After a gap of three weeks, for reasons explained in this piece, I have chosen another Album of the week. It was the title that appealed to me: “One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This”, by the New York Dolls.
The album passed me by on its release in 2006. I came across the title last week when reading about Bo Diddley, who appeared as a guest artist on one of the bonus tracks. I was checking out Bo Diddley’s biography after getting caught out by a question on Pop Master last week. The question, which is included deep in this Pop Master summary, gave his real name (Ellas Otha Bates), something else that had passed me by before.
The UK is now 16 days into the lockdown imposed to limit the spread of the COVID-19 strain of Coronavirus. I assume that the country’s few remaining record shops are currently closed, along with bookshops. We are using online retailers for food shopping only, so I have been listening to this album on Spotify, an App I hadn’t used for years. I still have one of the original free accounts and haven’t felt the need to upgrade and land myself with yet another monthly subscription. I am not bothered by the occasional advert (typically three or four of them, 30 seconds each, every time I play “One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This”). I love it. There’s a tone to David Johansen’s voice – older, more wistful – that’s different from early Dolls recordings, and it’s right up my street. So are the lyrics, and so are the straightforward rock ’n roll tunes. There’s humour, there are simple harmonies in the backing vocals and guest appearances from Michael Stipe and Iggy Pop as well as Bo Diddley. It’s a real treat.
I haven’t played this one as much as previous Albums of the week, only when sat at a laptop. (For some reason I couldn’t get it to play through Spotify on my phone.) But that’s been enough to make me want to get my own copy whenever the record shops re-open, or when we’re using online retailers again for non-food items. These songs also take me back to the one time I saw the New York Dolls, 10 years ago this month. I couldn’t remember all the details, but my daily bit of typing from the following day reminded me. The gig was on 19 April 2010 at Koko, the venue known as the Camden Palace in the 1980s, and as the Music Machine in the 1970s. It’s opposite Mornington Crescent tube. I didn’t have a ticket but went on the off-chance and met an old school-friend beforehand. Here’s what my (edited) notes from 20 April 2010 recorded:
And it all worked fine … I was in the car just after 8.40, and was driving past Koko at exactly 9.01, the news having just started on Radio 2. (It was Radcliffe minus Maconie, and he played and raved about Talk Talk, “Life is what you make it”.) I was parked up and met [an old school-friend] in The Cobden around 9.05 and we were almost straight through. I got a single ticket from a tout for £20 (real ticket, face value £23.50) and [he] queued for a return – which took the same length of time as it does when waiting behind a dozy family when checking in for a flight …
We missed 1 or maybe 2 numbers but that didn’t matter. As soon as they’d finished their 2nd (or 3rd) song I was thinking “I’ve seen the New York Dolls”, and that was enough, just like when I’d seen Sex Pistols perform just one number [first time I saw them, at Crystal Palace in 2002]. They were great, loud, proper rock ’n roll, and David Johansen was great as the front man. [If I had been writing those words for publication I might not have used the word “great” twice in the same sentence.]
Highlight: “You can’t put your arm around a memory”, sung by Sylvain, and joined by Johansen, who put his arm around him for the chorus, and then merging into “Lonely Planet Boy”. And they did “Personality Crisis” as the encore: marvellous. It was all over around 10.40pm (and I thought, as usual “I’m tired of when the evening ends, and going home at half past ten”) [That’s a line from “Quit this Town” by Eddie and the Hot Rods.] …
Afterwards we headed to a pub in Stoke Newington, hoping to play their pinball table (Rocky & Bulwinkle). It was closed. We ended up driving to a rougher part of town, and a pub with no pinball. I was mildly anxious all the time we were there, unable to see my car, and made a note to park right outside if I ever went there again. I never did.
To paraphrase the New York Dolls: today it pleases me to remember even this.