Album Review: Handsome Dick Manitoba - Born In The Bronx

 

HANDSOME DICK MANITOBA

Born In The Bronx

Liberation Hall

 

 

The 1970’s punk rock scene in New York was corner stoned by the legendary CBGB’s, but fueled by the great bands that took their love of 1950’s & 60’s rock-n-roll and pushed it into their modernized brand of punk rock: The Ramones, Richard Hell & The Voidoids, and The Dictators. Fast-forward to today, and longtime front man of The Dictators, Handsome Dick Manitoba, solidifies his legendary status with the release his debut solo album Born In The Bronx. From the moment the album opens with “Shelley,” and continues ahead with “Back To My TV,” you’re introduced to the bop-a-long with rock-n-roll that’s been missing from the punk rock scene for far too long; a trait that’s also shown through the type of guitar riffs that would make Chuck Berry proud on “Layers Down.” But Manitoba proves he’s not a one-trick pony by including several different influences throughout this album; a clap-a-long with groove on the doo-wop styled “8th Avenue Serenade,” the blues heavy “Soul Punk King of NYC,” and the all-out, classic punk rocker “Callie May.” However, the two centerpieces of the album come when Manitoba gets autobiographical on the sway-a-long with title track, “Born In The Bronx,” and with the very smart cover of P.F. Sloan’s “Eve of Destruction” - the latter which presents a poignant protest lyric originally penned in 1964, which outlines very similar concerns for today’s world, just as much as back then. Manitoba’s vocals are gritty and raw and add that rough around the edges feel to each song and honesty to every lyric. While this album is certainly dripping with a healthy dose of nostalgia, it’s also a great showcase of the elements that came together to give punk rock its origins as it pays homage to all the different aspects of good, old-fashioned, rock-n-roll.

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