The New York Dolls, in their original incarnation, are one of my favorite bands of all time. When I picked up their “reunion” album (two original members), Someday It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, it was an impulse purchase made on a Saturday afternoon when the flesh was weak and I had some extra cash, and I expected to trade it in at the used music shop pretty quickly.
I was astonished to discover that it was excellent. No, it wasn’t New York Dolls or Too Much Too Soon, but an attempt to recreate those classics over thirty years later would have been laughable. Instead, it was the work of elder statesmen who may have lost their youth, but have not lost their attitude or significant songwriting chops.
‘Cause I Sez So, the Mark-Two Dolls’ follow-up to their well-received comeback, could count as a sophomore slump, as the songwriting on the whole is not quite at the same level as Someday. But you know what they say–you have thirty-three years to write your third album and only two-and-a-half to write your fourth. And if ‘Cause I Sez So suffers a bit in comparison due to being maybe two killer tracks short, it’s also filler-free, tough where appropriate, tender where it needs to be, and sardonic in a manner that early-twenties punkers are incapable of: “Tried to bum a cigarette,” David Johansen wearily complains–“Nobody smokes no more.”
The Dolls’ primary touchstones remain the same (garage rock, blues), but they’ve broadened the palette a bit on songs like “Temptation to Exist,” which sounds somewhat like young David Bowie crossed with something from the 1980’s psychedelic pop scene, and “Drowning,” which goes for arena rock bombast. They even do a reggae remake of their classic “Trash,” which will no doubt irk some long-time fans.
While it may not rise to the level of its immediate predecessor, ‘Cause I Sez So is the work of a still-vibrant band. A sentence I never thought I’d write: The New York Dolls have a bright future ahead of them.
Rhino Records has not seen fit to release a video or two for ‘Cause I Sez So (way to promote, guys!) and I’m sick of being busted so I’m not going to post one. We’ll have to make due with a couple of pretty-good live clips.
New York Dolls – “‘Cause I Sez So”
New York Dolls – “My World”