Far from "Trash": Our Favorite New York Dolls Tracks

New York Dolls in 1973
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Michael Putland/Getty Images

From early American punk icons to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame nominees, the New York Dolls' bold, in-your-face rock sound galvanized a small but dedicated fan base in the '70s - so much so that they came roaring back in the new millennium, having hardly missed a step. Their talents won’t soon be forgotten, as evidenced by this collection of 10 top-notch New York Dolls songs.

“Frankenstein (Orig.)” (1973): When guitarist Sylvain Sylvain initially performed this song for his then-new bandmate Arthur “Killer” Kane, it proved to be a monumental moment for the Dolls. “The first time I played those chords for Johnny, he’s going, ‘Forget it, too many ****in’ chords!’” Sylvain told Vintage Guitar. “He didn’t wanna leave that third chord, y’know?” laughs Sylvain. “But then you venture out, and he took [his style] to that weird monster guitar thing he put in there, and it became beautiful.”

“Trash” (1973): New York Dolls songs don’t come much more iconic than this one. Yes, Morrissey introduced it to a new generation of alt-rock fans by covering it in his sets, and good for him for educating the kids, but surely even he would admit that his version can’t even remotely touch the original.

“Jet Boy” (1973): A roaring rocker, this song may not have Sylvain’s name on the songwriting credits, but he had a history of pointing out that the credits of the band’s songs didn’t always accurately portray who was responsible for them. “We wrote all that stuff in the first two years, and we were all together,” he told Devora Hostrov. “When you read the credits, and it says Johnny wrote this song and David wrote that song... I mean, c'mon. There would never have been a song like ‘Jet Boy’ if I wasn't there.”

“Babylon” (1974): Per frontman David Johansen, this track from the band’s sophomore album, Too Much Too Soon, is “about people who live in Babylon, Long Island, New York, who go into the city every night dressed to kill. These people have to get home before sun-up, you know, like vampires that can't get caught by the sun.”

“Stranded in the Jungle” (1974): In case you weren’t aware, this is a cover of a 1956 song originally recorded by The Cadets. Suffice it to say, however, that the Dolls more than make it their own.

“Puss ‘N’ Boots” (1974): This Sylvain co-write was inspired by a magazine which revolved around foot-centric pornography…because, yes, even before the internet, we lived in a world where there was porn for everyone.

“Dance Like a Monkey” (2006): The title of the song was one that Sylvain came up with, but the verses were all Johansen’s. As Sylvain told Brooklyn Vegan, “Where I live now, there’s a big argument – it’s not so much an argument down in the South – all you need is your parent’s signature and you don’t have to take science, you can go to Bible class. It’s an uptight scene where religion has taken over the educational system in the country, and I’m highly against that.”

“Gimme Luv and Turn on the Light” (2006): With a guest appearance by Iggy Pop, this track was one of the highlights of the band’s first reunion album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This.

“Dancing on the Lip of a Volcano” (2006): Another one from the band’s first reunion album, and also one with a very special guest star: Michael Stipe of R.E.M.

“Cuz I Said So” (2009): In AllMusic’s review of the band’s second reunion album, 'Cause I Sez So, Mark Deming pointedly praises this song and the one that follows it (“Muddy Bones”) for the way they “conjure up the sloppy downtown energy of the Dolls Mk. 1 better than anything on One Day It Will Please Us, full of dirty guitars, crashing drums, and broadly strutting vocals from Johansen, complemented by [Todd] Rundgren's roomy, natural-sounding production.”

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