New York Dolls

One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This

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The prospect of a new studio album from the New York Dolls in the year 2006 is a strange and puzzling thing, especially without the presence of Johnny Thunders, Arthur Kane, and Jerry Nolan, all of whom are currently gigging on another astral plane. But after the Dolls made an unexpected and surprisingly convincing return to the concert stage in 2004, David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain, and their newly appointed partners started writing new material and took the risky step of taking the new band into the studio a mere 32 years after Too Much Too Soon. One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This has two major hurdles to clear for anyone who cared about the Dolls: they have to create something akin to the sloppy majesty of their two iconic studio albums without the help of ace guitar mauler Thunders, and they have to write songs with the same gritty blare and strutting attitude that came as second nature when they were twenty-somethings. Musically, this version of the Dolls is much more precise than they ever were back in the day, but the opening track, "We're All in Love," captures a fair share of the rattly subway train rhythm that was the Dolls aural trademark, and most of these tunes don't aim for the same degree of rock action as the group's most famous tunes, there's still an admirable crash-and-bash energy on "Gimme Luv and Turn on the Light" and "Dance Like a Monkey," and there are clear gestures towards the Dolls' other sonic touchstones: vintage girl group sounds ("Rainbow Store"), old-school R&B ("Take a Good Look at My Good Looks"), the blues ("I Ain't Got Nothin'"). Just as importantly, David Johansen hasn't sung rock & roll with this kind of strength, authority, and guts in years, and guitarists Sylvain and Steve Conte crank out the fire without too much audible worry about the weight of the past. (It also helps that the rhythm section is right on the money and Jack Douglas delivers the muscular but unobtrusive production this band always needed and never got.) As for the songs, with their frequent philosophical musings and multisyllabic constructions, this is heady stuff coming from what was once was a band of decadent street punk fashion mavens, but let's face it, one of the reasons Johansen and Sylvain survived and their bandmates didn't is they had a vision of the future that went further than the next party and the next fix, and the best songs on this album look at where these guys have been and where they're going with a mixture of intelligence, perception, and street smarts. And if you're just looking for dumb fun, "Dance Like a Monkey" delivers. On One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, the New York Dollsare a far cry from the band that recorded "Personality Crisis" in 1972, but the album offers a reasonable approximation of the Dolls as smart, battle-hardened survivors who've got something to say and have a few laughs while saying it. If it's not quite a triumph, it's challenging and ambitious stuff that rocks on out and doesn't tarnish the memory of what Johansen and Sylvain accomplished so many years ago.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1
blue highlight denotes track pick