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Dolls Release The Best Album of Their Career
on 7 May 2009
If you're a rock'n'roll band who have released their fourth studio album in 36 years, you might think this was either inconsistent achievement or a labor of love.
The New York Dolls claim they are not a punk band, but before Richard Hell and the Voidoids and the Ramones were even beaten on the brat with a baseball bat, the Dolls, along with Iggy Pop, the MC5 and the Dictators, gave birth to a punk attitude that was cleverly nicked by Malcolm McLaren who, in turn, applied it to the overrated Sex Pistols.
The Dolls' new album evokes a timeless rock and roll quality that pays homage to a number of classic music genres including blues, R&B, sleazy rock and pop. What makes the album significant is how energized the band sounds. The new songs display an edgy, dirty and loose performance, just like rock'n'roll should sound.
The workd "swagger" seems to pop up in a lot of the reviews but maybe that's because the Dolls play rock'n'roll like people who walk the dog or roll out of bed. It sounds natural and organic. David Johansen puts in a remarkable performance on every song, with his Tom Waits meets Randy Newman bluesy vocals; one can't help but think of his alter ego, Buster Poindexter.
What makes the new songs retain that much needed extra "kick" is the addition of new Dolls blood in the guise of new guitarist "Steve Conte", bassist Sami Yaffa and drummer Brian Delaney. When you mix the original Dolls (Sylvain Sylvain (guitar) and Johansen) with the new kids, this is what gives the new album its dynamic.
The fact that the Dolls brought in the original producer of their 1973 debut album (Todd Rundgren) to oversee 'Cause I Sez So, is a testament to the fact that the Wizard A True Star brought the best out of the Dolls,
Rundgren's current achievement contradicts the nightmare stories about the Dolls' 1973 debut album, a time when most of the band were off their heads (with the exception of Johansen, who, according to Rundgren "was the only Doll who kept it together in the studio").
Many people still like to waffle on about "Johnny Thunders" and the drug-infused sleazy memory of what they think the original Dolls were all about. Let's hope the new album makes people come to the realization that the new songs are not just fashion or drug accessories.
From the opening track 'Cause I Sez So to Muddy Bones, Ridiculous, My World and Exorcism of Despair, and even the bluesy slowed down version of Trash, this is the kind of album you will play 10 times in a row without getting sick of it.
'Cause I Sez So is the latest chapter in a rock and roll book that continues to surprise and fascinate. If you love rock and roll, this album's got your name all over it... in rock and roll lipstick. The New York Dolls: The Next Generation. Now all we need is Iggy and the Stooges to record "Raw Power II: Return to Motor City" and we're back in business.