Before Austin became the center for hipster, yuppie tech junkies and neo-noir cinematic vomit, there were three bands which were critical in launching a hardcore punk scene which evolved into an island of defiance within a sea of uber right wing conservatism, an island which still survives to this day with the local underground and the, one might say, antithesis of SXSW; Chaos In Tejas. Those three bands were MDC (Read our Dictor interview here) , Big Boys and this band; The Dicks.
The Dicks took a direct stance against the bigotry which was, not only prominent in the lone star state, but throughout the country. Singer Gary Floyd was openly gay and the lyrical content was a complete affront to the Christian sensibilities of most Americans who suckled at the teat of the machine and hungrily lapped up the cold war and religious propaganda regurgitated out of their television sets, work and schools on a daily basis; Americans who always asked for a second helping to feed their insatiable appetite for fear, hatred and war mongering...geez, I guess the times have not changed much have they?
Think about that for a moment, this wasn't CBGB's or Max's Kansas City we're talking about here, we're talking about the capitol of a "kill the Ruskies", bible-thumping state, which at the time, was for intents and purposes, the boonies of American artistic culture and a fortified stronghold for intolerance...you think it took balls to wear liberty spikes on Sunset Blvd? Think again Bubba McJones, Gary wore drag while singing "Pigs Run Wild" in a pinko communist punk band; "We're the niggers. Kill us fast. We're dying to shoot some white man's ass..."
Are you in the mood for some oldschool angry "fuck the pigs" and tell it like it is, socio-politically charged punk rawk? Well, that's just fine, because here is one of the most outstanding albums in the history of Hardcore Punk being reissued on vinyl by Alternative Tentacle Records!! That's right kids, you can get "Kill From The Heart" the first studio album from The Dicks right now and rejoice in all of its angst in rich hi-fidelity!
Back in the day, I had actually scored this album from a hand-me-down SST catalogue and I am happy to say that the rawness instilled in it from SST's in-house engineer SPOT (You can hear him sing backup vocals with others on Anti-Klan (Part Two) ) still comes through even though this repress has been expertly remastered by George Horn and Jello Biafra himself.
The thing which stuck me the most about "Kill From The Heart" when I first heard it, is that you have the intenseness of West Coast Hardcore with "Marilyn Buck" and "Bourgeois Fascist Pig", but also the more melodic touches of the NYC scene with the title track "Kill From The Heart" and "Right Wing/White Ring" as well as a bit of some southern fried twang on songs like "Anti-Klan (Part two) "... there's even some funk in there with "Dicks Can't Swim".
This isn't a mere set of punk rock tunes; as with a lot of the early bands, there is much more to it than some avant-garde, anti-establishment screaming backed by riotous drum banging and out of tune string strumming , there is an experimentation which you don't see much of in the underground anymore...for in its basic message, a message which few dared utter at the time, there was a profoundness which is almost mimicked today. Of course people can say "fuck the fascists", "screw the politicians", "equality" now, but that's because it's to be expected, it's a formula so to speak for punk...but back then it left your mouth agape and stunned you into thought. Without trying to sound like I am waxing nostalgic, there always appeared to be a wide range of musical differences between bands of that era; I think this band in particular was horribly underrated when it came to their musicianship; hell, most punk bands were until they found some kind of mainstream success or later bands paid homage to those who paved the way. If there ever was an album which deserves to be put to the turn table many times over, this is certainly one; you will certainly hear something new each time.
Along with this release, The Dicks "Hate The Police" 7" is being repressed by 1-2-3-4-GO! which you can also pick up from AT. If vinyl isn't your bag, you can buy it on CD and as a digital download as well. And the cool news about that? Those include the "Hate The Police" 7" as bonus tracks!!
You may never have had the chance to add this crucial release to your library when it first came out, or perhaps you're too young to remember, but here is an opportunity which I highly suggest you do not miss...it's an important part of the early years of hardcore punk; the music on it has stood the test of time and is just as relevant now as it was the day it was first recorded.
It's interesting to note, that the band has gotten back together in recent years and played a few gigs, and now that Austin is quite a different scene than the one Gary left for the Bay, The Dicks were inducted into the Texas Music Hall of Fame during the 2009 Austin Music Awards show...it's good to know that a band like this got the respect it deserves.
The video below is not from the new re-mastered album.