After the plaudits currently heaped on the Dolls' first album (more now than then), it's easy to overlook the fact that they recorded a second before they imploded in a mess of lipstick and heroin. How does it fare today?
Pretty well, really. It's more tongue in cheek than the first, with tracks like "Bad Detective" and (especially) "Stranded in the Jungle" verging on the Vaudevillean - perhaps Johansen was giving his not-entirely-serious Buster Poindexter persona an early airing without letting the rest of the band in on the secret?
There are some classic Dolls' rockers, with "Babylon" (NYC, of course), "Puss and Boots" and "Who Are The Mystery Girls?" more than standing comparison with the best on the first album. It has to be said that there are a couple of duffers too - "It's Too Late" is plain dull, while Johnny Thunders' (probably not his real name...) vocal on "Chatterbox" is embarrassingly weak in comparison to Johansen's arrogant, taunting snarl. (Thunders fans are cordially invited to try the Heartbreaker's "LAMF" as an antidote).
The album closes with a couple of stormers. "Don't Start Me Talking" is a stomping, old-style r'n'b number credited to Sonny Boy Williamson, which sets the scene for the album's (and for me, the Dolls') finest track, "Human Being". It's a crude, bellowing roar with a honking sax and a great vocal from Johansen, which epitomises the band's up-yours, in-your-face attitude: "Well if you don't like me, go ahead, find yourself a saint, go ahead now, try to find a boy who's gonna be what I ain't, and what you need is a plastic doll with a brash coat of paint who's gonna sit through the madness and always act so quaint" - and it gets better from there on in. The track sums up the band perfectly, and closed the career of a group that did indeed sample far too much, far too soon (three of them died young, not something to be proud of), but one that has had an influence far out of proportion to anything they dared dream of.