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Monday, July 10, 2017

New York Dolls - "A Hard Night's Day" CD, Album, 2000 (Norton Records)

Perfection.  Paul Nelson when he signed the New York Dolls to Mercury he brought the band to a studio, and in one night recorded 21 songs as demos, to be picked upon by producer Todd Rundgren, at a later date.  These recordings are the best representation of the Dolls.  The band is sloppy in parts, but it is also part of their genius in that they had amazing songs, and their covers they did at the time, represented their trashy aesthetic and love for vintage rock n' roll.  It's interesting to note that the Dolls must have liked British Invasion bands like early Who or The Kinks, yet all their covers are American, based on the blues, or Atlantic Records-era rock recordings, or Chuck Berry.  So in a nutshell, the ultimate American rock band.

When I first heard the Dolls, which was their first Mercury album, I thought to myself, 'yes.'  At the time, The Stones were creatively spent, and there was a need for a younger band with great songs.  The Dolls were it.  On the other hand, the commercial music world disagreed with me.  Still, history will show that The Dolls were very much part of their decade, and the songs they wrote "Trash," "Personality Crisis," "Frankenstein" and others, were rooted in their social lives at the time.  It's a great snapshot of New York City subculture at work.  And "A Hard Night's Day" is very much that photograph or series of photos conveying the energy, sound, and genius of that time.

The Dolls wrote songs that were observational.  In that sense, they resemble Ray Davies of The Kinks.  Or even early Bowie.  David Johansen is a brilliant lyricist and through his solo career one can see that he is also a great music historian, but the same can be said for Johnny Thunders and Sylvain Sylvain as well.   And the rhythm section of Jerry Nolan (great drummer) and Arthur Kane were extremely important to their overall sound.  So to me, a perfectly balanced band.  

Paul Nelson captured the excitement much better than the official two studio Mercury albums.  This album is an important document but beyond that journalistic/studying approach, this is music to celebrate an independence that was greatly needed at the time.