The Heartbreakers
The Heartbreakers
The Heartbreakers – “L.A.M.F” – Jungle Records (Freud CD 044J)

The word seminal is often bandied about when it comes to NYC’s Heartbreakers. Thunders, Lure, Rath & Nolan were already individuals of some note long before they formed The Heartbreakers. Thunders & Nolan had already amassed reputations as members of The New York Dolls, darlings of the US Proto Punk scene.

When The Dolls fell apart in Florida in late 74, Thunders & Nolan returned to New York where they enlisted the bass playing skills of ex-Neon Boy & Television bassist, Richard Hell. Walter Lure completed the line up on guitar & the legendary Lee Black Childers was engaged as the group’s manager.

Early Roberta Bayley Heartbreaker’s publicity shots presented the band as a group of white shirted mafia type dudes riddled with bullet holes & smeared blood (melted Hershey bars) with the tagline:

“Catch Em While They’re Still Alive”

Hell & Thunders soon clashed – The Heartbreakers weren’t big enough for the both of them – Hell walked to form The Voidoids & Billy Rath replaced him. With their classic line up now complete, all The Heartbreakers needed was a deal. Trouble was: no one wanted to know. The truth was: the group couldn’t get themselves arrested for jacking up in the Mayor Of New York’s private toilet.

Fate played a large part in what happened next: Back in the UK, Malcolm McLaren (ex NY Dolls manager) needed a punter pulling out of town outfit to add to the bill of his much touted Sex Pistols “Anarchy Tour” package. Lee Childers took the call & booked the group on the first flight to London. The Heartbreakers touched down at Heathrow just as the furore surrounding the Pistols explosive Bill Grundy Show scam was beginning to pay dividends. Malcolm, initially a broken man reduced to tears by the incident, soon realised that bad press was good press & set about maximising the publicity machine output for his fated package tour.

The farce of the Anarchy Tour reduced the eventual dates played to a measly 6 shows. The Damned left the tour after the Leeds gig following a mythical dispute over whether or not to perform for the good burghers of Derby (to allow them to decide whether the fair was suitable for the cities easily influenced youth). On the tour, The Heartbreakers were not only idolised by any audiences lucky enough to catch them live – they
were also worshiped by the members of the Sex Pistols & The Clash.

The Heartbreakers stayed on in London following the end of the Anarchy Tour. They played the best gigs of their career at Dingwalls & The Roxy – the buzz was burning – The Heartbreakers signed a dodgy deal with Track Records. Thunder’s wife Julie Jordan & Johnny Jnr were flown over (a certain Nancy Spungen bummed along for the ride & Sid’s fate was already a done deal) & preparations were made for the recording of the group’s debut LP.

The Heartbreakers entered Essex Studios in February 1977 & recorded demos. Track recorded 2 Speakeasy shows the month after & the group returned to Essex to record through most of March. With “L.A.M.F” (Like A Mother Fucker) now on tape – the process of mix down began. The group – increasingly fucked up on smack & whatever – had a certain difficulty remaining collectively objective when in the presence of a mixing desk & flitted from studio to studio muddying the waters even further as they went. By the time the cuts hits the wax they sounded like they’d been recorded in a syringe prior to the 1st flush. The group were too fucked to tell – the label too tight to take control or invest the correct levels of money & skill required to polish up the turd - & “L.A.M.F” hit the racks as the best badly produced rock n roll LP since “Raw Power”. No worries – it still shifted 20,000 copies in the 1st week of release hitting the top of the “alternative” charts.

With London at their feet & the rest of the world beckoning, Visa problems & deteriorating inter band relationships began to take their toll. The Heartbreakers toured the UK with Slaughter & The Dogs in support of the LP. The mentalism levels were rising quicker than an English river in April – new tour manager, Gail Higgins Smith, had upped the ante somewhat - & every day the group didn’t actually die was a bonus to all involved.

Jerry Nolan was the 1st to throw his rattle out of the pram – quitting in disgust over the final LP mix & the state of inter band politics – possible replacements were rumoured to have included Rat Scabies (Rat Scabies: “To be honest, it was never going to work out. Johnny never liked busy drummers & I’m not sure I even really fancied it myself”) & Terry Chimes.

Track Records were the next to keel over – going into voluntary liquidation by Xams 77 - & Billy & Walter fled back to NYC. Jerry Nolan began fucking about with The Idols whilst Thunders formed the Living Dead (an apt moniker at the time).

“L.A.M.F” (The Lost 77 Mixes) is all they wrote – the legacy of The Heartbreakers. Shit kicking NYC street Punk, Rock n Roll. 14 tracks – 40 minutes. Some will tell you this ain’t Punk Rock – what the fuck do they know? If “L.A.M.F” isn’t Punk – then I’m a junkies uncle. “Born To Lose”, “Chinese Rocks”, “Get Of The Phone”, “Pirate Love”, “One Track Mind” – “L.A.M.F” is packed to the rafters with slang ridden, guitar driven Punk, Rock n Roll sleaze - except now it’s even more jam packed! Those wonderful people at Jungle have super-ceded themselves once again. This new 2 CD set includes expanded liner notes with new quotes from Walter Lure, a video of “Chinese Rocks”, a matt slip case & a bonus disc of demos, rehearsals & alternate mixes. Some lesser hacks have already dismissed the bonus disc as shite – that says far more about their taste, understanding & appreciation of historical import than it does about The Heartbreakers. When a group of this stature commits so little to tape we (the punters) are damned to scrape & scrap at the bottom of the barrel for the merest illicit tit bit that might be thrown in our general direction. In the case of The Heartbreakers & “L.A.M.F” – the fans wildest dreams have come true.

This release is a fitting and lovingly assembled CD artefact of one of the greatest rock n roll bands to ever roam the earth. Fans of the band, converts or any kids interested in knowing where The Star Spangles, Some Action or D4 aped their shapes from should start right here – right now.

Like a mother fucker? No thanks, I just put one out. See, the old ones ARE always the best.

role models to us all

Marquee Smith – 25/04/03
Check it:

contact - the needle & the damage done