Friday, December 20, 2013

The most important thing to hit rock music since electricity? Well, maybe

..."the Dolls are the most important thing to hit rock music since electricity and if you don't think so, get outta the way buddy!"
Nick Kent was paraphrasing to make a point in his 1974 NME piece on the NEW YORK DOLLS, but as I listen to a 40-song playlist of the proto-punk combo's raw tunes, I think Kent was not far off the mark.
The debut album by David Johansen, Johnny Thunders, Sylvain Sylvain, Arthur "Killer" Kane and Jerry Nolan came out 40 years ago, yet it still sounds menacing and dangerously cool.
Polarizing in contemporary times, the Dolls proved enormously influential as their legacy unfolded. They helped shape the sound of punk, inspiring alternative pioneers such as Morrissey in the process.
The Dolls were trashy and tough, bending genders and breaking guitar strings in such a haphazard manner that detractors such as rock producer Bob Ezrin (of KISS fame) proclaimed:
"Do you actually like the New York Dolls? Well, all I can say man, is that you have been duped. Duped!"
Rock critic Robert Christgau took a more reasoned view, writing:
"To be a Doll was to appear 24 hours a day in an improvised psychodrama, half showbiz and half acting out, that merely got wilder in front of the microphones."
If you have never heard the New York Dolls yourself, I recommend giving them a try. The echoes of their raucous rock still fill the airwaves -- whether you realize it or not.


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