Thursday, August 09, 2018

The New York Dolls - Paris Le Trash

Just one more Dolls for now! This is a live recording of the band in 1974, on the verge of their final breakup, but coming up for air one more time, showing that they could still deliver the proverbial goods.

The sound here is actually pretty damn good (was this a radio show? There is a lengthy French introduction to start things off..Ah yes, I see that it was.) and the band kicks in with proper power'n'swagger on "Personality Crisis" and waste no time blasting out the two-guitar  terror of "Bad Girl" with both Johnny and Sylvain playing especially well and Nolan propelling things into the rock'n'roll stratosphere. After a brief "merci" they kick into an explosive'n'dynamic "Looking For a Kiss", then David tries out some French to announce their super-fun take on "Great Big Kiss" with a rave-up that incorporates a little bit of "Shout!", as well, Johnny ribs Johansen's attempts at French as he introduces Nolan for a fun romp through "Stranded in the Jungle" (where David forgets some words, but pulls it together).

This is actually a pretty remarkable set for a band that was on the brink of destruction - the playing is fantastic all around and they are playing as a band - working together, showing off their strengths and covering up their weaknesses. "Pills" is damn near perfect, as is "Vietnamese Baby" with its extended, frantic solo sequence, there's more amped up fun in "Trash", Thunders takes lead vocals for his wonderful "Milk Me"/"Chatterbox", then there's a break for technical difficulties that is long enough that the announcer comes back in for a second before they blast through "Puss'n'Boots". They weren't writing much at this point so for something new (to them) they went back to their bluesy roots for a pretty straight-forward "Hoochie Coochie Man" (which is kinda out of character for them, in that it doesn't have the humor that their other bluesy covers did, although they do a good job) that segues right into the finale, "Jet Boy", that stretches out a bit as it rants'n'raves righteously.

For some reason, the studio versions of "Looking For a Kiss", "Who Are the Mystery Girls", "Chatterbox" and "Human Being" are tacked on the end of the CD - no idea why and there is no explanation in the insert. (These are actually other mixes, but the differences are pretty minute with the exception of "Human Being", which is either a divergent take altogether or just a variation on the sax and vocal overdubs.)

In any case, this CD shows just how incendiary and damn near perfect this band could be when they were "on", as they were this night. Yes, David's attempts at french are pretty silly, but otherwise, everyone is locked in and there to give a great rock'n'roll performance. I will forever be bummed that I never got to see them in their hey-day.