Grab-Bag O' Dicks
:: Dicks – Little Boy’s Feet ::
:: Dicks – Lost and Divided ::
:: Dicks – Kill from the Heart ::
The Dicks were a Communist punk band fronted by a brash, overweight, cross-dressing homosexual, and their take-no-prisoners music has always stood out to me as what punk could be when at its best. These guys were up there in the same league as Dead Kennedys and MDC, in both political awareness and just flat out, in-your-face rocking, which makes it all the more frustrating that their complete output is out of print. Yes, Alternative Tentacles did put out an extremely essential compilation several years ago, 1980-1986, but it can’t be considered great as far as retrospectives go because so much is missing. Two things must happen before there is fully any justice in the world: first, a comprehensive, 2-disc set containing every Dicks song from every Dicks record must come out, accompanied by a thick booklet of lyrics and photographs, and second, Sarah Silverman must make passionate love to me. Alas, it appears we will continue to exist in an unjust world for quite some time.
There were two incarnations of the Dicks. The first grew out the back bar at Raul’s Club in Austin, Texas, where vocalist Gary Floyd first met Glen Taylor (guitar, R.I.P.), Buxf Parrot (bass), and Pat Deason (drums). This is the line-up that left an indelible imprint with their first single, “Dicks Hate Police”, the title song being one of the most breathtaking examples of political rage and fury ever pressed onto vinyl. Mudhoney covered this song on one of their singles, and Mark Arm confesses (in the A.T. comp. liner notes) that it “remains the most shouted-out title at Mudhoney shows; eclipsing any of our own songs.” The original line-up is also found on the split with The Big Boys, “Recorded Live at Raul’s Club” and the Spot-produced SST classic, “Kill from the Heart.” The Dicks side of “Raul’s” is crucial, capturing their live intensity, as is “KFTH” for putting them on the map as barrier-smashing, raving performers of anti-homophobe, anti-cop, anti-bourgeois, anti-hate anthems.
The Dicks joined MDC, The Crucifucks, DRI, and Crucifix on the Yippie-sponsored Rock Against Reagan tour in 1983, and the three months of touring took its toll. Prior to the tour, the band had moved to San Francisco. Afterwards, Gary Floyd returned to that city, but the rest of the band decided they wanted to move back to Austin. Floyd held rehearsals and the second incarnation of the band began, with Tim Carroll (guitar), Lynn Perko (drums) and Sebastian Fuchs (bass). This edition recorded, “These People”, produced by Klaus Flouride and put out by Alternative Tentacles in 1985. There are some that deride this album, but I think it’s in the same league as “Kill from the Heart.” It’s a little cleaner, more straightforward, definitely more melodic and bluesy, yet still savage and uncompromising. And Floyd’s vocals remain soulful and passionate, even if subtly less angry. Floyd cites the reaction to their new direction as being one of the main reasons for the Dicks breakup: “we were starting to play a few slower-type songs and people were, like, "play faster" and it's like, fuck you, I'll play what I fuckin' want to play. I realized I was being put into a corner here by something that's supposed to be liberating. I'm out.”
Search your favorite record stores for the recent re-issue of their 7”, “Peace?” from 1984. It contains No Fuckin’ War, I Hope You Get Drafted, and Nobody Told Me. This ep is indispensable if you’re jonesing for anti-war songs in the War on Terra Era.
I’m putting up three selections not offered on 1980-1986 compilation. Little Boy’s Feet is a raunchy and twisted little ditty about pedophilia off of “Kill from the Heart.” Lost and Divided is just as relevant today as it was when it came out in 1985 on “These People.” Lastly, a gorgeous version of Kill from the Heart, off of a Selfless Records 2x7” issued in 1990. That set had three songs apiece taken from the original “Recorded Live at Raul’s” album, and they threw in an additional song per band, recorded at the same shows, that didn’t appear on the original release (KFTH being the Dicks additional song).