Thrown together in 1974 as a kind of tribute to The MC-5, The Stooges, The Flamin' Groovies, and The New York Dolls, The Dictators was a great barroom rock 'n' roll band that soon gained notoriety of its own. But rock was beginning to grow lethargic and for any number of reasons the band wallowed in relative obscurity before its breakup.
The band never really went away, though. Various lineups aside, it's always been around. There has always been a place for The Dictators --- now more than ever.
Viva Dictators is a recently recorded live album that flies in the pimply face of contemporary rock (or punk rock, as some still call it). With its ragged wisdom and a we-live-in-NYC-and-we're-gonna-die-herestance, the band blasts through 17 cuts culled from shows at The Bowery Ballroom and Maxwell's. Tracks like "New York, New York," "Pussy And Money," and "Who Will Save Rock & Roll," are full of the raw power that has always characterized the band live. Handsome Dick Manitoba's boastful throaty roar and Ross The Boss' wailing guitar and barroom bar-chord crunch make this a great record for punks and rockers who were there, and for those who still are.
--- Frank De Blase
Common's latest effort, Be, has the Top Hip-Hop Record of 2005 spot locked. With ill beats and raw rhymes throughout, Com's got you covered with the storytelling tune ("Testify"), the hard-hitting street themes ("The Corner"), the questions about God to make you think ("Faithful"), and the song about love (my favorite track, "Love is..."). Not to mention him straight rhyming his ass off on the semi-autobiographical "It's Your World." The man isn't claiming perfection, though. He makes it known (many times) that the sleeper LP Electric Circus was too spacey for most, but he's "back."
Other than some lyrical masturbation by his Chi-Town "brother from another mother" Kanye West and the Honey Comb sample that HAS to grow on you on "Testify," it's a solid, short, and sweet 11 tracks of pure fire. Also features John Legend, John Mayer, Bilal, and J Dilla on the beats.