Friday, June 23, 2006

Johnny Thunders - So Alone

Quite simply the best solo Thunders record ever! Recorded in the late 70’s, this was his first post-Heartbreakers record and I still think he was never able to top it. Yes, there are some remakes – a version of the Dolls’ “Subway Train”, “Leave Me Alone” is “Chatterbox with slightly different words, “Great Big Kiss” was a Dolls cover – but the new tunes are superb!

The record starts off with a heavy take on “Pipeline”, which became the standard for any band doing this song from then on! Pretty true to the original arrangement, but with the unmistakable Thunders guitar sound - a classic opening!

Next comes one of Johnny’s best-written songs ever, the fantastic “Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory”. Great lyrics, great tune, great arrangement and great production on this and throughout this album. If you haven’t heard this song, you’ve been living in a cave for the last 30 years of so, so you don’t need me to tell you how amazing it is!

“Ask Me No Questions”, though, is also right up there as one of his best. Similar in feel to “Memory”, it is another of his best melodies, and despite these two songs coming off as so heart-felt you could almost cry, they also still contain Johnny’s trademark fucked-up guitar! A balance that is almost impossible!

There are guest stars throughout this record and the most obvious appear on the version of “Daddy Rolling Stone”. Thunders trades off vocals with no less than Phil Lynott (riding high with Thin Lizzy at the time) and legendary Small Faces/Humble Pie lead man, Steve Marriot! Needless to say, this is one of the best versions of this song ever!

Surprise guests continue on “London Boys”, Johnny’s answer to the Sex Pistols “New York”, which was Lydon’s dig at the Dolls (despite the Pistols obviously being massively influenced by them). None other than Steve Jones and Paul Cook appear on this song, which just goes to show what they were thinking of Lydon at the time! A great, truly funny and clever parody of the Pistols!

“She’s So Untouchable” also has the feel of “Memory” & “Questions”, with a terrific sax solo and Johnny’s great line, “she’s so untouchable, but I can touch!” If there was any justice in the world, one or all of these 3 tunes would have been hits.

The record closes with “Downtown”, an ode to drugs that is so damn gloomy and depressing sounding that it’s hard to listen to repeatedly.

The CD comes with several bonus cuts, but this record really doesn’t need any more than the original songs. Any and everyone who cares at all about r’n’r should own this record!