Rhythm & Views 

New York Dolls

Be warned: This is not really a new New York Dolls album (original members Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan and Arthur "Killer" Kane are all dead). And out of respect, surviving singer David Johansen and guitarist Syl Sylvain would be better suited plugging this as a solo album by the rubber-mouthed, gravelly voiced frontman. But with the much-ballyhooed success of a Morrissey-provoked Dolls concert comeback in 2004, a "reunion" album was inevitable.

The deficiency of original personnel is not the lone reason this self-deprecating title should not be sold as legitimate Dolls. (Heck, the Rolling Stones have been touring/recording for decades without original members.) But, 30-plus years since the Dolls' aptly titled Too Much Too Soon, the once threatening mascara- and platform-boots-adorned Dolls are now far from being funky or chic. Arguably, it was Thunders who uncorked the reckless firepower with his gutter guitar leads and a self-destructive, junkie-in-hock mystique.

Nostalgic differences aside, this is a pretty decent retro-rock album. Too many ballads surface, but solo Johansen fans will happily devour this slick but timeless rawk platter inspired by Diddley-esque beats, girl groups, Delta blues and undoubtedly, the Stones. The jungle hop of "Dance Like a Monkey" sleazily resurrects the rollicking R&B bedlam of "Stranded in the Jungle," while the keyboard-driven pop of "Rainbow Store" is a generous reworking of the Shangri-Las' "Give Him a Great Big Kiss." Both pay homage to a time when androgynous street urchins like the New York Dolls reigned over a pre-CBGB's landscape.

More by Ron Bally


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