Recently over at Clicks And Pops Alex Stein discussed one of his guilty pleasures, a holiday tune by the glam metal band Angel. The ugly beyond-belief album cover brought back memories for me of purchasing the first New York Dolls album. In the wheat country of Northwest Oklahoma in 1973 there was good reason to fear reaction of the locals to this photo of the boys dressed up in provocative derelict drag. I had read about the Dolls in various rock magazines and decided I had to hear it for myself.
I went to the local 5&10 cent store to buy it, expecting.. I'm not sure what.. but the fears were real in my mind. Amazingly they had the record in stock, and I bought several other LPs in hopes it would blend in with the crowd, so to speak. My fears turned out to be unnecessary as the big haired clerk rang up my purchases without blinking an eye. I took it home, placed the vinyl on my turntable, and about two seconds into Personality Crisis I was hooked. None of my college friends had much to say about it. To this day I may be the only Dolls fan who ever lived in Enid.
Generally the US rock press originally either ignored or dismissed the band, but now bestows honors upon them as if they had been in their corner all along. In a way I am happy to see them reincarnated and receiving the accolades they deserve, but then again would I have such a passion for them if they had met the same success in the early 70's that David Bowie encountered in the UK? Perhaps I enjoy the drama of a contender that never makes it to the big time. And certainly there was a thrill and daring for me in that LP cover that was taboo in the vast farmlands of middle America.
Recently there has been a wealth of live videos surfacing of the original New York Dolls in their prime. Few of these videos would have been allowed on broadcast TV back in the day. Here is Chatterbox off of their second LP In Too Much Too Soon. David Johansen struts across the stage in a killer cocktail dress while Silvain Silvain lays down majestic riffs and Johnny Thunders sings and coaxes devil sounds out of his guitar.