new york city - The I-94 Bar

Looking for Johnny: The Legend of Johnny Thunders (Chip Baker Films/Jungle Records)

looking for johnnySeems not so long ago (and in fact, it was the late 1980s) that the shadow of a still breathing, although not always fully-functioning, Johnny Thunders was almost everywhere you looked. His records filled the racks and every second person in a band wanted to look like, if not be, JT. As in buying the T-shirt with no need to tap a vein.

It was P.I. (Pre-Internet) so we didn’t have the same visual options that YouTube and Torrenting now offer, but you had to wonder how someone whose wasted pictures and sound defined the term “fucked-up” so convincingly could continue to make music.

Of course, way down in Australia we got our answer when an at least partially cleaned-up Johnny toured, with the ever-present legend Jerry Nolan on drums and a real live Sex Pistol, Glen Matlock, on bass. That had to be the year I was overseas, but by all reliable reports The Man and His Band were both lucid and great.

His music tends to be overshadowed by the fact that Thunders was a hardcore junkie for the second tw-thirds of his career, at first by choice and then, over the years, by necessity. You might argue that he also milked that reputation for all it was worth, to the point that it was a marketing tool as much as a cross to bear.

Dion Lunadon - Dion Lunadon (Agitated Records)

dion lunadon LPIf you hear a noisier, more brutal yet musical album this year, call your lawyer and sue Mitsubishi for opening a car plant in your backyard. 

Dion Lunadon used to be Dion Palmer, bassist for New Zealand-via-The-Lower-East-Side rockers The D4 back in the 1990s. He’s been living in New York City for the last 10 years, playing bass for abrasive noise merchants, A Place To Bury Strangers (APTBS). This eponymous LP is his first solo venture. 

There are elements of Kraut rock, hard rock, noise rock, psychedelic rock and almost everything that can be appended to rock on this record. It’s full of ideas to the point of near overload. Apparently written as a cathartic release after rigorous touring with APTBS, it reeks of grime, sweat , post-road angst and not a little desperation.

Our shout! Why The Fleshtones and Peter Zaremba still drink for free after all these years...

Fleshtones photo cred JacopoBenessi
Meet Keith Streng, Ken Fox, Peter Zaremba and Bill Milhizer.  Jacopo Benessi photo. 

Here’s another plea for justice and a call for long overdue respect. Add another name to the list of bands whose “failure” (such a harsh word when applied without context) to break into the mainstream is not just unfathomable but criminal. Ladies and gentlemen, I speak of The Fleshtones, stars of stage and screen and bearers of a vibrant new record, “The Band Drinks For Free”, on Yep Roc.

The Official Biography lists it as Album Number 21 (including live releases) and says the band is in its 40th year,  but let’s dispense with the figures and deal only in facts. The first one is: If you’re not listening to The Fleshtones, you’re a loser.  The second is: It’s never too late to shed your loser status.

The Fleshtones emerged from a basement in New York City’s Queens borough and onto a stage at CBGB in 1976. Largely written out of histories of the Lower East Side scene despite being fixtures at places like CBs, Max’s Kansas City, The Pyramid, Danceteria and Club 57, they went through a trailer-load of trials and tribulations (labels going broke, line-ups in flux, drugs and drink) to “almost make it” in spectacular style.

Owners launch campaign to save Manitoba's from closure

manitobasbarfront

New York City landmark Manitoba’s – and it is The World’s Greatest Bar (believe us, we’ve personally checked out a few) - has launched a crowdsourcing campaign to avoid closure in the wake of a legal dispute.    

Owners Handsome Dick Manitoba (of the Dictators) and Zoe Hansen (his better half) say their iconic watering hole has no choice but to settle with a litigant or shut its doors.