After The Dolls 1977-87 - Johnny Thunders (Cleopatra)
To say that my behavior occasionally borders on obsessive compulsive when it comes to some popular music, especially if there is caffeine or alcohol involved, is like saying Bob Marley was into marijuana.
Take the recent three-hour runner from the pre-pubescent maelstrom that perpetually surrounds Chez Paull like a thick, stifling cloud of nerve gas, when I found myself wandering the music racks of my local book/magazine/music/movie/coffee boo-tique like an extra from George Romero’s “Living Dead” trilogy, bored and fully convinced I needed to buy something, anything.
The cold, bitter truth - that I need another Johnny Thunders compilation like I need a third testicle - didn’t phase me in the least when I tendered the 12 bones for this one. In much the same way Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz received his marching orders from his neighbor’s dog, something deep and unexplainable within Thunders’ Ray-Bans on the cover compelled me forward on my own Bataan Death March up to the cash registers. My inner completist is loud, naggingly persistent, and completely unconcerned with things like mortgages, college funds, and storage space.
Although their collection remains incomplete without the holy grail of Thunders’ solo catalog “So Alone,” Jungle Records have consistently and admirably served well as curators of his haggard legacy, part of which has here been licensed out to and rewrapped for U.S. consumption by Cleopatra with a bonus DVD to ensure the separation of consumer from paycheck.
There is nothing hidden here which won’t be intimately familiar to those who have been following the Genzale chronicles thus far, all 19 tracks drawn from “L.A.M.F.,” “Que Sera Sera,” and Thunders’ vanity project with Patti Palladin “Copy Cats,” the inclusion of the latter making its continued unavailability on disc all the more puzzling.
Sonically, “After The Dolls” reverberates with the unmistakable sound of a bar being raised, representing a new standard in the Thunders catalog with each and every song (yes, ever those from the eternally lambasted “L.A.M.F.”) given a good, swift kick up the backside, levels boosted well into the red and crumbling the plaster.
When it comes to the DVD, however, “bonus” may not be entirely accurate unless you’re keen on close-ups of Marky Ramone’s cosmetically altered mug and bad rug, uttering “uh” about 1,000 times while waxing semi-eloquently on why the Ramones and not the Stooges were the first punk band (The Ramones were from New York. Iggy wasn’t. World without end, Amen.) and reminiscing about bathroom brawls with Thunders and dealing with Dee Dee’s drug habit. There’s also a “video” for the Heartbreakers’ “Get Off The Phone” which is merely a collection of still images, photos, and video captures cut, spliced, and edited in time to Jerry Nolan’s backbeat and a Ramones video scrapbook which is about as captivating as watching a car rust.
Contentwise, there are much better anthologies out there for neophytes – Jungle’s “Born Too Loose” comes immediately to mind – but Cleopatra have applied a sonic sheen to this one that’s damn near blinding.