Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Johnny Thunders and Patti Palladin - Copy Cats

Patti Palladin was a New Yorker who moved to London and gained some notoriety with Judy Nylon in Snatch. I’m not sure how/when she & Thunders hooked up (musically or otherwise), but this is a great record of the two of them – with some excellent backing musicians – covering some of their favorite tunes.

I have a supreme love for the madman that is Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Patti actually does a respectable and demented version here of the fantastic “Alligator Wine”, one of his best! I don’t have the album in front of me and don’t remember whose song “Two Time Loser” is, but it is an emotional, forlorn ballad sung primarily by Thunders with plenty of plaintive guitar.

Speaking of the instruments, there were literally dozens of musicians who took part in these recordings, from members of the Heartbreakers (Nolan, Rath) to horn players and beyond. Makes for an interesting sound throughout and lots of variety!

The r’n’b shaker, “Treat Her Right” is up next and is a great dance number with Johnny doing his best to act like a soul singer, which doesn’t quite work (if you’re looking for slavish imitation) but is still damn cool in his r’n’r way. Keeping a danceable soul groove in “Uptown Harlem”, Johnny and Patti trade off the vocals and create a sexy mover.

I love Thunders trying to school Paladin on “Crawfish” as if he was a native of New Orleans! This is a minor key r’n’b tune, with effective call-and-answer vocals between the duo and a boppin’ rhythm.

For a change of pace, Patti does a cover of the Shirelles “Baby, It’s You” and does a fine job. I think the arrangement owes at least a partial debt to the Beatles version, as well. Thunders’ give a nod to the garage masters, the Seeds, in “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” with cool keyboards and reverbed guitars. Johnny’s love for the Shangri-las was evident in the Dolls, and here Patti does a terrific job in the epic, “He Cried”. This is an amazing song and they create their own pseudo “wall of sound” (which Shangri-las producer Shadow Morton borrowed from Phil Spector) to good effect.

Following that, aptly enough, is “I Was Born To Cry”, an upbeat, almost ska-tempoed piece that gives Johnny a chance to over-act in a 50’s kinda way. The finale is a fun, Latin styled doo-wop number, “She Wants to Mambo”. Great interaction between the two of them again here.

This is not a raw, Dolls/Heartbreakers-styled record, but is actually reasonably polished. The songs are all excellent and the renditions are perfectly done in their unique interpretations. This is a great piece of 50’s/60’s styled rock’n’roll.