New York Dolls : Dancing Backward In High Heels

We Say :- No one can deny the impact that the legendary New York Dolls had on Rock’n’Roll music. In 1971 they arrived onto a scene still recovering from some of the crimes against music that were inexplicably popular in the 1960s and proceeded to give it a much needed kick up the arse. You could argue that all punk can trace its roots back to the New York Dolls playing “Trash” at Max’s Kansas City club (which is in New York, funnily enough) in 1972.

Fast forward 40 years and the band are about to release their latest album, Dancing Backward In High Heels. This is the follow up to 2009’s generally-well-received-but-nothing-amazing Cause I Sez So.

So…. is the new one any good ?

Well the album gets off to a so-so start with Streetcake, 3 minutes and 19 seconds of 60s steeped, well, nothing much actually. OK all the elements are there but it just seems to be a little uninspiring and, for a band with nothing to prove to anyone, safe.

Talk To Me Baby is better, but still sounds like a 70s cover of a 60s song. Again it’s pleasant enough, again it just smacks of the band playing safe and that’s not what we want from our legends. Luckily after this OK but nothing stunning start things improve as the punk roots start to show through and we finally get some serious sneering attitude for I’m So Fabulous.

This is more like it šŸ™‚

Johansen’s voice gets another decent work out in Fool For You Baby which also features some neat harmonies, authentic antique backing vocals and even some plinky-plonky piano for good measure before the guitars are more or less put away and the organ comes out for the slow blues-ey Kids Like You. This is one of my favorite tracks on the album which sees Johansen putting in an emotional vocal performance which kept my overall opinion very much on an upwards trend.

This is definitely something worth sticking with, and it is an release which really improves with each listen.

We’re back to pure 60s doo-wop pop for I Sold My Heart To The Junkman. Now the 60s pop world is not a scene I am an expert in (shush at the back), but I couldn’t help thinking there was something familiar about this track. This is probably because it’s actually a cover version. Doh. The track was originally from the 1940s, but better known (apparently) from Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles 1962 version.

So now you know. Thanks for that Google šŸ™‚

The Dolls inject some some funk into the proceedings with Baby Tell Me What You’re On which has a really neat bass line courtesy of new boy Jason Hill. OK, so there is undoubtedly a massive ‘retro’ trip going on here, but it’s really very well done.

I think what I like most about this album is how there are a number of influences which have been called on and combined to produce a varied and, most importantly, interesting collection of songs. As well as their traditional New York punk sound there are bits of 60s pop, funk, southern blues and even reggae popping their head round the door and saying hi.

The New York Dolls are one of those legendary names that prove that everything you have heard about the effects of drugs and alcohol is probably wrong. Dancing Backwards In High Heels shows that, by and large, they can still deliver the goods.