New York Dolls
New York Dolls


4.0
excellent

Review

by tom79 USER (76 Reviews)
May 17th, 2006 | 36 replies | 10,559 views


Release Date: 1973 | Tracklist


6 of 6 thought this review was well written

The genre many know today as punk rock goes back a long way, over thirty years. Many say it began with "proto punk" bands such as The MC5, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges in Michigan during the late sixties. These bands brought something very different into most music happening at the time. Contrary to many pop bands with a clean image; they brought sleaze, attitude, recluse lyrics and a dirty raw sound. While owing great debt to The Rolling Stones and the previous mentioned bands as influences, new similar bands started to gain recognition and popularity (though not mainstream of course) and people were starting to notice what was happening on the scene. Simultaneously in New York, bands like Television, The Ramones and this band, The New York Dolls were formed and would further develop the genre. Each member of the New York Dolls was playing in local bands around New York City in the early seventies before finally forming in late 1971. Various line up changes occurred prior to the bands final members which included original drummer Billy Mercia who died of a drug overdose, being replaced by a drummer by the name of Jerry Nolan and original guitarist Rick Rivetts who was replaced by Sylvain Slyvain a few months after the band's origin. Finally the band was set, with these new members along with David Johansen on lead vocals with Johnny Thunders on guitar, and Arthur Kane on bass to complete the classic lineup. The New York Dolls' New York Dolls is listed at # 213 on Rolling Stone Magazine's 500 greatest albums of all time.

Something that stood apart from the New York Dolls compared to other bands was their very strange appearance. The band's infatuation with cross dressing drew influence from the original glam rocker himself, David Bowie (among others), and both would often be cited as stage setters to the countless glam-metal bands years later in the eighties who would dress the part as well. But it was the wardrobe that would tend to scare record labels into signing them. But eventually, the New York Dolls were signed to the Mercury label, and would record their debut self titled album to be released in the summer of '73. And while this album (or the band) isn't a basic punk album by many's standard's, it's influence goes far and they're are elements of punk here that would later be expanded on by other bands. The album, consisting of eleven tracks, is fairly long one for this many songs, with only one song under three minutes to the almost six minute Frankenstein. This debut album shows why they are one of the pioneers of the genre and why this is essential to a fan of rock and roll or punk, regardless if it sounds like anything today. Many musical elements come into play here including pop, blues, punk to rock & roll with the effective use of other instruments such as the piano and harmonica making for a unique sound. Lead singer Dave Johansen doesn't have the most technically skilled voice, but fits the music well with his harsh vocals with a touch of humor, and ability to hit different notes as well. His lightly toned voice on Lonely Planet Boy contrasts well with his harsh vocals on Personality Crisis, and shows two different sides. And the band itself, while again not being the greatest at their respective instruments, delivers a solid performance, especially for the time of the album and the sound production at the time. The two guitarists, the popular Johnny Thunders and Syl Sylvain are able to play various raw punk style riffs like on Vietnamese Baby, and bluesy ones demonstrated on Jet Boy. And there are not very many solos, but there is the odd one thrown in here and there, which are done well, most noticeably on Bad Girl. Bassist Arthur Kane's best work shows on tracks like Looking for a Kiss and Trash. And lastly, drummer Jerry Nolan is a key part to the band, obviously as being the drummer, but one of the better musicians in the band. He keeps it simple, but shines through on songs like Bad Girl and Pills. But on the downfall, sometimes the production makes it difficult to really show his best work, and it's sometimes overshadowed by the guitars.

Lyrically, the band covers a variety of subjects, ranging from the meaningful to the plain silly. Leaning more to the silly side. The album opener Personality Crisis talks about trying to be someone you're not, or around the lines of these, and fit into the music on the scene. Other songs like Subway Train tell what sounds like personal stories with lyrics like "We was all riding, right on the Subway Train, and you can hear the captain shouting, He thinks I've gone insane". But sometimes, David slurs the lyrics, making them difficult to understand at times, but in a way you can still understand where he's coming from. A main part of the words here deal with something that reflects the bands appearance, something that would be dominant in later hair metal bands, that being raunchy lyrics that sound as though Poison could have sang them a decade later. Songs like these make it clear in the titles, Looking for a Kiss, Bad Girl, and Lonely Planet Boy. Although they aren't the greatest lyrics, they're pretty humorous and make for a fun listen with lyrics from Bad Girl like "A new bad girl, who get on my block I gave her my keys, said don't bother to knock, I said c'mon, ya got what I need" and from Looking for a Kiss: "You think it's bad, but you know that its true; So why don't let me live baby; When I'm lookin' for a kiss". To sum it up in short, lyric-wise there is something for every occasion, the fun, and the serious, to the ridiculous.

Although the New York Dolls were only around for a short period of time in their prime, they left their mark and some signature songs. And this album has most of the best tunes they made in their day. The album opener Personality Crisis sets a fun filled tone with the howling of Dave over the guitar riff and piano complete with the backing vocal effect in the chorus. Needless to say, it starts the album in a good way, and makes for a memorable song too. Probably the best song on the album, or at least my favorite would have to be Vietnamese Baby, probably the most punk-esque type song here, but still hinting various other genres. It doesn't really have the fun of the other songs, but loses it for the better I think. Built around a brooding riff, with admirable guitar work, it is definitely one of the better here. Subway Train and Trash both exemplify the band's ability to play great rock songs. Trash is extremely catchy, driven by Kane's bass hook, and Dave's immense vocals, backed up by the band. Subway Train follows along the same lines as Trash, but a tempo down a notch. The instrumental work is nothing really special here and even sounds messy at times in the chorus, but brings a very mellow feel in the verse. Both songs are pleasant additions to the album.

But not every here song can be up to standards of the preceding ones. The slower Lonely Planet Boy shows the band trying something different but seems out of place. The 'glam-rock ballad' is sung well and calmly, but drags on at it long at over four minutes, and with no real change of pace. The record also features a Bo Diddley cover, the very bluesy Pills. With some very odd lyrics along with some distorted guitar and harmonica (or what sounds like), it is one of the heavier songs on the album as well as the shortest, but not a lesser track. The longest song on the album, Frankenstein, at over five and a half minutes, it has one of Johansen's best vocals displays on the album, as he sings with intensity and power as it builds up. It is quite heavy, and although doesn't seem to drag on. Like Vietnamese Baby, this one has a more serious feel to it. The album closer Jet Boy ends the album on a rocking note. Showcasing a very simple but efficient guitar riff and Dave's dominant vocals highlights this one. The guitar duo also delivers one of its best performances on the record. It ends the album on a note the same way it started; a fun rocking song.

New York Doll's self titled album is a vital record in punk/rock. It has been said that this album inspired a countless number of bands after them including several bands in the UK a few years after this. But not only punk did they influence, but many glam-rock bands that came later as well. Like The Stooges and other of similar genres, there is nothing amazing instrumentally here, but the raw feel, originality and attitude makes it a true pioneering punk album.

Standout Tracks:
Personality Crisis
Vietnamese Baby
Trash
Subway Train



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user ratings (190)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
masada
May 17th 2006



2733 Comments


:-*

I like this album quite a bit. David Johansen can get on my nerves, though.

Two-Headed Boy
May 17th 2006



4527 Comments


You, sir, rock my socks!

...I dunno.

I'm interested. You say some very convincing things regarding these guys. I like pre(?)-punk.

Zebra
Moderator
May 17th 2006



2647 Comments


I've been meaning to check this out as I'm going threw a huge classic punk phase. I'll probably just go out and buy the album since I've heard so many positive things about it.
Excellent review, your reviews are possibly the most lengthy and detailed on the site.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2006



15732 Comments


^BAH!

But, this is a great review. Reminds me of me, in a non-egotistical way. And I love my reviews, so I love yours. I wish to get into these guys.This Message Edited On 05.17.06

Two-Headed Boy
May 17th 2006



4527 Comments


Reminds me of me, in a non-egotistical way.


With you, that's not possible.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2006



15732 Comments


Ow. My pride...

When have I been egotistical??

Two-Headed Boy
May 17th 2006



4527 Comments


Well, in you're favorite band's list your band is in there...This Message Edited On 05.17.06

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2006



15732 Comments


Obviously, how do you think we're going to get any exposure? It's not like I listen to us obsessively ;-).

The Jungler
May 17th 2006



4827 Comments


Hah, and you said you love your reviews and you give your own band a higher rating then The Bends .

I don't like New York Dolls that much, but your review was superb. Isn't the singer in this band the guy who sang "Hot Hot Hot"?This Message Edited On 05.17.06

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2006



15732 Comments


Ohh shit. Well, you got me. We all have our faults.

That'd be hot if he was about the hot hot hot thing.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2006



15732 Comments


Is this a classic punk band with a good lead singer? I'm yet to find a good one.

tom79
May 17th 2006



3367 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Well keep looking. And I mentioned in the review about Dave's voice. Nothing amazing, but fits the music. Besides, punk wasn't intended on having amazing vocalists, for the most part.

and thanks about the review guys. I don't know if that comment is entirely true Zebra :p, but I liked it. Thanks a lot.
[quote=Musicnofficial]BAH![/quote]
wait...was that a dis?
and yes, Glenn Danzig for sure. Great voice.This Message Edited On 05.18.06

Digging: Spoon - They Want My Soul

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2006



15732 Comments


What does he sing in?

Two-Headed Boy
May 17th 2006



4527 Comments


:eek:....

tom79
May 17th 2006



3367 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

You can't really call your self the "Music Official". You gotta know about more than 5 bands at least to be called that. No Offense

oh and Glenn Danzig: Misfits, Samhain, Danzig?This Message Edited On 05.17.06

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2006



15732 Comments


Oh come on, so I'm not a classic punk official.

Sorry, I'm not perfect!

tom79
May 17th 2006



3367 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^Thats fine. Danzig is very popular though, and doesn't play just punk. But nevermind.

But I might ask, what are you the official of then? Just you're favorite bands? or is it basically a joke. It has to be.This Message Edited On 05.18.06

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
May 17th 2006



15732 Comments


Lol Green Day, Nirvana, and Radiohead, yes.

I wouldn't call myself the Official of any specific genres, but I thought the name sounded cool. But it's not a joke.This Message Edited On 05.17.06

TurnTheOtherWay
May 17th 2006



459 Comments


I've been gobbling up classic punk lately, so I might have to check them out. Good review.

Oh, and MusicOfficial, you are now required to listen to Earth AD.This Message Edited On 05.17.06

pulseczar
May 18th 2006



2385 Comments


Nice review, 79. I checked this out after reading an article on these guys, it's great, but theitr sophomore is garbage. It's a shame New Yorks DOlls never continued to flourish in the proto-punk genre.



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