THE DICKIES The Dickies - 1978 LINEUP

Formed: San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, California, USA

"I can't believe a fucking band so retarded that no laugh is too cheap or too gross but hey, let's face it, it played then, it plays now. I can't quit talking about them and I hate 'em!"
- Lisa Fancher, 1986

Never as popular as they should have been, these Californian wacky boys played with the speed and dexterity of a hardcore band but wrapped up their slashing guitar sounds with bug-eyed humour of a zany, inoffensive nature that was almost impossible to dislike. Curiously, though, the great unwashed never took to their brand of pop in the same way as their nearest equivalents, the Ramones. It was probably the cover versions that did it: 100 MPH assaults on ‘The Sounds Of Silence', ‘Nights In White Satin' and the Monkees' ‘She' had them labelled as a novelty act: no less than SIX of their first nine singles were covers. In hindsight the Dickies would have done well to relegate these to B-Sides, as they wrote entirely credible originals.

Musically they were superb: Stan Lee's high-octane guitar solos were (and, in concert, continue to be) a joy to behold, Leonard Philip Graves Philips' unbelievably snotty, on-helium vocals being equally wonderful. They also had one of punk's best keyboard players, Chuck Wagon, who sadly killed himself in the early 80's.

The Dickies - 1978

Inspired by seeing The Damned, Leonard Graves Phillips (vocals), Stan Lee (guitar), Billy Club (bass), Karlos Kaballero (drums) and Chuck Wagon formed in early 1977 and quickly gained local popularity playing at the Starwood and Masque. Their zany image, unserious songs and colourful clothing earned them unwelcome comparisons with the Weirdos (indeed, some felt The Dickies a rip off act). Ex-John's Children (and current Sparks) manager John Hewlett spotted them and earned them a deal with A&M, making them the only true US punk band at the time to attract the attention of a major label.

Their first four offerings, all in 1978, were with one exception warp speed cover versions, and all came on coloured vinyl. Paranoid, Eve Of Destruction, Give It Back (their own song) and Silent Night were all reasonable UK hits. Single No. 5 was yet another cover, Banana Splits (The Tra-La-La-Song), which entered the UK Top Ten, put them on Top Of The Pops.

These singles were a breath if fresh air: super fast, giddily good natured, and with gloriously unserious lyrics:

The Dickies - Give It Back - UK 7" 1978 (A&M - AMS 7391) A-Side - White Vinyl The Dickies - Give It Back - UK 7" 1978 (A&M - AMS 7391) A-Side - Black Vinyl

GIVE IT BACK

One day I was walking to school
I saw these bullies and they thought they were cool
They put me down and they pushed me around
They stole my books and they called me a clown

Give It Back
Baaaaccckk
Give It Back
You better give it back

I went to school, yeah I went anyway
I said I'd show them another day
I showed them all what I could do
I got us thrown right out of school

I got em back
Baaack
Yeah I Got em Back
You Know I got em back
Ba ba ba back

That night I was walking home
And when they caught me I was all alone
A bloody nose and a broken bone
I thought those brats were going to leave me alone

The Dickies - Paranoid - UK 7" 1978 (A&M - AMS 7368) A-SideThe Dickies - Paranoid (A&M - AMS 7368) Black Vinyl A-Side

YOU DRIVE ME APE

You drive me ape
You big gorilla
You drive me ape,ape
I wanna tell ya

Swinging around from every town to town
I swing around and I never come down
City is a jungle now this is it
Every time I look at you I go ape shit

Cruising through the trees
With the birds and the bees
Baby,baby monkey,I ain't so hard to please
Cruising through the trees
With the birds and the bees
Baby,Baby monkey,you won't get no disease

 

I'M OK, YOU'RE OK

I don't care what you say
I'm going away and i'm going to stay
I don't care what you do
You can press my trousers and polish my shoes

I'm in love with Squeeky Fraum
I'd like to take her to my high school prom
I quit my job at Lockheed
My girlfriend says that's what i need

i'm ok, you're ok
i'm ok, you're ok
i'm ok, you're ok
i'm ok, you're ok
i'm ok

I ran into Kim Fowley
He told me go back to the valley
I went into the Starwood
Everybody there told me it should have been good

I ran into Tomata
He was over Infantigo
He told me where to go
And he also told me on the way to the show

I 'm cruisin' down sunset
Gonna mingle with the funset
Going to a luau
gonna have me a real cool time

DOGGY DO

I want you tonight
Won't you please come over
I don't like your looks
But then again,I'm not sober

Oh Doggy Doo
You're the sleaziest
Oh Lorna Doon
You're the easiest except for me

Come over tonight and
Show me some good fun yeah
Remember when you leave
Don't tell anyone

Oh Doggy Doo
You're the sleaziest
Oh Poodle chew
You're the easiest except for me

Ruff ruff-ruff [x3]

The Dickies - Eve Of Destruction - UK 7" 1978 (A&M - AMS 7373) A-Side Black VinylThe Dickies - Eve Of Destruction - UK 7" 1978 (A&M - AMS 7373) A-Side

HIDEOUS

You're so hideous
You're not one of us
I really pity you
And i don't want you

It's so hard to face your face
Every time i look at you i feel disgrace
I don't want to find you in my place
You are just a basket case

t's so hard to face your face
Every time i look at you i feel disgrace
I don't want to find you in my place
You shouldn't belong to the human race

 

The Dickies - 1978 LINEUP

The Incredible Shrinking Dickies, housed in a great sleeve and issued on four different coloured vinyls, presents the band at their giddiest. Three cover versions (‘She', ‘Eve Of Destruction', ‘Paranoid') and ten originals, including a carnival-like - almost proggy! - instrumental (‘Rondo (The Midget's Revenge)') and tracks like ‘Mental Ward' and ‘You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)' were crammed into 27 manically fast minutes. All the songs sounded the same and Graves' lyrics were indecipherable, but that was just part and parcel of its charm.

The Dickies - Banana Splits - UK 7" 1979 (A&M - AMS 7431) Back Cover and A-Side

The Dickies - Silent Night - UK 7" 1978 (A&M - AMS 7403) White Vinyl A-SideThe Dickies - Nights In White Satin - UK 7" 1979 (A&M - AMS 7469) A-Side

The Dickies - Nights In White Satin Portugal 7"The Dickies - Banana Splits - UK 7" 1979 (A&M - AMS 7431) Yellow Vinyl A-Side

The Dickies - Manny, Moe And Jack - UK 7" 1979 (A&M - AMS 7491) A-SideThe Dickies - Manny, Moe And Jack - UK 7" 1979 (A&M - AMS 7491) B-Side

Dawn Of The Dickies, was IMHO even better (though many prefer the debut). With the tempos turned down a bit and the group rampaging through only one oldie, single No. 6 Nights In White Satin, this could be considered power-pop if the guitars weren't so blazing, the vocals so snotty, the lyrics so funny. Similar in impact to the Buzzcocks' full-blooded approach, ‘Manny Moe & Jack' was a tale of spare parts dealer that had them accused of anti-Semitism, a charge reinforced by the US cover of the Nights In White Satin' single, where they dressed up as the Klan! ‘Fan Mail' was lifted as another single, and gets that is my vote for the greatest pop-punk song ever written.

The Dickies - Fan Mail - UK 7" 1980 (A&M - AMS 7504) A-Side Red VinylThe Dickies - Gigantor - UK 7" 1980 (A&M - AMS 7544) A-Side

Unfortunately, after the brilliant Gigantor singe (another cover version!) in 1980, A&M abandoned them, they fell out with Hewlett and the band seemed to fall apart. It hadn't in fact split, although sessions for a new album in late 1980 did not bear fruit. Phillips and Stan Lee returned three years with Stukas Over Disneyland, a thin-sounding mini-album taken from two sessions. Side one, from 1those LP sessions in 1980, was drummer Chuck Wagon's last for the band (he killed himself shortly after) and included one of their splendid “girls with deformities” numbers (‘She's A Hunchback', the prompt for a spate of terrible jokes) and a mad version of Led Zep's ‘Communication Breakdown'. Side two, from 1983, featured a new lineup (Lee, Phillips, guitarists Enoch Hain and Steve Hufstetter, bassist Lorenzo Buhne, drummer Jerome Angel) and two great, great songs: one of them a fantastic, swelling pop tune (Hufstetter's ‘Pretty Please Me') and a ditty about Graves' penis (‘If Stewart Could Talk').

The Dickies - Stukas Over Disneyland - France LP (Closer)

ABOVE: The French pressing of Stukas Over Disneyland came in this unique sleeve.

The Dickies circa 1983

The mid-80s were spent playing gigs and doing smack. With no new material in the pipeline, the cassette-only We Aren't The World! filled a gap, compiling live recordings dated between 1978 and 1985 and offering plenty of fun despite ropy sound. A nice bonus is the original four-track demo from 1977 that secured them their A&M deal, although as these were all re-recorded for A&M you can safely live without these. The title is a tasteless reference to the charity single ‘We Are The World'. Another stop-gap stocking filler, although it claims to be “definitive” Great Dictations isn't (there's no ‘Bowling With Bedrock Barney' for a start), but it serves as a handy introduction to their A&M period. Here are the liner notes, worth showing in their entirety:

The Dickies - 1978 LINEUP

The sound of dropping jaws was heard throughout the civilised world upon the release of Second Coming, immediately earning a reputation as one of the worst comebacks in recent memory. A dead-straight, and slow, rendition of Gene Pitney's ‘Town Without Pity' and a six-minute epic entitled ‘Caligula', complete with Latin chanting, were astonishing to anyone who remembered the Dickies' short ‘n' speedy pop blasts from the 70s. Many years down the line, the album doesn't sound nearly so bad. In fact, much of it is great. ‘Cross-Eyed Tammy', ‘Monkey See, Monkey Do' and ‘Going Homo' are pure Dickiedom: fast, funny and, in the case of ‘Going Homo', offensive. Most of the rest is pretty good, too.

Two of that album's eleven songs – ‘Booby Trap' and ‘Magoomba' - had previously been aired (in different versions) on the Killer Klowns From Outer Space EP, the title number of which comes from the film of the same name and is, like the film itself, something of a guilty pleasure. ‘Eep Oop Ork (Uh, Uh)' was the band's third, and thus far certainly least, kiddie theme tune cover, following ‘Banana Splits' and ‘Gigantor'. Eager to exploit the comeback, Locked And Loaded: Live In London is a well-recorded document that also doubles as a roughed-up ‘best of'. This gig sees the band race through hits from all of their albums; invested with raw energy, songs from Second Coming are far more vigorous.

The Dickies - The Dawn Of The Out-Take UK 7" 1989 (Listless - LR1) Blue PS A-SideThe Dickies - Second Coming - UK LP 1989 (Enigma - ENVLP 526)

ABOVE: Label for the yellow vinyl bootleg single, The Dawn Of The Out-Take, which included out-takes from the Second Coming LP, and the UK pressing of that LP

Given the rotten reviews that greeted Second Coming, one could be forgiven for approaching Idjit Savant with trepidation, but – honestly! – this nearly matches up to their glory days on A&M. The absence of keyboards is a bit of problem, robbing the band of some of their individuality, but the Star Trek-themed ‘Make It So' and a couple of songs about Graves' and Lees' heroin addiction (‘I'm On Crack', ‘Just Say Yes') are superb, and ‘Roadkill' is a pure burst of hardcore punk with funny lyrics about running over cats.

The Dickies - 1990

Dogs From The Hare That Bit Us is an eighteen-minute/eight-song covers disc, with the lads ripping through tracks by Weirdos, Human Beings, Hollies, Donovan, The Knack, Uriah Heap, Beatles and Iron Butterfly in a near-reverential manner. Not bad, but given their dismissal as a covers band perhaps not the most credibility-endowing move, and less entertaining then their versions of ‘She' or ‘Nights In White Satin'.

On All This And Puppet Stew, Graves and Lee are joined by a different, slightly mediocre rhythm section and signed to a trendy record label guaranteed to earn them some new young fans. Still full of zip and bristling with both zaniness and catchy tunes, pop pearl follows pop pearl. While not up to the standard set by Idjit Savant, the likes of ‘My Pop The Cop' and ‘Whack The Dali Lama' are still pretty great.

Here are some excerpts from the band's official website, which demonstrate why I like them so much:

September 1977:
Leonard (who is still recovering after a nervous breakdown and believes that being in a band will get him out of the house) attends his first audition in Billy's parent's family room and proceeds to wrap Stan in his own guitar lead, wrap everyone else up in Bugs Bunny 8mm film, cut up his own sweater into a Dickie and run out without singing a note! Stan dismisses him as an idiot and continues his search.

September 1977:The Dickies - Second Coming Carrier Bag
Many band names are suggested. Karlos refuses to be in a band called the Imbeciles.

November 1977:
At a gig at the Starwood, opening for the Quick, Leonard jumps off the PA scaffolding during 'You Drive Ape (You Big Gorilla)', breaks his right ankle, and sprains his left. He finishes the gig flat on his back while Stan kicks him repeatedly - he is under the impression that Leonard is doing his 'stupid Stiv Bators impersonation'!

November 1977:
The Dickies embark upon the 'Apocalypse' UK tour with The Jam, sets are kept short as the crowd are anxious to see The Jam and seem largely uninterested by 'these blokes from America'. The general consensus seems to be that they are 'taking the piss out of punk'.

September 1979:
The Dickies cover of the Moody Blues 'Nights In White Satin' is released. Justin Heyward (Moody Blues frontman) says he "likes the song but it's not the original". The singles' original, controversial, cover features the band dressed in KKK robes.

October 1979:
The band's second album, 'Dawn of the Dickies' is released. The title is derived from George Romero's Dawn of the Dead movie, of which Leonard is a big fan. Robin Geoffrey Cable of Genesis, Van Der Graaf generator fame, produces the album.

September 1980:
Neil Diamond is asked, via producer Ron Hitchcock, to write a love song for the band.

Classic Lineup (1977-1981)

Leonard Graves Phillips - lead vocals, mellotron, piano, organ
Stan Lee - guitars, vibraslap, vocals
Chuck Wagon (real name Bob Davis) - keyboards, guitar, saxophone, harmonica, synthesiser, vocals
Billy Club (real name Bill Remar) - bass, vocals
Karlos Kaballero (real name Carlos Cabellero) - drums, percussion, no vocals

This lineup recorded everything they released for A&M and is the classic Dickies band.

Scott Sindon also played guitar during this period, when Chuck was injured. Chuck shot himself in June 1981.

Later members include:The Dickies - FLYER

Guitarists:
Scott Sindon (1981, 1982)
Steve Hufsteter (1981-1983)
Glen Laughlin (1983-1984, 1985)
Steve Fryette (1984)
Enoch Hain (real name Bob Lansing Jnr.) (1988-early 1990s)
Little Dave Teague (1995-2005)
Olga (Toy Dolls) (2001-2002)

Bassists:
Laurie Buhne (1981-1983, 1984)
Charlie Alexander (1992-1994)
Marc Vachon (1994-1995)
Rick Dasher bass (1995-2001, 2003)
Greg Hanna (2003-??)

Drummers:
Jerry Angel (1981-1983, 1984-1985)
Nickey Beat (ex-Weirdos) (1983-1984)
Rex Roberts (ex-Kingbees) (1984)
Clifford Martinez (1985-1988)
Jonathan Melvoin (1990-1994)
Mark Aber (ex-Agression) - drums (1994, 1995)
Travis Johnson - drums (1995-2001, 2002-2003, 2006)
Chris Phillips (2001-2002)
Anthony "TiNy" Biuso (2003-)


DISCOGRAPHY

Singles / Albums

The Dickies - Paranoid The Dickies - Eve Of Destruction The Dickies - Give It Back The Dickies - Silent Night The Dickies - Banana Splits
Paranoid
(7"/10", 1978)
Eve Of Destruction
(7", 1978)
Give It Back
(7", 1978)
Silent Night
(7", 1978)
Banana Splits
(7", 1979)
The Dickies - The Incredible Shrinking Dickies The Dickies - Nights In White Satin The Dickies - Dawn Of The Dickies The Dickies - Manny, Moe And Jack The Dickies - Fan Mail
The Incredible Shrinking Dickies
(LP, 1979)

Nights In White Satin
(7", 1979)

Dawn Of The Dickies (LP, 1979) Manny, Moe And Jack (7", 1979) Fan Mail (7", 1979)
The Dickies - Gigantor The Dickies - Stukas Over Disneyland The Dickies - Killer Klowns From Outer Space The Dickies - Second Coming The Dickies - Just Say Yes
Gigantor (7", 1980) Stukas Over Disneyland
(LP, 1983)
Killer Klowns From Outer Space
(12"/CDS, 1988)
Second Coming
(LP/CD, 1989)
Just Say Yes
(7"/CDS, 1990)
The Dickies - Road Kill The Dickies - Idjit Savant The Dickies - Make It So The Dickies - My Pop The Cop The Dickies - Dogs From The Hare That Bit Us
Roadkill
(7"/CDS, 1993)
Idjit Savant
(LP/CD, 1994)
Make It So (7", 1996) My Pop The Cop
(7", 1998)
Dogs From The Hare That Bit Us
(10"/CD, 1998)
The Dickies - Free Willy The Dickies - All This And Puppet Stew The Dickies - Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song)    
Free Willy (7", 2001) All This And Puppet Stew (LP/CD, 2001) Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song) (7", 2010)    

Extraneous Releases

The Dickies - We Aren't The World! The Dickies - Great Dictations - The Definitive Dickies Collection The Dickies - Road Kill The Dickies - Live In London - Locked 'N' Loaded The Dickies - Locked 'N' Loaded 1990
We Aren't The World! (Tape, 1986) Great Dictations - The Definitive Dickies Collection
(LP/CD, 1989)
Roadkill
(7", flexi, 1990)
Live In London - Locked 'N' Loaded
(LP/CD, 1991)
Locked 'N' Loaded 1990 (LP, 1991)
Locked 'N' Loaded Greatest Hits Live The Dickies - Still Got Live, Even If You Don't Want It The Dickies - The Punk Singles Collection The Dickies - Live In London The Dickies - Idjit Savant And Dogs From The Hare That Bit Us
Locked 'N' Loaded Greatest Hits Live
(CD, 1991)
Still Got Live, Even If You Don't Want It
(CD, 2001)
The Punk Singles Collection (CD, 2002) Live In London
(CD, 2002)
Idjit Savant And Dogs From The Hare That Bit Us (CD, twofer, 2007)
The Dickies - Go Banana's! The Dickies - Live Destruction      
Go Banana's!
(CD, 2008)
Live Destruction
(CD, 2008)
     

Promos

The Dickies - Dummy Up The Dickies - Pretty Ballerina      
Dummy Up
(CDS, 1989)
Pretty Ballerina
(CDS, 1995)
     

Bootlegs

The Dickies - Silent Night The Dickies - Dickies The Dickies - Unsafe Sex Vol. 1 The Dickies - Unsafe Sex Vol. 2 The Dickies - Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind
Silent Night (7", split with The Yobs, 1983) Dickies (LP, 1986) Unsafe Sex Vol. 1
(7", 1989)
Unsafe Sex Vol. 2
(7", 1989)
Out Of Sight. Out Of Mind (7", 1989)
The Dickies - Attack Of The 50 Ft. Dickies The Dickies - Dawn Of The Out-Take The Dickies - Live At The Wellingtons The Dickies - Money, Coke & Smack The Dickies - The Dickies Archives Vol. 1
Attack Of The 50 Ft. Dickies (7", 1989) The Dawn Of The Out-Take (7", 1989) Live At The Wellingtons
(CD, 1992)
Money, Coke & Smack (7", 1992) The Dickies Archives Vol. 1 (LP, 1998)
The Dickies - The Dickies Archives Vol. 2 The Dickies - A&M Years The Dickies - Parannoyed The Dickies - Live At The Warzone Belfast 1999  
The Dickies Archives Vol. 2 (LP, 1998) A&M Years (CD, 2000) Parannoyed
(LP, 2003)
Live At The Warzone Belfast 1999 (LP, 2005)  

Various Artists

No Wave US LP 1978 (A&M): Give It Back, You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)

No Wave UK LP 1979 (A&M): You Drive Me Ape / Hideous

The Main Event UK LP 1979 (K-Tel): Banana Splits (The Tra La La Song)

Street Level UK LP 1980 (Ronco): Banana Splits

Rock '80 Holland LP 1980 (CBS): Fan Mail

We Do 'Em Our Way UK LP 1980 (Music For Pleasure): Nights In White Satin

Flipside Vinyl Fanzine Volume 1 US LP 1984 (Gastanka): Gigantor (Live In Cleveland)

Greetings From The Sunny Beach - Best Of Closer France LP 1984 (Closer): Stukas Over Disneyland

Off Limits Germany CD 1992 (Weird System): Gigantor [Live]

The Best Of Flipside Vinyl Fanzines US 2xCD 1992 (Flipside): Gigantor (Live)

We're Desperate - The L.A. Scene (1976-79) US CD 1993 (Rhino): You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)

Slam Chops US CD 1995 (Triple X): Golden Boys

Son Of Slam Chops US CD 1997 (Triple X): Roadkill

1-2-3-4 Punk & New Wave 1976-1979 UK 5xCD 1999 (Universal): Paranoid

Short Music For Short People US CD 1999 (Fat Wreck Chords): Howdy Doody In The Woodshed

No Thanks! The '70s Punk Rebellion US 4xCD 2003 (Rhino): You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)

Live From The Masque US CD 2003 (Dionysus): Shake And Bake

Links

THE OFFICIAL DICKIES WEBSITE
WIKIPEDIA STUFF
ALL MUSIC GUIDE - Reviews Etc


 

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