Obsessive New York Dolls fans probably have a section in their archives for the various releases of the band's 1974 Paris performance, which was broadcast on French radio and has been circulating in semi-authorized form for several decades. Prior to French Kiss '74, this same show has been available under the titles From Paris with L-U-V, Paris Is Burning, and If It's Saturday This Must Be Paris, among many others. Of the scraps of live Dolls material that circulate, this is far better than most -- the audio is hardly perfect (David Johansen's vocals bob up and down throughout the mix, and Johnny Thunders' guitar tends to drown out everything else), but was clearly handled by professionals, and the band is just sloppy enough to do these songs justice without sounding like they're about to collapse. Most of the major Dolls classics are here -- including "Personality Crisis," "Trash," "Jet Boy," and "Looking for a Kiss" -- along with roaring covers of "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" (with the gender flipped) and "Hoochie Coochie Man." (You also get a version of "Chatterbox" with very different lyrics.) However, Johansen spends a little too much time practicing his high school French for the benefit of the Parisian audience (Thunders even stops him to ask what the hell he's talking about at one point), and while the Dolls are in good form, this set is a bit short on energy, capturing the band as they were on the downhill slide after Too Much Too Soon. But among live Dolls' discs that aren't specifically bootlegs, this show is about as good as they get, and French Kiss '74 captures a fabled band pretty much living up to their legend -- though the Dolls' legend leaves more than a little room for things to go wrong.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming