CD Review of ‘Cause I Sez So by New York Dolls
New York Dolls: ‘Cause I Sez So
Recommended if you like
The Ramones, The Replacements, The White Stripes
Label
Rhino
New York Dolls:
‘Cause I Sez So

Reviewed by Will Harris

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D
o you ever get the feeling that David Johansen and Syl Sylvain sometimes decide to do things solely because people have suggested them but added the caveat, "But, of course, that could never happen"?

In 2006, those two guys defied the odds twice over, first by releasing the first New York Dolls album in 32 years, then by having said album kick ass. So what did they do for an encore? They re-enter the studio and, in a move which knocked Dolls fans on the very same ass that the band had just kicked, reunited with the man who produced their self-titled debut in 1972: the one and only Todd Rundgren.

It would be too much to hope that ‘Cause I Sez So would be as good as the album which preceded it, but when it busts down the starting gate with the awesome title cut, your hopes suddenly rise. They stay that way through the bluesy second track, "Muddy Bones." From there, however, things begin to get mildly mellow, which is definitely not an adjective one generally associates with the Dolls. "Better Than You" and "Lonely So Long" are great songs, and it’s highly appropriate to suggest that the band is growing old gracefully, but it’s still a little surprising, given the brashness we’ve come to expect from the group. Thankfully, the band revs things up a bit more with the fifth track, "My World," which features the most Rundgren-esque moments of the album’s production, i.e. sparkling instrumentation and tight harmonies in the chorus.

Alas, the album still has a few more lulls in store, including "This Is Ridiculous," which is pleasantly bluesy but not what you’d call overly exciting. In fact, it isn’t until the ninth track when things truly get memorable again, but in all fairness, the dark "Drowning" comes within an inch of tying the title cut for the honor of being the strongest song on the record. Unfortunately, it’s followed with the slightly silly "Nobody Got No Bizness," and the reggae-fied remake of "Trash" will only serve to give Dictionary.com a soundbite to include with the definition of "unnecessary." Thankfully, the album still manages to end on a highly positive note, crashing and bashing to a conclusion with "Exorcism of Despair."

It cannot be viewed as a coincidence that the strongest songs on ‘Cause I Sez So are the ones co-written by Johansen and Sylvain. If the Dolls dare to return to the studio for a third time in their 21st century line-up, we can only hope that the two original punks in their ranks write the whole record. For now, they’ve still managed to give a few more songs which stand comfortably alongside their best material, and all things considered, that ain’t too shabby.

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