I still think of this as one of my favorite records of all time, but that has to be partly due to going to see him at the Cleveland Agora not long after this record came out in 1978. I was 18 and could go to a bar, and this was the first time I saw a band I really liked at a bar (rather than a concert venue) and I was amazed at how close to the stage I could get. I hadn’t ever really listened to the New York Dolls, and from the pictures on the album cover, I expected the band to be wearing pretty much all black leather– so I was pretty shocked when David Johansen came out wearing an all bright yellow suit with matching hat and started dancing around like a maniac. It was a great show, maybe my favorite rock show ever– the energy was overwhelming to me.
So over the years since, I STILL get the feeling back from these songs. The interesting thing is that I have changed my favorite songs over the years. I’m sure of that. The geekiest thing I can think of to do right now would be to rank the songs (all of which I really like) according to how I feel about them NOW. But I won’t do that. Okay (from least to favorite): 9. Lonely Tenement 8. Pain In My Heart 7. Girls 6. Cool Metro 5. I’m a Lover 4. Donna 3. Not That Much 2. Funky But Chic 1. Frenchette. I could go on and on about these songs forever, but I won’t. (I’m sure this was the first time I ever heard a CONCEPT like “I’m in love with you daddy, but not that much.”)
It’s no secret that the New York Dolls are my favorite rock’n'roll band of all time, but by the time I listened to them they were in the distant past. I suppose this record might have been a disappointment to Dolls fans, the cover and back cover pictures are kind of screaming “I’m not in drag!” But for me at the time, nothing seemed cooler than that pack of Lucky Strikes sitting on the floor. The band picture on the inner sleeve is hilarious– the band looks like the cast of “Mean Streets”– well, the one guy looks just like young Bill Wyman. My favorite is the bass player, Buzz Verno (nicknamed definitely NOT after his haircut) who, live, as I recall, was wearing a couple of huge white leather belts, hanging down low. The two guitarists look pretty much the same– which is always a nice look for a band. It says a “Joe Perry” played on Cool Metro (as well as Sylvain Sylvain)– and if it was THAT Joe Perry, I’m wondering if there was a contest that day in the studio for protruding cheekbones and puckered lips.
Anyway, I think this is a record that I’ll ALWAYS be able to listen to. (I’m kind of sad I don’t have his next one, “In Style” which is pretty good, too.) I know it’s personal, though, and has to do with circumstances. Every time I listen to a New York Dolls record I think about that.