You’d be forgiven for wondering why it takes the Phobics so long to release records because while they may have been regularly hitting the stage (including trips to Ireland and Europe – luckily before Brexit potentially complicates matters), their recorded output has been a little less regular. In fact, Deptford’s finest punk band released their last album, ‘Deptford Calling’, back in 2011.
Finally, 8 years later, the London veterans return with their new record, ‘Burnt Rubber’. And for those wondering if it was worth the wait – it was. And then some.
Back in those halcyon days of Uber Rock, when it was a revolutionary website terrorising the visitor numbers of those shite classic rock websites we’d all become despondent with, I was given the privilege of mulling over the Phobics’ 2004 EP, ‘Down and Out in Deptford’. Since those scrappy recordings they’ve been on quite the upward trajectory.
From the off, ‘Burnt Rubber’ is a glorious success in punk rock and garage rollicking. Always with their finger on the pulse, the band set the story with opener, ‘Gentrification’. As London is bought and sold to the highest bidder – the soul being torn from Denmark Street particularly lamentable – this album is something of a soundtrack to this cultural decline. The ‘Hymn for the 12 Bar Dudes’ closes the record on a breeze of sadness.
This isn’t a sad set of songs though, and neither did I expect it to be. It’s a fun and raucous romp that moves on hugely from their 2011 effort. From the insanely catchy ‘Don’t Lay Your Flowers on my Grave’, to the bang on the money ‘Politics’, their latest release is delightfully enjoyable, excellently produced, and was all recorded in two half day sessions. Whether it’s ‘Path of Love’ or ‘She’s a Runaway’, the Phobics just don’t let up on this album. The Motorhead/Ramones adaptation of ‘P.H.O.B.I.C.S’ is also a nice touch.
‘Burnt Rubber’ is a record of true revolutionary punk rock style, the way it should be, and mixed with the hard groove of 60s garage. It’s loud and it’s angry, but it’s also laughing at all this nonsense we’re living in every day, and it’s probably laughing at you too.
Seeing as we’re at the movies today we indulged in a couple of releases firstly the Cleopatra double of Johnny Thunders ‘Madrid Memory’ that’s a special edition audio Cd and DVD is taken from when Johnny played Spain in 94 at La Edad De Oro with his band of capable players Sylvain, Rath, and Nolan (not a bad bunch to have playing with you I’m sure you’ll agree)
Firstly this seventeen track show isn’t surround sound crystal clear quality some might expect and the mix right from the start goes from bootleg quality to poor desk mix as Raths bass thumps through the mix on pipeline maybe its an idea to get in the mood first by downing a bottle of jager and jumpin’ up and down just for old times sake.
Right sorted, we can begin. slamming into a chaotic ‘Personality Crisis’ the mix doesn’t improve much but that was always part of the reason we got into this pirate Rock and Roll and then thunders vocals booms into the mix over the skin tight beat of Nolan who really was the glue that held it all together and I guess Thunders knew that – as out of it he might have got Jerry always held it together and it was always a credible sound coming from the band Rath and Nolan were a formidable rhythm section and by the time they ripped into ‘Junkie Business’ they were firing on all cylinders. Hearing Johnnys guitar wail out of tune might be funny now and quite endearing looking back but fuck me Johnny sort it out fella.
The set is excellent and the inclusion of Sylvains ’14th Street Beat’ is most welcome. Having three Dolls playing or three Heartbreakers, either way, it still excites me and my God I wish I paid more attention to what was happening in front of me at the time and I had taken more notice when seeing these guys play all those years ago. When this band were in sync they were breathtaking and when they were a little sloppy (cough cough) (‘Don’t Mess With Cupid’) they were exhilarating and the air of danger was evident – real Rock and Roll played by real Rock and Rollers God I miss them.
To finish off there are four tracks of Johnny playing with an unnamed flamenco player and rehearsals were clearly not on the agenda and the car crash makes me smile unlike the amount of reverb Johnny has on his vocal ‘Eve Of Destruction’ makes this worth buying on its own. Not just for the shambles but when Johnny’s voice cracks its hilarious and Johnny acknowledging that it can only get better shows he wasn’t a total fuck up – God bless him. things do improve (slightly) for ‘Diary Of A Lover’ I emphasize Slightly. as for the echo on the closer ‘Memory’ maybe it’s not reverb and Johnny has left the building. God loves a trier and trying with flamenco was admirable one of the weirder recording no question about that. Completists will be all over this – the curious will also check it out. Like or loath all the posthumous releases at times they are bloody good and this is no exception. As for the video, the intro being left in shows its age with the presenter yapping for four minutes whilst the camera roams the room it’s a bit weird.
As for the video performance Man, this line up would have been something had they gotten into the studio and Jerry looks dashing in his hat bullfighting get up as does Johnny. So the picture quality isn’t 4K but who’d want to see what Syl is wearing in 4K anyway it looks like he just left his painting and decorating crew round the corner whilst he held down this moonlighting job with his old pals. Listen it is what it is and considering its been saved from a mid 80s tv recording in Spain I’ll take it every day of the week. Bollocks to smooth transitions between the songs when Rock and Rollers looked this cool even when they were off their tits isn’t something everyone could do. God bless the three Heartbreakers here for they inherited the earth or something like that. I hope they keep uncovering shit like this for the next twenty years I’ll never ever get tired of it – Just buy it!
Room 37 the Mysterious Death Of Johnny Thunders (MVD Visual) We all know what happened but really nobody knows what happened. Well, Johnny knew but he can’t say.
The movie begins with ‘Alone In A Crowd’ blasting as Johnny turns up saddlebags n all wandering into St Peters Guest House room 37. The film portrays Johnny as a shaking jittering jaundice junkie on his last legs. whilst he’s talking business with Sylvain on the blower then taking his medicine. the bar band is none other than Kevin Preston then playing on the jukebox is Walter Lure wow it’s making me smile as I nerd out. Johnny telling his own story about why he was in New Orleans stressing he’s clean then getting up to play ‘Born To Lose’ yeah right. The collapse n all that follows is weird and about to get a whole lot weirder. Leo Ramsey does a decent enough job as Johnny but how accurate this is we’ll never know.
Johnny looks unwell from either the comedown or leukemia (most probably both) we’ll never get the truth the Police fucked that up in their investigation but the shamanic beast that follows Johnny through his jibbering last days is hard as is his wheezing sweating shaking demise. It’s sad to see and for a fan, a massive fan to think he spent his last days alone suffering in pain and traumatized and when he was robbed it’s tough to take. I believe Johnny had good intentions when he went to New Orleans and knew he was ill. Johnny took the secrets to his grave of what happened in his final days/hours sadly we’ll never know the truth – the whole truth and whilst films like this keep the memory of Johnny alive for us its far fetched and a sad dramatisation of his last days.
The throw away comments like too much junkie business’ are a bit cringy when he’s trying to buy some methadone in his dreams it portrays well his state of mind and how troubled he might have been the studio hallucinations are disturbing and quite a good horror jump scare. The vomiting isn’t nice and the tone is dark as fuck as he vanishes down that wormhole inside the hospital those scenes are disturbed. All I can think of is poor Johnny I just wanted to hug the guy. I still find myself thinking he was way too young and illness or not he went way too young and in such tragic circumstances.
The film seemed keen to push the leukemia angle and Johnny carries himself around on pure momentum and a will not to die rather than being able to move and walk normally. It’s certainly a trip of a movie at times really hard viewing it doesn’t really offer much in a way of explaining what really happened just gives a very dark drug-addled view as to what could have happened. Poor Johnny I miss the guy’s music but felt after watching this that I’d rather he was still alive and well more than anything. His friend Iris is the main character who spent time with him before his death before his horrible tragic death. This isn’t a film to put a smile across your face that’s for sure, you won’t remember him because of his music if this were your introduction to the world of JT – Me I’d take Looking For Johnny and remember his fantastic musical legacy. No matter how he finally passed away New Orleans was his resting place and a dark horror flick that passes for entertainment makes me sad, poor Johnny he never got the justice he deserved. I’m not even sure I enjoyed the film perhaps I’ll watch it again when it doesn’t leave me so cold.
I have several versions of this including the original release from the early 80’s that has more clicks and jumps than any record should have, then I got the CD version in the 90’s – I’ve also got a cassette of it somewhere. When the hipsters jumped on RSD I tend to have a sideways glance at what being released and then sigh at the amount of shit that passes for a new release or the turgid boring procession of tripe that gets reissued or remastered but every now and then something pops up that makes my heart skip a beat. When I saw Jungle were doing this one how the fuck could I resist not owning another copy? This time all these years later without the self-inflicted bumps and knocks and as I drop the needle into the groove its not long before I get that euphoric rush of adrenalin as Johnny introduces ‘Chinese Rocks’ to the rowdy audience at one of Londons most salubrious haunts and then before you know it we’re balls deep into one of the finest bands ever to grace the earth and leave a footprint or should that be footnote on the history of rock and roll?
Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers ruled and don’t let anyone tell you different – sure they were sloppy – sure they were drug-addled – sure they were rude – sure they thought their shit was chocolate but isn’t that what we wanted from our Rock and Roll bands? I wish they were still with us and took a little more care of their lives but fuck me the music they left behind is as good as it gets no scratch that its better than 99.9% other bands and this release proves that and besides it has the added bonus of hearing the mid-song banter as Thunders really lets those Limeys have it both spiteful barrels and both sets are here for your listening pleasure.
I have a cassette with this on one side and L.A.M.F on the other and that’s about as perfect as it gets and if my house went up in smoke I think I’d be inclined to rescue that combo because whilst everything I own goes up in smoke I’d still have what amounts to a solid gold bar of Rock and Roll that pretty much reached a new high in perfect music. Listening to the sheer power behind ‘Let Go’ as Thunders and Lure exchange riffs its mesmeric and don’t get me started on Nolan’s groove; the guy had swing and style but man did he hit those drums so hard and with a passion that goes straight to your heart and breaks it clean in two.
“kids go home, your boring the shit out of me. You boring Motherfuckers. Should have gone to Birmingham they know how to rock up there” Ha Ha Thunders always had his finger on the pulse and hearing Lure sing Cant’ Keep My Cock In You’ is still, at my age – hilarious.
You know what, for all the bashing RSD takes and a lot of it totally justified. The original idea was great and having records like this see the light of day again makes all the gripes worth it. Jungle has always had Thunders back and continues to do so and preserving this document of when Giant walked the earth makes everything alright and having this expanded with both the sets in place is magnificent. If you own a copy of L.A.M.F and not this then you shouldn’t need me to tell you what you need to do next.