Unlike other artists in Ace's ongoing, excellent Heard Them Here First series, the New York Dolls do not have an extensive catalog. They released only two albums while they were active, and this paltry discography forces compilers Ian Johnston and Mick Patrick to widen their overview to include early demos and live recordings from when the band started to fray but even that expanded overview accounts for nine tracks, hardly enough for a sizeable compilation. So, Johnston and Patrick do the smart thing: they add in cuts that were in the repertoire of Johnny Thunders, David Johansen and his swinging alter ego Buster Poindexter, plus songs the reunited Dolls performed in the new millennium. This isn't everything these post-Dolls offshoots covered, of course -- notably, nothing from Johansen's hit Animals medley is here -- but the compilers sharply sculpt Lipstick, Powder & Paint! to reflect the aesthetic of the New York Dolls, trading heavily on the trashiest, funniest R&B, pop, blues, rock & roll, and soul from the days before the Beatles. Unsurprisingly, the songs here are usually big and bawdy, flirting with vaudeville -- in this context, the boasts of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Don't Start Me Talking" don’t seem threatening, they seem almost camp -- and that's the pleasure of the whole thing. The New York Dolls had a very specific aesthetic, one that worshipped the past while simultaneously satirizing it, and Lipstick, Powder & Paint! captures that delicate balance not through performance but through selection, which is something of a wondrous thing to behold.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine