The Dwarves - Lick It / Free Cocaine
Recess Records



I'll admit it, the nudity originally got me hooked. After seeing the Dwarves' 7" for "I Will Deny"
numerous times at my local indie record store, I finally picked it up. Just for the picture on the
front cover, I imagined the disc would be worth it. Boy was I right. That 7" rocked like nothing
else, and I wish my college radio station didn't have to abide by FCC regulations so I could play
it on-air. Anyhow, that 7" led to my purchase of the Dwarves "Young and Good Looking" LP and at
that point I knew there was no turning back. As of right now, I haven't picked up the Dwarves
reissues on Sub Pop, but once I get some money, you can bet I will.

Anyhow, The Dwarves have recently put out two CDs on Recess Records chronicalling their early years. The first disc, Lick It, subtitled the psychedelic years, takes tracks recorded from 1983-1986 in the Dwarves' original home of Illinois. At 34 tracks long, it's hard not have a few good tracks. And good tracks the Dwarves have! Whether singing to an ex-girlfriend (Get Out of My Life) or covering the Clash (Brand New Cadillac), the Dwarves sound great. This is not, however, the Dwarves that I knew and loved from "Young and Good Looking." This disc is subtitled the psychedelic years for a good reason. In addition to the heavy riffs I was used to hearing from the Dwarves, a keyboard was added in, making the Dwarves sound like a garage rock version of the Doors. Think about it -- The Doors could, in an alcoholic slur, sound somewhat like the Doors. And Jim Morrison acted like a religous icon of sorts whereas Blag Dahlia went by the name Blag Jesus on this release. Are the Dwarves a reincarnation of the Doors? You be the judge.
Disc two is entitled "Free Cocaine" and covers 1986-1988. The band sounds very different than on "Lick It." In 1986 the Dwarves moved to San Francisco, and it shows. On this disc, the Dwarves sound more like a drunk, drugged, and debauched version of the Dead Kennedys than the Doors. "Free Cocaine" has 39 tracks of fast and furious punk rock. There are multiple versions of some songs on this disc, but fortunately the Dwarves were smart enough to put one version near the beginning and the other near the end. So by the time the flurry of punk rock has taken you from point a to point b, you damn near forget you ever were at point a and you enjoy point b that much more. "Free Cocaine" compiles three 7"s (Lucifers Crank, I Wanna Kill Your Boyfriend, and That's Rock n' Roll) and one 12" (Toolin For A Warm Teabag). I think most of that stuff is out of print though, so this is your best chance to hear it.
All in all, listening to these two discs back to back is a fun experience to see how the band has changed over a period of five years in the 80s. And then to pop in "Young and Good Looking," really rocks my life. I think the Dwarves have a new album coming out this summer on Epitaph, and you can bet I'll be in line to get it on release day.
...john heisel...

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