Following the split of his Punk Rock group Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers after the recording of their L.A.M.F. album, Johnny Thunders (real name Anthony Genzale Jr.) recorded his first solo effort with Steve Lillywhite producing. For this effort Johnny showed off his own style of heroin soaked Blues and Rock music. It blended elements of 60s Rock, Doo Wop, Soul and Punk, in Johnny’s unique sloppy fashion he pulls off not only one of the best releases in his musical legacy, but also one of his most focused. The album featured reworkings of songs originally by The New York Dolls, such as “Leave Me Alone” (originally recorded as “Chatterbox” with the Dolls), and “Subway Train”. Along with these songs the album featured a cover of The Chantays Surf classic “Pipeline”, and R&B rave ups of “Daddy Rollin’ Stone” (Otis Blackwell), “Great Big Kiss” (The Shangri-Las). There is also a version of “London Boys”, which comes off sounding like a Heartbreakers outtake (which it was), the song was written in response to “New York” by the Sex Pistols, which poked fun at The New York Dolls. Ironically and perhaps purposely the song features both Paul Cook (drums) and Steve Jones (guitar) of the Sex Pistols in instrumental form. The album also featured an all-star cast of guest musicians such as Steve Jones and Paul Cook of Sex Pistols (as previously mentioned), Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy, Steve Marriot of The Faces, Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders, Peter Perrett of The Only Ones, as well as some of the members of The Heartbreakers (Walter Lure & Billy Rath) and of course Johnny Thunders himself who weaves in and out amongst the songs.
One of the standout tracks is the ballad “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory”, which is a song that is seemingly about Johnny’s battles with drug addiction. But the song has its origins in Johnny’s past, it was apparently written when he was 19 years old and before he was a member of The New York Dolls. The title also was taken from a line in the classic TV show The Honeymooners and written for a close friend of his Fabienne Shine. Regardless of these facts, the song which features backing guitar/vocals by Only Ones member Peter Perrett is a lost classic. So Alone was originally released with ten tracks in 1978, but when it was reissued on CD the album was appended to include four additional tracks, “Dead Or Alive" which was a 1978 single very much in the vein of a “London Boys” styled track was recorded with a backing band referred to as The Living Dead that featured members of The Sex Pistols, The Only Ones, and Eddie & The Hotrods (all of who are featured on different tracks found on So Alone). There is also the non album track “Hurtin’” and two previously unreleased album tracks the haunting “So Alone”, and the harmonica and almost Rockabilly fuelled “The Wizard”.
So Alone blends elements of Thunders musical projects up to that point, there are elements of The New York Dolls, The Heartbreakers and a sense of his R&B roots. The album is a mix of originals and covers, some of which at that point were just features of live sets that he played with The Heartbreakers. While it may not be as fast paced as The Heartbreakers L.A.M.F., So Alone displays Johnny Thunders at his musical best. Unfortunately Johnny’s later recordings were not as consistent, but So Alone stills stands as pure Rock and Roll moment in Johnny Thunders history.
This Week's Play List:
1. The Rezillos - Flying Saucer Attack
2. The Computers -Blood Is Thicker
3. The Ex-Boyfriends - Never Been Happier
4. Golden Hands Before God - Communist Party
5. Ride Theory - Motel Woman
6. The Staccatos - You Only Live Once
7. Standells - Sometimes Goodguys Don't Wear White (Album Version)
8. Thee Oh Sees - A Wall, A Century 2
9. Ty Segall - California Commercial
10. Surf City - Retro
11. Peter Kernel - Anthem of Hearts
12. Vampire Weekend - A-Punk
13. Sons & Daughters - Breaking Fun
14. Square Root of Margaret - Run For The Door
15. Blam Blam Blam - Battleship Grey
16. The Demics - The News
17. Blue Peter - Cloak & Dagger
18. Secrets - Take Another Look
19. Radio Birdman - Breaks My Heart
20. Johnny Thunders - You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory
21. Johnny Thunders - Dead or Alive
22. The Pixies - River Euphrates
23. Klark Kent - Thrills
24. The Black Lips - Noc-A-Homa
25. King Khan & BBQ Show - Truth or Dare
26. The D4 - Joe Orton's Wedding
To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for July 19. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.