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' 'Cause I Sez So' by New York Dolls

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009


New York Dolls

In 2006, a reconstituted version of the New York Dolls released the group's first studio album in more than three decades. Opinions were mixed as to whether the record captured the gutter-sniping glory of the pair of proto-punk classics the band made in the '70s. Scrutiny of this sterling follow-up, featuring founding members David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain, is likely to be more unrelenting. The record reunites the Dolls with Todd Rundgren, who produced their groundbreaking debut, and also includes a re-imagined version of that album's low-life anthem, "Trash."

Replete with duck-walking rhythms, caterwauling guitars and Johansen's petulant swagger, the record's opening salvo, " 'Cause I Sez So," should be more than enough to quell even the most churlish of doubters. "Muddy Bones" offers more of the same, but with greater melodic sweep, while a couple of the mid-tempo ballads update the finger-popping splendor of Brill Building pop. At once streetwise and tender, Johansen's bravura performance on "Lonely So Long" sounds like a nod to tough-moll Mary Weiss, lead singer of the original band's favorite girl group, the Shangri-Las.

"This Is Ridiculous" and "Nobody Got No Bizness" spotlight the Dolls' roots in R&B and, on "Ridiculous," in the Willie Dixon/Howlin' Wolf school of Chicago blues in particular. "Drowning" and "Temptation to Exist," by contrast, are awash in Middle Eastern modalities, and "Trash," winningly done over as lilting reggae, plays up the song's debt to Mickey & Sylvia's loopy, flirtatious 1957 hit "Love Is Strange."

-- Bill Friskics-Warren

DOWNLOAD THESE: "'Cause I Sez So," "Lonely So Long," "Trash"

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