There is an age-old debate of who was the first band or artist to invent punk music as a genre. Everyone comes up with different names to each other. For me; if not the first, one of the very first to crate this raucous music with volume, power, energy and above all else; attitude, with the bloody brilliant New York Dolls.
Pioneers. Innovators and great, great fun. So it is with joy I listen to and review this latest box set release from Cherry Red Records, celebrating this larger than life outfit who were originally billed as hard rock.
Personality Crisis: Live Recordings & Studio Demos 1972-1975. A trio of pre-Mercury demo sessions – arguably as close as the Dolls ever got to nailing their sound in the cold austerity of the recording studio.
Here in this killer five disc set, joined by a collection of incendiary live shows (including two American radio broadcasts). This package serves, then, as an alternative view of one of the few genuinely essential rock’n’roll bands to emerge from the early 70s wastelands.
Formed in 1971 in New York City, the New York Dolls line-up was vocalist David Johansen, guitarist Johnny Thunders, bassist Arthur Kane, guitarist Sylvain Sylvain and drummer Billy Murcia.
Sporting an androgynous wardrobe of high heels, eccentric hats, make-up and satin onstage, around the same time as that look became part of the glam rock era in Britain. The band boasted such high profile fans as Morrissey, the Sex Pistols, The Ramones, Kiss, Guns N’ Roses and The Damned.
The essence of the New York Dolls was never satisfactorily captured by their two albums for the Mercury label, both of which many believe suffered from unsympathetic production. Fortunately, the band’s untutored rawness, unencumbered strength of purpose and unique vision is better served by the recordings that are gathered together for the first time on Personality Crisis: Live Recordings & Studio Demos 1972-1975.
Despite the variable sound quality, these live recordings capture their unfettered outrageousness and life-affirming vitality. Includes early versions of acknowledged New York Dolls’ classics: ‘Jet Boy’, ‘Trash’, ‘Personality Crisis’, ‘Puss ‘n’ Boots’, ‘Stranded In The Jungle’, ‘Babylon’, ‘Who Are The Mystery Girls’, ‘Bad Girl’ and ‘Pills’.
The discs are presented in a clamshell box set containing its own booklet with full sleeve notes, plus individual card wallets for each of the discs. All material contained within this package has been specially remastered for this release.
DISC ONE: 18 tracks. STUDIO DEMOS 72-73
BLUE ROCK STUDIO NYC, JUNE ‘72
DISC TWO: 18 tracks. STUDIO DEMOS 1973
PLANET STUDIOS, NYC, MARCH ‘73
DISC THREE: 21 tracks. LIVE. PARIS / DETROIT / LONG ISLAND
BATACLAN, PARIS, 23 DEC ‘73
DISC FOUR: 17 tracks. LIVE 1974
LONG ISLAND / VANCOUVER / DALLAS
MY FATHER’S PLACE, LONG ISLAND, 14 APRIL ’74 (WBAB RADIO BROADCAST)
DISC FIVE: 16 tracks. LIVE 1974
DALLAS ’74 / NYC ‘75
By Clive Scott
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’