The New York Dolls – All Dolled Up (Music Video Distributors)

In an age when Franz Ferdinand puts out a two-disc DVD set after only two albums, it’s easy to forget how little footage exists of the great performers of rock’s past, and that’s what makes this DVD such a revelation. Culled from over forty hours shot by famed rock photographer Bob Gruen on an early black and white video camera, All Dolled Up includes great live performances, interviews, candid backstage footage, and a lot of preening in front of mirrors.

Although the video and audio are far from pristine, this is still an important release for Dolls fans. Because Gruen was friends with the band, he had full access to film them at all times, capturing the true essence of a band that most people have never seen much of outside of a few photos. He captures the drunken buffoonery, the backstage groupies and, most hilariously, the looks of outrage the band got from “straight society”.

The bonus features don’t disappoint either. You can watch the performances from the film in an unedited form, an interview between Bob Gruen and Dictators singer Handsome Dick Manitoba, look at Gruen’s photos of the band with accompanying commentary, and see Gruen, Sylvain Sylvain and David Johansen doing a commentary track. All in all, it’s a handsome package and kudos to Music Video Distributors for putting out yet another important piece of American rock history.

The New York Dolls – Lookin’ Fine On Television (MVD Visual)

Back in 2005 a pretty good New York Dolls DVD came out called All Dolled Up. It was made from extensive black and white footage of the band Nadya Beck and Bob Gruen shot in the 1970’s, giving viewers a candid look at life in one of rock’s most compelling groups. Six years later, we get Lookin’ Fine On Television, which is just that same footage re-edited into music videos to accompany the live audio tracks Beck and Gruen recorded with their camera. If repurposed footage sounds like a redundant waste of time, that’s because it is. How similar are the two DVDs? They both have the same image of the back cover! The only cool part is a bonus interview with a seemingly drunk David Johansen and Johnny Thunders in front of CBGB’s in 1976. Given the 35 years of musical history since the interview, it’s funny to hear Thunders talking rather nonchalantly about his upcoming tour with “a group called the Sex Pistols” and about how he might change his band’s name from The Heartbreakers because of some new band called Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Outside of those brief moments, Lookin’ Fine isn’t worth your money.