Thursday, January 08, 2015

New York Dolls - Red Patent Leather

I am always surprised by the bands that I have not written about on this blog - to the point that I sometimes wonder if the search function on Blogger works properly - but there are always more bands and I know that sometimes I have purposely avoided records that are too obvious - like the two Dolls studio albums. This one is slightly odder.

Recorded on May 2, 1975, this show was part of their Malcolm McClaren stage, with the band all dressed up in the title material while they performed in front of a hammer and sickle backdrop. The sound quality isn't bad for a 70's bootleg and there are some pretty darn good tunes here - several that would show up on different members' solo albums.

The title track open the record with some standard Dolls-y (re: Stones-y) swagger and nice harp work from Johansen. This and the following tune, "On Fire", were co-written by Johansen and Sylvain and have the Sylvain pop-edge, as opposed to the trashy rock on Thunders compositions - Syl is obviously the one playing the hooks here. Thunders is, in fact, fairly buried - his solo break is almost inaudible, but was probably pretty hip, combined with the licks that SS does. Drummer Nolan is solid as ever and he introduces their take on Eddie Cochran's "Something Else" - a tune that McClaren would later have Sid Vicious cover for Rock'n'Roll Swindle. This is a good one, but not super special - they don't make it their own as they did with other covers in the past. Thunders did a terrific "Daddy Rolling Stone" on his So Alone record and this one is almost as good - they are coming into their own by this time. Later to become a centerpiece of David's first solo LP, "Girls" is a cool 70's rocker co-written by Sylvain, who takes a trashy lead - the later studio version is crisper and cleaner, of course, and a bit faster, but this is still fun stuff. They do rock it up for "Ain't Got No Home"/"Dizzy Miss Lizzy" with Johnny singing and David on harp and they truly sound like they're having a good time here.

Sylvain takes up the electric piano for "Down, Down Downtown" (later simply "Downtown" in Thunders' hands), giving it a much bluesier feel than the So Alone take, with Johnny adding some nice licks - though, again, he's too buried and the piano is high in the mix. "Pirate Love" (later a Heartbreakers' song) has more piano on it, which is kinda cool, except that it almost overwhelms the entire tune. Funnily enough, one of the few songs in this set that actually appeared on a record of theirs is their cover of Bo Diddley's "Pills", which is a fun, high-energy romp before another Sylvain number, "Teenage News", which he would later put on his solo wax venture. The festivities come to a rousing climax with a medley of "Personality Crisis" and "Looking For a Kiss".

This is a good one for fans who are always looking for more than the two measly studio albums we were given in the 70's. Find it!