Hurt Me - Johnny Thunders (Easy Action)
The back catalogue of Johnny Thunders is way overdue for re-issue treatment. It’s coming up to 24 years since the talented but terminal ex-Doll checked into a New Orleans hotel and checked out on life. "ho better to revive his recorded legacy than Easy Action?
Whatever your stance on how the media portrayed Thunders, the guy was a walking contradiction. When it came to his image as Rock’s Most Wasted Human Being (aka The Guy Who Makes Keef Look Like a Schoolboy), he alternately kicked against it or embraced it with open, track-marked arms. “Hurt Me” was a poignant collection of stripped-back covers and standards - and a departure of sorts for JT, coming as it did five years after the bleary-eyed party that was “So Alone.”
Granted, that album’s “You Can’t Wrap Your Arms Round a Memory” hinted at a softer, more sensitive Johnny who was half-a-world removed from the sloppy raunch of the Dolls and the car crash savagery of the Heartbreakers, but a whole LP of nakedly acoustic tunes? It was unexpected and the catalyst for a re-assessment of the Man and his Music, underlining that there was a human being under all those smart-arse English music press gossip items.
Easy Action are champions in doing re-issues properly and “Hurt Me” is no exception. Packaged in a slimline gatefold wallet with artwork faithful to the original, it looks great and sounds better. There wasn’t a lot of production going on here; Johnny retired to a French studio and the engineer presumably let the tape roll – apparently burning up endless hours until an exasperated New Rose decided trop c'est trop.
When issued on CD, the album was a little flat-sounding and a casualty of the ‘80s condition of not having the faintest idea about digital mastering. A selection of unseen photos, a bonus disc (more on that soon) and an excellent Kris Needs essay completes the package.
Has it really been out-of-print for more than a decade?
“Hurt Me” was a arresting album because it was so out of step with what was expected. The tracklist was a nod to influences (the Stones, Dylan) and a revelation in parts (“Too Much Too Soon” was a co-write with Syl Sylvain that had been rejected by the Dolls.) We’d also be dished up a few of the other songs on future Thunders records, which underlines that he wasn’t the most prolific of writers.
The kicker is an audience-recorded Dingwalls show (the London launch of the record) that’s so live you can smell the booze on the punters’ collective breath. The show’s a good ‘un – unlike some that have made it to disc.
Requests for the full band are rebuffed with the usual Thunders panache, while the guy declaring his undying love for Johnny sounds just like the one who turns up on every Lou Reed bootleg. Notice a pattern here? There are 29 tracks and the sound quality is better than average.
You know what to do. The link is below.