Johnny Thunders And The Heartbreakers - Dead Or Alive  [DVD]
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In March 1984, Johnny Thunders reunited with the original Heartbreakers for a show at London's Lyceum. This film of the event also includes interview and archive footage with the late, great former New York Dolls guitarist.
The only available concert recording of one-time New York Doll Johnny Thunders, Dead or Alive is a must for the devoted fan. The casual observer will find much to involve and interest them, particularly in the light of New York's resurgence as the capital of cool. Musically, Thunders was very much part of the trashy New York punk sound, equal parts glam rock and the Ramones. By the time of this 1984 London concert it seemed that his prime had past, especially when you compare the odd snatch of footage from the band's appearance on the Anarchy in the UK tour of 1977. But Thunders could still swagger with the best of them. The film also features rather bizarre snippets of a French movie featuring the singer's hopeless acting skills and a poignant interview where Thunders gamely tries to concentrate the conversation on his music, despite repeated drugs questions.
On the DVD: The soundtrack is first class, capturing the Heartbreakers in all their skinny tie-wearing, low-slung guitar glory. The picture quality is less inspiring, belying the made-for-TV nature of the recording. There are plenty of extras, including the aforementioned interview with Thunders, some backstage footage and an opportunity to trawl the extensive Cherry Red back catalogue. --Phil UdellSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Great though it was to re-live that night, there were a few disappointments with the production. Apart from the rather bizarre snippets of Johnny at the airport or acting in his French movie, the gig itself was severely truncated.
Part of the joy of Johnny for me was his unpredictability, and on this night he began the gig so completely 'out of it' that his singing was terribly off on 'Personality Crisis', and from that moment guitarist Walter Lure took over for much of the first half of the set. On the DVD, the vocals have either been quite obviously overdubbed or the sound is from a completely different gig altogether (possibly the 1976 Gig featured in brief snippets on the disc).
Personally, I would have prefered a more honest film, and the singing on these tracks be left as it was. After all, it was all part of what Johnny was about, and, indeed, part of the attraction.
The disc definitely improves in the second half of the gig, once Johnny manages to put together some vocals! Everything clicks into place with 'In Cold Blood' and from that moment on it is possible to properly re-live a great night and enjoy the whole Thunders live experience without obvious overdubs (even if Walter Lure does look rather fed up with Johnny's ramblings at times).
I took my camera to this gig, and while I was unable to spot myself in the crowd at any point it was cetainly fun - and slightly surreal after 20 years - spotting my own camera flashes at moments that match the stills in my photo album.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
If you're familiar w/Thunders' movie appearances, you'll be delighted, if you're not, you'll have occasional trouble trying to `source' these clips to watch in full. Not the best Thunders on DVD out there, and not the worst -- but possibly the most diverse. If you're a concert-footage junkie (pardon the choice word) - you might want to check out:
Thunders, Kane, & Nolan - You Can't Put Your Arms Around a Memory (a top-notch bootleg that is eerily prescient - the picture is great, but the sound quality grates the nerves at times) AND:
Who's Been Talking? Johnny Thunders in Concert (better sound quality)