Aka L.A.M.F. and these Heartbreakers are not to be confused by Tom Petty’s band of the same name.
Recorded in the UK, this record still sounds extremely “New York.” In fact, the central feature of this record and the thing that I struggle with while listening to it is its huge resemblance to the New York Dolls. Basically, on this record, the Heartbreakers sound to me like The New York Dolls minus the camp. I’m not sure that’s a good thing.
This is a set of catchy rock and roll songs that stay in the head. The performances are energetic, passionate, raucous and just a little sloppy, in the way that we would absolutely expect from a band founded by a former member of the New York Dolls.
And I enjoy Johnny Thunders. I find his songs pretty catchy and I get why he’s sort of considered a central figure of the early New York punk scene both for the Dolls and for this band and his subsequent solo career.
But the stink of the Dolls is all over this record and Thunders is no David Johansen, so the songs lack enough of a distinctive voice for me, as well of enough charisma to really make the performances stand up to that earlier band.
Listening to Richard Hell’s debut, released earlier in the year, one is thankful that he left this band and did his own thing. But listening to this record, I can’t help but think it needs Hell’s voice, or another voice distinct enough to make this record more memorable, because, by this point, punk was very much a phenomenon, and changing rapidly. And, in addition to sounding derivative of the Dolls (and less unique), these guys were already sounding conservative when they released this album.
I don’t mean to slag it: I like the record, I enjoy the performances and, for early punk songs, many of these are quite good. But this is not among the classic albums of 1977 as it sounds a little too much like 1973.