Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

CD Review: New York Dolls 

'Cause I Sez So (Atco/Rhino)

If lightning never strikes twice in the same place, then what do we make of the reunion between the New York Dolls and producer Todd Rundgren, whose first pairing on the Dolls' 1973 debut resulted in one of the decade's most enduring and influential documents of pre-punk rock mayhem? Is 'Cause I Sez So an attempt to recreate the bottled magic of three and a half decades ago? Hardly, and both the Dolls and Rundgren recognize this.

Only David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain survive from the original Dolls, and there's the little matter of 36 years of accumulated history; you can't unring a bell. So you do exactly what Johansen, Sylvain, the new Dolls and Rundgren: they make a statement about where the band is now, not where it's been, and there's no better example of this than on the laconic reggae/'60s pop reworking of their snarling punk ode "Trash." But just as "Personality Crisis" led off the Dolls' debut with a fist-in-your-face declaration of what was about to come, the band fronts its fourth studio album with an anthemic title track, a three-minute slice of street-tempered punk. Still, there's nothing on their first album to approach the blues swagger of "Ridiculous" or the spaghetti-western shimmer of "Temptation to Exist." Perhaps more telling is the Dolls' softer side, represented by the ballad "Better Than You," a tender/tough track that Paul Westerberg would be proud to call his own, and "Lonely So Long," a romantic blend of the Dolls and the Velvets. This ain't 1973, and the New York Dolls know it. That's why they skillfully avoid trying to recreate the snotty glory of their youth and craft a new testament to their grizzled wisdom and tenacious ability to survive. — Brian Baker

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 9, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 241-7550
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation