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Rock - Released January 1, 1973 | Mercury Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
When the New York Dolls released their debut album in 1973, they managed to be named both "Best New Band" and "Worst Band" in Creem Magazine's annual reader's poll, and it usually takes something special to polarize an audience like that. And the Dolls were inarguably special -- decades after its release, New York Dolls still sounds thoroughly unique, a gritty, big-city amalgam of Stones-style R&B, hard rock guitars, lyrics that merge pulp storytelling with girl group attitude, and a sloppy but brilliant attack that would inspire punk rock (without the punks ever getting its joyous slop quite right). Much was made of the Dolls' sexual ambiguity in the day, but with the passage of time, it's a misfit swagger that communicates most strongly in these songs, and David Johansen's vocals suggest the product of an emotional melting pot who just wants to find some lovin' before Manhattan is gone, preferably from a woman who would prefer him over a fix. If the lyrics sometimes recall Hubert Selby, Jr. if he'd had a playful side, the music is big, raucous hard rock, basic but with a strongly distinct personality -- the noisy snarl of Johnny Thunders' lead guitar quickly became a touchstone, and if he didn't have a lot of tricks in his arsenal, he sure knew when and how to apply them, and the way he locked in with Syl Sylvain's rhythm work was genius -- and the Dolls made their downtown decadence sound both ominous and funny at the same time. The Dolls were smart enough to know that a band needs a great drummer, and if there's something likably clumsy about Arthur Kane's bass work, Jerry Nolan's superb, elemental drumming holds the pieces in place with no-nonsense precision at all times. "Lonely Planet Boy" proved the Dolls could dial down their amps and sound very much like themselves, "Pills" was a superbly chosen cover that seemed like an original once they were done with it, and "Personality Crisis," "Trash," and "Jet Boy" were downtown rock & roll masterpieces no other band could have created. And while New York Dolls clearly came from a very specific time and place, this album still sounds fresh and hasn't dated in the least -- this is one of rock's greatest debut albums, and a raucous statement of purpose that's still bold and thoroughly engaging. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released January 1, 1973 | Island Mercury

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
When the New York Dolls released their debut album in 1973, they managed to be named both "Best New Band" and "Worst Band" in Creem Magazine's annual reader's poll, and it usually takes something special to polarize an audience like that. And the Dolls were inarguably special -- decades after its release, New York Dolls still sounds thoroughly unique, a gritty, big-city amalgam of Stones-style R&B, hard rock guitars, lyrics that merge pulp storytelling with girl group attitude, and a sloppy but brilliant attack that would inspire punk rock (without the punks ever getting its joyous slop quite right). Much was made of the Dolls' sexual ambiguity in the day, but with the passage of time, it's a misfit swagger that communicates most strongly in these songs, and David Johansen's vocals suggest the product of an emotional melting pot who just wants to find some lovin' before Manhattan is gone, preferably from a woman who would prefer him over a fix. If the lyrics sometimes recall Hubert Selby, Jr. if he'd had a playful side, the music is big, raucous hard rock, basic but with a strongly distinct personality -- the noisy snarl of Johnny Thunders' lead guitar quickly became a touchstone, and if he didn't have a lot of tricks in his arsenal, he sure knew when and how to apply them, and the way he locked in with Syl Sylvain's rhythm work was genius -- and the Dolls made their downtown decadence sound both ominous and funny at the same time. The Dolls were smart enough to know that a band needs a great drummer, and if there's something likably clumsy about Arthur Kane's bass work, Jerry Nolan's superb, elemental drumming holds the pieces in place with no-nonsense precision at all times. "Lonely Planet Boy" proved the Dolls could dial down their amps and sound very much like themselves, "Pills" was a superbly chosen cover that seemed like an original once they were done with it, and "Personality Crisis," "Trash," and "Jet Boy" were downtown rock & roll masterpieces no other band could have created. And while New York Dolls clearly came from a very specific time and place, this album still sounds fresh and hasn't dated in the least -- this is one of rock's greatest debut albums, and a raucous statement of purpose that's still bold and thoroughly engaging. ~ Mark Deming
$11.49

Rock - Released January 1, 1994 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Rock - Released April 30, 2009 | Rhino

Five years into one of the most unlikely reunions in recent rock & roll history, the New York Dolls have begun to acknowledge the great paradox of the new edition of the band. If ever there was a band with a distinctive musical and emotional personality, it was the Dolls, but with only two members of the original lineup still alive and able to take the stage in 2009, David Johansen and Syl Sylvain have had a heavy burden to bear, trying to make music that feels and sounds like the New York Dolls without their iconic lead guitarist, their original rhythm section, and the sort of lifestyle that defined their world view when they were the edgiest band in America's toughest city. The new Dolls created a reasonable approximation of what their old sound would have been like had they all survived into the new millennium on 2006's One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, but 2009's 'Cause I Sez So suggests this band has little interest in living in the past, including their own. Todd Rundgren, who produced the Dolls' brilliant 1973 debut, was behind the controls for this set, and the first two songs, "'Cause I Sez So" and "Muddy Bones," conjure up the sloppy downtown energy of the Dolls Mk. 1 better than anything on One Day It Will Please Us, full of dirty guitars, crashing drums, and broadly strutting vocals from Johansen, complemented by Rundgren's roomy, natural-sounding production. But after that one-two punch, the album shifts gears, easing into a groove that's more easygoing and (gulp) mature than the classic Dolls assault, with a warmer and more subdued approach. "Lonely So Long" is a great pop tune with a faint resemblance to the Beatles, "Nobody Got No Bizness" is a high-spirited, hip-shaking R&B shuffle, "Temptation to Exist" is a melodramatic ballad that sounds like it could have fit onto one of Johansen's Buster Poindexter albums, "This Is Ridiculous" is a blues-influenced number that gives the singer plenty of room to showboat, and "Making Rain" edges uncomfortably into adult contemporary territory. As if to declare to anyone not paying attention that this isn't the Dolls as we remember them, there's a re-recording of "Trash" that puts a ganja-burnished reggae spin on the old proto-punk classic (possibly anticipating an adverse reaction from old fans, "Trash" is followed by "Exorcism of Despair," a chunky rocker very much in the traditional Dolls style). While the group as a whole sounds vital and in even better shape than they were on the fine One Day It Will Please Us, with its broad palate of musical influences and clear willingness to move past the constraints of the New York Dolls' legacy, 'Cause I Sez So is clearly David Johansen's album, and it's a great showcase for one of the great rock singers of his generation. But is it the New York Dolls? Well, that's what it says on the front cover, and if the sound is different, the "Whatsit to You?" spirit of this set is as keen as ever, and that counts for a lot with these guys. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released January 1, 1973 | Mercury Records

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Rock - Released September 23, 2008 | Sanctuary Records

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Rock - Released July 17, 2006 | Roadrunner Records

The prospect of a new studio album from the New York Dolls in the year 2006 is a strange and puzzling thing, especially without the presence of Johnny Thunders, Arthur Kane, and Jerry Nolan, all of whom are currently gigging on another astral plane. But after the Dolls made an unexpected and surprisingly convincing return to the concert stage in 2004, David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain, and their newly appointed partners started writing new material and took the risky step of taking the new band into the studio a mere 32 years after Too Much Too Soon. One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This has two major hurdles to clear for anyone who cared about the Dolls: they have to create something akin to the sloppy majesty of their two iconic studio albums without the help of ace guitar mauler Thunders, and they have to write songs with the same gritty blare and strutting attitude that came as second nature when they were twenty-somethings. Musically, this version of the Dolls is much more precise than they ever were back in the day, but the opening track, "We're All in Love," captures a fair share of the rattly subway train rhythm that was the Dolls aural trademark, and most of these tunes don't aim for the same degree of rock action as the group's most famous tunes, there's still an admirable crash-and-bash energy on "Gimme Luv and Turn on the Light" and "Dance Like a Monkey," and there are clear gestures towards the Dolls' other sonic touchstones: vintage girl group sounds ("Rainbow Store"), old-school R&B ("Take a Good Look at My Good Looks"), the blues ("I Ain't Got Nothin'"). Just as importantly, David Johansen hasn't sung rock & roll with this kind of strength, authority, and guts in years, and guitarists Sylvain and Steve Conte crank out the fire without too much audible worry about the weight of the past. (It also helps that the rhythm section is right on the money and Jack Douglas delivers the muscular but unobtrusive production this band always needed and never got.) As for the songs, with their frequent philosophical musings and multisyllabic constructions, this is heady stuff coming from what was once was a band of decadent street punk fashion mavens, but let's face it, one of the reasons Johansen and Sylvain survived and their bandmates didn't is they had a vision of the future that went further than the next party and the next fix, and the best songs on this album look at where these guys have been and where they're going with a mixture of intelligence, perception, and street smarts. And if you're just looking for dumb fun, "Dance Like a Monkey" delivers. On One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the New York Dollsare a far cry from the band that recorded "Personality Crisis" in 1972, but the album offers a reasonable approximation of the Dolls as smart, battle-hardened survivors who've got something to say and have a few laughs while saying it. If it's not quite a triumph, it's challenging and ambitious stuff that rocks on out and doesn't tarnish the memory of what Johansen and Sylvain accomplished so many years ago. ~ Mark Deming
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Rock - Released January 1, 2012 | 429 Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 2011 | 429 Records

On their third studio album since reuniting the New York Dolls in 2004, David Johansen and Syl Sylvain have finally begun acknowledging the obvious -- this is not the same band that traipsed in and burned out in a blaze of glory in the '70s. Not only are Johansen and Sylvain the only survivors from the band's original lineup, their efforts to re-create the band's original sound and impact have been well-meaning and entertaining without making much of an mark. 2009's ‘Cause I Sez So found them drifting away from the classic sound of the Dolls, and 2011's Dancing Backward in High Heels in many respects represents a clean break; Steve Conte, who took on the Johnny Thunders role in the reunited band, is gone, and with Frank Infante of Blondie in his place, on these sessions the guitar plays a lesser role in the arrangements, with keyboards and sax dominating many of the tunes. And while this album doesn't entirely abandon the Dolls as we knew them, it recalls the original group's influences, rather than the Dolls themselves, most notably classic ‘60s rock, girl group sounds, and vintage R&B rather than the beautifully shambolic hard rock of their salad days. So Dancing Backward in High Heels isn't the New York Dolls as we once knew them, though it does sound very much like the work of David Johansen and Syl Sylvain, two guys close to 60 years of age who clearly still love rock & roll but have a different attitude about it than they did in 1972. The witty attack on out of towners in the Big Apple of "I'm so Fabulous" rings true coming from these guys, the night-life tales of "Round and Round She Goes" suggest they're still up for a rowdy good time, "Streetcake" and "You Don't Have to Cry" confirm David and Syl haven't forgotten how to write a great pop tune, and the cover of "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" is heartfelt and funny, just as it should be. And if "Funky But Chic" was reworked from Johansen's first solo album, the cocky strut and swagger of the tune still sounds fresh and engaging in the 21st century. While the New York Dolls struggled to balance past and present on their previous reunion albums, Dancing Backward in High Heels is a product of the here and now as defined by two guys following their muse in their own way, which is just what they should be doing at this stage of the game. ~ Mark Deming
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Alternative & Indie - Released May 22, 2007 | ROIR

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Rock - Released January 1, 2011 | 429 Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 1974 | Mercury Records

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After the clatter of their first album failed to bring them a wide audience, the New York Dolls hired producer Shadow Morton to work on the follow-up, Too Much Too Soon. The differences are apparent right from the start of the ferocious opener, "Babylon." Not only are the guitars cleaner, but the mix is dominated by waves of studio sound effects and female backing vocals. Ironically, instead of making the Dolls sound safer, all the added frills emphasize their gleeful sleaziness and reckless sound. The Dolls sound on the verge of falling apart throughout the album, as Johnny Thunders and Syl Sylvain relentlessly trade buzz-saw riffs while David Johansen sings, shouts, and sashays on top of the racket. Band originals -- including the bluesy raver "It's Too Late," the noisy girl-group pop of "Puss N' Boots," and the Thunders showcase "Chatterbox" -- are rounded out by obscure R&B and rock & roll covers tailor-made for the group. Johansen vamps throughout Leiber & Stoller's "Bad Detective," Archie Bell's "(There's Gonna Be A) Showdown," the Cadets "Stranded in the Jungle," and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me Talkin'," yet it's with grit and affection -- he really means it, man! The whole record collapses with the scathing "Human Being," on which a bunch of cross-dressing misfits defiantly declare that it's OK that they want too many things, 'cause they're human beings, just like you and me. Three years later, the Sex Pistols failed to come up with anything as musically visceral and dangerous. Perhaps that's why the Dolls never found their audience in the early '70s: Not only were they punk rock before punk rock was cool, but they remained weirder and more idiosyncratic than any of the bands that followed. And they rocked harder, too. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released February 7, 2011 | 429 Records

Rock - Released April 14, 2009 | Rhino

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Five years into one of the most unlikely reunions in recent rock & roll history, the New York Dolls have begun to acknowledge the great paradox of the new edition of the band. If ever there was a band with a distinctive musical and emotional personality, it was the Dolls, but with only two members of the original lineup still alive and able to take the stage in 2009, David Johansen and Syl Sylvain have had a heavy burden to bear, trying to make music that feels and sounds like the New York Dolls without their iconic lead guitarist, their original rhythm section, and the sort of lifestyle that defined their world view when they were the edgiest band in America's toughest city. The new Dolls created a reasonable approximation of what their old sound would have been like had they all survived into the new millennium on 2006's One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, but 2009's 'Cause I Sez So suggests this band has little interest in living in the past, including their own. Todd Rundgren, who produced the Dolls' brilliant 1973 debut, was behind the controls for this set, and the first two songs, "'Cause I Sez So" and "Muddy Bones," conjure up the sloppy downtown energy of the Dolls Mk. 1 better than anything on One Day It Will Please Us, full of dirty guitars, crashing drums, and broadly strutting vocals from Johansen, complemented by Rundgren's roomy, natural-sounding production. But after that one-two punch, the album shifts gears, easing into a groove that's more easygoing and (gulp) mature than the classic Dolls assault, with a warmer and more subdued approach. "Lonely So Long" is a great pop tune with a faint resemblance to the Beatles, "Nobody Got No Bizness" is a high-spirited, hip-shaking R&B shuffle, "Temptation to Exist" is a melodramatic ballad that sounds like it could have fit onto one of Johansen's Buster Poindexter albums, "This Is Ridiculous" is a blues-influenced number that gives the singer plenty of room to showboat, and "Making Rain" edges uncomfortably into adult contemporary territory. As if to declare to anyone not paying attention that this isn't the Dolls as we remember them, there's a re-recording of "Trash" that puts a ganja-burnished reggae spin on the old proto-punk classic (possibly anticipating an adverse reaction from old fans, "Trash" is followed by "Exorcism of Despair," a chunky rocker very much in the traditional Dolls style). While the group as a whole sounds vital and in even better shape than they were on the fine One Day It Will Please Us, with its broad palate of musical influences and clear willingness to move past the constraints of the New York Dolls' legacy, 'Cause I Sez So is clearly David Johansen's album, and it's a great showcase for one of the great rock singers of his generation. But is it the New York Dolls? Well, that's what it says on the front cover, and if the sound is different, the "Whatsit to You?" spirit of this set is as keen as ever, and that counts for a lot with these guys. ~ Mark Deming