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Album Review

New York Dolls, ''Cause I Sez So'

May 4, 2009
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Rock
New York Dolls 'Cause I Sez So
Atco
ESSENTIAL " 'Cause I Sez So"

Sometimes good things really do come to those who wait. Take proto-glam punks the New York Dolls. In 2004, nearly 30 years after splitting up, the Dolls re-formed, and even issued a gutsy comeback record. Now the group's fourth studio album reunites them with producer Todd Rundgren, who helmed their iconic 1973 debut. With a dual guitar attack that's resolutely old-school but lyrics that often take on contemporary subject matter (the title track finds frontman David Johansen, still pugnacious at 59, grousing about Orwellian security measures in a post-9/11 world), "Sez So" has heart, soul, and swagger to spare. In other words, this is classic New Yawk Dolls, honey. The band's down to two original members - cofounders Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain - but that hasn't diluted its ability to blend '60s Brill Building pop ("Lonely So Long"), liquored-up bar-band boogie ("Nobody Got No Bizness"), and ramshackle rock ("Muddy Bones"). Johansen's bowery rasp still has the texture of old shoe leather, but against improbable odds and the ravages of time, it somehow works beautifully. Just like the Dolls themselves. (Out tomorrow)

JONATHAN PERRY