Read Hard’s Classic Pop Punk Picks # 9: The Dickies- The Dawn of the Dickies

Posted: June 17, 2014 in Read Hard's Classic Pop Punk Picks

I’d feel like a poser saying I heard of the Dickies because NOFX did two covers of them in their 7 inch of the month club, so I won’t say that as it isn’t actually true. I did however in 2004 check the Fat wreck chords website for bands to listen to and I think it was in October after having just turned 15 I would watch the commercials on the site, and saw the one for All This and Puppet Stew which I thought was a hilarious title. I also got the Fat comp “Physical Fatness” in 2005, which I think was the first LP I ever bought and their song “My pop the cop” was on it. And realizing NOFX (whose album Punk in Drublic will be up in a few weeks) covered “Fan Mail” made me check out the original and I thought it was great. I went to an awesome record shop in Edinburgh in 2008 and saw bunch of Dickies LP’s and picked one, after a while I realized I had actually bought a record by a band called The Dickless ( what a name), so I had to go and swap it and got Dawn of the Dickies instead.

Dawn of the Dickies was released in October 1979 and the band is dressed up as zombies as the title is a parody of Dawn of the Dead. Though an American band, they had two small hits in the UK; “Fan Mail” and the Moody blues cover “Nights in White Satin”. The Dickies are often mentioned as one of the few pop punk bands from the early days of punk. Every band was basically pop punk back then, and people say there wasn’t much talk of “Pop punk” and “Punk rock” or “hardcore punk” back then, but the Dickies has so much more pop sensibilities than the other bands at the time along with the Undertones and Buzzcocks. A lot of their songs are just straight up pop songs.

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1. “Where Did His Eye Go?”: With its saxophone intro “Where Did His Eye Go?” is a silly song that starts up this album. The saxophone is extremely catchy and so is the melody; for a listener not familiar with the band I’m sure some would even find it a bit annoying. Great opener!

2. “Fan Mail”: When I first heard this song it felt like it was a sixties pop song and I guess that’s how I still feel about it. The song satirizes the way a lot of fans view their favorite bands and have to know everything about them to a point where it becomes creepy and stalkery. And set to a really catchy melody, it makes a sweet pop song.

3. “Manny, Moe, Jack”: The most “punk” song on the album and the melody is wonderful. The song is about an automobile repair shop. It starts up with an iconic car ignition and ends with a car-crash. This is similar to what the likes of the Toy Dolls would do later and I think the bizarre and silly humor that is expressed in the song has also inspired later pop punk and punk bands.

4. “Infidel Zombie”: This is my favorite song on the album and my favorite Dickies song all over. With its spy-movie intro and an even more catchy sixties pop chorus than “Fan Mail”. It’s really hard to tell what they are singing at times. Reading the lyrics, I realize that they are great. The lyrics to “Infidel zombie” are as clever as they are confusing. It’s like you are in the middle of a Spy vs zombie movie and the protagonist is going to get killed and that it’s all a metaphor for a relationship. The song really fits the zombie theme of the album.

5. “I’m a Chollo”: The lyrics to this song however, are extremely silly and both the music and the words seems inspired by the Ramones and like “Suzie is a head banger” there comes a part that seems really inspired by the Rolling stones. This song with the exception of The Killer klowns from outter space album/EP one of their longest songs. Even if most people associate Dickies with shorts.

6. “Nights in White Satin”: A cover of the Moody blues and the only cover on the album. The first album had a lot more covers on it like “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath and “She” by the Monkees and “Eve of Destruction” by Barry Mcguire. The band did indeed start releasing mostly covers and their biggest hit was their cover of “the tra la la song”(charted nr.7 in the UK) from the Banana Splits. “Nights in White Satin” was their second biggest hit and charted nr. 39.

7. “(I’m Stuck in a Pagoda with) Tricia Toyota”: The song is a very Japanese sounding song, using a Japanese instrument. The song is about being in love with Japanese-American news anchor Tritia Toyota. A Pagoda is a tower that is often associated with Asian countries. I saw a copy of a Pagoda in the English garden in Munich recently, and they are interesting buildings. The song also describes how people have narcissistic obsessions about people they see on TV which is a link to “Fan Mail”. The band also later made a song called “(I’m stuck in a condo with) Marlon Brando”.

8. “I’ve Got a Splitting Hedachi”: Another straight up pop punk song. I have no idea what hedachi means, but it also seems to be something Japanese and it might be just another way of writing “headache”. It might be the most underrated song on the album. Maybe the most sexual lyrics on the album, with lyrics like “you said that you would give me head
but I’d rather watch Johnny instead”

9. “Attack of the Molemen”: The song starts up very psychedelic and continues in the 60’s pop genre. The song is about Atlantis and the creatures living on this mythical sunken island called the molemen, and this one also has a catchy chorus. The song has a really nice organ that makes the garage pop sound complete and psychedelic and also quite creepy build up before the light hearted and nice organ comes in. It fits into the horror theme of the song. It also makes you feel like you are in some kind of nightmare.

10. “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not”: Another more Ramones-esque song. It also feels like they are going into their cover of “Silent Night”. It is the shortest song on the album. The song only has three lines and two of them are in the title. In the end it feels like the record is skipping, because it’s being repeated for so long. Not their most genius song, but it’s a great fade out.

Even if the Dickies is a band that gets mentioned a lot in the punk world, this is definitely an underrated album and I think it’s an album every punk or pop punk fan should check out. I do, however, wonder if that Dickless record is any good. The next album is Green day’s classic “Kerplunk”.

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