The Dictators – Live At WCMF-FM – 1977
The Dictators live in session – WCMF-FM, Rochester New York – September 26, 1977 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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For aficionados of early Punk, a set from New York’s very own Dictators, featuring Handsome Dick Manitoba, recorded live at WCMF-FM, Rochester New York on September 26, 1977.
Celebrated as one of the seminal bands of the New York Punk scene, The Dictators were more of a band “heard about” than actually heard. I remember when they were first signed to Epic and the label was promoting them. The Dictators were Hard Rock, not Metal – and maybe that was the problem – mainstream record labels have historically gotten things wrong as far as marketing is concerned. But in their defense, there was no Punk movement going on in the U.S.at the time (1973). There was Glam and there was Metal, and it was a bit later that an alliance of sorts was formed and the two more or less morphed into each other. But The Dictators were a hard sell, especially to an audience getting its feet wet with T. Rex and David Bowie. So in retrospect, it’s not that hard to understand why they called it quits briefly before re-appearing and laying the groundwork for what would become the New York Punk scene.
The Dictators live has been well documented, with numerous concert and club gigs recorded and preserved over the years. I’m not sure if this radio studio gig at WCFM in Rochester New York has been issued in any form, but it gives a pretty accurate flavor of the band and the ear-splitting sonics they were knee-deep in.
Their legacy has grown considerably over the years. Critic John Dougan said that they were “one of the finest and most influential proto-punk bands to walk the earth.” And their debut album, “The Dictators Go Girl Crazy” from 1975 has been considered the holy grail of sorts, since it’s been out of print for decades and never sold that well to begin with, which means there’s not that many copies floating around.
If you’ve missed them the first time around or they’ve fallen off your radar – here’s a reminder of what Loud and Snotty sounded like in the 1970s. Since this show is being recorded live, the mixer is doing it on the fly and, even though the vocals are clear, the rest of the band descends into electronic mush occasionally. Such is the state of live gigs sometimes.