Metallic But Chic: David Johansen Gets Dusted Off & Reissued
Peter Walenta | Long Island, New York USA | 11/17/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"You had to be there..on New York City's Lower East Side of course. First, in 1973 for the explosion of the proto-punk sonic boom that was the New York Dolls and later, in the early 1980's where post-punk and urban rhythms were percolating into an intense musical brew. Pioneering both of these "scenes" was outrageous lead singer for the Dolls, soulful urban rocker, (and later adult jazz/blues smoothie Buster Poindexter), David Johansen. I was not there for either scene, but I picked up on the New York Dolls through a friend and fellow music afficionado while in high school in suburban Upstate New York. Fast forward to the dawn of the 1990's when I was hungering for 1980's nostalgia and I read about and picked up on the excitement and energy of New York City's 80's rock music scene in Trouser Press and in the concise Consumer Guides that Robert Christgau wrote for the Village Voice. So in this rather roundabout, after the fact way I came to appreciate David Johansen's post-New York Dolls solo material. The first `David' record I bought after my curiosity had been sufficiently piqued was 1982's, "Here Comes the Night". Context is everything (or else it's completely random) and so I bought the vinyl version of "Night" for one Canadian dollar at a used record store on Yonge Street in Toronto in August 1992. Long out of print on LP and never released on CD until 2007, American Beat Records does a great job sprucing up this relic of a by-gone musical era when young folks were partying, and having fun while trying to figure their lives out on the then mean streets of New York City.
"Here Comes the Night" was either praised or trashed it seems depending on how much one personally liked David Johansen. To my ears, this is a tuneful record. I like the metallic crunch of "She Loves Strangers". Ace session man, Blondie Chaplin rocks out on lead guitar. There's a Latin rhythm on "Marquesa de Sade", and an edgy reggae groove on "Rollin' Job". Shot through these 11 songs (plus one bonus track-a live version of "Here Comes the Night"), is the crude yet exuberant vocal stylings of Johansen. The sound is crisp and clear, so it appears that American Beat got a hold of the master tapes for this reissue. The stand out song is the album's closer, "Heart of Gold" (no not the one by Neil Young), which sounds like it came right out of Bruce Springsteen's "The River" sessions replete with soulful and mournful harmonica fills by Elliott Murphy. "Night" is an uneven affair in that Johansen tried to cover too many clashing musical styles, but there are enough great songs here to recommend this record by the immensely talented and influential rocker, David Johansen. And yes, even in 2007, it's still reasonably priced.
This review is dedicated to the memory of Mark Freeland; a talented visual artist, a pretty good musician, an honorary ex-New York Doll in spirit and above all else, a human being. Rock on Mark!"