Review: Johnny Thunders

Johnny Thunders
“Johnny Thunders In the Flesh”
(Amsterdamned Records)

Johnny Thunders was punk before you were even born.  This new release from Amsterdamned Records features 17 tracks from the legendary guitarist/singer of the New York Dolls and later the Heartbreakers.  Recorded live in Los Angeles’ Roxy Theater in 1987, “In the Flesh” contains enough variety to warrant multiple listenings.

Thunders’ sometimes-booming-sometimes-pleading voice comes through crystal clear in both the electric and acoustic parts of the record, along with the ambient noise from those singing along in attendance.  Thunders strums his way beautifully through “Eve of Seduction” and pays a heartfelt tribute to Sid Vicious in “Sad Vacation”.

In addition to playing his own material, Thunders also covers The Rolling Stones’ “Play With Fire” and Bo Diddley’s original “I Can Tell” (among others).  His penchant for snarling guitar solos and his sporadic interaction with the audience make “In the Flesh” a unique part of punk’s short (yet highly unappreciated and undocumented) history.  Anyone interested in learning more about the early days of the American and British punk scene should check out “Please Kill Me” by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain.

Review: Johnny Thunders - Johnny Thunders In the Flesh