Monday, May 12, 2014

40 Year Itch: Too Much Too Soon

   On May 10, 1974, The New York Dolls released their second album, the aptly-titled Too Much Too Soon. It's a record that would top many critics' end-of-year-lists (despite poor sales) and provide a spitting and growling blueprint for future punk rockers. Even if the songs on Too Much Too Soon aren't as good as the ones on the Todd Rundgren produced debut, they sound better thanks to girl-group producer Shadow Morton.

 The Dolls were a visually striking band, led by cocky front man David Johansen, who had dozens of impressions up his sleeve --from Mick Jagger ("I'm goin to Ba-ba-Babylon") to his street smart city kid ( "Say Man, they tell me you're pretty good")  to Amos from "Amos and Andy" ("my chance of survival is getting miiighty slim"). Onstage, they were always entertaining. On record, opinions were mixed.

   They were constantly getting knocked down for their skills. Gordon Fletcher of Circus Raves wrote:

"What's its musical worth?" In this case the answer is one big fat zero. The Dolls aren't very talented by any stretch of the imagination. Their instrumental capacity is limited to the most basic bar chords and elementary one-position solos.

   Robert Christgau gave the album a rare A+ rating and proclaimed Too Much Too Soon the top rock and roll album of the year despite four of the ten songs being covers. He singled out the Johnny Thunders tune "Chatterbox" for its mewling.

    Too Much Too Soon peaked at #167 and dropped off the chart after five weeks. Mercury Records dropped the New York Dolls. They tried to keep going but the heroin addictions of drummer Jerry Nolan and Johnny Thunders and the alcohol problems of bassist Arthur Kane made things even worse. The final straw was a misadventure managed by Malcolm McLaren involving red leather outfits, Communist symbolism and a disastrous tour of Florida.

   By '77, The Dolls were done. Just as their descendants took over.

The Robert Christgau Deans' Lists 1974
1. New York Dolls - In Too Much Too Soon
 2. Steely Dan - Pretzel Logic
 3. Big Star - Radio City
 4. The Wailers - Burnin’
 5. Randy Newman - Good Old Boys
 6. Andy Fairweather Low - Spider Jiving
 7. Gram Parsons - Grievous Angel
 8. Van Morrison - It’s Too Late to Stop Now
 9. Joni Mitchell - Court & Spark
 10. Eric Clapton - 461 Ocean Boulevard
 11. Eno - Here Come the Warm Jets
 12. Thomas Jefferson Kaye - First Grade
 13. Richard & Linda Thompson - Hokey Pokey
 14. Bob Dylan/the Band - Before the Flood
 15. The Wild Magnolias
 16. 1969 Velvet Underground Live
 17. Miles Davis - Get Up with It
 18. Lynyrd Skynyrd - Second Helping
 19. Labelle - Nightbirds
 20. Stevie Wonder - Fulfillingness’ First Finale
 21. Millie Jackson - Caught Up
 22. Miles Davis - Big Fun
 23. Hound Dog Taylor & the Houserockers - Natural Boogie
 24. Lou Reed - Rock & Roll Animal
 25. Bob Dylan - Planet Waves
 26. King Crimson - Red
 27. Raspberries - Starting Over
 28. Bryan Ferry - These Foolish Things
 29. Willie Nelson - Phases & Stages
 30. Parliament - Up for the Down Stroke
 31. Linda Ronstadt - Heart Like a Wheel
 32. Loretta Lynn’s Greatest Hits Vol. II
 33. John Cale - Fear
 34. Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits
 35. Leonard Cohen - New Skin for the Old Ceremony
 36. The Best of George Jones Vol. I
 37. Average White Band
 38. Betty Wright - Danger High Voltage
 39. The Mighty Clouds of Joy - It’s Time
 40. Neil Young - On the Beach
 41. Mary McCaslin - Way Out West
 42. Gladys Knight & the Pips - Claudine
 43. Earth Wind & Fire - Open Our Eyes
 44. Shirley Brown - Woman to Woman
 45. Ry Cooder - Paradise & Lunch

No comments:

Post a Comment