New York Dolls — “Dance Like a Monkey”

Released: 7.25.06

Peak:  Did not chart

When the three surviving members of the New York Dolls reunited for a festival appearance in 2004, their prime comeback moment had passed. Not that I could tell you when that might have been. The peak of Rock Is Back, a couple years earlier, with the Strokes and the Stripes and the Hives making the world safe for electric guitars and tight pants? Possibly. Definitely not back during the grunge years, when the punk du jour was too shaggy and metal. (Besides, David Johansen was still cashing in on his Buster Poindexter shtick.)

Maybe there really wasn’t a good time, so just as well that they waited till they were ready to answer Morrissey’s calls. (Yeah, we all have our part to play in this crazy world.) Shortly after that reunion gig, bassist Arthur Kane died, leaving just Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain to record the first Dolls studio album in more than three decades. And though I wouldn’t say “Dance Like a Monkey” picks up exactly where they left off–that’s way too pro for a Johnny Thunders solo, and Johansen hasn’t kept his voice in as good shape as his figure–the rhythm section sure swings like old times, funking up the “Lust For Life” beat, tossing in jungle noises and doo-wop ooh-ooh’s.

The lyrics make confetti of creationism while filling in some Biblical gaps to answer the longstanding question “Where did Mrs. Cain come from?” (Of course Cain hooks up with an ape-lady–what other women were there to pick from?) And maybe some other punk could have come up with “Ain’t gonna anthropomorphize ya.” But would anyone else rhyme that with “Or perversely polymorphosize ya”? David Jo didn’t come here looking to settle the debate on evolution, after all. He’s just lookin’ for a kiss.

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