Go Girl Crazy! How The Dictators created a classic
40 years on from its release, we take a look back at one of rock's forgotten cornerstones
There’s no denying New York was the cultural capital of the world in 1976. The history of hip-hop, disco, and punk all began with pioneering bands and artists cutting their teeth in the city’s live music venues during that time, and the beating heart of the city’s alternative rock‘n’roll scene was an old biker bar and hangout spot for winos and junkies situated in the East Village: the now defunct CBGB. It was in this famed music venue that The Ramones, Blondie, Talking Heads, Television and Patti Smith laid the foundations of what would soon become known as punk.
The connection between punk music and New York can be traced back even further, to the band that arguably started the entire alternative rock movement, the Velvet Underground. The development of the genre relates not just to NYC but also the Motor City of Detroit, where protopunk legends the MC5 and The Stooges hailed from, and Cleveland, Ohio, which gave birth to the influential Rocket From The Tombs, and the two renowned punk bands that rose from their ashes: Pere Ubu and The Dead Boys.
But in terms in New York, and the illustrious CBGB punk scene that indisputably changed the face of twentieth century rock‘n’roll, two key groups had a direct influence on the bands beginning to infiltrate the city’s clubs during the mid-Seventies. The first was the widely praised New York Dolls, whose self-titled debut album (released in 1973) is commonly acknowledged as a proto-punk classic. The other was The Dictators, and their role in the development of the genre has been criminally disregarded. Their first full-length studio album (1975) was equally as important, forming the main bridge between bands like the New York Dolls and the first wave of punk bands that came through CBGB from 1976 onwards.
Fabulously titled Go Girl Crazy!, the songs were succinct, fast, tight, funny, cartoonish and aggressive — a blueprint for the Ramones — while the look was a more toned-down, streetwise take on the glam-inspired sleaze developed by the Dolls. The record was a rampant celebration of New York’s junk culture, dating back to the beatniks who inhabited the city during the first youth movement of the Fifties, and its subject matter is the true embodiment of unruly rock‘n’roll: juvenile delinquency.