Music Tonight: The comeback of legendary pre-Punk Glam crew New York Dolls is the latest reunion of a wildly influential band that was so ahead of the times during its heyday, they never got to reap the benefits. Sure, critics loved the Dolls and they had a rapid cult following at their peak — but five-star reviews and the love of a gaggle of obsessed fans don’t pay bills, put food on the table or buy drugs. Like the Pixies and Velvet Underground, the Dolls can make way more money today than they did on shows in the mid’70s, and probably sell some records too. Unlike the Pixies and VU, the Dolls — performing tonight at Covington’s Radiodown (next to The Mad Hatter) — have actually moved forward creatively and written new songs.—- And they can’t do an “official” reunion because, besides David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain, all of the other Dolls have passed away.
The Dolls helped draft the blueprint of Punk Rock and were also big influences on artists from other genres (Metal, Glam, AltRock, etc.). But, try as they might, no one will likely ever accurately recreate the gutter majesty of the young Dolls, with their wild cross-dressing stage get-ups, swaggering, strutting presence and blast reckless, dirty abandon. David and Sylvain are, of course, older, but their recent records have been well-reviewed (just like in the good ol’ days) and live reviews have been general favorable. All those years with other projects (like Buster Poindexter) have apparently kept Johansen — who certainly deserves a respectable position on the list of all-time greatest frontmen — in good performing shape.
Johansen and Sylvain are making a pre-show in-store appearance at Northside’s Shake It Records. Starting at 5 p.m., the pair will be on hand to talk with fans and sign some autographs. The store was apparently shocked that the Dollmen agreed to stop by — in the latest Shake It newsletter, it says, “We asked for the hell of it … thinking there wasn't a chance in hell … and they said ‘Sure!’ How &%#& cool is that!?.”
Shake It’s newsletter also said they still have $20 tickets for the 7 p.m., all-ages concert, so you can pick ‘em up there if you haven’t yet. Be sure to arrive early to catch great local bands SS-20 and Oso Bear.
Below is a clip from the band’s early days and one for a song from the most recent full-length, Dancing Backward in High Heels. Can you guess which is which?
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Momentous Happenings in Music History for July 26
On July 26, 1977, the 5-year-old son of Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant died unexpectedly from a stomach infection. Plant was, obviously, totally devastated by the news and Zep canceled the American tour they were on so the singer could return home to the U.K. Plant wrote the following Zep classic as a tribute to his young son.
Musical folks born on July 26 include Soul Pop great Darlene Love (1941), Queen drummer (and backup singer) Roger Taylor (1949), singer for Extreme who once did temp work for Van Halen, Gary Cherone (1961) and some supposedly important dude named Mick Jagger (1943).
Motown singer Mary Wells died from complications from cancer on this day in 1992. She was just 49. While sick, Wells — known best for the No. 1 hit, “My Guy” — could no longer work, had to sell her home and, in a way too common occurrence amongst musicians, had no health insurance. But several famous pals lent a hand, repayment for all of her important work in music. Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen and Aretha Franklin were just some of the superstars who donated money to assist the legendary vocalist.