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Que Sera, Sera Resurrected – Johnny Thunders

March 18, 2019


Que Sera, Sera was a good record following a great one. Thunders first solo LP So Alone (1978) featured a strong songs from a lengthy back-catalogue, plus impressive performances from a stellar line up of famous friends. By the time the ten tracks on Que Sera, Sera appeared in 1985 the post-punk world was less receptive to Thunders raucous guitar. Jungle Records mainman Alan Hauser noting that this time “the mood was not to let Johnny’s guitar be rampant”. Thirty-four years later Thunders is celebrated precisely for his guitar being rampant.

Released in time for Record Store day this new version is a 23 track double vinyl LP, one disc purple, one disc clear. Purple Disc One begins with Alone In A Crowd and straight away the benefits of Pat Collier’s remix are obvious. There is certainly now a lot more raunch in the riffs, and the rather polite original mix is now replaced by the highly audible dual guitars of Thunders and guest John Perry. MIA goes back to Gang War days and has a nice poppy feel. Short Lives features a concise arrangement, fine backing vocals on the chorus from Patti Palladin and more Thunders / Perry interplay. Wilko Johnson joins in on the NY Dolls remnant Endless Party where Perry’s piano is key. The instrumental Billy Boy totally rocks, in much the same way that Pipeline kicked off So Alone with such elan. The song is a tribute to original Dolls drummer Billy Murcia and whilst lyrics for the song are reproduced here it is hard to see how they would have fitted this firecracker.


The clearer sound can be a mixed blessing as it also serves to highlight some less impressive material. Blame It On Mom is Leave Me Alone Part II, albeit with a nifty sax solo from Mike Monroe. Talk About You is Green Onions with some not very good lyrics. Cool Operator benefits only rhythm section Keith Yon and Tony St. Helene. Thunders’ misogyny drips from There’s A Little Bit Of Whore In Every Girl and only John Perry’s piano redeems the mawkish I Only Wrote This Song For You. Finally the title track sees Thunders crooning over J-C Carolls accordion and mandolin to slightly queasy effect.

Clear Disc Two contains a further 11 tracks, six studio and five recorded live in Lyons at an unspecified date. Of the new songs Copy Cat has some fine 1950’s pop backing vocals but Taking You Up Avenue D is dull. The other outtakes add little to existing versions. Tie Me Up from the original LP is inexplicably absent, this country-punk-sleaze duet with Patti would have fitted in well. The live set is a well recorded soundboard in front of an enthusiastic audience. Just Another Girl is a notable addition and Thunders is in good form throughout.

If you liked the original Que Sera, Sera you’re going to love this new version. If like me you thought it was just OK, you will be impressed by the improved sound and the difference this makes to the stronger songs. Even on the weaker tracks such as Countdown Love there is always a nifty guitar solo and the remix brings out Thunders’ characteristic guitar sound in a way that has not been heard before. The double gatefold presentation with new sleeve notes from Nina Antonia, a printed insert and coloured vinyl is exceptionally well done. Congratulations to Alan and Nina for bringing this project to fruition.


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From → Music

One Comment
  1. T.V. Junior permalink

    Your preview / review is much appreciated, especially since specifics on this release have been sparse.

    As for the absence of “Tie Me Up,” that’s likely due to it having been recorded earlier (along with “Crawfish”) at a 1984 session at Olympic Studios, using a different set of tapes than the ones from the 1985 sessions for Que Sera Sera.

    Regarding the live cuts on disc 2: those are probably from a soundboard recording made at West Side Club in Lyon, France, November 28, 1984.

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