We're the Heartbreakers, from New York city - where they call us the ball breakers.
Could this be it? Really the best of Johnny Thunders? Jungle Records has taken a stab at producing the definitive JT collection and come pretty close. It's easily the best JT collection concocted so far. There are 2 CDs in the package filled with some primo tracks, recently unearthed demos and unreleased live material. A fat booklet contains commentary by superb JT/Dolls biographer Nina Antonia as well as a year by year JT biography from Alan Hauser. Hardcore fans as well as listeners new to JT are gonna like it. But, good as it is, I still have a few nits to pick.
Born to lose or winner of our discontent?
The first disc of this package contains studio material drawn mostly from the Jungle catalog. It starts off with three tracks from the 'LAMF Lost Mixes' album that sound tight and powerful. The Heartbreakers were a great rock & roll band and here's the proof. What follows is a nice mixture of acoustic and studio stuff from 'Hurt Me', 'Que Sera Sera', 'Copy Cats' and 'In Cold Blood'. Finishing off the the disc is a very nice, up tempo, live version of 'Society Makes Me Sad' from 'Add Water And Stir'. This track was recorded just before he died and showed that, with a good backing band, he could put out a great touching, sensitive song that wasn't, as often happened, sappy sweet. Overall, a good selection of tracks that give an overview of Johnny's post Dolls output. If you're just coming into JT then you'll like this disc and maybe give you a reason to pick up Copy Cats or Que Sera Sera. For those that have been into JT for a while, it's a nice collection but you'll really want to move on to disc two of the set.
Where you come from, it's called "Born To Lose". Where I come from, it's called "Born Too Loose". Ya get it you limeys?
Disc two has the real gems of the collection and make it a 'must have'. Everything here was recorded live from late 1970's to late 1980's and overall the sound quality is excellent. The first 3 tracks are from never-released Heartbreakers demos recorded in December 13, 1977. They are stripped down and clean with a harder driving beat. Coming up next are 5 strong Heartbreaker's tracks recorded live at the Speakeasy, March 15, 1977. They were recorded at the same date as DTK but these are from the second set. They are remixed and sound great. Then, JT and the Black Cats band, recorded in Switzerland, put out Countdown Love, Blame It On Mom and Personality Crisis. Johnny's voice is a bit rough but the band sounds bouncy and tight. Stuck in next are 7 acoustic tracks with Johnny sounding like Bob Dylan. (Actually more like Eddie Murphy doing Buckwheat doing Bob Dylan - as J.H. sez.) While these acoustic tunes are not to everyone's taste, they are certainly part of what made Thunders great. Finishing up the disc are 7 tracks that were staples of Thunder's live gigs. These were recorded in Italy, 1986, with Jerry Nolan on drums. The dirty, raunchy version of Pipeline here is as good as it gets. Johnny's sound coming out of that Les Paul is truly awe inspiring.
Too fast to live, too young to die.
So is this really the definitive 'best of'? Not quite. The selections here cover most of the bases but there are still some obvious omissions. There's not one track from Johnny's pinnacle album 'So Alone' although there are good versions of 'You Can't Put Your Arms...' and 'London Boys'. Could this really be the last 'best of' without a single Dolls track? Perhaps you're expected to pick up a Dolls best of, such as 'Rock n Roll' to complete the collection. There's an excellent version of 'Personality Crisis' but that's all. I would really like to see 'Chatterbox' in the collection to fill it out. My last wish for inclusion in a 'best of' is at least something from 'Dawn Of The Dolls', the earliest recording of JT's. But I'm whining. The folks at Jungle Records have done an excellent job on this package and should really be congratulated. Johnny would have liked this one.
|Johnny Thunders - Born Too Loose - The Best Of Johnny Thunders|