Dicks -Dicks – Kill From The Heart (SST Records) 1981. I don’t think I need to give any introduction to The Dicks. If you are unaware of their status as one of the best bands ever in the history of recorded music, then you are about to be educated. I am saying this with absolutely no sarcasm or irony. I mean it. Most of you are familiar with The Dicks though because The Dicks Hate Police 7inch has been posted on Good Bad Music, a site you all must go to.
Kill From The Heart on the other hand, gets less exposure. It, along with the Stains LP, represent the two great lost SST albums of the early 1980′s. What happened with these albums? Why were they so criminally under-released?
I first heard Kill From The Heart in Tulsa when I was 18. I had been familiar with The Dicks before that primarily from their song “I Hope You Get Drafted” off of the MRR Peace Comp. I loved that song for many reasons. First of all, musically it had this great X-style rockabilly swagger to it that sort of set it apart from any other hardcore song on the Peace Comp (which was a great hardcore comp). Second, the lyrics to that song were pure fuckin’ genius. The idea of these bad-ass American cowboy jock types talking shit about bombing middle eastern countries when they know damn well they wouldn’t have to put their lives on the line was completely relevant in the Reagan 80′s and is sadly even more relevant today with rich boy George “Bring It On” Bush in the White House.
Kill From The Heart was given to me on a cassette by a friend and I didn’t even know the song titles. Eventually the tape wore out.
If you haven’t heard Kill From The Heart, you are in for a treat. The Dicks were, at a certain point in time, the greatest band in the world. They managed to marry punk rock with this dusty, western vibe in the most unique and talented way. Their first 7inch set the template; when singer Gary Floyd gets to the chorus and belts out “You can’t fight justice, it’ll fight you”, he might as well be fuckin’ Billy The Kid or something.
..Well, if Billy The Kid was a 400 pound homosexual transvestite communist, that is.
Cuz yeah, Gary was as “out” as “out” could be, which was really jarring at the time when contrasted with the macho bluesy swagger of his vocals. The rest of the band in the early Texas incarnation of the band were Buxf Parrot on bass, Pat Deason on drums and Glen Taylor on guitar and they looked like the kind of Texas good ol’ boys who would string a guy like Gary up and hang him. THEN…the band would play shows in front of a giant red communist flag. In Texas. In the 1970s.
So visually, The Dicks were totally arresting. The kinda band you see a photo of and you pause for a moment and go, ‘how the hell is this even possible?’
And by the time they recorded Kill From The Heart they had perfected the commie, faggot, redneck, agit-prop thing to the hilt and they just let it all loose in the studio. After hearing it, I know it completely changed the style I played guitar. Glen Taylor plays that thing like he’s trying to strangle a cat. It just squalls and squeals all over the fucking place. Pat and Buxf lay down this loose rhythm underneath while Gary belts out lyrics about shooting pigs, licking boys feet, and rich daddies. In fact, “Rich Daddy” may be the archetypal Dicks song in that it unites all of these elements to create something akin to punk soul music.
The rest of the story has been told a million times (it’s an old fuckin’ story). Gary moves the band to San Francisco. The rest of the band goes back to Texas. Gary forms a new Dicks who record a good but disappointing follow up album. He just couldn’t replicate the musical genius of the original band no matter how fucking great his vocals were. The Dicks were a Texas band fer chrissakes.