In considering this excellent boxed package - four pin badges, an excellent booklet with good liner notes, and, let us not forget, a whopping FOUR CDs of recordings, including a disc of demo tracks cut with original bass player Richard Hell (all housed in a smart flip-top box) you can't help but feel a tinge of sadness; the band's main protagonist, Johnny Thunders, has been dead for over twenty years at the November 2012 time of writing this review, and drummer Jerry 'Needles' (he earned the sobriquet not because of his love for knitting) Nolan likewise. The Heartbreakers were Thunders' project that he put together immediately after splitting from the New York Dolls - imagine, if you can, The Rolling Stones fronted by Keith Richards - and for a brief period, looked like they could actually make the kind of commercial headway that was denied to The Dolls. However, Thunders' uncanny knack for being able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory clicked into gear, and the band disintegrated into a messy morass of substance abuse, internecine warfare and the release of one studio album (LAMF) the impact of which was hamstrung because of a sludgy mix which left them, on record at least, sounding unfocused and vapid. It was a travesty that brilliant songs such as 'Pirate Love', 'Get Off The Phone' and 'It's Not Enough' were presented as lumpen, listless trash, when lurking under the layers of grungy topsoil was a feral rock and roll beast. Jungle Records have performed yeoman service to Thunders cause in recent years by having the LAMF album remixed into something like the ferocious rock and roll animal it always should have been, and this four CD set stands as a vivid and more than suitable epitaph to their ragged glory. Thunders was undoubtedly talented - he had an instantly-recognisable (if somewhat limited) guitar style, and, as he said at the time, his songs were 'Love songs to objects' - ie his addictions - but at the core was a perhaps naive belief that rock and roll was some kind of saving grace in itself - and as such, there is an undoubted charm and appeal to these recordings - innocence and nonsense at the same time. Ian Dury once described Gene Vincent in song as "young and old and gone" - this could also apply to Thunders and Nolan - and to which I'll add that they are gone, but not forgotten. LAMF is now the album we - Thunders fans - always hoped it would be. Vibrant, exciting edgy rock and roll that has not dated.
on 1 January 2015
I even liked the vinyl version when it first came out and didn't really understand the 'mud' everyone was going on about. Since then I must have bought 4 or 5 different copies as Jungle (the label) has tried to release the definitive copy. I've lived with the 'Lost' mixes for a few years, and didn't realise (until now) that the 'mud' album had never been reissued - the original LP here is in fact taken from the vinyl (I guess the 'relieved' master tape has been been found) and it is quite different from the 'Lost' mixes that I've become accustomed to.
The playing on all these tracks is so muscular and tight - it makes all the other LPs released around this time wimpish. Compare this with the Clash's debut. This is in another class. The backbone is Jerry Nolan's drumming. It is a band effort - Walter Lure pitches in as much guitar and singing as Thunders himself. Even the songs are different amalgamations in the group (albeit Chinese Rocks). Many are drawn on classic 50s and 60s songs - particularly the Yardbirds. So don't confuse this as being a punk album - it's roots go back to Chuck Berry.
The group never played as well without one another (I've seen some lame performances by Thunders). If you are looking for more of the same try the live at Max's Kansas City - the first four or five tracks on that are white hot (better than anything on this even!). Or try the late period Thunders' show from 1987 at the Roxy (sometimes called Panic on Sunset Strip and on box set Eve of Destruction) along with Jerry Nolan and Arthur Kane. Here Thunders keeps it tight and actually plays guitar without messing around (unlike the Heartbreakers' reunion live album - also on DVD).
The album now features regularly in the Top 100 albums of all time - it truly merits being there. I play it regularly (my kids know it!) and it's great to have all the mixes in one place.
on 6 February 2013
well, what can i say about 10 years ago when i bought the 2003 2 cd deluxe edition of L.A.M.F i figured i had it all by then from this unbelivable classic live album from 1977 from one of rock n rolls biggest losers, well 10 years on i found out i was wrong and i just had to get this 4 cd shell case edition for ONE SIMPLE REASON!!!!!! THE DEMOS WITH RICHARD HELL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i have wanted those for years so when i saw the ad for this in classic rock ( or was it mojo) i was stoked, i just had to get this for that reason alone, also the booklet is nice and the buttons are really cool and retro but it was the richard hell demos that sold me on this classic, now anyone reading this already does not have to read yet another rant about how amazing this record was and still is some 36 years on, this is without a doubt the best johnny thunders and the heartbreakers deluxe edition ive ever seen, as you know in desperation a lot of labels are deluxing everything now but what they are really doing is just re selling it to you, in this case THAT IS NOT THE CASE, also that damned box that came out a few months ago was worth it to, enjoy, richard hell will be doing a poetry book reading here next month but i have no interest in anything hes done since 1982 now, SAD. since he put out one of the best punk albums of 1977 BLANK GENERATION.............................
on 13 December 2012
For those fans who always wanted more of the alternate mixes this delivers as the last word on the subject, with some really different ones.
Also for the first time the balance of the Richard Hell era cassette recordings with Thunders / Lure on vocals which are previously unreleased, the other tracks with RH lead vocals being included on his own cd 'Time'.