Friday, June 29, 2012

The Heartbreakers - "L.A.M.F.T.M.J.B. - A Mixed Attempt For The Best Mixes" (WAXCD 007)

Hi there! Hope everything’s OK for all of you. “The Nightmare Returns”, perhaps this must be the right title/marquee for the new WAX CD. You know (I’m sure you do), when you’re young (loud and snotty) your only ambition in record buying things, is just to find the money and grab your bloody passion’s object. Actually at this age, your only ambitions are always a 'passion’s object' matter: girls, records, bikes etc. After your 25 or something, the lust’s being replaced by geekness. Come on, admit it! This entire ‘punk rock’ attitude obliterates for good. Cause the first time I purchased ‘L.A.M.F.’ (I was probably 14) had sounded to me like THEE record, THEE pattern and THEE way rock & roll should sound and look! Fuckin’ dangerous, sloppily tight (the brilliance of the Rolling Stones it’s being built on this formula and Johnny as a big fan of theirs, knew where to look) with more than obvious the evidence of the street culture (drugs… unfortunately). No problems then with fidelities, “muddy” mixes and overall sounding. Life was being taken as it had come, a day by day trip; don’t give a fuck for all the rest (except maybe once in a three months, when you have to find the way you’re going to defend yourself to your parents for the bad credits at school)! My crappy stereo and the absence of money in my pockets had left no space for such thoughts anyway. I wish sometimes to have still the same concerns in life I had then. ..
Fast forward some years from that era, in one of at the time usual daily walk in the few cool record stores of the city (now there's nothing), and a Jungle CD under the title of ‘L.A.M.F. – The Lost ’77 Mixes’ makes its presence in front of my eyes and guess what, it screwed my life ever since. A better stereo has been gained already the previous months, after a really hard trying by my side to gather up the bread-and-butter, but the a lot clearer version of the ’77 Mixes’ started almost instantly giving me the headaches. Mind that I didn’t say ‘better’ but ‘a lot clearer’. And the ‘a lot clearer’ phrase means more audible for sure, no less aggressive thankfully but not securely the one the band got in their minds (or the fans if I judge from my point of view). Oh well, who knows what do they have actually? Heroin’s like the best pussy around they say and quite logically no mind for the best possible results even if they claimed for the opposite, right? (My fave of the ‘breakers gang) Walter Lure drenched the situation in sound, with ‘Too Much Junkie Business’… In fact the added part next to ‘L.A.M.F.’ on our try here (T.M.J.B.) has been taken from this stellar sign tune for the obvious reasons. After all, all Heartbreakers ‘career’ wasn’t circled by powders, syringes and cold turkeys? Anyway, a little later came to my hands this Johnny’s ‘Revisited’ antiseptic attempt with Tony James ‘help’ (Generation X, Sigue Sigue Sputnik), which to be honest was a huge disappointment at the time. Actually still is cause with a few exceptions (‘Pirate Love’ most notably) succeed to overpower the dynamite. You need a ‘real talent’ to do such thing, right..? I’m not sure if it’s a totally avoidable release (try find the Jap, A LOT better – still away from the ‘breakers live majesty though) but I’m sure most of us fans, got it or kept it for historical reasons mostly. Cleaning is a good idea (that sadly Johnny never did) for drugs, not for rock & roll. Adding bits and pieces to by that time recorded material, made the situation even worse. Brian Young (Rudi/Sabrejets), a HUGE Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers fan in an email he sent me on this subject have written me:

Everyone I knew who saw the Heartbreakers live in ‘77 said they wiped the floor with everyone onstage - but if they couldn't get it together in the studio they had no one to blame but themselves. I didn't like the Tony James remix either. Too 80's and what would Tony James know about producing records anyway? He certainly didn't produce Generation X's records and when he did Sputniks they sounded feeble....He was probably just cheap... I knew A. Hauser from when he managed the raped and he's a really nice genuine guy so I know he did his best - but if you ask me a lot of the excuses for the bad sound of ‘LAMF’ are simply that. Excuses...

The truth? Quite honestly, I'm now with the Brian's side of thinking and you'll gonna know why a little later. Btw, Brian did a very cool piece on the Heartbreakers fatal existence for the 'Punk 77' website as 'Cursed, Poisoned and Condemned' and you should check it out without second thoughts, here and here. Really cool bloke!

You probably got it that I’m a totally bloated bastard, right? If you shake your head in affirmative to the previous, means that it isn’t difficult to imagine how this fire came to me head, haha! The ‘idea’ to cross paths with record’s history, was for years something intriguing. I mailed my comrade if he’s in and the reply from the dark shelter of France came almost instantly, ‘YES’! Ha! I knew I was right for one more time to base upon JP! And just like that our deep dive in ‘L.A.M.F.’s confused route, began. Our vaults opened, records and CDs (officially released or/and not) started to come out and our thoughts on how this ‘project’ might/should be built were exchanging rapidly. That was the easy part… “We’re gonna use all the songs original pressings had as uterus, and we’re gonna pick up the best in our opinion versions plus all the extras that appeared later and we can use as bonuses, tracks that's now widely known and recorded most properly from the post Heartbreakers bands (Johnny solo, The Waldos, Jerry solo, The Heroes etc.) but hither executed from their ‘breakers themselves, OK? “ I mailed my associate. Sounds cool, right? You betcha! There goes the hard stuff. We were missing pressings (we still miss the ‘legendary’ original Track cassette – anyone? - which many Walter Lure included, bring as evidence of not a ‘bad mix’ situation but of ‘bad mastering’) so we had to find them. I remember as well that when I’ve send my questions to Mr. Lure for the interview, next email from his side was if I was writing a book or something? Imagine in what heights my grind had come! Anyway, we tried but failed to come up with the tape and somewhere in there we stopped a little to think if a 'definitive' essay from our side will be 'complete' without this DAMN (ancient to all of our readers below 16) thing? I spent countless hours on old fanzines, internet forums, every possible (little or not) detail anyway, to see if this actually apply to reality or if it's just an urban legend that almost everyone helped grow (from die hard fans to the surviving band members), as the only 'true' evidence of the 'original mix'? I mean, Walter had then written me: “The problem was in the translation from tape to vinyl because it always sounded good in the studio on tape but lousy on vinyl”…. He can’t be wrong, right? He was THERE! But where in the bloody hell can we found this and in a MINT condition? I tried ePay, but no sir! I tried the internet for a possible download, but no luck…
And then Jean Philippe’s ‘bad habit’ resurrected… My mate debouched for other countries copies/pressings! Thank god, some things never change! He wasn’t in need for any further information by me and he didn’t needed as well my ‘knowledge’ for the presumably among the Heartbreakers fans rumors for the ‘excellent’ Scandinavian and Italian pressings… At first he surfaced (naturally) the French print: 

I gave a careful listening to the French ‘L.A.M.F.’ LP, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it. It's no Hi-Fi for sure, but I like the fact that's it's the exact opposite of ‘Revisited’ version: the French LP sounds almost "unmixed". Vocals have no reverb, it's like demos. The drums on "I Wanna BeLoved" intro (or "Baby Talk") sound very, very thin but very natural. The French (or probably any non-UK LP) is definitely different from "The Lost 77 Mixes". Acoustic guitar on "It's Not Enough" is mixed upfront on "The Lost 77 Mixes", while it's not on the French LP. I guess that most people would prefer "The Lost 77 Mixes", but I don't. As for the ‘Revisited’ version, it's almost a joke. It sounds like it was remixed by a kid. The way the drums are far too much "enhanced" on "Pirate Love" is beyond silly. But I love it! It's ‘LAMF’ still! Anyway, I checked UK vs. French original LPs, and here's what I noticed:

* All of side one and "Goin' Steady" on side two are different, and the French LP is much better, especially on "Born To Lose" and "Chinese Rocks" which are pretty bad on the UK LP.
* The rest (side 2 minus "Going Steady") is the same mastering/mix. I hear differences on these tracks, but I think it's a matter of pressing quality. Despite its obvious mastering problems (on side 1), the UK version is a better pressing than the French one, as it's got more bass.
* "It's Not Enough" doesn't fade out on the French LP, but it does on the UK LP. I guess that ending a song that way is a studio job, not a pressing plant job: the UK and French pressing plants didn't receive the same "tapes". So that's not just a manufacturing problem?

Didn’t I tell you? When it comes for rock & roll we’re 100% geeks and junkies! We‘re corroded to the bone but we’ll never see it as an academic work, OK? It’s an adventurous and uncompromising trip for the truth behind the legend. Anyway, I gave a (two, three, four) listen(s) and I wasn’t able to go against my buddy. After all he’s the WTS Analog Department Engineer (we have a loose screw, right!?  - it’s obvious now), I’m the guy with the long lasting adherences (the doc said I have already too much inside my head to deal with more...) and his conclusions destroyed twice my thoughts! Thanks mate! Aaarrrgggg! My wife for two months now grumping (OK I know, she’s totally right, she married a mentally ill person) that when our kids go to bed, I rush myself to the headphones or the library but… I CAN'T HELP STOP DOING IT. (Sorry babe, you knew what you had in your hands, don’t tell me I didn’t warned you!) As long as I was trying to gather information from a million possible sources, or to reply JP in what changes maybe we should make for the CD Covers (a whole lot different but same ball bustin’ story – try find on the net a good resolution Heartbreakers pic and you’ll understand…) my friend was keep sending me bombs. 'Another pressing, another story' to paraphrase Only Ones’ signature song. For example, I wanted to buy a Jap “Revisited” version to see if there were more in there (and actually THERE ARE MORE IN THERE!) but my part for one more time was catching me up. I was enthusiast at first, wrecked in the end. Another damn version to discover, master and have an upshot at it… Fuck!  And I knew already that the Heartbreakers singles and EPs have sounded ‘different’ to my ears but I didn’t have the knowledge to express things. To cut a long story short, JP’s comments in every email of the countless we exchanged were GREAT (we stopped at 69 as I see now, ALL for this nut case), enlightening, but on the majority of the things we put our hands upon, we faced the reality of the non identical versions, making things dizzier (in diverse with what Walter Lure have told me, I’m quite sure now that THEY DO EXIST 300 plus different mixes!), so I started go back and forth to this ‘chain-message’ shit gmail has, to see how to edit and place in this post the information that maybe some of you wanted to know. Not longer than 30 minutes of occupation, I go ‘@#$%’!!! Man, it’s easier to steal Monica Bellucci from Vincent Cassel’s hands, than to do this... In the end I gave up things. I ‘enforced’ JP to gather up his audiophile stuff (you have no idea how HARD was that too, I had to play at the same time early Gun Club and Cramps records, mumbling on top some voodoo spells a witch from the French side of New Orleans have taught me – a great chocolate chick btw, and menace him with transmogrify into Sarah Palin’s animal print bikini –  I’m sure some of you might find it not a bad change, and all these just to write a few words...) cause I’m not going to write a bloody book here, OK? Believe it or not, it worked! It needed still a little editing but hey, my part rejected all his fears about writing (I told you man, I’m no Hemingway either!). So more or less this is our conclusion:

It's a well known fact something went wrong with the mix and / or mastering of the original Track 1977 LP. Well that's not exactly true. The 1977 UK LP has a muddy mix indeed, but UK 7"/12" or LP for other countries is fine (but harder to find). The 1994 ‘Lost 77 Mixes’ sounds pretty good, but it's not exactly the original mix. If you want to know how the original UK LP sounds, play the ‘Lost 77 Mixes’ on your stereo and put a blanket on your speakers. No high frequencies. The original French pressing is much better (play the ‘Lost 77 Mixes’ on your stereo, remove the blanket from the speakers, but kick the woofer as hard as you can, you'll get the idea: no low frequencies). Now, we found the original Italian LP and is as good as it gets, with the right balance between frequencies, a real good in-yer-face mix, nothing muddy or thin here, that's why most of the tracks we selected for your listening pleasure are from this rare LP. Pressings from other countries (Germany, Sweden, Holland) are probably good too (or even better), but please remember we have to save some $/€ for feeding our kids. And no, we haven't heard the cassette version (please share it if you can). ‘The Lost 77 Mixes’ is cheap & easy to find, but it's definitely different from the original mixes. For example, the 'Pirate Love' guitar intro (right channel) on the Italian LP has much more "crunch" (it KILLS!), and there's less reverb on the drums. 'It's Not Enough' has much more acoustic guitar on the ‘Lost 77 Mixes’ than on the Italian LP, and so on. The 1984 remix, known as 'Revisted' is so-so, but it has its moments, that's why we included some tracks from it, presented here in the best sounding version we could find, that is a Japanese vinyl. Neighbour warning: 'Pirate Love' has wall-shaking bass drum. 'Do You Love Me' for example is from the original 1977 'One Track Mind' EP. It's the same take as on 'Lost Mixes' 1st CD, but with a completely different 'pogo dancing' mix (much more bass). Now you can hear that Billy Rath is actually playin'. We had a hard time gathering the best sounding ‘L.A.M.F.’ & ‘L.A.M.F.’-related tracks from our vaults, and we hope you'll enjoy'em as much as we do. Play it loud, of course!

We started this as a ‘just for kicks’ project like always, exactly the way we created all other WAX CDs. We have absolutely no intention to replace original, ‘Revisited’ or ‘Lost ’77 Mixes’. You must see our aspect like a cassette tape we used to create by tons us older ones; 15-17 years ago for our own listening pleasure, our friends and nothing else. We‘re HUGE Heartbreakers and Johnny Thunders fanatics and since we’re hooked enough, we thought this was a great idea to dive in, feast our hearts out from our every day routine, and give a possible ‘new look’ on one of our VERY favorite records ever. It just happened to share it with more, haha! As you can see for yourself we didn’t use the usual nowadays stamp of ‘Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers’ for our ‘L.A.M.F.’ version but the original of ‘Heartbreakers’ cause in our minds Johnny was just an equal member of the four. Waldo and Jerry created many songs together; possibly the best and they were a kick ass fine songwriting combo to not to be mentioned by yours truly! Billy’s another story, a happily after MANY years of no sign, and on going (check out the Broken Hearts and the Street Pirates). And it’s a bloody shame as the years gone by, the legend of JT to grow up (so) alone and those of ‘the other three’ to stay in the shadow. For the White Trash Soul duo, when we’re talking about the Heartbreakers, we‘re not having in our minds the Traveling Wilburys blonde guy’s band, OK..?

It was a quite enough busy winter for both of us. We’d like to thank you all for the continuing support. If it weren’t for you all, giving us your attention by commenting or just ‘hitting’ our site, then we have no reason to do all these! We’re gonna slow down a little a bit for the summer, cause we need some rest. Crank this fucker up high just like Johnny used to say: “Turn this shit P.A. up! Yo, gimme some fuckin’ reverb!

As usual no bootlegging on WAX CDs. Share and dance loosely!

We hope all of you guys and gals to have a great summer!!! See ya around!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Hollywood Brats - "The Hollywood Brats" (Cherry Red, Re-issue 1994)

In Greece we have an expression for Jekyll & Hyde situations that says: "Every coin has two sides". Probably you guys and gals from anyplace you’re coming from got it too or something similar anyway, but that's not our subject. Ever heard about New York Dolls evil twin? No? Too bad cause their Brit boyfriends and half the pattern of my beloved Hanoi Rocks’ sound (and from there of about a million more androgynous punk rebels) was the ‘other side’ of the aforementioned coin, probably as cheap as a penny and for sure as valuable as the Dolls.
This goddamn masterpiece believe it or not, had to wait in the can for seven long years! Recorded back in 1973 but came out for the first time in 1980... Think now what happened during those seven long years and what may have happened if this fucker was out on time! The Hollywood Brats would have now sickle Dolls saga. Truly outrageous, full of feathered boas, mascaras and stuff but without the all too feminine Dolls stylebook, championed by loonies like the prime minister of them, Keith Moon (the president would have been no other than Screamin’ Lord Sutch) and set the first step of one of my very fave bands ever, the Boys!
Did I say “The Boys”? Oh well, the all time sleaze break-up tune of “Sick On You” and “Tumble With Me” can be found here in all its prime savagery like the Faces of “Ooh La La” in drag, with campy piano playing that owes more to Esquerita than to Little Richard (listen to those first notes of “Chez-Maximes”, seconds before the guitars fire burn entry!) and thee syllable to syllable snotty edge that if you’re 15, bored to death and fat full of exploding hormones naturally becomes your national anthem (I’m not talking of course ‘bout good boys)! And the similarity with New York Dolls doesn’t stop here… Thunders gang ADORED 60s girls groups with most notable example this of Shangri-Las. Hollywood Brats fixation with the Crystals transformed into the best rock & roll adoption (“Then He Kissed Me”) of the Phil Sector’s finest gals songs (I love the Ronettes but sorry not as the sometimes Darlene Love fronted wildcat crew) along with the Fallen Angels “He’s A Rebel” take! The production was more garage oriented without the big stomping sound of the other glam acts in the UK, but hey, we’re talking about a punk band here, right?! Ha, I forgot to tell you that these brats were at first call themselves Queen! An out of control Freddie Mercury (well...kind of) one night at the Marquee crashed and demanded to change their name. Of course our boys kicked the shit outta him but they forced (I guess…) to change it in the end when the moustache fronted combo had its first hit.  On the 1994 Cherry Red re-issue CD, the few words in the liners almost like a blog post of A. Matheson made me realize why the dude was such a clever punk and why he was able to write such amazing lyrics!
The Hollywood Brats was born of disgust. We simply couldn’t stomach anything that was happening in music at the time. It was all denim and drum solos. Where was the excitement, the danger, the outrageous clothes, the aggression, the glamour that made rock & roll the erotic narcotic we craved?” (…) “Next stop Olympic Studios where we continued to outrage all and sundry and trouble dogged our heels like a mutt with a fetish. We lorded over the Eagles, the Bee Gees, and Donovan because they were relegated in the mighty studio A while were relegated to the lowly B and C.Take up thy gongs and leave... The battle raged as producers and engineers kept trying to tone us down and smooth off our rough edges. Only we knew what the sound was supposed to be. We clawed like tigers in tantrum and soon the hired help wilted and slunk off down the corridors muttering death threats and left us to our devices” (…) “ We had made the music we wanted to make with no compromises or apologies but it was apparently too much, to soon. That’s life!
Punk rock pioneers or what? 

pic taken from

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Iron Virgin - "1974 Scottish Glam Rock" (Rave Up, 2007)

Hi there! You know, this must be the second most ridiculous name ever after this of (come on, it doesn't need Stephen King's imagination...) Iron Maiden, haha! I mean, Iron Virgin?! What in the hell you have thinking of guys? There was no chance make it big or to be hanged on a teen gal's room wall, right? But this by itself make them quite punk even if they weren't... or maybe were they?
These Scottish glamsters probably never make it further than those three singles in here (but don't bet on my side also...), which gathered by the good folks at Rave-Up some years ago and it's already a sold out. I first heard them on the Nuggets like for glam rock "Velvet Tinmine" compilation and they blew me! I mean OK, it's obvious now where Kim Fowley and the Runaways stole their "California Paradise" from, "Rebel Rules"! Note to note! As Decca used to do then, ignored band's material and force them to cover toons by others. "Jet" by Macca and the Wings (yaaack....), "Teenage Love Affair" by Rick Derringer (I always liked him, go on - shoot me!) and "Shake That Fat" by Jo Jo Gunne, all in BETTER versions than the originals in my humble opinion, fully glittered and thumped. I wish Rave Up people have use back sleeve's American football Virgins image (check some mo' in the way cool Crazee Kids Sound blog) than this of the original single for the front, but there's always I guess a second chance to reissue the reissue in a better package and with better sound... The legend says that for all these, we must thank Thin Lizzy's producer Nick Tauber who discovered our beloved sleazees but whom must we blame for the total reject it's the one million dollars question. I mean OK, were no Hector or Silverhead but they completely deserved better fortune. If "Rebel Rules" had Sweet's brand on, I'm sure would have sold millions! Anyway, this is it, grab it and crank it. One more thing, if any Giuda member ever crash this page, please do me a favor and cover your hooligan way this glam junk raver, you owe it to yourselves. Rebel Rules Again!