Thursday, 23 July 2009

New York Dolls still rock

The summer of 2009 has definitely been the time for former heroes to get on the road and wow a new audience but it is not always about the artists who have been away for years. Sometimes an older artist or act finds a new lease of life and manages to stay on the road for a period of years. What their shows lose in the novelty excitement of their first shows back, gain in the experience and comfort that comes from playing regularly and getting a partnership together again. This is a good way to describe many of the acts performing this summer but one of the best ones under this banner is definitely the New York Dolls. They may be close to their fortieth year together but they are still more than capable of putting on a show, even though they may be down to two original members. David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain are more than capable of putting on a show and anyone who has the pleasure of seeing the boys on their current tour will be more than satisfied.
They may have developed their own sound from bands like MC5 and The Stooges but the New York Dolls had a far wider influence than just on punk bands. Yes, their impact on the New York New Wave and punk scene is well documented with even acts like Blondie taking a lot from the band but there have been a number of big names artists professing their love who you may not think of as big Dolls fans. Morrissey, formerly of The Smiths and now a solo artist of much fame, was such a big fan that he was president of the fan club. It doesn’t get much bigger than that and Morrissey played a huge role in the bands reformation in 2004. Another really big fan of the band is Michael Stipe from R.E.M. Yes, the man who crooned “that’s me in the corner” on ‘Losing My Religion’ has regularly stated his love of the New York Dolls, even if the influence does not come shining through in his own bands music.
Johnny Thunders managed to carve out a career after the band went their separate ways and the maverick guitarist and front-man was one of the most recognisable heroes of the punk legend. Tracks like ‘You Cant Put Your Arms Around A Memory’ or ‘One Track Mind’ stand the test of time and are as much a blue print for punk rock as anything by The Ramones or the Sex Pistols. As well as touring the Sex Pistols and The Clash, Thunders later worked with Steve Jones and Paul Cook on his ‘So Alone’ album, putting him firmly at the heart of all things punk on both sides of the Atlantic. There will always be a level of debate and discussion over which brand of punk rock was better but Thunders was one of the boys that managed to straddle both sides convincingly.
In the end, Johnny Thunders went the same way as Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix and Sid Vicious in the fact that his death is still shrouded in mystery. He may be missing from the New York Doll’s current tour and new found popularity but his legacy lives on and still managing to influence new generations of fans.

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