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Rock bands from Illinois are invariably assumed to be from Chicago. Didjits are no exception. Chicago was the home of Didjits’ record label Touch and Go Records. It was home to early Didjits influences Naked Raygun, The Effigies, and Big Black. An early champion of Didjits, Steve Albini was located in Chicago. While those outside the region may find it hard to imagine an Illinois outside of Chicago, Illinois is nearly 400 miles north to south and over 200 miles east to west. Driving time from Carbondale (home of Southern Illinois University) to Memphis or Nashville is only half of that required to journey from Carbondale to Chicago. If you stop midway between Carbondale and Chicago, you’ll find the east central Illinois communities of Sullivan, Mattoon and Decatur. These small cities, dominated by rural factories and massive tracts of farmland, provided a bleak backdrop and even bleaker prospects for anyone starting a punk band in 1983. Surrounded by endless miles of corn and soybeans, Didjits were very much all alone.

In the beginning, Didjits would practice and record inside a chicken shed in Sullivan, IL. Between this initial version of the band and the classic line-up of Rick Sims, Brad Sims and Doug Evans, there was UXB - a punkier expression of the earliest Didjits. At first the recordings were only test runs, but eventually the band began to release legitimate cassette-only releases. The bonus LP included with this limited RSD vinyl pressing features very early remixed four-track recordings rescued by Steve Albini and Rick Sims which show both subtle cues as well as and direct revelations to the final Didjits sound.

Eventually the band found their audience when they relocated to Champaign, IL, home to the University of Illinois and an oasis of culture (or sub-culture). Even with this more welcoming locale, their rural Illinois roots continued to inform many of the characters they reimagined in song…a guy who shot his dog (“Pet Funeral”), a drunk Vietnam vet screaming that he had a plate in his head (“Plate In My Head”), trailer bound husbands screaming at their scared wives to be fed (“Fix Some Food Bitch”), Midwest car culture machoism (“Max Wedge”).

Didjits combined a love of hard rock (AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Cheap Trick), punk (Sex Pistols and, importantly, the metallic art show of The Plasmatics), and fifties rock and roll (specifically Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard) into a brand that was, as Dexter Holland from the Offspring correctly describes, “a teetering train about to go off the rails”. Chaotic live shows would have guitarist and vocalist Rick Sims skillfully turning the audience against him, adding to the frenzy of the stop-on-a-dime crazed rock that they were slowly perfecting. Early Didjits supporter Jello Biafra would marvel at their ability to alienate the audience of gathered stock punks yet still leaving them slack jawed and hearing impaired.

Starting in 1988, Didjits released five full-length albums on Touch and Go Records (including a reissue of their 1986 self-released debut album, Fizzjob) along with two singles and an EP. MTV videos, sold out clubs, tours of Europe and North America followed - ending in 1994 (ironically the same year The Offspring released the platinum selling Smash containing a cover of “Killboy Powerhead” from Didjits 1990 release Hornet Pinata).

On April 20, 2024, Touch and Go Records will release Strictly Dynamite: The Best of Didjits. Pressed on 180-gram opaque green vinyl, this double LP represents an archival legacy of the band from early beginnings in rural Illinois to their dissolution over a decade later. The tracks selected for side A/B compile 17 fan favorites from Didjits’ Touch and Go discography on a single LP. The bonus LP, entitled Bring Me the Head of Jaco Pastorius, includes the unreleased four-track recordings from UXB as well as early unreleased (pre-Fizzjob) Didjits’ recordings. In addition, the full-color gatefold LP jacket and printed inner sleeves reveal unseen photos and memorabilia from the band’s history. Strictly Dynamite: The Best of Didjits on double green vinyl is limited to 1500 copies and will be available in conjunction with Record Store Day in the US as well as at independent retailers outside of the US.

Strictly Dynamite is dedicated to the memory of Doug Evans. 

Track Listing

Side 1
1. Killboy Powerhead  2. Max Wedge  3. Stingray  4. Captain Ahab 
5. Plate In My Head  6. Gold Eldorado  7. (Mama Had A) Skullbaby 
8. Under the Christmas Fish  9. Evel Knieval  10. Fire In the Hole

Side 2
 1. Who's Ready To Get High  2. Jerry Lee  3. Headless  4. Top Fuel 
5. Pet Funeral  6. Joliet  7. Dad  8. Que Sirhan Sirhan

Side 3
 1. High Powered Rifle  2. Feel Like A Zombie (UXB)  3. Melvin Takes A Dive 
4. Adolescent Hormones  5. Beating the Dog (UXB)  6. Syphillis (UXB) 
7. Jumbo Macho Big  8. She Had My Baby

Side 4
 1. Wuh (UXB)  2. Rebap 25  3. I Fought the War (UXB) 
4. Here Comes the Cat (UXB)   5. See My Scar  6. Big Mama  7. Chantilly Lace 
8. Fix Some Food Bitch (Whoop My Head Version)

Find participating stores and more information:  recordstoreday.com  

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