New York Dolls – “All Dolled Up” (MVD)
You may have seen the Dolls on the Old Grey Whistle Test. You may have muttered the word “wanker” in the general direction of the tutting ‘Whispering’ Bob Harris as he famously labelled them ‘mock rock’. You may even have been lucky enough to have seen the Dolls in the flesh. Whatever you’ve done, Dolls wise, will not adequately prepare you for the sheer fucking brilliance of this seminal historical document.
Shot in black & white on a portable video recorder so ‘state of the art’ (at the time) that the subsequent footage just sat around gathering dust for decades (very few people were rich/lucky enough to own the hardware required to actually view it back in the day & the Dolls mostly used the collated moving images for ‘post-performance analysis’). By the time Bob & Nadya Gruen had finished they had amassed over 40 hours of film of the New York Dolls in action. “All Dolled Up” is the belated result of their endeavours - & what a stunning testament to the maverick spirit of rock’n’roll it undoubtedly is.
Capturing the Dolls in early performances in New York at legendary venues such as Kenny’s Castaways & Max’s Kansas City, the Gruens tag along as the Dolls head for the West Coast, the Whiskey A Go Go, the Real Don Steele Show & Rodney Bingenheimer’s E Club. Cutting stunning live footage with informal interviews, backstage tomfoolery & early morning debauchery, Bob & Nadya create the perfect house for the Dolls to live in for the rest of our lives.
If you previously thought that either “True Testimonial” or “End Of The Century” were the greatest rock’n’roll movies ever made – prepare to be fucked up the preconceptions by the truth: the New York Dolls were THE real deal. If the Stooges invented it, then the Dolls perverted it - & without them the Pistols could never have subverted it.
All in all there’s 230 minutes of Dolls viewing on “All Dolled Up”: the main feature runs for 95 minutes whilst the bonus material includes full performances of 12 songs, Bob Gruen’s photo gallery & narrative, Bob Gruen interviewed by Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators, commentary tracks by David Johansen, Sylvain Sylvain & Bob Gruen - & the whole shebang is dressed in a natty 16 page photo booklet crammed with rare & unseen shots!
Watching “All Dolled Up” is like being a member of the Dolls entourage. Packed with insight, humour & - above all – some of the most explosive rock’n’roll performances ever committed to celluloid – this is the kind of rock’n’roll film you can watch over & over again & still spot something you’ve previously missed. Post-viewing you feel like you know each & every one of them like never before: the bullish & arrogant Johansen, the enigmatic & silent Arthur ‘Killer’ Kane, the beautiful & fragile Sylvain Sylvain, the cool & dependable Jerry ‘Needles’ Nolan - & the iconic & doomed Johnny Thunders. Swoon with delight as the Dolls move around the stage, swapping mics & position. When Thunders leans back & drops his head to the right to share the mic with Johansen, the archetypal guitar hero pose is born. Johnny Thunders was always the Punk Rock guitarist’s guitarist of choice - & after watching “All Dolled Up” you’ll finally understand why.
There are five good reasons why Punk Rock is the purest & best form of rock’n’roll: the New York Dolls are one of them – the Stooges, the Ramones, the Heartbreakers & the Sex Pistols are the other four - & that’s the whole of the law.
Michele “Suit” Bernstein – tMx 23 – 01/06