Tuesday, October 14, 2008

David Johansen

On his first solo record, David Johansen moved away from the street/glam-rock of the New York Dolls to a more straightforward 70’s rock style. This might not have been quite as original or refreshing as the Dolls, but he still had some good songs up his sleeves.

The album starts off with “Funky But Chic” (funky butt cheek?), a guitar heavy piece of groovin’ 70’s melodic metal. The band is tight (again, unlike the Dolls!) and rockin’, with guitar lines intertwining with the melody, David still has some cool lyrics and the girl backup singers are a nice addition.

I believe that he wrote “Girls” with Sylvain Sylvain and it is a high energy romp that I could imagine the NYD doing in their later days. More Dolls-esque backing vocals and I’m sure that everyone was singing/chanting along with the “Girls, Girls, Girls!” chorus.

“Pain in my Heart” is a more mid-tempo, horn-and-keyboard-driven tune, with a hint of his 60’s and R’n’B roots. Probably the closest to the sound of the Dolls is “Not That Much” – Thunders-esque guitar riffing opens the song and David sounds like his old self here. Still a lot cleaner and more together than the old group, but a valiant effort!

This album’s version of “Lonely Planet Boy” is certainly “Donna”, the ballad of the bunch with good embellishments from the band throughout. Johansen tries to boost the excitement level on “Cool Metro” with a loud wolf-howl intro and this is a fairly frantic r’n’r number with a great chorus. This feel continues in “I’m a Lover”, with a memorable call and answer chorus and heavy, chugging guitars.

There is an almost theatrical drama to “Lonely Tenement” – cinematic in its sound and story. Musically, it is not quite as street-wise as the story, but it is still a hip song, with an unusual violin solo! The closer, “Frenchette”, starts as a piano ballad, but builds into a rock anthem of sorts. It goes back and forth dynamically before ending with a r’n’r guitar jam.

As I said, not nearly as wild and unrestrained as his former band, but this is a mix of that style and more commercial 70’s hard rock. If you dig that sound as I do, then you should dig this!