Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Flashback

Tonight I revisit 1973. A vastly influential band that is still lauded to this day by bands of multiple music genres from punk to metal to glam, I was too young to appreciate them before they broke up, they were THE NEW YORK DOLLS. After breaking up in 1975, a few of the surviving members of the band reformed nearly 30 years later, and as far as I know a couple of them, including front man David Johansen (famous as fictional lounge lizard Buster Poindexter years later), are still playing under the name. They'll never be the same without the late, great Johnny Thunders on guitar, of course.

Best known for wearing girly make-up and even girlier clothes on stage, the band certainly understood how to draw attention to themselves. They have been cited by both KISS and the Sex Pistols as major influences both musically and in the methods chosen to draw attention to themselves. Such antics only work if the music itself is good, though. If one could look past that debut album cover, which I still recall didn't sit well with me in the mid 70's when I would see it at the local record store, you might find a damned awesome rock 'n roll band. We find that yes, the music is good. I just wish that I hadn't found those images unsettling and had given that album a chance way back when, over 30 years ago.

A Creem magazine poll ended up with the New York Dolls being voted as both the "Best New Band" and "Worst New Band" of 1973. That's how you get it done and make a lasting impression!

Critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote that their music "doesn't really sound like anything that came before it. It's hard rock with a self-conscious wit, a celebration of camp and kitsch that retains a menacing, malevolent edge."

Now I am happy to say I am a fan of their music, even if I was introduced to it in a backwards fashion as a fan of Johnny Thunders and his subsequent band, The Heartbreakers. That's him to the right of Johansen wearing red and thrashing around in this live version of Lookin' for a Kiss:

Here's the studio track Personality Crisis with the debut LP cover that I found rather laughably unsettling back in the day. Seems somewhat timid and passe now.

Have a great weekend!

~Sham, Quixotic Referee


Chad Thorson said...

I love the Dolls! This is one of my favorite albums!

Jerry Nolan (drummer) also was in the Heartbreakers along with Richard Hell. That's one band I haven't been able to find on video.

Sham aka Dave said...

Atom Kid: I've bookmarked a handful of The Heartbreakers Youtube vids. Chinese Rocks, Born to Lose. I'm a big fan of Thunders and the Heartbreakers. They'll be the topic of a future Flashback. Glad to hear I'm not the only D&D guy who likes the Dolls!