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So Alonesome – Johnny Thunders

May 31, 2018

Remarquable Records RMO2

Another Remarquable release from Pedro Mercedes’ label, dedicated to spreading the word about the excellence of Johnny Thunders studio work during his brief sojurn on Dave Hill’s Real Records.  Hence this latest release, a 12” ten track vinyl LP issued for Record Store Day 2018 which expands and amplifies Thunders So Alone LP from 1978. All the trademarks we have come to expect from Remarquable are here: a thick vinyl pressing, free download, extensive sleeve notes, unreleased pics and a colour poster featuring a cool painting of JT onstage by Wendy Dancey, which used to hang in Dave Hill’s office.

The opening version of Pipeline has a new guitar balance which emphasises Thunders rather than Steve Jones copying Thunders. The alternate mix of Dead Or Alive that follows is so much better than the single version with the backing vocals really coming through and the track sounding livelier all round. Great Big Kiss has a lot more going on with “Tell Me More”s all the way through the song and John Irish Earle’s sax more prominent. Leave Me Alone is a one-take experiment: Thunders with Peter Perrett and Mike Kellie (Only Ones) plus Paul Gray from the Hotrods producing a version that oozes mid-60s Who, clearly A Very Good Thing.  “Title” track.  So Alone is the last time the Heartbreakers recorded together, albeit with Jerry Nolan replaced by Paul Cook on this version inexplicably excluded from the original LP. A slow tortured song with restrained and effective guitar from Thunders that speeds up at the death to savage effect.

Side Two kicks off with a back to basics Daddy Rollin’ Stone –  Thunders on the verse and Phil Lynott on the chorus, no Steve Marriott – a classy bar band sound reminiscent of the Living Dead at the Speakeasy. London Boys remains a waste of space even in the alternate version offered here. Much more interesting is the early version of (She’s So) Untouchable, again the product of Thunders/Perrett/Kellie/Gray. Somewhat overshadowed by the better known You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory this thoughtful mid-tempo piece is a good example of the sort of song that Jerry Nolan refused to play in the Heartbreakers, resulting in an outburst of creativity at the So Alone sessions. A very live-sounding version of the venerable Subway Train is followed by an extended version of The Wizard. Fascinating to learn from the extensive liner notes that it involves BP ‘Beep’ Fallon on harmonica and Chris Wood on Sax

If you hated So Alone, there is not much for you here. If you loved So Alone – and it’s one of my all-time fave LP’s – then what you have here is more of the same. You know what to do.


From → Music

One Comment
  1. Mike Baess permalink

    Your best review yet. Very informative.


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