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There’s No Bones In Ice Cream

July 31, 2018

Sylvain Sylvain’s Story of The New York Dolls (with Dave Thompson)

Omnibus Press

There’s No Bones In Ice Cream is a stupid title, which is never referenced or explained at any point in the book.

And that is where my criticism ends. Sylvain has written a warm, funny and informative account of his life up to the final (pre-reformation) New York Dolls gigs in December 1976. Unusually for a music memoire the pre-band section is as interesting as what came next. Sylvain’s story of growing up in Egypt and then his forced emigration to France and finally the US is used to inform how and why his interlinked careers in fashion and music then came about. Sylvain writes with great sensitivity about meeting and then losing bandmates Billy Murcia and Johnny Thunders. Malcolm McLaren comes off as more clueless but nicer than I expected and Arthur Killer Kane is a real sweety when occasionally sober. There is a sense of distance between Sylvain and singer David Johansen, possibly deliberately widened by inept band management.

Of all the books written about the Dolls this one is the best for gossip and anecdotes ie who wore what, and why. Highlights include Malcolm McLaren helping Sylvain pass his driving test, partying with Lord Montagu at Beaulieu, finding musical common ground with the Pink Fairies and what happened to Johnny Thunders’ spider monkey. Thankfully drugs are not allowed to dominate the tale, although Sylvain suggests that it was game-over for Thunders the night Iggy Pop introduced him to smack, and that Jerry Nolan was a nicer person when taking heroin.

Ultimately what comes through is Sylvain’s immense positivity and his pride at what the Dolls achieved, albeit tinged with sadness that it took so long and that Arthur, Billy, Johnny and Jerry  are no longer around to enjoy the rehabilitation of their reputation. Sylvain also maintains that prime Dolls was before they got signed to Mercury, when they were playing rent parties in NY lofts for a dollar entry. Nick Kent said something very similar in The Dark Stuff.

Too Much, Too Soon ? You said it. My suggested title for the book is Sylvain Sylvain: So Good They Named Him Twice.

From → Media, Music

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