Just finished transcribing an interview with Syl Sylvain where he describes himself as a ‘broke legend’.
“Basically the New York Dolls were a hit because they sold more influence than anybody else,”he told me, “if you could deposit influence into the bank,man I would be a rich son of a bitch!”
On the tape I hear myself consoling him saying that it’s better to be a poor legend than a rich hack.Being a poor hack I know these words have absolutely no value when the next mortgage payment is due.
The New York Dolls were the masters of their own destruction.They did it heroically,wth panache and pancake.Muscally,although their is no doubt that they had a couple of killer tunes,they never matched their image and were destined to fail.
Todd Rundgren,who produced their first and most recent albums,told me the critics loved them because they could imagine themselves playing in a band like The Dolls.The press felt empowered by the bands dependance on image and hype-punk was the follow through to this nocturnal NYC emmision.
As Sylvain pointed out The Dolls and punk fared better in influential kudos than filthy lucre.I live in Southampton and last week our local pub/venue hosted The Slits who played to an audience of -adfmittedly-enthusiaistic-punters.The Dolls will be playing there to a hopefully larger audience.I shall,ofcours,be there.
The last time I saw them was at Bibas in 1973.At the time I was a fledging office boy at Sounds magazing,I had two tickets and couldn’t find anyone to go with me.I was a scruffy oik(still am) with the dress sense of Mark E Smith on a Big Issue vendors budget and felt totally out of place at the gig which felt more like a fashion show.I ofcourse drank copious amounts of booze to deal with the sense of unease and suddenly blended in.I remember how fantastic the band looked-especially Thunders-and how awful the sound was.At the time I was looking for a band that sounded as raw as Blue Cheer,MC5 and Grand Funk Railroad and looked and performed like a hybrid of Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop circa Funhouse.I still haven’t found one yet.
….to be continued