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L.A.M.F. - The Lost '77 Mixes (Remastered)

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Album Review

Despite now being hailed as one of punk rock's most important and enduring statements, Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers' banshee wail of a debut, L.A.M.F., screamed in silence upon its 1977 release, doing a commercial nosedive worthy of an FAA investigation. Admittedly, the record didn't stand much of a chance in the soft rock quagmire of the late '70s, but its odds certainly weren't helped by abysmal distribution (the group's label, Track Records, went belly up soon after the record's release), the band's increasing drug-induced lethargy, and a mix that buried the group's roar deeper than Jimmy Hoffa. It's this mix that's often blamed for the record's quick demise — rightly or wrongly — with the result that L.A.M.F. has been re-released three different times with three different mixes. The most prominent of these re-releases — 1984's L.A.M.F. Revisited and 1994's L.A.M.F.: The Lost '77 Mixes — took very different approaches to unearthing the musical firestorm smoldering under the sonic sludge. In the case of Revisited, Thunders himself remixed the original tapes; he also rearranged the track order, dropping one song ("All by Myself") and adding two others ("Do You Love Me" and "Can't Keep My Eyes on You"). Sonically, the result was a welcome improvement over the original L.A.M.F., bringing the Heartbreakers' melodic sense into much clearer focus. Yet, strangely, Thunders' remix also added a layer of gloss to the recording that seemed totally at odds with the Lower East Side dirt-and-blood aesthetic of the band, sacrificing power and dynamics for clarity. The approach taken by The Lost '77 Mixes, however, is a much more comfortable fit. Taking the best of the 250 original mixes that the band and producer Speedy Keene made of all the tracks, The Lost '77 Mixes proves that the spit and punch were there all along. The versions here rock with a greasy, maniacal raunch missing on the curiously antiseptic Revisited. The production sheen is gone, giving the music a chance to hit harder and deeper. And hit it does. The guitars of Thunders and Walter Lure buzz and screech louder than ever before; Billy Rath's bass twists and pounds; and Jerry Nolan's drums swing and crash with a newfound violence. Two songs recorded at the original sessions but not used on the original album are also added here: "Can't Keep My Eyes on You," with Nolan on lead vocals, and "Do You Love Me." Thoughtful liner notes by Thunders biographer Nina Antonia round out a pretty cool package. L.A.M.F.: The Lost '77 Mixes may well be the definitive version of this long-neglected classic. It captures Johnny and the boys as they were meant to be recorded: rude, crude, and loud. [Jungle Records released a special edition with a 24-page booklet and a 16-track bonus disc of demos, alternate mixes, and rehearsals.]


Born: 15 July 1952 in Queens, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

Johnny Thunders was the first punk rock guitar hero, earning a cult following for his noisy but epic style a few years before the insouciant new music gained its name. Following in the footsteps of his idol and role model Keith Richards, Johnny Thunders (born John Anthony Genzale, Jr.) lived the ultimate rock & roll life, spending most of his days churning out tough, sloppy three-chord rock & roll and gaining nearly as strong a reputation for his decades-long struggle with addiction as for his music....
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