Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Nina Antonia - The New York Dolls: Too Much Too Soon

I would imagine that many readers of this blog have at least one book by Nina Antonia on their shelves. Johnny Thunders was the subject of one of her earlier books, and so it was always likely that she would turn her attention to the story of the New York Dolls.

Too Much Too Soon is the resulting book and quite an eye-opener it is too. Having only picked on the Dolls around 1988 I'd previously taken Johnny Thunders to be the 'main' Doll, what with David Johansen seemingly distancing himself from the band via his Buster Poindexter alter-ago and the other members having largely vanished from sight. One thing this book makes clear is the key role Sylvain Sylvain played in the band - something which was further demonstrated at the Meltdown shows in 2004, with Sylvain virtually conducting the band throughout.

(One thing I found frustrating when the Dolls reformed for Meltdown was the level of disinterest from my friends - the same friends who flocked to see Hanoi Rocks when they returned, and all citing that it wasn't really the New York Dolls. It didn't seem to occur to them that, unlike Hanoi, this was as close to the original line-up as we were ever going to get.)

I was also surprised to read that the Dolls were, for a short while, genuine contenders. There were record labels fighting to sign them until Billy Murcia's death put most of them off - investing in a band that skated so close to the wind suddenly seemed less appealing. With just one deal left on the table - Mercury - the band signed but their new label didn't really know what to do with them. Bad decision followed bad decision. Hooking up with Malcolm McLaren was one bad decision too many.

Well researched and excellently written (Nina Antonia may be a fan but this doesn't cloud her judgement, something she maintains across all her books), Too Much Too Soon, well, the title says it all.

See also:
The New York Dolls - One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This
Johnny Thunders - So Alone
Motorcycle Boy - Popsicle


Michael said...

You don't think Antonia's blatant hero worship of Johnny Thunders clouds her judgement a bit? I enjoyed this book and find it a valuable resource, but I hope it's not the definitive work on the Dolls.

DGW said...

Haha .. ok, didn't cloud her judgement THAT much. Maybe.