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New York Dolls | All Dolled Up | review | dvd | Lollipop
New York Dolls
All Dolled Up (MVD)
by Brian Varney
It really is a shame that more quality video footage doesn't exist of legendary underground bands from the '60s and '70s. These days, digital video recorders are so cheap that even the smallest of small-time bands can afford to have a reasonably professional-looking live recording on DVD. Back in the early '70s, home video was new and very expensive, so only bands with major label bucks behind them could afford such an extravagance.
However, anomalies are part of what makes life so interesting, and luckily, a professional photographer named Bob Gruen was a rare sort who could afford such an expensive toy and felt it was worthwhile to essentially throw his money away by documenting live sets of a crude, commercially hopeless band like the New York Dolls.
Such seeming insanity is very good news for Dolls fans. It's been thirty some-odd years, and this group is exponentially larger than it was at the time, so I'm guessing there are a good number of rock fans out there who'd like to see the band at its prime and in its most comfortable setting, the live show. All Dolled Up is just that. Sure, it's billed as a documentary, and it does include interview footage where the band tells their story in varyingly impenetrable Noo Yawk accents, but it's the live footage that lies at the film's center, and there's plenty of it. The film's 95-minute running time contains clips from 19 live performances, and while the audio quality isn't perfect, this may owe as much to shortcomings in the club's sound system and the band's gear as it does to the recording equipment's technical limitations. In addition, there's over two hours of bonus material, including full performances of 12 songs and a very interesting interview of Gruen conducted by Handsome Dick Manitoba.