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Non-Prog CD Reviews

New York Dolls

Dancing Backward In High Heels

Review by Larry Toering

Set for release in March of 2011, New York Dolls return from their successful last outing Cause I Sez So. This time around things have changed in the line-up, and they're on a new label with 429 Records, after parting with Atco. Steve Conte and Sami Yaffa are out (respectively) and original Blondie guitarist Frank Infante and  bassist Jason Hill (Louis XIV/Killers) are in. Returning on drums is Brian Delaney and although I was disappointed to hear about the split I am on the other hand impressed with the outcome of this record. There is still so much to offer that they prove it can be done no matter who is along for the glamorous ride.

One knock out punch after another is thrown as usual concerning all trademark songwriting and style factors, there’s no mistaking it. The core of the New York Dolls is now David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain, and for at least that much, these are pure Dolls songs through and through, made with the best existing Dolls integrity. It's already been described as “abstract” and that is looking like a precise view.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Fool for You Baby

This has an instantly effective vocal approach that never lets up throughout the disc. It’s a great opener.

Street Cake
The sound gets bigger and the humor kicks in on this track, "meet me on south street / let's get some cooking done..." A piano surfaces and those classic NY Dolls harmony vocals add a familiar ambience.
Fabulous Rant
A few words from David Johansen set up the next track, complaining about things to be heard on it. There is no music here.
I'm So Fabulous
With hilarious lyrics, this is really one of the best tracks, "I'm so fabulous, it's ridiculous..." By now things are jumping and the songs seem to have a thread, both musically and lyrically. Not that it's intended, but the arrangement so far helps to breed that sort of directional feel. "I'm so fabulous, I don't even want to look at you."
Talk to Me Baby
A great little piano solo is featured with a very ragtime thing going on here, and by this time it's clear that Sylvain's background vocals play a major role on this cut and the whole the disc.
Kids Like You
A slower groove, Johansen sings a languid bluesy story with a real southern backing track. This features excellent work by all involved.
Round and Round She Goes
Just about the biggest moments can be found on this great track where things really peak. We get saxophone, hand claps, crowd atmosphere and a mention of the title of the record. This is a nice rock and roll treat, and a NY Dolls classic with just a hint of that Buster Poindexter flavor to spice it up nicely.
You Don't Have to Cry
Another killer track is beautifully delivered, one of only a few moments that come close to echoing what was going on with their last more progressive and dark release. This has something for listeners on the inside and outside of the spectrum. It’s very accessible.
I Sold My Heart to the Junkman
A humorous little tale, the entertainment continues.
Baby Tell Me What I'm On
This is another cool one, very acoustic and percussive. There aren't many guitar moments on the disc but this is one of the few times the guitar gets noticed. It's just so easy to listen to, and this is easily one of my favorites.
Funky But Chic
This is a great cover of one of David Johansen’s most well known solo tracks. It works just as well as the cover of their own classic “Trash” did on the previous record. When I first heard it was going to included on here I didn't think it should works so well but I'm glad to be wrong in this case.
End of the Summer
One can't help but love the way things go out with an island vibe here, The New York Dolls prove they still have something to say, and something fun at that. They continue to carve out a thriving future with great tune after tune without compromising their standards. The whole thing has a light musical touch but a very heavy pulse going through it, with David Johansen “'bordering on sublime,” as he says in this great closing number.
 
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