Review Summary: Too Much too Soon is a beautiful attempt at trashy, filthy, glam rock. Ideal for anyone who loves punk, Blues or all of the above. The New York Dolls aspired to be The Rolling Stones, and came out as "The Lipstick Killers"; and when they realized that, th
David Johansen-Vocals, Harmonica, Gong
Johnny Thunders-Lead Guitar, Vocals
Sylvain Sylvain- Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals, Bass
Arthur “Killer” Kane- Bass
Jerry Nolan- Drums
Circa 1973, both The New York Dolls and Aerosmith came out with their self-titled debuts. Both had roaring dual guitars, blues riffs, snarling front men, and an obvious Jagger/Richards influence. When 1974 rolled around, they both released their sophomore albums. "Get your Wings" by Aerosmith, showed that the band had instant longevity; The New York Dolls "Too Much Too Soon", had quite the opposite effect. It first appears as though they had bought you a present, and failed miserably at wrapping their gift. But once inside the box, you see the soul and heart put into this album. The Last Gasp is sometimes the most important.
You will never see it on a list for best albums of all time. Nor will you ever see it as influential, or a stand out album, like the first album was. The Band decided to take a different direction in an attempt to sell more records; by replacing producer Todd Rundgren with Shadow Morton. The Guitars are cleaner, and the distortion is in a lot less abundance, but The Dolls went through a phase of experimentation. They were having a “Personality Crisis” due to the all too well known fact that they were; 1) Before their time, 2) Craved Popularity, that they just didn’t have, 3) being pressured by Mercury Records, 4) Were outcasts in the states, for the glam punk they showcased. They were also the grittiest dirtiest glitter rock act, in a genre of high pitched vocals, cocaine, and happy-go-lucky chord progressions; and that was often frowned upon. In the album, the attitude borders sleaziness as the confidence tips over to cockiness. The elation to just be recording can be heard throughout every song. Shadow also decided to hire a group of female back-up singers, just to try to meld to the, almost tragic stereotypes already associated with the band. And though, this may seem to some as the reason why the first album is so much better then the follow up, it actually seems like that uniqueness makes “Too Much too soon” so special. It better personifies the band in general.
The first album was raw blues, over stripped down hard rock; where as the follow up seems more ideal for The New York Dolls over all. The song topics and the music fit and flow more evenly. As far as the music goes; the simplicity and rawness everything seems upon the surface is what heavily inspired punk and hair metal. David Johansen’s vocals are very good, but they sound like perfection with the playful and surreal themes of the album. The Illustrious Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain’s relationship is something that every guitarist pair in hard rock should strive for. Though the rhythm is playing power chords, they were power chords inspired by the Blues and Chuck Berry. The Most Beautiful thing about their relationship is their wonderful guitar playing enduringly shines through, even though solos are far and few between ( and when a solo is performed, they go back and forth, in a friendly competition). Arthur Kane was vital, essentially because the most key element to The Dolls sound is the groove. Just the sensation that you feel, that makes you feel the music bleeding through your soul. And Finally, Jerry Nolan is very possibly the greatest drummer ever to walk the face of the planet. His speed and accuracy astounds even the average listener, who notices the drums (that are disappointingly hidden by the guitars and the production) make up for what the guitars can’t accomplish. Another Amazing factor to the album is how every member strives constantly to create multifarious uniqueness to their instrument(s).
When I think of this album as a whole, I just imagine them playing a 30-40 minute set, that last for 10 songs, back-to-back, with 5 second long intervals... When you listen to it, you'll believe it to.
1) Babylon- Silence followed by; “Come On Boys!” It sounds as though David Johansen is encouraging the rest of the Dolls to catch up with him, and they do it fast. It announces a desire for attention, which you will instantaneously give. It is about a Man who is suddenly stranded in the middle of nowhere, and who needs to get back to his beloved New York (which acted as a Mecca to The Dolls). Sylvain’s small solo in here is still quite impressive and the rhythm section seems to want the spotlight dragged onto them, and do a wonderful job.
2) Stranded in the Jungle- Babylon Rehashed. Same Story, Drastically Different Perspective. The Rhythm section is amazing, as always. Jerry Nolan never even fathoms that he can miss a beat. Johnny Thunders vocals are slowly blossoming. When I first heard this song, I thought it was upsetting for the New York Dolls. It changed beats; from raw, jungle fever; to girl-group, big city pop. But the more you listen, the more addictive it becomes. A Sardonic Story of a man’s Voyage to find his Lover. Superb.
3) Who are the Mystery Girls" - is Hard Rock at it's finest. It was the first dolls song I ever heard, and made me fall in love. The Guitars really shine here, especially the lead parts. Random noises and beeps can be heard in the background, and confuses the *** out of me, but it still holds up fairly well. The Song is ended with a sigh by David Johansen, as though so far, he's worked his ass of.
4) (There’s Gonna be a) Showdown- It’s kind of a Cheesy Song, but it sounds like a literal challenge. You just have to like it. End of Story.... After the first three songs, it doesn't seem to hold up as far as song writing goes (, it seems as though it was performed spur of the moment in the studio, just to *** with Shadow Morton). But it also plays off the Dolls image. They appear as though they’d shoot up in a hotel room, buy a couple girls a drink, and dance their asses off.
5) It’s Too Late- It’s the first sign of a Harmonica and/or Blues in general. Sounds like an early Stones jam session/outtake. It’s the first song that actually has a negative response... sort of. "How many times must I tell you babe, it’s too late!" This is kind of a disappointment that the last song on the A-side gets serious. The Heart of The New York Dolls was Blues though. They were like The Rolling Stones in many ways; but most specifically how they took blues roots, and excavated underground genres, only to find goldmines.
6) Puss N’ Boots- Very Possibly the Best Song by the New York Dolls, Hands Down. It was written beautifully; great song topic, great music backing it. The song’s about a mob boss, and his associates. Spectacular Sound Effects, with much thanks to David Johansen.
Song Rating: 5/5
7) Chatterbox- Johnny Thunders takes command. Written, Sung, and Played mainly by him, which most likely, convinced him to do the Heartbreakers (his band after the New York Dolls demise). He doesn’t solo, but he does lead a very tight, punk ship… (so ironic, but true). It’s about a Girl; Johnny Thunders is interested in; most specifically talking to her on the phone all night. Considering its Johnny Thunders and it appears semi-sleazy, it’s presumed to be related to phone sex. I mean, if that’s your thing, go for it.
Song Rating: 4/5
8) Bad Detective- The Most Upsetting Song on the Album, truly. It sounds like the band is going to break up in the middle of the song. Why they covered The Coasters, astounds me. But Covers for The New York Dolls are hit or miss. This one was just ok, it kind of drags down the rest. (The Dolls later covered The Shangri Las "Great Big Kiss”(written by Morton), and it was spectacular, easily competing with Puss n’ Boots for best song).
Song Rating- 2/5
9) Don't start me Talking- Sounds like an Outtake from the first album, but it still holds up pretty well. One of the examples of good song topics; about a man who doesn’t know how to stop telling everyone about all the bad things he sees happening everyday on the streets in New York. It’s really like a Public Service Announcement. “Hear Ye, Hear Ye; Prostitution happens in committed relationships all the time. Deal with it.”
Song Rating- 4/5
10) Human Being- The Closer sounds like the roughest song on the album, almost with the appeal of a demo. It has the most growling guitar, barking vocals, worst production, and attitude of any song on the album. Johnny Thunders decides to finally sing to his heart’s desire. It’s just about Inspirational and Empowering when you crack through the layers of coarseness; and also their most ‘Down to Earth’ song. Another disappointing point is that sax solo closes the album. If that doesn’t spell disaster, I don’t know what does.
Song Rating- 3/5
The Band’s tragic termination followed soon after this album. Malcolm Mclauren( who managed them after the production switch; He also later managed The Sex Pistols) along with Internal Conflicts, Drugs, Confusion, amongst Other things dragged the band down fast. As the first punk band, The New York Dolls had to go through everything before anyone else could. Sad to say ‘The Lipstick Killers’ were the martyr of the genre they discovered. They truly had “Too Much Too Soon” and didn’t know what to do with it. They just took what they knew they had and ran with it, and they set off a nice Explosion when they felt they were going to Burn Out. Because, half of everything to the Dolls was Appearance, and they knew they had to go out in Style. And they did.
Stranded in the Jungle
Puss N Boots
Who are the Mystery Girls"