Friday, May 22, 2009

New York Dolls album review

New York Dolls
‘Cause I Sez So

When the New York Dolls emerged from NYC in 1971, few people knew what to make of the guys’ brash attitude, androgynous image and ramshackle sound that predated punk. The original lineup released two criminally ignored albums during their first brief incarnation and helped kick-start a local underground scene later to include Blondie, Talking Heads and the Ramones. Future new wave/glam metal bands tore a page from the Dolls’ visual stylebook; everyone from the Sex Pistols and R.E.M. to Dramarama and Morrissey cited them as an influence.

The latter singer – onetime president of the U.K. fan club and Dolls’ biographer - was responsible for the 2004 reunion. One Day it Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the first new music from the reconstituted group (founding members David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain) since 1974, arrived two years later. It was an excellent, mature spin on the crash and burn energy of yore.

On current studio effort ‘Cause I Sez So, producer Todd Rundgren returns (he helmed the classic eponymous debut) and helps the band find a satisfying balance between youthful swagger and seasoned life lessons. Signature song “Trash” gets a laid-back reggae revamp. Sylvain and Steve Conte provide wicked dual guitar interplay throughout (a bluesy “This is Ridiculous,” crunching rock maelstrom “Exorcism of Despair,” the barnburning title track, where Johansen sings in a playful rage about intrusive cameras).

Standouts include a pair of haunting tunes (Ennio Morricone-styled “Temptation to Exist,” “Drowning,” a nod to Eric Burdon), plus the feisty rock ‘n’ soul vibe in “Nobody Got No Bizness.” Here, Johansen vamps like only he can. Key line: “watch our style, it’s kicking like a mule.” ‘Nuff said.

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