonishing version of the Moody Blues' "Nights in White Satin." The Dickies had the riffs, the proto-power crunch too. This reissue of their 1986 ROIR collection of early demos and live tunes emphasizes that most of all. True, the tomfoolery starts with the new title for this reissue, a wry send-up of the Rolling Stones' disappointing 1966 live LP. (The Dickies' original title, We Aren't the World, was obviously no longer current.) And there's still enduring pleasure in the numskull-dumb buffoonery of their own songs, "You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)," "I'm Stuck in a Pagoda With Tricia Toyota," the squeak-toy-driven "Curb Job," and the woof fest "Poodle Party." But one can find those cuts on the old studio versions. The worth here is for anyone who has never seen the Dickies on-stage, to hear how damn searing they've been for so long. And how, as best revealed by their affectionate cover of the Quick's obscure, pre-punk, L.A. power pop classic "Pretty Please Me," there has always beat the heart of a power pop powerhouse underneath their antics. "Pretty Please Me" is the centerpiece this CD's cream, the nine tracks from a typically sizzling 1982 show at Trenton, NJ's City Gardens. The recording rips, and the material is as catchy as hell. Guitarist Stan Lee's thick, right-hand riffing pummels the senses and Jerry Angel's drumming drives like an onrushing jackalope, as Leonard Graves Phillips rapid-spits the madcap words of other pop punchers such as "Fan Mail" and "She's a Hunchback." The toasty, snorting first-ever demo recordings that open the CD are also a treat.


Formed: 1977 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The Dickies were the clown princes of punk, not to mention surprisingly longstanding veterans of the L.A. scene. In fact, by the new millennium, they'd become the oldest surviving punk band still recording new material. In contrast to the snotty, intentionally offensive humor of many comedically inclined punk bands, the Dickies were winningly goofy, inspired mostly by trashy movies and other pop culture camp. Their covers were just as ridiculous as their originals, transforming arena rock anthems...
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Still Got Live Even If You Don't Want It, The Dickies
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