New York Dolls review by New York Dolls

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  • Released: Jan 1, 1973
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (13 votes)
New York Dolls: New York Dolls

Sound — 10
From the opening rock and roll shuffle rhythm of Personality Crisis, the Dolls set to electrify and excite. One swift keyboard slide later and they've already got into the thick of things. The dual guitars played by Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain complement each other to the maximum with every lick tying in with crunching rhyth, in the background. Punk pioneers? You betcha. These guys hit the listener with aggressive yet lovable crunchy, fuzzy guitars, reminiscent of 50s rock and roll(but really dirtied up) heavy hitting tom drums and thumping bass. The passion is evident as the band takes the listener through a story in every song. Even as an instrumental album, this would be highly energetic and listenable. The six minute epic, 'Frankenstein' is a great example of the Dolls writing a song showcasing every great element about them. From the pounding drums of the verse, to Johansen's screamed vocals in the chorus of a repeated word which, also sees the song out in all it's musical chaos. The word? FRANKENSTEIN! The next highlight is 'Bad Girl' with it's head turning intro riff. Subway train is another example of yet another great Dolls song with it's smooth lead introduction leading towards Johansen's nasally crooned vocals which erupt with vigour in the chorus which, is deceptively heavy(just listen to that riff). Pills, a Bo Diddley cover is a respectable cover again proof of the dual guitar magic of Thunders and Sylvain with that instantly recognisable Diddley chorus. Private world comes next as a thumpingly powerful, but simple song driven by the bass of Killer Kane. Jet Boy sees the end to a fabulous album full of emotion, catchy choruses and proto punk aggression. Jet Boy is a song full of pounding bass drum sounds and jaunty, dance inducing dual guitars. The sound is very polished but, at the same time manages to stay raw, this is what all producers of punk albums should aspire too, along with Never Mind the Bollocks. The guitars are clean and crunchy, the band is tight and with the fade out of Jet Boy, one can conclude that the Dolls are one of the all time greats in terms of their unique sound that, has influenced countless of bands including, but not restricted to the Sex Pistols amongst others of the punk scene of the 70s. Top notch sound, rivalled by few.

Lyrics — 9
The lyrics impress in their delivery and for all you Rolling Stones fans out there, JoHansen will satisfy you since he sounds a little like that bloke in the Stones, Mick Jagger. Furthermore, don't make the mistake of judging the Dolls as cross dressing fools, there was a point in everything they did and it was boundary breaking. Lyrically, topics range from personality crisis to the Vietnam War(Vietnamese Baby which, was excluded from the 'Sound' section merely due to the strength of the lyrics and not, due to poor sound), to, gasp, shock horror, girls. Fine, the lyrics can get repetitive, but that's part of the Dolls, the general concensus is that noone minds the 'repetition', it's been highlighted in this review so as to present one qualm a few may have with the Dolls. The other possible qualm could be that JoHansen may sound 'too' much like Mick Jagger instead of concentrating on his own style. However, whilst one can hear JoHansen's influence shining through, he turns it into something unique in his own way. JoHansen certainly was adept in his capabilities on the recording and there can be no doubting his contribution to the Dolls.

Overall Impression — 10
Nothing compares to the Dolls, there have been many attempts to replicate their sound(Hanoi Rocks, anyone), but noone has come close. The songs that shine through are Personality Crisis, Looking For a Kiss, Vietnamese Baby, Frankenstein, Subway Train and perhaps Pills. However, it would be more appropriate to include all of the songs since they all make the album feel like a fairy tale, albeit one that scares your grandparents. From the intimidating album cover of the Dolls in drag, to the music, to the vocals, the Dolls epitomise attitude and if this album were ever played to death, lost or stolen, it would be essential to snap up a new one. The Dolls define Punk, Glam and Hard Rock, they have left an imprint on modern day culture and music. Respected by their peers and still going strong today, the Dolls deserve a listen.

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