So what do you say about a great band's worst album? After the Dictators
often-inspired debut album, The Dictators Go Girl Crazy!
, went over the heads of the record-buying public and landed with a thud (punk not having given its blend of oddball humor and big guitars a context just yet), they were dropped by their record label and, after signing with Elektra, played things a bit "safer" with their follow-up, 1977's Manifest Destiny
. Songwriter and idea man Andy Shernoff
moved from bass to keyboards, with Mark "The Animal" Mendoza
picking up the four string and Handsome Dick Manitoba
advancing from "secret weapon" to periodic lead vocalist (though Shernoff
was still doing most of the singing). And Shernoff
toned down his goofball world view and taste for high-energy riffage on several tunes, most on notably half-baked would-be arena rockers "Stepping Out" and "Exposed," and ill-advised heartbroken pop tunes "Sleepin' With the T.V. On" (nowhere near as good as its title) and the ludicrous "Hey Boys." The album's four good songs handily point out just how far wrong the other five went; "Disease" features a hilarious spoken introduction from Manitoba
that justifies the album's existence all by its lonesome, and the disc ends with a superb hat trick -- "Science Gone Too Far" and "Young, Fast, Scientific" are stone classic Dictators
performances, and the closing cover of the Stooges
' "Search and Destroy" is inspired. While the 2004 CD reissue of Manifest Destiny
doesn't add any bonus material to the album, at least now you can easily program out the filler and get to the four slabs of top-shelf Dictators
lurking among the dross, proving there may be a good reason for digital technology after all.