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'Cause I Sez So

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Album Review

Five years into one of the most unlikely reunions in recent rock & roll history, the New York Dolls have begun to acknowledge the great paradox of the new edition of the band. If ever there was a band with a distinctive musical and emotional personality, it was the Dolls, but with only two members of the original lineup still alive and able to take the stage in 2009, David Johansen and Syl Sylvain have had a heavy burden to bear, trying to make music that feels and sounds like the New York Dolls without their iconic lead guitarist, their original rhythm section, and the sort of lifestyle that defined their world view when they were the edgiest band in America's toughest city. The new Dolls created a reasonable approximation of what their old sound would have been like had they all survived into the new millennium on 2006's One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This, but 2009's 'Cause I Sez So suggests this band has little interest in living in the past, including their own. Todd Rundgren, who produced the Dolls' brilliant 1973 debut, was behind the controls for this set, and the first two songs, "'Cause I Sez So" and "Muddy Bones," conjure up the sloppy downtown energy of the Dolls Mk. 1 better than anything on One Day It Will Please Us, full of dirty guitars, crashing drums, and broadly strutting vocals from Johansen, complemented by Rundgren's roomy, natural-sounding production. But after that one-two punch, the album shifts gears, easing into a groove that's more easygoing and (gulp) mature than the classic Dolls assault, with a warmer and more subdued approach. "Lonely So Long" is a great pop tune with a faint resemblance to the Beatles, "Nobody Got No Bizness" is a high-spirited, hip-shaking R&B shuffle, "Temptation to Exist" is a melodramatic ballad that sounds like it could have fit onto one of Johansen's Buster Poindexter albums, "This Is Ridiculous" is a blues-influenced number that gives the singer plenty of room to showboat, and "Making Rain" edges uncomfortably into adult contemporary territory. As if to declare to anyone not paying attention that this isn't the Dolls as we remember them, there's a re-recording of "Trash" that puts a ganja-burnished reggae spin on the old proto-punk classic (possibly anticipating an adverse reaction from old fans, "Trash" is followed by "Exorcism of Despair," a chunky rocker very much in the traditional Dolls style). While the group as a whole sounds vital and in even better shape than they were on the fine One Day It Will Please Us, with its broad palate of musical influences and clear willingness to move past the constraints of the New York Dolls' legacy, 'Cause I Sez So is clearly David Johansen's album, and it's a great showcase for one of the great rock singers of his generation. But is it the New York Dolls? Well, that's what it says on the front cover, and if the sound is different, the "Whatsit to You?" spirit of this set is as keen as ever, and that counts for a lot with these guys.

Customer Reviews

A good album but is this The New York Dolls?

So the New York Dolls was originally about out of tune guitars, a not very tight band, but with a vibe that was inspirational beyond question. The Dolls mark 2, since the meltdown reunion gig in 2004 have been tighter and better, but have still been about fun. “Cause I Sez So” continues on from where “One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This” left off. This is a tighter album an and one in which I think Johansen vocals sound even better than before, and the band seems to want to look towards the future rather than rest on the past and all that goes with it. To me this makes a more ballsy album, and ok so there are only two surviving members of the original line up, don’t let that detract or put you off what is a good old rock and roll album. I downloaded this yesterday and it has already received several plays and has a fun rock and roll vibe. So a good album but is this The New York Dolls? Well yes this is a good album and is worth a punt if you liked “One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This”. Is this the New York Dolls…well yes it is because David Johansen was and still is the voice of the Dolls, and Sylvain Sylvain was and still is one of the guitarists…just in tune now! For those who will argue this is not the Dolls, who cares if it bugs you that much don’t bother, but if you want to listen to a good rock and roll album by The New York Dolls…get this because its worth the money.

Saw them on Jools Holland

And they were fantastic. This new album is a great return.

All hail the kings!

Great to have David, Syl and the Dolls Vers 2.0 back. As arguably the most influencial band ever to come mincing its way out of Gotham (in platform heels, no less), the band's killer mix of sleaze, hedonism and killer riffs remains the perfect antidote to bland Naughties rock. RIP Johnny, Arthur, Billy and Jerry (we miss you, guys), but long live the Dolls. Buy this and revel in trash-glam decadence. These guys were and always will be the real rock 'n roll deal.


Formed: 1971 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '00s, '10s

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 Stooges' anarchic noise, and the glam rock of David Bowie and T. Rex, the New York Dolls created a new form of hard rock that presaged both punk rock and heavy metal. Their drug-fueled, 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...
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