Release Date: Mar 15, 2011
Record label: 429 Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Punk/New Wave
Singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain are the sole surviving founders of this glam'n'grime institution — "swindlers of the abyss," as Johansen puts it in his weathered-leather growl in "End of the Summer." They can still muster the familiar action like the atomic-jukebox roll of "Round and Round She Goes" and the hip-smackin' "Streetcake." But under the lipstick and howling-Stones guitars, the Dolls always aspired to the rough-granite poise and battle lessons of great blues and soul. Here, in the slow, Percy Sledge-salted grit of "Kids Like You," Johansen warns the next gang in town that wild youth comes at a price — one his band paid in spades. Listen to "Fool For You Baby":Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos .
The latest album from the resurrected version of seminal glam-punk band New York Dolls is a weird little gem full of vintage organ grooves, doo-wop harmonies and bluesy undertones. It combines the Dolls’ signature spit-in-your-face attitude with more diverse and lithe instrumentation. “Streetcake” is a cheeky strut brimming with sass and vigor, while “Talk to Me Baby” is a lusciously sexy plea to the tune of juke-joint keys.
When regarding veterans on their comeback like New York Dolls, I feel this distinct duty to act my age, which entails, inevitably, giving the oldsters an unusually hard time. There’s no satisfying us. If you’re still playing in your tried-and-true style, you’re tired. If you’re consulting young blood to keep up-to-date, you’re embarrassing, Dad.
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.
No-one has the right to tell [a]New York Dolls[/a] – even just the two left – when they should call it quits. Yes, six and a bit years on, interest in the reunion isn’t quite so rabidly keen; yes, lyrics like “[i]I’m more fabulous than all the hipsters on Broadway![/i]” (from [b]‘I’m So Fabulous’[/b]) suggest a man not entirely au fait with NYC nightlife circa 2011; yes, the production could be a bit dirtier. But the fact is, there’s a vitality, a shamelessness, an energy retained throughout here that shows why they mattered so damn much, and why they shouldn’t – and couldn’t – ever consider doing anything else.
The New York Dolls took ’60s pop and trashed it up into a rowdy, world-changing slop that presaged punk and provided a guiding light for the glam-rockers that followed the band’s wake. After two classic albums, the band fizzled out in 1975, but the surviving three-fifths of the group reconvened in 2006 and did a surprisingly good job picking up where they left off. Dancing Backward in High Heels doesn’t.
Reanimated glam-punk pioneers get dafter as they get older. Johnny Sharp 2011 Even the most ardent New York Dolls fan probably expected little more than some rousing, rolling-back-the-years live shows when they reformed in 2004. Yet they have now produced three pretty tidy albums with two original members – one more than they did in their dysfunctional original incarnation.