Carved into this disc are some very early rehearsals of the original New York Dolls. This primeval lineup had Johnny Thunders putting out lead vocals and guitar, Rick Rivets on guitar, Arthur Kane on Bass and Billy Murcia on drums. Recording facilities, Rusty Beans Bike Shop on 81st street, were primitive with one Fender amp being used for both vocals and instruments. Raw, garage, original and noisy can best describe the sound. Most of the tunes are written by Thunders so this was really his band at this point. The rest of the group sounds quite good for such young players and adds a lot to the mix.
But this is not regular Dolls material. It's Johnny Thunders stuff that eventually became distilled, refined and reworked by the later Dolls. Johnny's solo albums are more akin to what's heard here, especially his acoustic effort 'Hurt Me'. His unique white-boy-blues style can clearly be heard flowing from 'I'm A Boy, I'm A Girl' and 'Why Am I Alone'. Much of the material on Thunders solo albums, those after the Dolls and the Heartbreakers, is downbeat and melancholic. It could be considered that this was the result of his increasing drug usage but listening to this early material you can hear that his blues sensibilities were there at the beginning.
Some of these tunes went on to become Dolls standards while others were discarded. 'That's Poison' went on to become 'Subway Train'. 'It's Too Late', which occurs twice on this disc, got a new hook and a faster tempo on the Dolls second album. 'Oh Dot', which also appears twice here, was never picked up even though it sounds catchy to me. 'Take Me To Your Party' has a similar sound to the Dolls 'Endless Party'. 'We've Been Though This Before' has exactly the same phrasing and melody as Johnny's standard 'Sad Vacation'.
If you're wondering where Johnny's classic 'You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory' came from, have a listen to what's recorded here. Ignore the bad sound and discover the roots of Johnny Thunders.
This same material can be heard on Actress: Birth Of The New York Dolls.
|Johnny Thunders - Dawn Of The Dolls|
|CD||U.S.||1998||FAB DISCS CD0001|