How could someone born on St. Valentine's Day, then christened Sylvain by his enraptured parents, not turn out to be anything other than a delightful imp. As co-founder of one of the most influential bands in the history of Rock 'n' Roll, Sylvain Sylvain (b. Mizrahi) gave the New York Dolls an exotic cuteness and a melody line that sweetened even their most abrasive moments. In 1967, Sylvain made his first entrance into the alluring arena of Rock 'n' Roll with his best pal, Colombian import Billy Murcia. Together they formed The Pox, a short lived adventure that resulted in a demo deal and a rash of gigs. Unfortunately, The Pox failed to reach epidemic proportions in the popularity stakes, so Syl and Billy returned to their rather more successful fashion outlet, Truth & Soul. By 1971, the corkscrew curled duo once again made their music their premier passion with the advent of the New York Dolls. Sylvain took up rhythm guitar, Murcia kept the beat, David Johansen bawled out lyrics of teenage disenchantment, Mr. Johnny Thunders savaged his guitar and Arthur Kane hung on to his bass for support in the ensuing aural cat-fight. It's a disservice to have to abbreviate on the tarnished wonder that was The Dolls. Suffice to say, they mis-shaped the decade, lost Billy Murcia at the age of 21 to a death by misadventure verdict, redefined Rock 'n' Roll and became the darlings of underground culture. They went on to rock and ruin and have remained a legend ever since. By late 1975, the individual members had scattered although Thunders and Billy Murcia's successor, Jerry Nolan, partnered up. Aside from odd collaborations across the years between former dolls, the band in its entirety never set foot on stage together again, despite many a plea from canny promoters. In the immediate aftermath of the Doll's demise, Sylvain declined Malcolm McLaren's invitation to become a Sex Pistol and teamed up with David Johansen instead. For a talented songwriter with a classic swoony pop sensibility, life as a permanent sidekick to David Johansen's solo career was not on Sylvain's agenda nor was a 13th Street van smash in January 1977. The accident left Syl hospitalized for several months with a broken leg but the financial compensation he received was to benefit his new band. The Criminals had been forced to lay low while their leader recuperated, but on his release, the band featuring - Sylvain: guitar, lead vocals, Bobby Blaine: keyboard, vocals, Tony Machine: drums, and Michael Page: bass, vocals - cut a single. 5,000 copies of The Kids are Back/The Cops are Coming were issued on The Criminal's own Sing Sing label. With little publicity, the 45 did amazingly well both in the U.S. and the U.K. When Johansen next approached Sylvain regarding a lengthy European tour to promote his debut solo LP, on which the petite guitarist had collaborated, Sylvain cut a deal with Johansen's management. Syl requested $2,000.00 upfront to enable The Criminals to record a quality demo. '78 - Criminals was the end product; :- a courageous confection of American Rock 'n' Roll with European flavorings, sexy sentiments and breathy vocals. This is the demo that led RCA to sign Sylvain up in '79. Most of the tracks were rerecorded for Sylvain's debut, but due to the nature of big business music deals, Syl was hustled in and out of the studio too fast for his liking and '78 Criminals contains his favorite versions of the songs mainly written between 75-78. If your heart still beats that little bit faster when love goes walking by, then this is for you.

 

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