New York Dolls | One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This (Roadrunner)

It's clear that Johansen and Sylvain are having a blast getting in touch with their rock 'n' roll roots, and any listeners willing to open their ears and minds will likely do the same.

 


First things first: One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This is not really a New York Dolls album. Yes, that storied logo scrawled in pink lipstick is positioned as the masthead on the album cover, but any resemblance to the quintet that helped invent punk with their sexy, sleazy 1972 debut is purely coincidental.

If judged on its own merits, this album, the third studio album ever under the Dolls name and the first in 32 years, is a damn solid rock record. The newly reconstituted lineup, featuring the only two surviving original members-singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain-thankfully doesn't try too hard to recreate past glories, but instead has crafted a back-to-basics album that revels in boozy blues-rock, glam, and Spector-esque girl group pop. As Johansen explains in the band's bio, "You can never be amateurish again… Those two Dolls albums are like folk art. Urban folk art. Alan Lomax could have made them… When I was considering how to go about writing, I was saying, as you go through life and get more skilled at your craft, you can never go back."

The Dolls of 1972 would never have constructed a song like album opener "We're All in Love," with its chanted chorus backed by a harmonica that blares like a train whistle before the shredding metal guitars of the verse kick in. Johansen's lyrics are much more literate these days, as well, most notably on the hilarious pro-evolution "Dance Like a Monkey." The song appropriately nicks the drumbeat from Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life," which makes sense: If the groove was insistent enough the first time to turn a song about drug culture into an ad for Caribbean cruises, it can certainly drag asses to the dance floor for snotty, politicized lyrics like "You design so intelligent/Ain't no way that was an accident/C'mon, shake your monkey hips/My pretty little creationist/Ain't gonna anthropomorphize ya/Or perversely polymorph-isize ya."

Unfortunately, One Day can be hit or miss. The clanging piano on "Gotta Get Away From Tommy" doesn't amount to much, and if the cat-call whistles of "Runnin' Around" don't make you roll your ryes, the faux-blues riff straight out of a George Thorogood song probably will long before the lyrics about "flesh-colored underwear" rear their ugly head. But each low like that is countered by a high like "Rainbow Store," a bouncy, Grease-worthy ditty that bears more than a passing resemblance to "Great Big Kiss" from So Alone, the 1978 solo album by former New York Doll Johnny Thunders. "Dancing on the Lip of a Volcano" is a fun song on its own, but sticks out like a sore thumb in the context of the album, thanks to the random addition of R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe on backing vocals. Stipe sounds as good as ever, to be sure, but his voice is like nothing else here and stands out because of it.

Fans hoping for One Day to be the kind of life- and career-defining album that the Dolls' two '70s releases were will likely be disappointed. Their loss, as it's clear that Johansen and Sylvain are having a blast getting in touch with their rock 'n' roll roots, and any listeners willing to open their ears and minds will likely do the same.

RIYL: The original New York Dolls, Iggy Pop

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply