New York Dolls
The New York Dolls created punk rock before there was a term for it. Building on The Rolling Stones' dirty rock & roll, Mick Jagger's androgyny, girl group pop, the glam rock of David Bowie and T.Rex, and The Stooges' anarchic noise, the New York Dolls created a new form of hard rock that presaged both punk rock and heavy metal. Their drug-fuelled, shambolic performances influenced a generation of musicians in New York and London, who all went on to form punk bands. And although they self-destructed quickly, the band's two albums remained two of the most popular cult records in rock & roll history.
In 2004, former Smiths vocalist Morrissey who was once the president of a British New York Dolls Fan Club invited the surviving members of the New York Dolls to perform at the 2004 Meltdown Festival, a music and cultural festival that was being curated that year by the singer. To the surprise of many, David Johansen, Syl Sylvain and Arthur Kane agreed to the gig, with Steve Conte standing in for Thunders and Gary Powell from The Libertines sitting in on drums. The group's set was well-received by critics and fans (and was recorded for release on DVD and compact disc), which led to offers for other festival appearances, but only a few weeks after the Meltdown show, Kane checked himself into a Los Angeles hospital with what he thought was a severe case of the flu. Kane's ailment was soon diagnosed as leukaemia, and he died only a few hours later, on July 13, 2004, at age 55 (joining his late ex-bandmates, Billy Murcia, Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan).
Watching footage of the Dolls onstage at the behest of one of their biggest fans, one realised just how vast and heretofore unsung their influence truly was. Everyone knows the famous logo: chrome lipstick, scrawling that name across an unseen mirror, but it's more than the great brand. It's not about the androgyny either. Skinny boys were wearing make-up long before them. Little Richard. Elvis. It's not even about the music, as the Dolls themselves were always quick to credit 50's R&B numbers or early 60's girl group productions as their own influences. Really, what makes the Dolls so eternal is the attitude it got into rocks water supply and never left. Kiss, Aerosmith, the Ramones, Blondie, the Sex Pistols, The Damned, Mötley Crüe, Guns N' Roses, Hanoi Rocks, The Strokes, The Libertines and just about any gang of strutting rockers who are convinced that their band could take your band and possibly your whole town in a pretty for pretty, ugly for ugly throwdown. The Dolls, and their disciples win, not just with brawn but with what guitarist Sylvain Sylvain calls plenty of intellect and plenty of sex. OFFICIAL NEW YORK DOLLS BIOG EXTRACTS
Still living it up and doing their own thing nearly 40 years on although now much more appreciated by the music world. The resurrected, modern-day New York Dolls is comprised of David Johansen (lead vocals & harmonica), Sylvain Sylvain (guitar & backing vocals), Steve Conte (guitar & backing vocals), Brian Delaney (drums) and former Hanoi Rocks bassist Sami Yaffa. Who as a different breed bound together, continue to attend to unfinished business releasing their fourth studio album, Cause I Sez So (2009), this past May. Which convincingly, effortlessly and unapologetically sits alongside their three previous efforts: New York Dolls (1973), Too Much Too Soon (1974) and One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This (2006), whilst still managing to push the Dolls sound forward. After working together on the bands seminal debut in 1973 (at the time, a record that HAD to be made), the five-piece reunited with producer Todd Rundgren at Utopia Sound Studio in Kauai, Hawaii, where Cause I Sez So was written and recorded in a month. Featuring 11 original compositions and a new reggae version of Trash, frontman Johansen elucidated: It was amazing working with Todd again, and I think we were able to evoke the special sound of our first album and drag it by the hair into the present.
Ahead of the Dolls 2009 December UK Tour, I got in touch with guitarist Steve Conte a man who has his finger in many musical pies and is himself just about to put out his latest long player, Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth. With his Press Release expanding: Sonically, The Crazy Truth lies somewhere between garage rock and punk blues with hints of Latin-soul in a dark, smoky lounge. Its The Stooges and The Stones versus Morphine and Tom Waits. The overall vibe is best described by Conte as classic roots with a modern twist. Steve Conte delivers the power, soul and raunch. Hes a runaway guitar hero on the edge of falling apart with the voice of a derelict angel. Returning to his involvement with the New York Dolls, he told Guitar & Bass Magazine about how he came to join the group for their much-lauded Meltdown Festival appearance in 2004: David asked a bunch of respected guitar players around New York who should he get for the gig they all told him, Call Conte. The publication also went on to discuss the way in which a natural understanding has grown up between Sylvain and Conte, where rhythm and leads are traded on the hoof to enhance the bands swinging stomp. With Steve later adding: I think Im Ronnie Wood to Syls Keith. I bring a bit of sophistication, but not too much. As David said, You can only be an amateur once.
In a candid interview with Ultimate Guitar, he also revealed: I feel blessed to be part of the New York Dolls legacy. There are very few legendary rock & roll bands that a person can just step into and become a real part of. Ever since the first Dolls show with Arthur Kane at the Royal Festival Hall when David said to me, Stevie, just wear what you want to wear and play what you want to play, I felt like I was home. And now, five years later after touring the world, making two live albums, two studio albums and co-writing songs with the band, there's a real sense of belonging to something. I believe this version of the band has now been together longer than the original version. Of the Dolls striking and elating live shows, The Times recently waxed lyrical: Lead singer David Johansen has retained the body of a teenage boy and the swagger of a man born to be a star. Songs from the current album, Cause I Sez So and its 2006 predecessor notably the formers title track and the latters Were All In Love and Dance Like A Monkey went down as well as the oldies.
Iconic, influential and now arguably vindicated, make sure that you dont miss out on your chance of seeing the legendary New York Dolls up-close-and-personal when they roll into a town near you.
Its time to get all Dolled up
1.To begin with, what does rock n roll mean to you and
what are some of the best things about being a New York Doll?
A very special thanks to Steve, and to Peter @ Noble PR, for all of their time and help.
R*E*P*E*A*T ALBUM REVIEW: Clocking in at a brisk 36 minutes and coming on like an animalistic / anything-goes, three-way showdown between Aerosmith, New York Dolls and The Rolling Stones. This no-nonsense, foot-stomping record never lets up and is chock-full with thousand-miles-per-hour, loose-limbed balls of energy. Raw songs which are dispatched like dynamite and delve into the annals of time with driving fervour channelling the pure spirit of good-time 70s rock n roll, punk, boogie-woogie and honky-tonk blues. As a frontman, Steve proves himself to be more than capable of holding his own, delivering straight-talking and redemptive lyrics reflecting two decades of life and excess in New York City all of which have stand-up-and-be-counted attitude! Vocally, Conte has a wild child, throaty and meaty voice, that seems both fired-up and loosened on multiple bottles of Jack Daniels and could break free from the trios music at any moment! Bolstered by an armada of pinball riffs, growling bass, malevolent drums, masterful fretwork and stare-you-out guitar solos, that all work seamlessly together in the pursuit of whipping up a veritable musical storm. World-renowned producer Steve Lillywhite raved: There is very little genuine rock and roll out there at the moment but Steve Conte has hit the nail on the head with this one! Sounding instantly familiar (This Is The End, Gypsy Cab, The Goods Are Odd), yet at the same time undeniably fresh (Texas T, Busload Of Hope, Indie Girl), Steve Conte & The Crazy Truths musical mettle will jive and worm its way into your heart, mind, body and soul! And if you need any further convincing, why not take up Steves invitation to rock and roll like the Marquis de Sade.