New York Dolls

Live at the Fillmore East December 28 & 29, 2007

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If you're wondering how the New York Dolls played the Fillmore East when they didn't stagger out of the Mercer Art Center until 1971, the same year Bill Graham's East Coast rock palace closed, read the fine print -- the Fillmore in question is actually the renamed Irving Plaza (thanks for trivializing rock history, Clear Channel Communications!), and the band is the reconstituted version of the New York Dolls, who were touring in support of their studio comeback One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This in 2007. This is the second live set so far from the reunited Dolls (and with One Day that means the Dolls 2.0 have already released more albums than the original group did in its heyday), and while it lacks the gravity of Return of the New York Dolls (these shows were clearly not meant to be a major event, and Arthur Kane is sadly absent), the band sounds a lot tighter and more confident and rollicking on this disc. Steve Conte is not and never will be Johnny Thunders, but he's added just enough slop to his meat-and-potatoes hard rock chops to become a proper guitar partner for Sylvain Sylvain, and with Sami Yaffa and Brian Delaney holding down the backbeat and David Johansen reclaiming his title as one of rock & roll's great frontmen, this is a band that consistently, solidly delivers the goods. Of course, consistency or sounding tight was never really the point with the Dolls, and while this is quality entertainment, there's a certain element of danger and unpredictability that the New Dolls cannot reclaim from the Old Dolls. Significantly, while two tunes from One Day appear on the set list, 80 percent of the material here is drawn from New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon, which suggests that no matter how hard they try, these Dolls members will never escape the burden of their past. But aging New York hipsters have as much of a right to nostalgia as anyone else, and Live at the Fillmore East offers audible proof that Johansen and his pals are giving the folks who show up their money's worth, whatever their reason for checking out the gig. Oh, and speaking of consistency, the cover art for this disc is every bit as ugly as the dozens of semi-bootleg Dolls live discs that have been littering stores for years, one tradition the new edition of the band didn't need to follow.

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