Review by Darren Gawle
Not that the album doesn't begin promisingly enough. "Happy Shopper" shows that the Dolls have been doing their power-pop homework (i.e. listening to the Jam) and have a keen sense of observation when it comes to the drudgery of life in a backwater town, much in the spirit of Paul Weller or Bruce Springsteen, if not in the style. Plus they carry it across with enough verve to ensure that one day, you too will be screaming "Werraghappehsho-PAHZ!!!" in the shower.
The first crack in the Dolls' facade, though, comes with "Pig Valentine." That this was declared by the New York Times to be the 1995 single of the year only serves to underline the fact that New York's credibility disappeared up its own ass sometime in the early eighties. To put it bluntly, this is the sound of Petula Clark being shagged senseless by Green Day. In Hell.
It's at about this point that Springsteen makes a quick exit and is replaced in spirit by that other notable export from New Jersey. You know the one. The one whose name begins with "Bon" and ends with "Jovi." Oh, scoff as you will, just don't come crying to me when you listen to the Dolls rhyme "work it out" with "let it all hang out" or "sell your soul" with "let the good times roll" in the space of the same chorus during "Good Times." Or when, during the intro to "Streamlined," guitarist Richard Parfitt rips into a guitar solo so excruciatingly reminiscent of Gary Moore that you half expect them to be covering "Still Got the Blues for You."
Actually, I can't in all fairness pass the 60ft Dolls off as a cross between the Jam and Bon Jovi. No, there's some Aerosmith lurking in there as well. And in "Terminal Crash Fear," we get the Dolls' impression of what Bryan Adams thinks punk rock might sound like.
Listening to The Big 3, you get the impression that a well-meaning friend of the band told them that big hair and white leather rock 'n roll was on its way out and pointed them in the direction of a pile of Jam and Undertones albums. That is, too many influences from an earlier and best-forgotten time keep rising to the surface. With more than enough bands that can write note-perfect pop these days, the 60ft Dolls' expiry date seems fast approaching. One hopes that they might yet rise to the promise they show in "Happy Shopper" and prove me wrong.
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