Perhaps the greatest misfortune of my misspent youth is the fact that I failed to listen to the the eponymous debut of the New York Dolls with greater frequency. Sure, I listened to the band ad nauseum in the decade to follow, but I failed to notice them early on. They didn't exist to me; they simply weren't on the radar of my teenage years. I'd heard of them and I admired their outrageous attire, their New York pre-punk posturing, the name of the band itself, and that of it's lead guitarist Johnny Thunders. When Johnny died of an apparent drug overdose in a New Orleans hotel room in 1991, the band was mythologized in my mind. Hungover in my parent's living room, I read his obit in an early morning edition of the Times-Picayune. I was twenty years old. I knew the hotel where he croaked and I morbidly strolled past it in the days that followed. I pointed it out to friends- “Hey, look! There's the hotel where Johnny Thunders died...” At the time my turntable spun Neil Young, Back Flag, the Minutemen and the Grateful Dead as if they held some secret. And it was beautiful.
I vowed not to repeat the error of my ways when I discovered the preposterous release of a new album by the Dolls in 2006. Preposterous because it couldn't be. How could the Dolls put out a new album? Billy Murcia, the original drummer suffocated to death in a London hotel bathtub in '72 (after copious consumption of drugs and alcohol). The band broke up in '77. Thunders overdosed in '91. Jerry Nolan, the second drummer died in '92. The bassist, Arthur 'Killer' Kane died in '94.
And yet there it was: a new album. The band's name, New York Dolls written in cursive across the cover in fuchsia lipstick be proof of it. How's it possible? Who's left? Two dudes: singer/writer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain. They melded seamlessly with a new group of guys to create a solid new unit. This isn't the New York Dolls of old; it's the new New York Dolls. And when I say I'm in love, you'd best believe that I'm in love...L-U-V.
It's a raunchy rock n' roll exposition in the classic tradition but with intellectual musings interjected throughout. “Ain't gonna anthropomorphize ya, or perversely polymorphisize ya!” isn't a typical lyric for the genre. Nor is the satirical debate of evolution versus creationism in the guise of a rock song typical. Oh sure, some stiff prick might address the subject, but Dance Like a Monkey is a fuckin' rockin' song! They manage to be jejune and bright at once.