VA – Lipstick, Powder & Paint! The New York Dolls Heard Them Here First (2013)

Posted by Green on January 16, 2022as

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The previous volumes in the Heard Them Here First series focused on Elvis Presley, the Ramones and Cliff Richard. Now it s the turn of the New York Dolls. In their original incarnation, the band enjoyed only a brief butterfly lifespan, yet their impact upon popular culture proved enormous. What an entrance they made: an insolent, street-smart rush of cross-dressing glitter boys in towering stack-heeled boots, fuelled by a diet of booze, drugs, 50s doo wop, 60s girl groups, vintage rock n roll, Chicago blues, R&B, Brill Building pop, the Stones and the Stooges. From their earliest days, through to the re-formed band’s recent albums, via the solo careers of David Johansen and Johnny Thunders, the Dolls music buffs all paid homage to their influences by peppering their repertoire with impeccably chosen songs from the past. We mark the 40th anniversary of their first album with this collection of 24 vintage originals that inspired the band to record their own renditions. Who knows, the New York Dolls may well have another album in the pipeline. If they do, who’d bet against it containing at least one great old song. One thing’s for certain, they sure know how to pick them…

Unlike other artists in Ace’s ongoing, excellent Heard Them Here First series, the New York Dolls do not have an extensive catalog. They released only two albums while they were active, and this paltry discography forces compilers Ian Johnston and Mick Patrick to widen their overview to include early demos and live recordings from when the band started to fray but even that expanded overview accounts for nine tracks, hardly enough for a sizeable compilation. So, Johnston and Patrick do the smart thing: they add in cuts that were in the repertoire of Johnny Thunders, David Johansen and his swinging alter ego Buster Poindexter, plus songs the reunited Dolls performed in the new millennium. This isn’t everything these post-Dolls offshoots covered, of course — notably, nothing from Johansen’s hit Animals medley is here — but the compilers sharply sculpt Lipstick, Powder & Paint! to reflect the aesthetic of the New York Dolls, trading heavily on the trashiest, funniest R&B, pop, blues, rock & roll, and soul from the days before the Beatles. Unsurprisingly, the songs here are usually big and bawdy, flirting with vaudeville — in this context, the boasts of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Don’t Start Me Talking” don’t seem threatening, they seem almost camp — and that’s the pleasure of the whole thing. The New York Dolls had a very specific aesthetic, one that worshipped the past while simultaneously satirizing it, and Lipstick, Powder & Paint! captures that delicate balance not through performance but through selection, which is something of a wondrous thing to behold.

Tracks

1 Gary U.S. Bonds– Seven Day Weekend
2 Bo Diddley– Pills
3 Otis Redding– Don’t Mess With Cupid
4 Sonny Boy Williamson– Don’t Start Me Talkin’
5 The Coasters– Bad Detective
6 Muddy Waters– I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man
7 Archie Bell & The Drells– “There’s Gonna Be A” Showdown
8 The Jayhawks– Stranded In The Jungle
9 Eddie Cochran– Somethin’ Else
10 Four Tops– Reach Out I’ll Be There
11 Paul Revere & The Raiders– (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone
12 Chuck Berry– Too Much Monkey Business
13 Freddie Scott– Are You Lonely For Me
14 Elvis Presley– Crawfish
15 The Chambers Brothers– Uptown To Harlem
16 The Chanters– She Wants To Mambo
17 Wilson Pickett– International Playboy
18 The Kinks– Alcohol
19 Bull Moose Jackson– Big Fat Mamas Are Back In Style Again
20 Dave Bartholomew– Who Drank My Beer While I Was In The Rear?
21 The Shangri-Las– Out In The Streets
22 Erma Franklin– Piece Of My Heart
23 The Basin Street Boys– I Sold My Heart To The Junkman
24 Joe Turner– Lipstick, Powder And Paint

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