❉ Let’s be upfront about this from the start – this album is EXACTLY what you’d expect from the guy who co-wrote most of LAMF.
“Walter Lure has succeeded in crafting a gloriously old-school glam-punk-n-roll album that feels vintage but not dated.”
Bloody hell, there’s a title you’d struggle with if you were asking for it in a shop. Fortunately we’re in The Future and you can just click on a screen nowadays…
So, Walter Lure then. Last Heartbreaker standing. A shadowy legend from the murky depths of the NYC ’70s scene. Rock and roll survivor. Retired stockbroker. Demon guitarist. Raconteur. But not, in any sense, a prolific recording artist; this is his first album in nearly a quarter of a century – before that there were the lone Heartbreakers album LAMF, his contributions to Johnny Thunders’ first solo album So Alone (an ironic title, given the number of people who play on the thing…), an indeterminate number of semi-bootleg live releases, a succession of unheralded guest appearances on 1980s Ramones albums (Subterranean Jungle, Too Tough To Die and Animal Boy – any guitar you hear on those records that’s not clearly Johnny’s patented block-chording rhythm style is Walter), and the ’94 Waldos album Rent Party, before his unlikely second career as a financial wizard kicked in. I had the pleasure of witnessing one of Walter’s rare UK gigs in 2015, and while the musical side of the performance was utterly fantastic, the real joy of the night was the man’s stories. He, like many of his NY compatriots (see also Sylvain Sylain and Handsome Dick Manitoba) has a real knack with spinning a tale and communicating with a crowd.
“That’s all very well,” you say, “but what about the bloody album?”. Fair play, here we go.
Crazy Kids kicks in with a rumbling floor-tom pattern that brings to mind the Vibrators’ Amphetamine Blue before steamrollering into a classically Heartbreakers-style riff. Let’s be upfront about this from the start – this album is EXACTLY what you’d expect from the guy who co-wrote most of LAMF. Lure knows his style and he owns it. “They shoulda killed us all in the nursery/They just don’t got the guts” he snarls, and you believe it. His voice has matured and deepened since ’77 but lost little of its fire. The venomous Damn Your Soul hammers by in much the same vein, before a short and sweet sax break heralds the wry and sardonic R&B stomper Where Were You (On Our Wedding Day)?.
Next up is a reworking of London Boys, Lure’s acidic riposte to the Sex Pistols’ New York which first appeared on Thunders’ So Alone album (the original even featured Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook, demonstrating that the Londoners could at least take it as well as dish it out). The louche and laidback Lazy Day meanders by in an amiable fashion, pursued by the low-down-and-dirty Take A Chance On Me, featuring a guest solo from Joey Pinter, guitarist from both the final Heartbreakers lineup and the original iteration of the Waldos.
Wham Bam Boo channels the spirit of the Dolls as effectively as anything Johansen and Sylvain did post-reunion. Bye Bye Baby sports a killer chorus, some tasty lead work and a deliciously world-weary set of lyrics. The bittersweet and wistful She Doesn’t Love You leads into the brooding and menacingly downbeat Little Black Book, followed by a beefy and bouncy reading of the Otis Redding standard Don’t Mess With Cupid, a track often covered in the early days of the Dolls. The album concludes with the quirky strut of You Talk Too Much, all sax and sass.
Walter Lure has succeeded in crafting a gloriously old-school glam-punk-n-roll album that feels vintage but not dated. It feels so much like a lost Heartbreakers album that you have to wonder, in retrospect, how much control Johnny T had over the band and how much of it was Walter. The production (by Dictators founder-member and fellow Ramones collaborator Andy Shernoff) is rich and punchy and complements the material spectacularly. Lure may have shifted from the Bowery to Wall Street in his colourful life, but it’s clear that he still bleeds rock ‘n’ roll. Don’t leave it another 25 years til the next one, eh?
You can stream the full album here:
On September 6, Walter Lure & The Waldos will hold their record release party at Bowery Electric in New York: http://www.theboweryelectric.com/event/1744544
❉ The new album is out now on Cleopatra Records on both CD and red vinyl with reverse-board jackets, as well as digitally.