The chaotic final year of IGGY & THE STOOGES is to be documented on a new box set this Autumn.
After a two-year break, Iggy’s legendary Detroit destroyers returned with new guitarist James Williamson joining alongside the returning Asheton brothers. Signing with Bowie manager Tony Defries’ MainMan stable, they released the game-changing Raw Power album before heading out on a series of dates in support of the album.
You Think You’re Bad, Man? The Road Tapes 1973-74 captures five incendiary shows from that period across 5 CDs. Kicking off with a September ’73 show at L.A.’s legendary Whisky A Go Go, the set includes shows from Detroit’s Auburn Hills Palace; the Latin Casino, Baltimore; and NYC’s Academy of Music, culminating in the iconic Metallic KO recording from Detroit in February ’74, the band’s final show for nearly thirty years.
The set is completed by a 20-page booklet with copious notes by legendary journalist and Vive Le Rock! contributor Kris Needs.
Due for release through Cherry Red on 20 November, You Think You’re Bad, Man? is available to pre-order here.
Fast-rising roots rockers RICHARD DAVIES & THE DISSIDENTS are back with a brand new single and video which they’re premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock!
‘Echo Road’ is taken from the band’s debut album Human Traffic, released in June through Bucketfull Of Brains Records. It’s backed with an exclusive specially recorded version of the Lords Of The New Church classic ‘Russian Roulette’.
Led by Davies, previously guitarist with TINY MONROE, THE SNAKES and PETER PERRETT, the Dissidents are a supergroup of sorts, featuring members of MEGA CITY FOUR, LAST GREAT DREAMERS and CASE HARDIN. They’ve been described as sounding like ‘Johnny Thunders meets Tom Petty’ and received a glowing 9-out-of-10 review in Vive Le Rock from Role Models’ Rich Ragany.
“Echo Road is the first song that I wrote for the album,” explains Davies. “It’s about being unable to escape the past. I think we recorded a few versions, but this one felt like a good radio song. It’s also the first song that Neil [Scully, keyboards] played on. I wanted to write something accessible to as many people as possible. Hopefully I managed to do that!!!
“Russian Roulette has always been a fave of mine. I think it was Tim [Emery, bass]’s idea to record a version. It’s a bit of a sacred cow, but I think we managed to record a good version. Tony James wrote it and I love pretty much everything he ever did.”
The general public will get their first chance to see the band (lockdown permitting) on 26 September when they play The Abbey Arms, Abbey Wood in South London. Also on the bill are King Salami & The Cumberland Three, Oh Gunquit, Sister Suzie and more.
‘Echo Road’ and ‘Russian Roulette’ are out now on Spotify and all the usual digital platforms.
Captain Sensible and Paul Gray’s side project THE SENSIBLE GRAY CELLS return heralding a brand new album with a single and video.
‘I Married A Monster’ is taken from Get Back Into The World, the DAMNED pair’s second album for the project since the acclaimed A Postcard From Britain in 2013.
“We love all those old Ealing comedies, Carry On films and 1950’s hammy-horror movies like The Blob and I Married A Monster From Outer Space,” explains Paul about the song. “This is our musical tongue-in-cheek spoof homage to them….after all, you never can quite be sure…can you??”
With the world locked down through Covid, and touring effectively cancelled, Sensible and Gray, finding themselves with time on their hands, convened with JOHNNY MOPED drummer Marty Love to record an album of songs exploring and demonstrating their collective affection for 60s psych-pop.
“PG and myself being garage-psych aficionados feel there should be more of this kind of music and this is our contribution to the cause,” explains the Captain. “If I said that some of these songs were ‘Damned rejects’ that shouldn’t be seen as an indication of inferior song writing, more that they’re not wearing the right shirt.
“I’ve never been a prolific writer being a lazy so and so, I think it’s best to wait for inspiration to call, which explains the seven-year gap (how many albums could the Beatles have crammed in that period!) but in the meantime Paul re-joined the Damned and we’ve gigged about a bit, which is always fun – CAN WE HAVE LIVE MUSIC BACK AGAIN PLEASE!”
Speaking about the album, the Captina continues, “It’s sad that high streets around the world have been destroyed by online shopping but nobody’s forcing people to do it – what can you do? These are very strange times we’re living though – I just count myself lucky to have been around to witness the second half of the 20th Century; a fab time for music, culture, ideas and that without even mentioning Benny Hill and On The Buses. The new album coincides with all this virus malarkey, which, unpleasant as it is, will undoubtedly be used by the powers that be to tighten the screws on us little people on behalf of their billionaire paymasters. Blah blah, etc. There’s a bit of that hidden away in the album.”
Set for release on 27 November through Damaged Goods in various formats and limited edition colour options, Get Back Into The World is available to pre-order here.
Festival circuit favourites blend reggae, punk and drum n bass.
Eighth album blends jungle and dub with punk influences as the band recently covered The Clash’s ‘Bankrobber’. Frontman Barry Ashworth recorded over three albums worth of songs to whittle the best down to this record which took two years to complete. The band collaborate with emerging talents Natty Campbell and Gardna as well as Bodysnatchers Rhoda Dakar on the anti-racist anthem ‘Stand Together’. Their message of hope rings loud. All eleven tracks have a feature artist and ‘Addict’ opens the album with Cheshire Cat. Later ‘Old Skool’ includes Horseman and ‘Two Generals’ features Ragga Twins. This LP follows 2017’s ‘Crazy Diamonds’ (UK Independent chart Top 5 album). During recording, Dub Pistols tragically lost one of their most prominent members, Will Hensel and this album is a tribute to, and celebration of him. Drum & bass, hip-hop, ska, dub and punk combine in these uplifting tracks. Dub Pistols formed in 1996 but show no signs of slowing down. My album of the year.
As the last Heartbreaker checks out, Vive Le Rock pays tribute to Walter Lure with this archive interview by Mark McStea. Below, Duff McKagan, Billy Duffy, Michael Monroe, Gilby Clarke, Jim Jones and Mick Rossi salute NYC’s finest…
As THE HEARTBREAKERS’ sole studio album ‘LAMF’ celebrates its 40th birthday, Mark Mc Stea tracked down Water Lure, the band’s sole surviving member, to get his take on risks taken and chances lost.
‘LAMF’ sounded simultaneously old and new at the same time. Drawing on all the roots of rock ’n’ roll, it put a streetwise NYC spin on the familiar themes of lust, love and scoring drugs. Where bands like the Pistols, The Clash and others sounded angry, ‘LAMF’ went against the grain; the excitement of great songs played fast and loud, with no other agenda than to have a good time.
The Heartbreakers had the coolest looks and the biggest hooks – truly tapping into the romantic soul of rock ’n’ roll. No need to get hung up on nihilistic dogma, or ‘I’m So bored’/’Destroy’ tropes, the Heartbreakers cut their own groove in an age where predictable non-conformity became the new orthodoxy.
And let’s also just nail this revisionist myth – it was The Heartbreakers on the cover of the album – not ‘Johnny Thunders and’. Even the name – The Heartbreakers – perfectly sums up the entire history of bad boy rock ’n’ roll. You know instantly what you’ll be getting – and not the torpid, tepid Tom Petty misappropriation.
In spite of the general disappointment over the muddiness of the mix when it was released, nothing could blunt the sharpness of the writing and playing. The various subsequent re-released/remastered/repackaged incarnations only reinforced what was always there – killer songs played by a band at the very top of their game. The over-emphasis on its sonic failings can be a little overstated; for those back in ‘77 without mega hi-fi systems, the inherent brightness of their cheap stereos somewhat compensated for the darker sounding mix.
Certainly, the negative take from the reviewers at that time certainly had no influence on sales as far as I can see – I know of no-one who didn’t buy it purely because the sound quality was a bit off. There are a number of websites that explore the various takes and mixes available around the world from when the album was first released, and some of the differences are quite striking. Perhaps the ultimate evaluation of ‘LAMF’ would be to track down the whole lot and run each version of every song back to back.
Of all 1977’s major players, only the Ramones – with whom the Heartbreakers had various ties – share that escapist “we’re in this band to have a good time, fuck angst, art and artifice” attitude. The notion that the Heartbreakers were too out of it to deliver needs to be laid to rest. True, they were clearly not choir boys, and prone to all the standard rock ’n’ roll excesses – Johnny Thunders in particular – but a little chaos goes a long way. Thunders always liked to bait audiences, but it was reasonably under control in the Heartbreakers – although in later years some of his rants could be fairly lengthy.
This was always part of Johnny’s make-up – part of his streetwise, wise-guy persona. Former Arrow, Alan Merrill (writer of ‘I Love Rock ’n’ Roll’), remembers a time in a New York guitar shop in 1972 when Merrill’s band mate, Jake Hooker, was playing a Les Paul. Johnny walked up to him and said, “Hey, that sounds pretty good – How long you been playing? Two weeks?”
Whereas Walter Lure similarly over-indulged, he still seemed to be keeping at least one hand on the wheel – rarely missing cues, words or solos. The Heartbreakers were about economy of motion – no wasted effort – songs pared down to the essential. Walter, who shared vocal and guitar duties with Thunders, occupies that role in the Heartbreakers that is sadly becoming all the more common these days, as the grim reaper continues to cut down our heroes – that of the last man standing.
The Heartbreakers are hardly the only thing that Lure’s done in a career that has taken him from punk legend to the world of high finance on Wall Street. He’s had several bands since the days of the Heartbreakers – most notably the Waldos – and continues to tour on a fairly regular basis around the world. The Waldos’ ‘Rent Party’ album is a no-brainer, essential purchase for any Heartbreakers fan – mining that same rich seam of pure rock ’n’ roll gold.
It is inevitable though, that he will forever be questioned about that era. The Heartbreakers arrived in the UK on the day of the Pistols/Grundy shitstorm, and were scheduled to join the Anarchy Tour. The problem was that very few dates escaped the small-minded, small town councillors clutching desperately to their small vestiges of power with their Victorian sensibilities.
It’s often said that the Heartbreakers brought heroin culture to the UK scene – as well as the notorious Nancy Spungen. Whatever negatives there were, they certainly supplied a sack full of ready-made charisma and credibility via Johnny Thunders’ and Jerry Nolan’s New York Dolls past. Sadly Johnny fully embodied the entire ‘live fast, die young’ credo. He was found dead in New Orleans under suspicious circumstances in 1991 at only 38. Officially overdosed, it was later revealed that he was in the advanced stages of leukaemia, which helps explain how bad he looked near the end. Jerry Nolan didn’t last much longer – dead at 45 in 1992 of a stroke, having been in the advanced stages of meningitis and also suffering from pneumonia. Billy Rath was the last to pass in 2014 at 68, suffering from throat cancer.
‘LAMF’ was the only Heartbreakers studio album, although there have been a few official and semi-official live albums that have appeared over the years – some featuring different line ups.
I know that the band you were in before the Heartbreakers was the Demons; are there any recordings from your time in the band? Walter Lure: “They made one album after I left them for the Heartbreakers but I didn’t play on it. I only played a few gigs with them in the early days and don’t know if there are any recordings with me on them.” [NB: Their album is worth tracking down even without Walter’s involvement. Any Heartbreakers/Dolls fan would find plenty to like therein]
Who were your initial influences? “As a guitarist my main influences were the top three or four Brits in this order: Clapton, Page, Beck, early Peter Green – when he was with John Mayall and early Fleetwood Mac – and finally my favourite overall, just for his sound and phrasing was Mick Taylor, which you might recognize in my solo on ‘It’s Not Enough’.”
Were you a fan of the Dolls? “Yes! Yes! Yes! They changed the whole rock scene and could be considered the progenitors or grandmothers of the whole punk scene. Rock had by that point degenerated to virtuoso musicians indulging in group masturbation – endless solos in endless songs with very little beat to them from groups like Yes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Flash etc, ad infinitum. The first time I saw the Dolls, they knocked me out because here was a band I could identify with: wild clothes and back to rocking those three minutes or less rock songs – fast and furious. Every young guy like myself could again learn a few guitar chords and start a band and become famous. You didn’t have to be a classically trained pianist anymore. They really gave birth to the whole punk scene in the US and the UK.”
Did much UK glam filter over to the USA in early 1970s? “Yes, we got plenty of it and I also saw most of it. From the mid-60s to the mid-70s I was an avid concert goer, and the only bands I really liked were the British bands. They dressed better and also played better than the American bands like Grateful Dead and others (I know many people disagree on this, but fuck ‘em). In any case, glam started getting really tired by the time the Dolls came up.”
Isn’t it the case that the Heartbreakers arrived in UK on the night of the Bill Grundy incident? “Yes, we landed on the same day the Pistols were on the Grundy show. Malcolm McLaren and his assistant, Sophie, picked us up at the airport. We had no idea what had happened, but Malcolm looked like he was losing his mind and was babbling about the fallout from the show. Next day it was on the front page of every paper in London and TV shows were constantly ranting about it. We were all wondering why everyone was making such a big deal about someone saying ‘fuck’ on national TV, but the British public got really crazy over it. That led to three quarters of the shows being cancelled on the Anarchy tour, but also got us so much publicity that no amount of money could buy.”
What was it like to be dropped into the middle of that storm with gigs being cancelled nearly every night? “The Anarchy Tour was incredible, with all the media hoopla around constantly. Every day we would get to a new city and sit in the hotel until they told us the gig was cancelled. We would all then go to the hotel bar and proceed to drink all night, until we did it all over again the next morning. When we actually got to play a gig it was great. Best thing was that we became good friends with all the bands, and were immediately accepted into the pantheon of British punk royalty just by being associated with the tour.”
The story is that Nancy Spungen only turned up in the UK because she was asked to bring some guitars over for the band… “Yes, that was true. Nancy used to hang out at the clubs in NYC and was always looking to make friends with band members – especially us. She was a topless dancer and part-time prostitute during the day so always had available cash. Johnny and Jerry became friends with her right away – she was helping finance their heroin habits. Johnny and Jerry used to routinely pawn their guitars for dope money so Jerry had his in the pawn shop when we went to the UK. He spoke with Nancy by phone from London and convinced her to pay to get the guitar out of pawn, and then bring it to him in London. She did it of course, so one day she shows up at our flat in London where we were living. She came in with the guitar and literally half an hour later Jerry kicked her out of the flat. She then started to hang out in London and meet all the bands – she must have been whoring as well just to finance herself. She was universally detested by almost everyone that met her – how Sid Vicious got to like her is a question I’ve never figured out. Maybe it was just sheer perversity – he always liked to shock people.”
What did you think of the UK scene? “I loved the UK scene even better than the NYC scene once we got there. NYC was basically a few mini scenes within an entire overall scene – there were the basic punks like Ramones, then the beatnik/artsy gang like Patti Smith and Talking Heads, then the leftover metal heads like the Dictators and Shirts, and also the rockers like us and the Dead Boys, and a few others. I didn’t really consider the Heartbreakers a punk band, but really a rock band that took on some of punk’s ideas and themes. But I did love fast, screaming music. However, when we got to London it was all punks. They all had wild coloured hair like in the Dolls era in NYC and they were all young and crazy. Most of them could barely play their instruments, and their sets consisted of all 90mph songs with screaming vocals that nobody could understand. Basically they were a bunch of screaming kids, and all totally hilarious.
“We’d go out every night to a few clubs to see them, and the scenes were totally wild. I remember seeing Eater for the first time, and they played roughly a 15-minute set at the top of their lungs. They could barely play but made up for it with their enthusiasm. They were all on speed and LSD back then. We actually introduced them to heroin, for better or worse. All of the older bands like the Stones and Led Zeppelin were already junkies for years, but the punks hadn’t gotten into it yet. They all supported one another as well. The Clash put us up for a few weeks in their roadie’s parents’ house after the Anarchy Tour was over so we could get past the Christmas holidays, so we could do our showcase show for the record companies.”
Who were your favourite bands from then? “By far, the Sex Pistols were my favourite from back then, and still are today. They got the best sound at their gigs and on their records. Other faves were Generation X, The Clash – who still sounded rather tinny until they got Topper Headon later on – Siouxsie and the Banshees, who used to tour with us.”
I’m always glad you didn’t change name to ‘The Junkies’, as was often mooted – whose idea was that? “That idea came from Jerry and Johnny backed him up. I didn’t care one way or the other but saw the wisdom in our manager Leee Childers’ idea that the only way we could get away with that was if we all were not junkies. The record company wouldn’t have accepted it either and they told us so. If we did it and stayed junkies, the cops would have arrested us eventually and deported us, if not put us in jail. Besides, junkies are only attractive to other junkies – kids on speed, pot and LSD do not admire junkies – they just look stupid.”
Who came up with the title ‘LAMF’ for the album? “The ‘LAMF’ title was suggested by Jerry Nolan. It was common wall graffiti when I was growing up, used by many of the old greaser street gangs of the ‘50s. They would sign their names and always follow with ‘LAMF-DTK’.”
How disappointed were you when you heard the muddy version, as it was originally released? “We had been hearing it for months. Every time we listened to the record on tape in the studio it sounded fine, but as soon as it got pressed into vinyl, everything came up muddy. We tried God knows how many studios and pressing plants. Nothing worked. Jerry kept blaming the mix, but it was mixed a hundred times as well. In the end, the record company gave us the ultimatum – either release it or find a new label. They needed to have it out for the holiday season. Everyone except Jerry said ‘Okay’. Jerry quit the band at that point and Johnny would also leave to go solo in another six months – one of those crossroads events. When it was released on cassette tape a few years later, and later on CD, the muddiness disappeared – odd.”
What are your favourite songs on the album? “‘Not Enough’, ‘One Track Mind’, ‘Born To Lose’, ‘Chinese Rocks’, ‘All By Myself’, ‘Get Off…’, ‘Going Steady’, ‘Do You Love Me’.”
Were you still friendly with Johnny at the time of his death? “Yes, we were always pretty friendly – he’d come onstage during Waldos shows and do a song or two. We weren’t bosom buddies, especially after I’d gotten off drugs in the late ‘80s and John never did. We had done a big reunion show in NYC in the November before he died, but any shows were usually just a way to make money – the Heartbreakers always drew more people than when he played solo, but he had to split the cash with us, so it probably worked out about the same. John was just a completely drug obsessed maniac for the last 10 or 15 years of his life, so there was never any way to really work with him on any projects. Drugs always got in the way.”
What do you think he might have gone on to do if he’d lived – was it likely you would have reformed the Heartbreakers? “I doubt it would ever have happened. John never really wanted to regroup because he wouldn’t be in control anymore. Jerry didn’t really seem like he wanted to either. As long as John was on drugs, he’d never be able to play with any consistency and he was never able to get off drugs for any length of time. One-off gigs were fine for the cash, but committing to a time consuming project like a band was way out of his abilities at the time. If by some miracle he did get sober then there might have been a chance, but it was highly unlikely.”
What was the writing process for the Heartbreakers – were you bringing separate ideas to rehearsal? “Mostly it was whoever brought something into rehearsal that we all liked, with some exceptions. Stuff like ‘Can’t Keep My Eyes’ and ‘Take A Chance’ were started by Jerry, who had maybe a chorus and part of a verse, but would then ask me to finish the lyrics and sing it live. John mostly brought his own stuff in, with the exception of ‘London Boys’, where I wrote the music and John wrote the words. My stuff like ‘One Track Mind’, ‘Junkie Business’ and ‘Flight’ were written by me, but I shared credits with Jerry because he let me help write his songs. ‘All By Myself’ was written by Jerry and I in a rehearsal before John arrived. Jerry started playing a drumbeat and I played some chords and Jerry started singing ‘all by myself’ at certain parts of the song. I took it home and finished the lyrics.”
Who conceived the Pistols-baiting ‘London Boys’? “I first came up with the music as an answer to the Pistols’ ‘New York’. The music was structured to resemble a Pistols type song – they usually had big descending chord runs like in ‘God Save The Queen’, so I just did a chord sequence that ascended up the neck. I was going to write the words as well, but Johnny begged me to let him do them, as he felt that Rotten attacked him personally in the Pistols song ‘New York’. I agreed and thereby sprung to life the only song that Johnny and I wrote together.”
Were you still rehearsing and working up new material once you arrived in UK? “Not really. After we got signed and then started to record the first album, we were pretty tied up with that, along with constant touring in the UK. Later on, we would come up with new stuff like ‘Junkie Business’, ‘London Boys’, ‘Dead Or Alive’ etc, but they emerged sporadically.”
What is your take on McLaren – I always think he was the supreme opportunist who would see something unfold and then claim he had planned it. “Malcolm was definitely a manipulator, but also a visionary that managed to take advantage of certain trends at the right time. He was a disaster for the Dolls, but they might have been past their prime anyway when he got involved with them. The Sex Pistols were probably his biggest coup, but they didn’t last very long – although I’m sure he made a tidy sum managing them. His alliance/marriage to Vivienne Westwood also helped further his cause because they were making all the clothes that the punks were wearing. I found him to be always personable and friendly, but we were never engaged in a real business relationship. Not sure how he did in his later years, but he never came up with anything as big as the Pistols.”
How did you end up working on Wall Street? “I was strung out and in need of cash in the early ‘80s so my father, who was a retired retail banker, knew a friend who was involved in a computer firm that handled certain stock transactions for major banks. It concerned companies that were merged or taken over, where people who owned stock in those companies had to send them in to the bank that was the transfer agent for the stock, so it could be exchanged for either new stock or cash. We basically just added up a bunch of stock certificates and calculated what each shareholder was due. In banking lingo it’s called ‘corporate actions’ or ‘reorganization’.
“As I got into it, I found myself getting interested in the whole concept of how money, banking and stock investments worked. I never knew anything about money other than that I never had enough and always wanted more. So I started looking into the whole financial system and how it worked. I finally jumped to a brokerage firm in 1986 and learned a lot more. Finally getting off drugs in 1988, by 1993 I was in charge of a whole trade settlement operation and 125 people. After various mergers and financial crises I ended my career at an asset management firm and retired in 2015. I was also at Lehman Brothers when they exploded in 2008, heralding the start of the financial crisis.”
Did the Wall Street crowd know about your rock’n’roll roots? “Yes, all of the people at my Wall Street jobs knew about my rock roots and many of them would come to those late Heartbreakers reunions, and also Waldos shows. I remember one girl who worked for me was at a show one night, and she remarked to a friend while I was onstage – ‘that’s my boss up there onstage, go figure’. It was quite a schizophrenic existence – one side of my closet had my work suits and ties and the other had all these ripped up punk clothes. Funny to think of it.”
Would you have ever considered becoming a full time Ramone – given your appearances on a few tracks? Maybe Wally Ramone? “That wasn’t in the cards. When I was playing on their albums I was still a junkie and they never wanted anything to do with drugs with the exception of Dee Dee, who they couldn’t control. Nevertheless he was kicked out in later years. Also, the personnel dynamic within the band was incredibly infantile and fanatically controlled by Johnny, the control freak. I got along with all of them on different levels, but they never would have admitted me as an equal member even if I was not a druggie. All the drummers and later bass players were on a salaried basis only and they never granted them any royalty rights, no matter how much they contributed to the songs. They loved my guitar playing but didn’t want another full member. Wally Ramone – it sounded like a great idea, but they didn’t want it and I was too out of it.”
Does it feel strange or poignant to be the last man standing from the Heartbreakers? “Not really strange or poignant, but more of a ‘thank God I survived’ feeling. I guess I’m a bit proud of myself that I lasted so long, but I was never sure if that was because of my inner strength and ability to get out of the drug culture, or just the fickle finger of fate. Johnny couldn’t survive without drugs; indeed they actually defined him, in his own mind anyway. Jerry had been out of street drugs for years but also had been on methadone since late 1976, and I think that finally ate away at his body. Billy had also gotten off drugs from what I’d been told but he had already ruined himself – he had lost a leg in a car crash, had Hep C and also AIDS for the last ten to fifteen years of his life. When I saw him in London, the year before he died, he already looked like a corpse – no teeth and almost delirious in his limited conversation. So I guess it was up to me to stay alive and tell the stories, for better or worse.”
What is coming up for you musically? “At the moment I’m in the middle of making a new Waldos album – the basic tracks are done and we’re doing the overdubs and guest spots in the next few weeks. There might be a West Coast tour for me in August – details to be settled soon – and also a possible trip to Germany in September. Usually when I go on tour, I just bring myself and get a local back-up band to play with me. It’s too expensive to bring my NYC band on tour with me unless the cities offer a lot more cash. Sort of my Chuck Berry routine.”
The highlights of your career so far? “Obviously, being over in the UK with the Heartbreakers in the middle of all the punk madness was the best thing that ever happened to me. I felt that I was at the centre/top of the world back then and will carry the memories forever. The NYC scene was great too, but the UK was more fun for me. Also, the fact that I’m still playing gigs, and able to draw people from their teens to their seventies to my shows, gives me some satisfaction that what we did/are doing does actually matter. It’s been 40 years since the Anarchy tour and I’m still in the business. It lasted longer than my Wall Street career but was not quite as lucrative, unfortunately.”
Any low points? “I guess the bad parts were when Johnny went solo and the band was officially over in 1978, in spite of the fact that we did periodic reunions up until John died in 1991. Being a drug addict after it all was over was not very pleasant, either. I didn’t get out of that mess until early 1988. Ten years wasted on that stuff. There was a point in the mid ‘90s that I really felt depressed and wanted to stop playing for good. My Waldos drummer, Charlie Sox, died in 1992 or 1993, and the bass player Tony Coiro died in late 1995, and finally my younger brother passed away in 1997. I sort of felt responsible for all of them, except Tony who died of liver cancer and left two kids in grammar school.”
Any scores you’d like to settle? “None really. I have no enemies from that era to my knowledge and no real major regrets. I had that time in the sun and was grateful for it. I still say to this day that if we had made it bigger back then, I would have been dead by now like the others. More fame and cash would have prolonged the drug-addled lifestyle and I’m sure I would have succumbed much earlier. The fact that I had to go out and get a regular job back in the ‘80s really got me out of the drug culture.”
Duff McKagan “The Heartbreakers’ ‘LAMF’ sort of changed everything for me. Johnny Thunders’ guitar style and chops on this record were really all of the guitar lessons I ever took. Jerry Nolan’s drumming set the tempo for the life in music I was just then embarking on – and let us be honest here; at my young age of 15, this album cover was all I really needed to convince me that these guys were the coolest motherfuckers standing. Their style still influences me and many others to this day (the GN’R cowboy boot usage and slum-land chic, in my case at least, comes from this cover). ‘Pirate Love’, ‘Born To Lose’, and ‘One Track Mind’ are all true rock‘n’roll classics.
“I finally got to see a semblance of the band play live in my hometown of Seattle sometime in late 1980 or early ‘81. I followed them down to Portland with a couple of friends the next day, and found myself hanging out with Thunders later after the show, and even got a chance to jam with him. I got the whole picture (even at my young age) – he got high right after the show and didn’t want to get back in the van just yet. He rather chose to hang at the show after everyone – except us – had left because he wanted to enjoy that high. I will never lose that memory. To me, however, it was playing with a legend in league with Chuck Berry – drugs or not.”
Billy Duffy “I loved the Heartbreakers from the get go. As soon as I had seen the Pistols in ‘76 I was right into the punk scene and naturally became aware of the influence of New York on the UK bands. I loved the New York Dolls music, if not so much the make-up, and when I saw Johnny and the band I embraced them as my own personal slice of New York rock ’n’ roll.
“I didn’t really consider the Heartbreakers a punk band, but really a rock band that took on some of punk’s ideas and themes. But I did love fast, screaming music. When we got to London it was all punks.
“To my everlasting regret, I sadly missed them playing at a local Manchester pub called the Oaks, but I did manage to see them at Manchester University in 1977 when they were supported by Siouxsie and the Banshees, and the Models. As a Thunders obsessive and budding guitarist, I lusted after his ‘TV’ yellow double cut away Les Paul Junior and was horrified when I saw Marco Pirroni of the Models (later of Adam & The Ants) playing it as the first band on.
“Later that night, in the lobby of the building, I saw Johnny Thunders on a pay phone and – very unlike me – I approached him. He smiled, held up a hand like ‘I’m on the phone here’, reached into the small pocket of his Levi’s 501 jeans (not widely available in the UK at that time and certainly not in Manchester), and graciously offered me a gold Herco Flex 50 guitar pick, which I grabbed and ran.
“My last stop on my Thunders/Heartbreakers odyssey was in New York in the late ‘80s. The Cult had gotten big over there and we all went out for a drink and found Johnny was playing a show at the Cat Club, so we caught his set (by then not in the best shape, sadly, so it was patchy at best), and then after the show we jumped up using his band’s equipment for a drunken ‘Cult’ jam. I never met Johnny or the band guys apart from that one time at Manchester University but that 30 seconds changed my life – ‘LAMF’.”
Michael Monroe “The Heartbreakers’ ‘LAMF’ album is very significant to me and to Hanoi Rocks. It is one of the greatest rock albums of all time, plus the name Hanoi Rocks stems from the name of the song ‘Chinese Rocks’. I’ve even recorded a version of ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ on my album ‘Demolition 23’. Johnny Thunders was one of the most important people in rock and was also a very dear friend of mine. I guested on his solo album ‘Que Sera Sera’, and collaborated with him on many occasions. I’ve also had the great honour of jamming with Walter Lure live and guesting on his Waldos album. The Heartbreakers’ ‘LAMF’ album is essential listening to anyone who’s into real authentic rock ’n’ roll with the right kind of attitude.”
Gilby Clarke “The Dolls and Johnny were influences on Guns N’Roses – that was a common thread in the band. Duff had ‘LAMF’ painted on his bass cabinet from the early GN’R days and he kept that cabinet through the ‘…Illusion’ tour. We recorded a Thunders song for ‘The Spaghetti Incident’ as well as ‘You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory’.”
Jim Jones “The Heartbreakers were a complete band – a perfect unit, and a chemistry that wouldn’t be the same without all the members. The early formation with Richard Hell was a great idea on paper, but could never achieve the toughness and sleaze of the final line-up on ‘LAMF’. It was a huge part of my formative musical education – a masterclass in how to sound raw and dirty and dangerous but with class and swing – all the things that were (and still are) sadly lacking in so many of its contemporaries. ‘LAMF’ is actual rock ’n’ roll – so much other stuff is just rock.”
Mick Rossi “Upon meeting Johnny Thunders, what struck me first was his immediate kindness. He took me under his wing a little. My band, Slaughter and the Dogs, were touring with the Heartbreakers, and I remember at that time I wasn’t able to afford a good amp, but Johnny had no problem sharing his amp with me, which I always thought was so gracious of him. There are many wonderful things to be said about Johnny Thunders – the obvious is that he had a unique sound and a very individualistic authentic sense of style, and he played with an amazing amount of conviction and passion. However, Johnny T was way more than that. He was a true, trail blazing, musical maverick.”
In celebration of turning 60, semi-legendary musician TERRY EDWARDS has curated two new archive anthologies.
One of the UK’s most loved, trusted and sought-after multi-instrumentalists, arrangers and producers, Edwards is perhaps best-known as founder of punk-funk pioneers THE HIGSONS and his subsequent membership of GALLON DRUNK, PJ HARVEY’s HOPE SIX DEMOLITION PROJECT and his own bands THE SCAPEGOATS and more recently THE N.J.E.
He’s also loaned his considerable talents to Tom Waits, Nick Cave, Glen Matlock, Madness, Tindersticks, Julian Cope, Robyn Hitchcock, The Blockheads, Siouxsie Sioux, Spiritualized, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Tony Visconti and Woody Woodmansey’s Holy Holy and many more besides.
Set for release on Saturday 29 August, Stop Trying To Sell Me Back My Past (vol 1) is a Record Store Day exclusive, delayed by Covid-19 since 18 April. The limited edition double vinyl album comprises his 90s covers EPs, featuring his own interpretations of songs by The Fall, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Cure among others.
This will be followed on Friday 4 September by Very Terry Edwards, a three-CD collection featuring 60 of Edwards’ favourite works and collaborations from the past 40-plus years, including tracks by The Higsons, Gallon Drunk, The Scapegoats, Glen Matlock, Vic Godard, Rhoda Dakar, The Nightingales, Franz Ferdinand, The Blockheads, Snuff and 50 more.
As an exclusive Vive Le Rock! premiere, Edwards has unearthed a vintage previously unreleased video for his rendition of The Cure’s classic ‘Friday I’m In Love’, which features on both compilations.
“Who doesn’t love this Cure song?” he asks. “The video was shot in The Garage at Highbury Corner… a very long time ago! The eagle-eyed will notice the homage to the Talking Heads’ clip for ‘Once In A Lifetime’, but if anyone can tell me what the bit of plot is with the two Japanese ladies – whom I never met – please enlighten me! Enjoy.”
Released through Sartorial Records via Cargo, Very Terry Edwards is available to pre-order here.
The N.J.E.’s latest single ‘Tizita’ is available here.
The early 70s pub rock explosion arguably helped pave the way for punk, with its small-amp just-get-up-and-do-it attitude. But within a couple of years, pub rock was on the ropes and the new kids had taken over. Check out these ten classic tracks from that brief but fertile period when two cultures clashed….
DR FEELGOOD – DOWN AT THE DOCTORS
THE GORILLAS – SHE’S MY GAL
THE FAVOURITES – FAVOURITE SHOES
ELVIS COSTELLO & THE ATTRACTIONS – WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT PEACE, LOVE & UNDERSTANDING
THE 101ERS – KEYS TO YOUR HEART
KURSAAL FLYERS – TELEVISION GENERATION
IAN DURY – SEX & DRUGS & ROCK & ROLL
EDDIE & THE HOT RODS – TEENAGE DEPRESSION
THE INMATES – DIRTY WATER
THE COUNT BISHOPS – I WANT CANDY
Read our 8-page feature on what happened when pub rock met punk, including the full story of THE COUNT BISHOPS, in the latest edition of Vive Le Rock! out now!
The Inmates guitarist Peter Gunn currently hosts the weekly Gunn’s Grotto radio show on Trash Can Radio.
….and check out the Last Orders – When Pub Rock Met Punk playlist on Spotify!
Following XL Recordings honcho Richard Russell’s remix of ‘Bomb’ a few weeks back, Crass Records have announced the second release in their Feeding Of The Five Thousand remix project.
This time, New York DJ, producer and promoter Johnny Dynell, well known for his 1983 cult hit ‘Jam Hot’ (remixed and sampled many times over, most famously by Fatboy Slim and his group Beats International for ‘Dub Be Good To Me’) has taken on ‘G’s Song’, written by Gee Vaucher, the band’s visual artist.
With roots in the 70s No Wave scene, Dynell’s connection and friendship with Crass goes back to the anarchist punk icons’ only US gigs in 1978 in NYC.
“I met Gee in 1977 when she came to live in NYC and we shared a loft space with another friend,” remembers Dynell. “I met CRASS in 1978 when they came to play and we became very close. Gee had her own place by then which is where the band stayed. After practically living with them all while they were in town, I quickly became aware of how bad things were in England and that bands like CRASS were really trying to make a difference. The difference between the New York Punk scene and the English scene at the time was striking. New York was nowhere near as political or as intense. CRASS were definitely not just interested in getting a record contract. Gee was and continues to be a role model and a positive influence on me.”
Speaking about the track, Dynell continues, “This track was a real challenge though because I wanted to do something totally different with it. I wanted it to sound more like the tracks that I DJ in clubs, but still have the power and drive of the punk original. I used Steve’s iconic vocals and a few bars of the punk guitar in the intro to show the song’s roots. The drums change at the end of the song to a more driving punk beat. I hoped that this would bring back some of the original live energy of the band I’d experienced.”
The 12” also includes a jarring, cut-up experimental remix of ‘Banned From The Roxy’ by by electronic composer and video artist Charles Webber who, has for many years collaborated closely with Crass vocalist Eve Libertine on such works as the chamber opera ‘Room of Worlds’, an arrangement of Wilhelm Reich’s ‘Listen Little Man’ and the Kernschmelze series devised by Crass founder Penny Rimbaud.
As previously reported, late last year Crass made the original separate track stems of their seminal album The Feeding of the Five Thousand available as free downloads with the intention that anyone interested could come up with new remixes of the tracks.
The 12″ Normal Never Was 2 will be released in a limited blue vinyl edition on 4 September by Crass Records via One Little Independent. All proceeds will be donated to the domestic violence charity Refuge.
Post-punks FOLK DEVILS are about to release a new EP and they’re sharing all three tracks with Vive Le Rock!
The Forever EP represents the band’s first new music in 33 years! The release features two new songs, ‘Forever’ and ‘My Slum Soul’ plus a new recording of the old live favourite ‘Ink Runs Dry’.
The tracks were recorded at the legendary Konk Studios, with Grammy-winning producer and engineer Rik Simpson.
Originally existing from 1983 to ’87, Folk Devils featured former The Wall and Ski Patrol frontman Ian Lowery and made a name for themselves with indie chart hits ‘Hank Turns Blue’ and ‘Beautiful Monster’, along with three John Peel sessions and shows with The Fall, The Gun Club, Screaming Blue Messiahs and Nick Cave.
With the release of the Beautiful Monsters anthology in 2016, founder members Kris Jozajtis and bassist Mark Whiteley decided to reform the band with late-period members Nick Clift and John Hamilton. Former Parting Shots singer Dave Hodgson takes the place of Lowery, who sadly passed away in 2001.
“I have known this band practically my whole adult life,” reflects Clift, who curated the anthology and also played with Lowery in Ski Patrol. “Back in 1984 when Ian Lowery was finally hitting his stride and making the music he was born to make, I thought they could have been one of the British post-punk greats. It wasn’t to last, Ian died in 2001, and then they were forgotten about until a few years ago when I decided to re-visit their legacy. We decided to do one reunion show in a sweaty basement in Stoke Newington and the response was incredible. Now we had two guitars and the old songs had a new swagger about them. More gigs around the UK followed and it was clear we needed to make new music in order to avoid becoming a mere nostalgia act. It would also give our new singer Dave Hodgson the chance to show he wasn’t just filling Ian’s boots, and he did a fantastic job. The whole band has found a new lease on life”.
Set for release on 18 September through Optic Nerve Recordings, Forever will be available as a digital download and on limited edition 10″ translucent red vinyl. Pre-order it through Bandcamp.
Former SOFT BOYS guitarist Kimberley Rew has just released a new compilation of his solo work.
Sunshine Walkers features songs from Rew’s eleven solo albums from the past two decades, recorded with his wife Lee Cave-Berry. It also draws on Cave-Berry’s solo album and joint releases.
Rew came to prominence as guitarist with hugely influential Cambridge psych-punk pioneers The Soft Boys, whom he joined in 1978. Playing shows with The Damned, Magazine, The Only Ones and The Pop Group among others, they released two albums, A Can Of Bees and Underwater Moonlight, whose mix of pop melodies, punk energy and psych weirdness rubbed off on the likes of REM, Blur, The Replacements, Pixies, Spoon and Pavement. The band split in 1981, launching the career of singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock before reuniting in 2001 for a the all-new album Nextdoorland.
Rew then founded powerpop band KATRINA & THE WAVES, writing most of their material including the ubiquitous worldwide hit ‘Walking On Sunshine’, the UK’s last Eurovision winner ‘Love Shine A Light’ and ‘Going Down To Liverpool’, covered by THE BANGLES.
Covid lockdown seems to have had little effect on the Italo-punk explosion with the return of long-serving gourmands THE MANGES.
The stripey four-piece, who hail form the north-eastern seaside town of La Spezia have just unveiled a brand new double single ‘Endless Detention’ c/w ‘Ramones At Lollapalooza’.
Produced by Lorenzo Moretti from Roman bootboys GIUDA, the A-side is a taster for the band’s long-awaited fifth studio album Punk Rock Addio, which is due in September.
Formed back in the dark days of the early 90s, these buzzsaw punks have toured widely across Europe and the US, sharing stages with the likes of The Queers, Bad Religion, Descendents and Anti-Flag. They’ve shared split releases with The McRackins, Apers and the Hard-Ons and had a song covered by Screeching Weasel. They’re also the brains behind the Punk Rock Raduno festival.
In other Italian punk news, fast-rising Rimini trio SMALLTOWN TIGERS – who recently featured in Vive Le Rock!‘s Down On The Street section -emerge from lockdown to play the Sammaurock Festival on 30 July. The girls plan a new single/video from their acclaimed debut album in the autumn, to coincide with – touch wood – UK gigs in November. Watch this space!
Fast-rising Kent punks RISKEE & THE RIDICULE are back with a surprising new single.
Following on from May’s anti-Brexit anthem ‘Blue Jacket’, the band are back with a cover of LANA DEL REY’S 2013 award-winning The Great Gatsby hit ‘Young And Beautiful’.
“Lana Del Rey is one of pop music’s best storytellers,” frontman Scott Picking reckons. “There’s something about her music that is so intense and descriptive that it’s movie-like and in these times of being locked down, that type of escapism has been a personal paradise. In choosing this song, I knew I could bring something different vocally and musically, we were excited about changing the song dynamically while staying true to the emotiveness of the original.”
The video, the work of former bassist David Thomas, features each of the band members shot at home in isolation, combined with scenes from one of their earlier hometown gigs.
Says Scott, “The video feels like a nod to both our early days as a band, just us and our own motivation, as well as where we are all at in this unique moment, one that we’re not likely to be in again any time soon (hopefully).”
Hot new London band THE HEAT INC. release their incendiary debut single today and they’re premiering the video exclusively with Vive Le Rock!
‘Raptors’ was recorded by the quartet at RYP Recordings in North-West London with producer Michael smith.
“I love the Black Keys’ ‘Lonely Boy’ video and we have used that concept but our video’s character, the actor Joe Law, his performance is more extreme,” says guitarist Marco Simoncelli. “The video has been shot by This studio production directors on their balcony in Bermondsey. The view over the city is stunning, which is why we picked it as we thought it was a perfect scenario for the video. Joe rehearsed for almost three weeks to deliver a great energetic performance.”
‘Raptors’ is out through Melted Dino Records and is available digitally here!
Aussie rockers THE CASANOVAS have just dropped a new single as a taster for their new album.
The ‘TNT’-channelling ‘Red Hot’ is the second single to be taken from the forthcoming Reptilian Overlord, following on from last Autumn’s ‘Hollywood Riot’. The new album itself is the Melbourne trio’s first full-length since 2015’s Terra Casanova.
Formed in 1999 and still fronted by founder and guitarist Tommy Boyce, the band have toured at home and abroad with the likes of The Living End, Motorhead, The White Stripes and The Datsuns, with whom they made their UK debut in 2003.
The new album finds them working with legendary Aussie producer Mark Opitz, whose CV – AC/DC, The Angels, Cold Chisel, Hoodoo Gurus, Divynyls, Hitmen, Rose Tattoo etc – reads like a Who’s Who of Aussie rock.
“Mark is the master at miking for great guitar tones,” says bassist Damo Campbell. “He definitely brought some of those techniques into our sessions… It was also pretty inspiring to be in the studio hearing some of Mark’s stories of some of the great rock bands he has worked with over his career.”
KILLING JOKE’s Jaz Coleman has announced a brand new project BLACK & RED, a collaboration with Czech musician Ondrej Smeykal, and they’re launching the video for their first single exclusively with Vive Le Rock!
“The Black and Red project was born in Australia in 2010 when I set out to find the greatest virtuoso of the didgeridoo only to find the maestro of the instrument resided in Prague where I lived,” explains Jaz. “Upon my return to Czech Rep, I was introduced to Ondrej Smeykal. We ended up not just developing an ancient instrument * but recording the Black and Red project (adding only Indian Harmonium) and an explosive duo was formed which could recreate the recording live perfectly. The funny thing is Black and Red only made sense after lockdown.”
The pulsing, apocalyptic near 8-minute ‘On The Day The Earth Went Mad’ is out today digitally here and at all the usual suspects as well as on a numbered limited edition red vinyl 10-inch through Cadiz Music available from jazcoleman.com
Everyone’s favourite glam-punks THE DeRELLAS are back with a brand new single and video.
The urgent, street-fightin’ ‘Inner City Rock’n’Roll’ was put together by the pre-lockdown at South London’s Perry Vale with ex-Vibrator Pat Collier manning the desk and, we’re sure you’ll agree, it does exactly what it says on the tin.
A taster for their forthcoming new album Something’s Got To Give which is due at the end of the year, ‘Inner City Rock’n’Roll’ is available now from Bandcamp, Spotify and all the usual suspects…
Freshly-minted US punks UXB are ready to unveil the first fruit of their labours and are premiering a track exclusively with Vive Le Rock!
The incendiary ‘Westworld Crisis’ is the first – and title – track to be taken from the band’s debut album, which sets its sites on the world’s current climate and technology’s influence.
Newly signed to Demons Run Amok, UXB is the new project put together by former members of Orange County punks U.S. BOMBS – founder member Kerry Martinez (guitar), Wade Walston (bass) and Chip Hanna (drums) – who quit the band back in 2015. They’re joined by frontman Jesse Wagner of reggae-punks THE AGGROLITES.
With European dates tentatively pencilled in for the Autumn, Westworld Crisis is out though Demons Run Amok on 14 August.
ROLE MODELS guitarist Nick Hughes is back with a new project, a new single and a new video which he’s premiering exclusively with Vive Le Rock!
‘B.A. Baby’ is the first single by the newly minted THE MIDDLENIGHT MEN and is taken from the forthcoming album ISSUE 1. The project was put together by Hughes along with longtime friend and STATUS QUO drummer Leon Cave and producer Andy Brook (Wonk Unit, Lucifer Star Machine), plus various friends and acquaintances, including Tom Spencer (Yo-Yo’s, The Professionals), Rich Ragany (Role Models) and many more…
A man with CV that includes stints with THE YO-YO’S, TERRORVISION and LOVE ZOMBIES, Hughes hatched the concept for the single while playing dates in Buenos Aires with DUNCAN REID & THE BIG HEADS.
‘B.A. Baby’ is out on Friday 19 June and is available to pre-order here.