DARREN BIRCH Bass player for Black Bombers and former member of Gunfire Dance, Brian James Gang, Walter Lure and The Godfathers Birmingham, UK
It's been a funny old year! I managed to play one gig before the world shut down and didn't get to see any. From the beginning of March, I couldn't leave the house for 15 weeks so books and music became my friends....
My Top 10 for 2020:
1.) “Sing Backwards and Weep” by Mark Lanegan. His autobiography.
2.) “The War is Never Over” by Nick Soulsby. A book and companion piece to the Lydia Lunch documentary of the same name.
3.) “Just A Shot Away. 1969 Revisisted” Volumes 1 and 2 books by Kris Needs.
4.) “Diminished Responsibility: My Life as a UK Sub and Other Strange Stoies” (book) by Alvin Gibbs
In a world of shoddy, sub-par live releases and infinite re-issues of studio out-takes, this one lives up to the hype. Capturing the Heartbreakers briefly back on home turf after their first stint in the UK and in all their drug-infested glory, “LAMF Live” is the album your mother warned you about and your old man wanted banned.
Where’s the danger in rock and roll? You hear people asking all the time. It’s around if you dig deep enough but it was never so nakedly on display as back in the late ‘70s when the Heartbreakers were in full swing.
Walter Lure plays LAMF 100 Club, London August 10, 2019
Walter Lure has had a storied career, duelling with Johnny Thunders in the Heartbreakers, recording with The Ramones, burning up stages with his own Waldos and in working in the markts on Wall Street.
Of the Heartbreakers, Lure is the last man standing after the passing of Thunders and Jerry Nolan in the '90s and the departure of Billy Rath in 2013, and he has done gigs showcasing the Heartbreakers debut "LAMF", most notably in New York City with a fairly stellar cast including Wayne Kramer and Clem Burke.
A bunch of New York City’s rock and roll past and present recently gathered in Manhattan to celebrate and play the music of Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers.
Led by the eternally cool Walter Lure, who was assisted by Blondie drummer Clem Burke, ex-Lower East Side resident and MC5 member Wayne Kramer, Replacements bassist Tommy Stinson and a bunch of guest vocalists, the band played four sold-out shows. And they were reportedly underwhelming.
When we were young and skinny and fearless, it was easier to celebrate the ch-cha-cha-changes, than it is now, when so many of our favorite places, people, bands, and way of life are just vanishing a little more each day. I can't keep up with all these changes.
In my head, I'm still a new wave kid with a Walkman. Probably listening to the Cult"Love", on 10, right? Making rehearsal tapes on a boombox in the basement. You could save 20 or 30 dollars, and come home from the big city record store with a new t shirt, some little buttons, a copy of "Flipside" or "Maxiumum Rock And Roll", some Jesus & the Mary Chain and Bauhaus postcards to send to your goth girlfriends in far away cities, a Gene Loves Jezebel or Flesh For Lulu promotional poster the nose-ringed death rocker cashier gave you for free, and a whole stack of winning indie punk $1 vinyl from the cut out bin. Those were different times.
For most of us, there ain't no rock ‘n’ roll no more, just the ludicrous worship of bullshit do nothing politicians, media monopoly lies and propaganda, and cos-play lab-coated scientific astronaut rich people on TV, and/or, always more blandly insufferably mediocre and meaningless mainstream garbage like the Foo Fighters - there's nowhere to go, no more basement shows. No real underground bands or real underground rock press in Amerikkka.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the name, Joey Pinter, he is like an angrier, tough as leather, hard as nails, punk rock Billy Gibbons. Or if Johnny Thunders was still alive and vital and never lost his mojo. Roughly, he's the American equivalent to Spencer P. Jones-in that he is also a formidable and prolific singer/songwriter in his own right, who is best known for having played soulful, emotionally charged, white lightning guitar in beloved cult bands.
I first discovered Pinter's legendary American punk gangs, the Waldos and the Knots, back when I was 20-years-old and pin-balling back and forth between Boston, Hollywood, and New York City. I was a pencil thin scarecrow, would-be vocalist, back then, trying to forge my own dangerous glam rock band ala Smack, Hanoi Rocks, and Dogs D'Amour, but I never had the money or social skills, to keep a band together for long.
There’s a temptation to hail this record as the last gasp from a dying breed. After all, it’s 24 years since the last Waldos studio album, the wonderful “Rent Party”, and a lifetime since Johnny Thunders and The Heartbreakers last staggered onto a stage.
Walter Lure is almost The Last Man Standing from what’s erroneously generalised as “the New York punk scene”. There was a scene but it was more than just punk (whatever that is or was) and it was pushed to the margins by the dual forces of Disney and gentrification.
Walter has lived his share of the nine lives that his old band was gifted, and maybe then some, so if the temptation proves too much not to tag “Wacka Lacka Boom Bop A Loom Bam Boo” as a lowering of the curtain on a long-gone era of Lower East Side guitar sleaze, cut me some slack. A handful of other people still wave that flag.
There are a dozen songs on “Wacka Lacka…” and most contain more raunch per ounce than you can squeeze into a digital back catalogue of Strokes records. This is as you’d expect: Walter Lure – “Waldo” to his stockbroking mates – was the guitar foil to Johnny Genzales in the post-Dolls Heartbreakers, and they were the band that made the template for street-level, pharmaceutical-fuelled, bad boy, four-chord goodness. (Yes, Keef did it first but he could afford not to mix it with the masses who were copping on Norflok Street, hence the term “street-level”.)