New York Dolls

TrackAlbum
Personality CrisisNew York Dolls
Looking For A KissNew York Dolls
Lonely Planet BoyNew York Dolls
TrashNew York Dolls
Jet BoyNew York Dolls
BabylonToo Much Too Soon
Stranded In The JungleToo Much Too Soon
Great Big KissSeven Day Weekend
Dance Like A MonkeyOne Day It Will Please Us
To Remember Even This
Funky But ChicDancing Backward In High Heels

 

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New York Dolls photo

New York Dolls 1973 (l to r): Arthur Kane (bass), Jerry Nolan (drums), David Johansen (vocals), Sylvain Sylvain (rhythm guitar), Johnny Thunders (lead guitar) – photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

 

Contributor: Michael W. Richardson

Mock rock. Anyone who is interested enough in rock ‘n’ roll – and all of her mad uncles, weird cousins and bastard offspring – to visit this site will know exactly what I mean when I say mock rock in relation to the New York Dolls. But fifteen-year-old me thought that they were great. The obvious next step in a line that went something like Slade/ Bolan/ Sweet/ Glitter/ Bowie/ Roxy/ Alice/ Mott. Throw in Iggy and Lou and it was almost like a jigsaw puzzle was complete. Time would show that it was just a small corner of a rather large jigsaw puzzle.

After the infamous November ’73 Whistle Test appearance, I recall going into school the next day and the whole class were talking about them. Well, when I say the whole class, I mean the half dozen or so geeks and freaks who watched the programme. The album had been released a few weeks earlier in the UK and as soon as my meagre pocket money allowed, a copy was bought. Loved it. Couldn’t understand why the whole country wasn’t raving about them. They were new, fresh, exciting. Well, to my naive fifteen-year old ears they were.

For me they were the last big glam act. OK, Queen were just around the corner, but apart from the pomp of Freddie, well, they were initially just a rock band with perhaps a bit of a nod to prog. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them though.

Anyway, back to the Dolls. I continued to enjoy that album, playing it regularly – but as I had probably less than thirty LPs at that time, that wasn’t a hard choice. This was around the time that my good friend for the last few years – pop music – started to let me down. As friends sometimes do. She had introduced me to glam, and to Motown, and to the great releases on the Trojan label, and the many wonderful solo singles by the four ex-members of the Beatles, and the great British rock acts – Sabbath, Purple, Zep, ELP, and what can only be described as the quality pop music of the day – I’m talking about the likes of Rod Stewart, 10cc, Badfinger.

Now she was offering me pap such as Showaddywaddy, Mud, Paper Lace, the Bay City Rollers. I confess, we fell out of love for a few years. I realise now she was letting me stand on my own two feet – to go back in time and see what I could find for myself. And I did! The Beatles superb run of albums. The singles of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and even The Shadows. The sounds of the summer of love. And, bringing things back to New York, the Velvet Underground. Yes, I loved a bit of sleaze.

So by the summer of ’74, my turntable saw Diamond Dogs, Raw Power and the Dolls’ first LP on heavy rotation. Soon to be added to this trio was the second LP from the Dolls, Too Much Too Soon. And guess what? I loved this one too. I was more or less alone here. Still no hit single or significant LP sales. A bit of a rush release if truth be told, with a couple of covers and some songs that had already been demoed for the first album. So what? I enjoyed it.

But that would be about it from this incarnation of the band. Although many live albums and collections of outtakes were released over the forthcoming years, apart from occasional plays of the first album during my punk phase, some decent releases from Johnny Thunders, and a few listens to David Johansen’s solo work in the late seventies, it would be over thirty years before the band would again pop up on my radar.

In 2004 the three surviving members put together another lineup to play live, and in 2006 they released a new album, One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This – it wasn’t bad, with a more than decent single, Dance Like A Monkey. Made a number of critics end of year lists, though this may have had more to do with the state of rock music in general than the quality of the record.

And they toured the UK. My son (then aged fifteen, the same age as I was when I first discovered them) and I went to see them. Now I could finally say that I’d seen this legendary band live. I would never have imagined ever being able to say that thirty years previously.

Two more albums followed but they were really just going through the motions now, probably maximising the name financially for all that it was worth.

So there we are, the original mock rockers. The bridge between glam rock and punk? Or just a rock ‘n’ roll band fronted by a Jagger wannabe with a penchant for girl groups? I suppose both really. And rock music is in such a bad way these days that they would, in my opinion, probably be the biggest band around if they were starting out now.

 

Billy Murcia (1951–1972)

Johnny Thunders (1952–1991)

Jerry Nolan (1946–1992)

Arthur Kane (1949–2004)

 

 

New York Dolls facebook

New York Dolls Chronology

New York Dolls at Discogs

Morrissey on the New York Dolls Pt.1 (YouTube)

“The New York Dolls: Too Much Too Soon” by Nina Antonia (Omnibus Press 2005)

“I, Doll: Life And Death With The New York Dolls” by Arthur “Killer” Kane (A Cappella Books 2009)

“Stranded In The Jungle: Jerry Nolan’s Wild Ride” – A Tale Of Drugs, Fashion, The New York Dolls, And Punk Rock by Curt Weiss (Backbeat Books 2017)

“There’s No Bones In Ice Cream” – Sylvain Sylvain’s Story Of The New York Dolls (Omnibus Press 2018)

“Looking For Johnny: The Legend Of Johnny Thunders” by Danny Garcia (Punk Hostage Press 2018)

New York Dolls biography (iTunes)

Michael Richardson has just turned 61. He has been listening to pop and all of its derivatives for the best part of 50 years. Apart from power ballads, hair metal, the cheesiest country, and whatever it is that passes for chart music nowadays, he can listen to almost anything. Find out more about him at his website, ThePopman.

TopperPost #769

2 Comments

  1. Andrew Shields
    Feb 25, 2019

    Thanks for this fine list. Hard to understate the extent of the Dolls’ influence on so many punk and post-punk groups. Johnny’s guitar style really set the model for people like Steve Jones and Mick Jones. And, of course, Morrissey was one of those watching that Whistle Test appearance…

  2. Keith Shackleton
    Feb 25, 2019

    Nice one, Michael. I’m going to squeeze out one of your late period tracks to fit in (There’s Gonna Be A) Showdown, their dragged-up take on the Archie Bell and the Drells tune. Always thought that had the requisite amount of sleaze!

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