The New York Dolls were a rock group both fortunate and unfortunate enough to fall in the cusp of two movements: glam and punk rock. Playing a trashy, loud, and glitzy take on the slicker stylings by Bowie and Reed, they imploded just as they were starting to break through in the mid 1970s.
The documentary New York Doll, showing this week in the Library on Wednesday at 6:30pm as a part of the Outside-in cinema program in Experimedia, gives a history of the band as told by a friend of the late bass player, Arthur Kane. The film also looks at the 2004 reformation, occurring shortly before Arthur’s death.
The band’s name may not at first ring many glitter-bells, but a quick listen to their eponymous debut album should give you some idea as to the clanging resonance felt in their wake, with strong influences spreading everywhere amongst such highly revered rock acts as The Damned, The Smiths, Jane’s Addiction, and Pulp (to name but a few). It is available for your listening pleasure here in the Library by first putting in a request through the catalogue.
But their sound was only half their story, with their progressive gender-norm defying appearance – which, famously, was not limited to the stage – attracting quite possibly more acclaim and controversy, both of which can still be felt today. Bob Gruen’s extensive photo-journal of the short and fast years of the peak of their career in the early seventies gives the best look at their influential visual style, and can be found on the shelves in the Large Books section of the Arts Reading Room.
Stepping back a bit, a glance over one of the many books on seventies glam culture, both in and out of the fashion industry, couldn’t go astray. Take this fine text, for example, available on the shelves in the Redmond Barry Reading Room.
And finally, for an idea of the cultural heritage the Dolls fall within on a smaller geographical scale, All hopped up and ready to go is a good place to look to plot the progression of popular music from the streets of New York over the course of much of the 20th century. This, too, can be found on the shelves in the Arts Reading Room.