New York Dolls

All Dolled Up [Video]

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Just what was all the fuss about? Even in their Big Apple home, the New York Dolls never advanced beyond clubdom, while outside the coasts and the Rust Belt they were a complete unknown. And yet with their demise in 1975, the Dolls' reputation slowly grew, ballooning over the decades to now rate them as one of America's most influential bands. All Dolled Up goes a long way toward explaining the continuing fascination with the band and the hold they still exert on so many imaginations. The core of the DVD is a 95-minute documentary shot on video by rock photographer Bob Gruen featuring the Dolls on-stage and off. Thus, this most colorful of groups is presented in black and white, and the sound on-stage is the equivalent of sticking a tape recorder into the air. That said, the concert footage is a revelation, pounding home just how groundbreaking the Dolls were, how far ahead of their time their sound was, while simultaneously showing how grounded it was in the past. When a CBS reporter describes their music as "street punk," then waxes on about their angry sound, he misses the humor inherent in their lyrics, but nails their style to a tee. Offstage, Gruen perfectly captures the group's personalities -- David Johansen, snooty, snotty, but inevitably charming; the still impish Johnny Thunders; the oozing-with-cool Sylvain Sylvain; the jokey Jerry Nolan; and off in his own world, Arthur Kane, always present but rarely accounted for. Sylvain, Johansen, and Gruen offer commentary on the documentary, while the photographer is also interviewed by fellow cult hero the Dictators' Dick Manitoba. Needless to add, there's a phenomenal photo gallery that Gruen narrates through. All told, All Dolled Up clocks in at almost four hours, and even though a good editor would have clipped its wings somewhat, there's enough crucial material here to sate most fans hunger. The Dolls in all their true glory.

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