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The Dickies - Stukas Over Disneyland

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Artist: The Dickies

Album: Stukas Over Disneyland

Label: Overground

Review date: Apr. 19, 2005

The Dickies were among the first L.A. punk bands to get signed to a major label. It's still easy to see why. Goofy and friendly, with tight harmonies and a way with guitar hooks, they weren't that far off from the radio rock of the late '70s. They could come up with choruses big enough to rival Cheap Trick and their frantic tempos were more about distraction than destruction.

Two albums came out in 1979, each one a string of sing-alongs. They grew rapidly, especially for a band started as a joke by some roadies for the now-forgotten Quick. They even broke the charts in England with a cover of the Banana Splits kids show theme. Then their drummer shot himself.

Stukas Over Disneyland strides two sessions, with four songs from before the suicide and four from 1983, but the same styles and attitude inform both sessions. There are two power pop numbers that rank with the best of the era: "Rosemary" is driven by Beach Boys melodies and a Beatlesque bridge, with a ringing guitar figure tying it all together, and "Pretty Please Me,” from 1983, has heavier guitars and a thinner conceit, but the dynamics between the super-sweet vocals and the faster tempo work great. It was also brought over from the Quick, whose guitarist joined the band.

But the Dickies most dubious legacy is represented here as well: the punked-out classic rock cover. After speeding up Black Sabbath and the Moody Blues on earlier records, they take on "Communication Breakdown" to even lesser effect. When they went for laughs, it was a mixed bag: "She's a Hunchback" and the ode-to-my-dick "If Stuart Could Talk" aren't quite as slapdash as the Zeppelin cover, though. Genuinely amusing, their attitude has been mimicked enough times to erase any distinctive traits. The title track, like something from the Grease soundtrack gone very wrong, still hits the right tone.

By Ben Donnelly

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