Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Johnny Yen's Fave Raves: David Johansen

In the summer of 1978, I was finishing my first year as a working man, plugging away as a stock clerk and cashier at Walgreen's and getting ready for my senior year of high school. I was also getting way in to music.

It was a great time to be getting into music. Punk and New Wave were actually finally getting some airplay, or at least were available in record stores.

I'd missed the first wave of punk. The early Ramones, Dickies, Dictators-- and New York Dolls-- had gotten little attention and airplay in Chicago. One little ray of post-punk shineshine managed to make it through the corporate dreck in 1978, right before radio stations finally relented and played some Talking Heads, Clash and Elvis Costello: David Johansen's self-titled first solo album.

Johansen had walked away from the glam-punk wreckage of the New York Dolls a couple of years before. He had continued to work with Dolls guitarist Sly Sylvain on and off, and co-wrote most of the songs on "David Johansen."

The album, in retrospect, stands more as an out and out rock album, almost a garage rock album, than a punk or new wave album. It's opening track, "Funky, But Chic" has become a classic. The closing track, "Frenchette" has as well.

"I get all the love I need in a luncheonette/I've been to France/So let's just dance."

There's not a dog track on this record. "Cool Metro,"' which is, as far as I can tell, about the Tokyo subway, "Girls" ("I like 'em hangin' around..."), "Donna," "Not That Much"-- the album begs to be played beginning to end.

Johansen has put out a couple more decent solo albums, and had some fun stuff as "Buster Poindexter" ("Hot, Hot, Hot"), but this album stands out by far as his best work since New York Dolls.

As your attorney, I advise you to get ahold of this record.

9 comments:

Bubs said...

I should give that a listen some time. I must say, I didn't appreciate David at all the first time I saw him, which was in early 1978 at the Tower Theater in Philadelphia. He was opening for Devo, and he came on stage in an orange jumpsuit and black tophat. At the time I thought he was a second rate Mick Jagger impersonator.

He's since grown on me.

Danielle said...

My quasi stepfather introduced me to the New York Dolls. You should include a album cover, they were outrageous.

Be well

kirby said...

For the longest time I thought the song "Personality Crisis" had the line "You're a prima ballerina on a spree," instead of "on a Spring afternoon." I still kind of like the image from my mistaken lyrics better.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Have you heard any of the new stuff? Interested what you think.

deadspot said...

The Cure's "Hot Hot Hot" kicks his "Hot Hot Hot"'s ass and steals its lunch money.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I agree with deadspot regarding "Hot Hot Hot." I never did like the whole Buster Poindexter thing. The New York Dolls ... well, that's a whole different scene.

On a different note, I was watching "House" tonight and they had part of The Replacement's "Bastards of Young" song playing in the background. Have you heard their music before?

Beth said...

Completely forgot about that album. Saw the (revamped) Dolls in December; amazing show. Sylvain now lives in Atlanta.

Great post, Yen.

GETkristiLOVE said...

I thought I was a punk rocker once. I put a blonde streak in my hair and wore silly skinny black clothes. Now that's all gone, but I still like a lot of that music.

I like it when Spooney is Joey Ramone the best.

Johnny Yen said...

Bubs-
I remember you mentioning this at the Tiki outing. It's a great record.

And besides, Mick Jagger is a second-rate Tina Turner.

Danielle-
I love the Dolls. I worked backwards to them.

David Johansen has one of my favorite quotes, about the New York Dolls: "We like to look 16 and bored shitless."

Kirby-
I like your version better too.

Vikki-
They play the latest album pretty frequently on Little Steven's Underground Garage on Sirius radio. It's good, but can't hold a candle to the old stuff.

Deadspot-
Yeah, hearing Buster Poindexter made me just want to play the Dolls.

JR-
They were probably overall my favorite band of the eighties. I was at their last show in Grant Park, July 4, 1991. "Let It Be" and "Hootenanny" are a couple of my favorite-ever records.

Beth-
I remember you posting about that show-- I was sooooo jealous!

Kristi-
Yeah, it's all about the music in the end.