Saturday, November 14, 2009


I was never really a big New York Dolls fan. I didn't have any big objection to them, and I knew that they influenced a lot of bands that I like, including KISS, Aerosmith and a lot of punk groups. I didn't know much of their music, and I was more familiar with singer David Johansen's solo work (mainly his Animals covers), his hit singles as Buster Poindexter and his scene-stealing role in Scrooged.

Then I went to Little Steven's Underground Garage Rock Festival in August of 2004. The New York Dolls, who had reunited a few weeks earlier at the behest of former fan club president Morrissey, were one of the headliners. It was their first New York show in three decades. Somehow, they were beneath The Strokes on the bill, and the final band was The Stooges. A publicist took me onstage for the Dolls, and they really knocked me out. I couldn't believe I'd never really listened to them before. I bought their 1973 self-titled album and really dug it.

About a year later, I found myself working at SIRIUS Satellite Radio, and David Johansen, as it turned out, hosted a weekly show on SIRIUS Disorder. (These days, it is on The Loft). I don't always like what he plays - it is true free form radio, veering from punk rock to opera to country to film music to soft rock bands like Toto or Bread to instrumental film music. But I like a lot of it, and he takes curating a radio show and makes it an artform, just as much as Little Steven or Bob Dylan. You've really got to hear it.

Around this time, word came that the Dolls' gigs had gone so well that they were going to record a reunion album. That sounded dicey. But as it tured out, 2006's One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This is probably one of the best comeback albums I've ever heard, and the follow up, this year's 'Cause I Sez So, proved it to be no fluke. Even though there are only two surviving members - Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain - they made it work, and work well.

I had the chance to film Johansen being interviewed by John Varvatos for his SIRIUSXM show (which is on Faction) and David Johansen was really cool. Soon after, I filmed The New York Dolls' performance at Varvatos' store at the former location of CBGB, and the band were on fire. Johansen definitely looks his age, but he carries it in the most cool way.

More Best Of The '00s: Bob Dylan
Willie Nelson
Aimee Mann
Jeff Tweedy

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