Live In Berlin - Walter Lure (Nicotine Records)
Achtung! If the name Walter Lure doesn't ring bells, jump right out of the steeple, ya heathen. Taken from a German show in 2007, this is the liveliest of live records. No surprises but no prisoners taken, either.
Walter once was a Heartbreaker where he was the slightly more precise foil to Johnny Thunders' slip-slidey six-string attack. He also played most of the memorable lead guitarwork as a session guy for the Ramones on their latter-day recordings. So he has form.
When, after numerous reformations, the Heartbreakers finally expired (along with their founder, quickly followed by their drummer) Walter had already made sensible lifestyle choices. He'd carved out a day-time career on the money markets in the Big Apple, moonlighting with his own band The Waldos who remain a "brand" with differing personnel to this day. The latest Waldos evidently couldn't make it when Walter got the call to go to Europe so he recruited a pick-up band - allegedly Belgians, but the surnames of a couple beg to differ - and this album on the always interesting Italian label Nicotine is the result.
The fact a live CD exists now makes you wonder why The Waldos didn't do another studio recording after their wonderful "Rent Party". That was way back in 1995, for chrissakes. Walter Lure still plays those piercing, spiraling leads and drawls out the same call-to-order vocals like a Little Italy waiter telling his pizza chef to hold the anchovies. Put his absence from the CD racks until now down to him being too busy or record companies being too clueless to ask.
You'll easily guess the content of the live show. Half the set is Heartbreakers standards (mostly originals, a few of their usual covers) while "Sorry", "Cry Baby" and "Busted" from "Rent Party" all rate a place. They've delivered raucously and true to their ragged spirit. It should be mentioned that Walter was the consistent songwriter in the Heartbreakers, finishing tunes his distracted band-mates couldn't complete.
So the Heartbreakers weren't the world's rehearsed band and on an especially chemically-assisted night were about as tight as a Times Square hooker's handbag. Junk rock cliches to one side, they also just happened to be one of the two or three most dangerous rock and roll acts on the planet. This record doesn't have that same air - how could it? - but nor does it fall apart at every change. Lure's band sounds like they're starting to hit their straps and his playing is brutal. The recording quality is boomy enough to impart a measure of that good ol' live ambience, and if things get a little messy in the vocal trenches sometimes then that just adds to the thrill. Rock and roll should never be antiseptic and the odd bump in the road keeps you awake behind the wheel.
If you're among the considerable pockets of one-track minded adults worldwide that grew up on the Heartbreakers and the rest of the motley Bowery crew, you're probably going to love it.