Monday, August 06, 2018

New York Dolls - Back in the USA aka Seven Day Weekend

Not sure where I first acquired this one, but my version is titled Back in the USA, with a different cover, although it is the same collection of 1973 demos from Planet Studios. Obviously, not as polished as the records and the sound isn't perfect, but there are 5 tracks that were not on either of their official records and the demos are just different enough that fans will want to hear the early takes.

The previously unreleased cuts are all covers, starting with the opening rave-up of Gary U.S. Bonds' "Seven Day Weekend". Johansen's vocals are pretty rough'n'ragged (as they would tend to be), but Nolan gives it plenty of punch and Thunders' guitar cuts through with appropriate bite (he would cover this later in his career, as well). "Frankenstein" is a little shambolic, but is pretty similar to the "official" version though, again, Johansen's vocals are a bit more strained'n'garbled than on record. This trend continues into "Mystery Girls", with him sounding particularly hoarse and at times barely even singing, but the backing sounds strong until it just trails off (as opposed to a fade out, I suppose), "Showdown" was sounding good until it suddenly fell apart, "Back in the USA" has a muddy mix with buried guitars but is rockin', "Endless Party" (another that Thunders would later revitalize) does indeed sound like a blast with cool group vocals, even with the harmonica too high in the mix and a ramblin' ending, "Jet Boy" is pretty damn rockin' with its two guitar attack and "It's Too Late" has a few issues as it starts'n'stops due to some screw-ups and David's lyrics'n'melody weren't yet finalized, nor was the solo section or ending.

Back with plenty of fun in "Bad Detective" - again a bit more anarchic than the recording, especially in all of the vocals and the breakdown - while "Lonely Planet Boy" is even slower than the record but otherwise pretty solid, and while they were on the ballads, they do a good "Subway Train", as well, that builds nicely. They seem to be picking up steam as "Private World" is quite strong (even David is in top form here), the momentum continues for "Trash" and "Human Being" and they're well warmed up for a maniacal "Don't Start Me Talking". They continue with more blues in a fairly straight-forward'n'tough "Hootchie Cootchie Man", then successfully update the Shangri-Las in "Great Big Kiss" (a genius move and again one that Johnny went back to later on) before moving back to originals for a spot-on "Vietnamese Baby" and a smashin' "Babylon".

Obviously, only meant for fans, but pretty good, overall, especially after the guys warmed up a bit. This really shows that the band could be pretty damn tight (particularly after Nolan joined) and they had solid arrangements - they were just a bit too far ahead of their time, a bit too New York-y, a bit too rock'n'roll-loose and they lacking in their vocal finesse for the 70's rock crowd. Regardless, or because of all of this, they were geniuses (or idiot savants) that helped to bring rock'n'roll back from the precipice that it was on.