by Peter Aaron
Released in 1975—a year before the Ramones’ first LP—the Dictators’ debut, Go Girl Crazy!, was way ahead of the curve. In a time when big-selling acts were concerned with getting back to the land or telling tales from topographic oceans, the music world was simply not ready for a band that looked like juvenile delinquents and rocked hard while celebrating teen frustrations, trash TV, and fast food. The Dictators disintegrated when Go Girl Crazy! met with tepid response, but were soon back together when the CBGB scene began to coalesce. Two more masterpieces followed, 1977’s Manifest Destiny and 1978’s Bloodbrothers, before the group went back into hibernation, only emerging for the occasional New York gig. In the 1990s the Dictators became an active proposition once again, touring Europe and in 2001 releasing D.F.F.D. ("Dictators Forever, Forever Dictators"), which many fans consider the quintet’s best album. Now a solo artist, Shernoff, a former SUNY New Paltz student, has been playing low-key shows that interweave Dictators classics with new songs and remembrances from his career as a punk godfather.
In this clip, Shernoff performs D.F.F.D.’s “Who Will Save Rock and Roll?” at this year’s Joey Ramone Birthday Bash at New York’s Bowery Electric: