Tuesday, March 15, 2011

New York Dolls' "Dancing Backward in High Heels" review

 New York Dolls - Dancing Backward in High Heels
The New York Dolls
Dancing Backward in High Heels
Rating: *** 1/2 or ****

When the New York Dolls reunited in 2004, not too many people thought that it would last very long and that it would just be a one-off gig. When bassist Arthur Kane passed away, it seemed as if the reunion was off...but it wasn't. In 2006, the reunited band released One Day It Would Please Us To Remember Even This. The album, for many, was a surprisingly good album as it sounded like an album the original Dolls would've made had they had not broken up. In 2009, Cause I Sez So was released to mixed reviews. Although the band had worked with producer Todd Rundgren (producer of the debut album in 1973), the album was a bit too experimental for some. The band's new album, Dancing Backward in High Heels, is already receiving mixed reviews from critics. If you're expecting an album like the original two albums the Dolls made in the 1970's (New York Dolls and Too Much Too Soon), you'll probably be disappointed. This reunited New York Dolls are a bit different from the original band. Singer David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain are the only original members in the band still. Everyone else (Johnny Thunders, Arthur Kane, Jerry Nolan, and even early drummer Billy Murica) are all dead. Still, Dancing Backward in High Heels is a very good album.

The entire album feels and sounds like a 1950's or 1960's R&B record that probably would've been produced by Phil Spector...done in the style of the New York Dolls. For example, the opener "Fool For You Baby" sounds something from the 1950's but it's also like some the Velvet Underground would've made for 1970's Loaded (The "ba-ba-bas" make it sound like "I Found A Reason"). "Streetcake" has some sweet lyrics, in which David Johansen sings "I'm so sweet like the New York Dolls". "I'm So Fabulous" is a bit of a funny song that sounds like something the band could've made in the 1970's. The story behind the song is actually explained by Johansen in the track before ("Fabulous Rant", which they shouldn't have made its own 26 second track). The song pretty much disses people living in New York who think they're all that when in reality, they aren't. "Talk to Me Baby" has a really nice groove to it. The same can be said for "Round and Round She Goes". "Funky But Chic" is a real hip shaker and sounds much like old-school Dolls. It should because this song was originally recorded by Johansen on his debut solo album back in 1977. This re-recorded version sounds a little different and the song does indeed live up to its title: it's funky...but chic. There are a few slow songs that go nowhere like "Kids Like You", but are still decent. A strong slow song on here would have to be "You Don't Have To Cry". "I Sold My Heart to the Junkman" is a hilarious song off the album that sounds like a parody of girl groups produced by Phil Spector. The title alone is classic. The band goes reggae at the end of the album with "End of the Summer".

Dancing Backward in High Heels is worth a listen if you are a fan of the original New York Dolls. As mentioned before, don't expect it to be anything like the band's first two albums. If you are reading this and don't have those two albums, go and get them. The two previous reunion albums aren't bad either. You can catch the New York Dolls on tour this year, opening for Motley Crue and Poison. Meanwhile, enjoy Dancing Backward in High Heels.  

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