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Album Review

Though edgier than the Big Boys, the two bands provided larger than life — literally, these were big men — bookends for the early-'80s Austin, TX, punk and hardcore scene. The Big Boys have secured the greater portion of laudatory press, due most likely to their greater accessibility — their more upbeat, swinging, funk-infused melodies. They were the more playful brother of the two. During their initial — and most powerful — incarnation, Gary Floyd's Dicks were a potent, abrasive assemblage of stripped-down, gritty rock and blues, duly punked up and served viciously, carnally. Floyd — who later went on to form the Zeppelin-esque Sister Double Happiness and then a slew of solo efforts that gained more notoriety in Europe than the U.S. — is a gifted vocalist with a deep, rich, natural baritone. That baritone is as menacing as it is soulful and imploring. For at least the first handful of years, the more salient trait was menace and confrontation. During their first incarnation, Dicks were rounded out by three roughnecks who played like they looked — cutting, hacksaw guitars, straightforward rhythms, and no-nonsense attitude. At the helm, Floyd — often decked out in a variety of strange outfits — bellowed out tracks like "Dicks Hate the Police," the tongue-in-cheek gay sex-shop anthem "Saturday Night at the Bookstore," and "Wheelchair Epidemic," later covered by the Jesus Lizard. After a few years in Austin, Floyd pulled up stakes and reformed Dicks in San Francisco with a decidedly new set of personnel. Aesthetic and musical changes ensued. The band grew into a more developed sound, blossoming with a breadth not seen prior. To some, that was to the band's detriment, but the tracks from the later period certainly give palpable evidence of what was to come with Sister Double Happiness. Perhaps the best tracks are culled from the long out of print Big Boys and Dicks Live at Raul's, a split album featuring absolutely blazing sets from both bands. 1980-1986 may serve as an excellent best-of, and a necessary introduction to Dicks' legendary music — it's just a shame that the rest of the catalog is not available in any format.


Formed: 1980 in Austin, TX

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s

One of the few hardcore bands from the early '80s to feature an outspoken and openly gay frontman -- in Texas, no less -- the Dicks, alongside the Big Boys, were the national scene's voice from the Lone Star state. Formed in Austin in 1980, the Dicks released their first and most famous single; Hate the Police, shortly thereafter. The track, which would later get a most reverential treatment by quasi-grunge hucksters Mudhoney, is considered one of the best from the heyday of American hardcore. Their...
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1980-1986, Dicks
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