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New York Dolls Cause I Sez So Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

A fourth album in 36 years is something to celebrate!

Chris Jones 2009

It may seem surprising to old fans that the New York Dolls should feel the need to follow up 2006's One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This when they've been reduced to a mere two original members. But as that album proved, the injection of new blood seems to have given birth to a whole new Frankenstein, filled with unseemly vigour and with something new to say. So it is that, after 36 years, this fourth studio album means they've doubled their output.

Of course, anyone expecting the girl group homages and sloppy Chuck Berry riffs of yore will be disappointed, with Johnny Thunders long departed. Yet, retaining the same line up as their last album seems to mean that this is now a proper band, reborn and re-tooled for the new century. Recruiting Todd Rundgren, the man who produced their first album way back in 1973, seems to have paid dividends as well. Todd's recent foray into big, rude arena rock (on Arena) seems to have limbered him up for David Johansen and co's lurching urban blues.

Throughout the album there's the expected dollop of Chicago and latino influences, presumably injected by osmosis since Johansen's previous incarnation as R 'n' B shouter, Buster Poindexter. But whereas 35 years ago his bawling seemed just rude and ballsy, now he sounds genuinely immersed in blues.

Of course there are still some trademarks: My World has the jungle rumble from their second album, Too Much Too Soon and the title track is pure haranguing rock. But newer to the table are some great 60s pop tropes. Check the mariachi lament of Temptation To Exist or the simple Merseybeat balladry of Lonely So Long. And while a reggae version of their own classic, Trash, may, on paper, sound painful, in reality it's strangely moving in its pathos.

That's not all: how about some epic raga-inflected psychedelia on Making Rain or Drowning? It's as unexpected as watching Coronation street and finding Laurence Olivier in the cast. For the Dolls to have upped their game this late in the day is frankly baffling, but there it is. They have, and the results are great.

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