THE DICTATORS with the Sinisters and the SCREAMIN' DEMONS at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Friday (May 31), 10 pm. $10. 416-598-4753.
Many rock groups try making comebacks, and most of them fail. The Dictators are among the select few who have turned the trick without embarrassment. Yet the New York wrestle-rock innovators weren't satisfied with beating the odds, as their D.F.F.D. (Norton) disc indicates. More than a respectable showing for the wiseass survivors of the CBGBs punk scene, Dictators Forever Forever Dictators is a storming return to riff-ripping form that stands proudly alongside their numbskull classics like Go Girl Crazy! and Blood Brothers.
It could be argued that, song for anthemic song, D.F.F.D. is the Dictators' strongest album ever.
"I've watched a lot of groups make comeback records," says chief songwriter Andy Shernoff from his New York pad, "and I can't think of one that I like. Generally speaking, they suck.
"The problem is that people make the mistake of trying to recreate the past, and guys in their 40s and 50s who haven't been performing regularly tend to look foolish playing rock and roll.
"We really wanted to give it our best shot on D.F.F.D. for the sake of our legacy. Each of our previous albums has elements that I like, but I can't say I really love any of them. They weren't properly produced. This time we had much more control, and we made the record we've always wanted to make."
The key to the Dictators' success is authenticity. They accept the fact that they're no longer the snotty upstarts they once were, and they're no longer trying to connect with the high school set, who'd most likely prefer to listen to hiphop anyway.
With songs like Pussy And Money, Avenue A and Moronic Inferno, the Dictators have maintained their knucklehead sense of humour and shit-kicking attitude while continuing to write about what they know.
"When I was growing up, rock and roll was the most exciting thing for a teenager to be into -- it was our fashion, our politics, our whole sense of style, really. But rock and roll is no longer perceived as cutting-edge by kids who see it being used to sell cars on TV. It's the music of their parents.
"So there was a real challenge to make a record that was powerful and relevant. We're not trying to mock teenage lifestyles any more. Instead, our songs come from an adult perspective and are perhaps a bit more sophisticated, but I think we still managed to keep the spirit of our early records."
One of D.F.F.D.'s more provocative songs is the opening throwdown, Who Will Save Rock And Roll? Although the rest of the album makes a fairly convincing case that the Dictators are down for a fight, it's going to take more than one bangin' record and a string of wall-shaking shows from the New York crew to rescue rock.
"I don't know if we can save it," allows Shernoff, "but I think we can keep it alive, like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker did with the blues. And hopefully, the next generation will take over.
"There are bands like the White Stripes, the Hellacopters and the Hives doing OK with rock and roll right now. I don't think the Strokes are a great band, but they're good and they look the part, which is half the battle, right?
"And I hear that one of them is going out with Drew Barrymore now, so, heh heh, I guess they've made it." firstname.lastname@example.org