If you've been keeping up with rock and roll current events, you may have heard that the New York Dolls are back with a new record, Cause I Sez So (Atco), the puckering proto-punks' second release since 2006's reformation souvenir, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This.
The real scoop, though, was that Todd Rundgren, who produced the Dolls' eponymous 1973 debut — regarded as one of the rowdiest, most influential rock albums of the '70s — would rejoin front man David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain to see if they could re-create the old magic. The objective, several blogs quoted Johansen as saying, was to "evoke the special sound of our first album and drag it by the hair into the present."
But Johansen isn't having it.
"I guess someone at the record company makes it up," he wonders aloud after rejecting the quote.
"From my perspective, as far as the first Dolls album is concerned, we were five guys that had very similar ideas of what a rock and roll band should be," he says. "We tried to play the music that we imagined we wanted to hear, but it wasn't anything that was premeditated, we just did it.
"The best thing I learned in that situation is to not even think about what it's going to be," Johansen continues. "You gotta go in and say, 'Today we're gonna write a song, and tomorrow we're gonna record it, and tomorrow night we're gonna see what it sounds like.' That way it's much more organic than trying to force something to sound like the first album."
Although that first album is an absolute, undisputed classic, some fans and critics continue to believe Rundgren's presence got in the way of the Dolls' raw sound — unlike Shangri-Las producer Shadow Morton, who helmed the band's second album, and final album at the time, 1974's Too Much Too Soon.
So people were actually complaining that the Dolls were getting back together with the guy who produced their first album? Johansen isn't having that either.
"I think some people just like to complain and that's just their personality, and you have to take what they say with a grain of salt because they don't dig anything," he asserts. "I don't remember what all that talk was about, but the way I look at it is that Todd made this seminal record with the Dolls, and you couldn't ask for more than that.
"I mean, what the hell is wrong with that?"
Looking for a day trip with a side of dancing? Try Schulenburg's Sengelmann Hall, an 1890s dancehall that was closed for more than 60 years before Houstonian Dana Harper restored the building and reopens this month in the German/Czech-settled hamlet 90 miles west of Houston. Boasting original plank flooring, marble pillars, a 20-foot bar serving pre-Prohibition cocktails (try the "Sengelmann Hall punch") and an outdoor beer garden, Sengelmann hosts Junior Brown and the Ginn Sisters Friday and the Derailers Saturday. Earl Poole Ball, former sideman for Johnny Cash and the Flying Burrito Brothers, plays free shows every Thursday, and Sunday matinees feature regional polka, Cajun and string bands. A Czech bakery and restaurant are adjacent to the dancehall, located at 514 N. Main. See www.sengelmannhall.com for more information.
Vinal Edge Records
13171 Veterans Memorial Drive, 281-537-2575
1. Mastodon, Crack the Skye
2. Sunn, Monoliths & Dimensions
3. St. Vincent, Actor
4. Wino, Punctuated Equilibrium
5. Thou, Tyrant
6. NOFX, Coaster (CD)/Frisbee (LP)
7. Butthole Surfers, Brown Reason to Live
8. Acid Mothers Temple, Lord of the Underground
9. Jack Rose, Black Dirt Sessions
10. Sunburned Hand of the Man, Fire Escape
KTRU (91.7 FM), Tuesdays 7-8 p.m.
Selections from LindayS and KirstonO's May 26 playlist
1. liquid liquid, "Scraper"
2. The Pop Group, "Don't Call Me Pain"
3. Joy Division, "Incubation"
4. A Certain Ratio, "Shack Up"
5. Mission of Burma, "That's When I Reach for My Revolver"
6. The Fall, "Container Drivers"
7. Culturcide, "Depressed Christmas"
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8. Devo, "Gut Feeling"
9. The Normal, "TV OD"
10. The Mo-Dettes, "White Mice Disco"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)