The Heartbreakers put their arms around a memory: “L.A.M.F.: Live at the Bowery Electric”

By on February 21, 2018

Now streaming on Night Flight Plus is L.A.M.F.: Live at the Bowery Electric, a raucous live performance of Johnny Thunders & the Heartbreakers’ classic 1977 album L.A.M.F. in its entirety, led by the band’s sole survivor, guitarist Walter Lure.


Comprised from two of the three nights filmed in high-def at New York City’s Bowery Electric in November 2016, Walter Lure — who along with Thunders, Jerry Nolan and (ultimately) Billy Rath was part of the classic Heartbreakers lineup — was supplemented by a band from several generations of rock royalty, including Blondie‘s Clem Burke (drums), the Replacements‘ Tommy Stinson (guitar/vocals) and the MC5’s Wayne Kramer (guitar/vocals).

This new Heartbreaker band performed L.A.M.F. from start to finish — from its lead-off track “Born to Lose” (jokingly referred to on occasion as “Born Too Loose”) to the album’s last track, “Let Go,” a full-on celebration of an artifact of the first wave of sleazy late ’70s NY punk rock junkie chic.


Additionally, they performed two of Johnny Thunder’s solo hits, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory” (from 1978’s So Alone) and “Too Much Junkie Business,” which was actually written by Walter Lure, from Thunders’ 1982 album In Cold Blood.

Joining the band onstage for these special club performances were Jesse Malin of D-Generation — one of the co-owners of the Bowery Electric, it turns out — who sings on “I Wanna Be Loved” and strums an acoustic guitar on “It’s Not Enough.”


Other “Very Special Guests” at these Bowery Electric shows include Liza Colby (vocals on “I Love You”), and the Dead BoysCheetah Chrome (guitar on “Pirate Love” and guitar/lead vocals on “Goin’ Steady”).

If you’re unfamiliar with Liza Colby, if you ever watched the now-cancelled FX series “Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll,” you may have heard her providing the singing voice for “Ava Delany” (Elaine Hendrix), the live-in girlfriend of Denis Leary’s character “Johnny Rock,” the former lead singer of a fictional NY rockers “The Heathens.”


The October 2017 release of the DVD (supplemented with bonus interviews with all four band-members along with Jesse Malin) coincided with Walter Lure taking his L.A.M.F. show out on the road with Burke once again on drums, and a band featuring the Sex Pistols‘ Glen Matlock (bass) and Social Distortion‘s Mike Ness (guitar/vocals).

This lineup played just six dates on both the east and west coasts of the U.S., in Brooklyn and NYC, Los Angeles and San Diego, CA.


Read more about L.A.M.F. below.


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The Heartbreakers were formed by ex-New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders (aka John Anthony Genzale of Queens, NY) and drummer Jerry Nolan, who were joined by Lure and ex-Television bassist Richard Hell (later replaced by Billy Rath).

Despite their obvious rock credentials during their late ’70s heyday (’75-’79), the Heartbreakers struggled to get signed to a U.S. label, and had little interest coming from the record companies like Sire, who signed a lot of NYC bands.


In December of 1976, the Heartbreakers were invited by the Sex Pistols‘ manager Malcolm McLaren — he’d managed the New York Dolls during their waning days — to join the “Anarchy Tour,” which in addition to the Sex Pistols was also to feature the Damned (later replaced by the Buzzcocks) and the Clash.

The tour proved short-lived, though, as only three dates of the planned nineteen shows were actually completed, due in no small part to the kerfuffle following the Pistols’ cursing at TV host Bill Grundy on live, prime-time television, which had happened the very same day (December 1, 1976) that the Heartbreakers had arrived in London.


Most of the dates on the “Anarchy Tour” shows were cancelled, stranding the Heartbreakers in England with little money and no easy way to get back home.

Their manager, Leee Black Childers, thought if the band stayed in England, they’d have a better chance to reaching a much-needed punk rock lovin’ audience, and it might lead to the band finally getting a record deal.


Childers turned out to have been correct. After several gigs in London, Track Records offered the Heartbreakers a recording contract, but asked them to sign up as “The Chris Stamp Band Ltd.” a holding company owned by Track.

The band agreed to the proviso — meaning that if that holding company went out of business, the rights to any recordings they made would revert to the band’s own business partnership — and signed with Track.


L.A.M.F. is an acronym for “Like a Motherfucker,” which Johnny Thunders said — in an interview with the UK monthly music magazine Zigzag in 1977 — was something that had originated from New York gang graffiti.

Thunders claimed that gangs would add the tag to their spray-painted gang name (if they were on another gang’s territory, they would spray-paint “D.T.K.L.A.M.F” for “Down To Kill Like A Mother Fucker”).


The L.A.M.F. album — the only studio recordings issued by Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers — was, in retrospect, labeled as a classic punk album, even though it was also heavily criticized at the time of its release as sounding rather lackluster when compared to the band’s live shows.

There were several attempts to remix the album’s tracks — Thunders rescued the master tapes and remixed the album in ’84 — but the Heartbreakers’ best recorded efforts were mostly found on live recordings like D.T.K.: Live At The Speakeasy.


The Heartbreakers broke up in 1977, and Thunders would keep his solo career going until 1991, when he died of complicated drug-related causes in New Orleans.

Watch L.A.M.F.: Live at the Bowery Electric on Night Flight Plus.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.