L.A.M.F. (an acronym for Like A Mother Fucker) has been a contentious album ever since its release on Track Records in 1977. It should have been a victorious moment for Johnny Thunders and his band of hard-living New York street rats, but a muddy mix blunted its impact and led to a rather cool reception from audiences and critics (although guitarist Walter Lure states in the liner notes that the sub-par sound stemmed from the tape-to-vinyl transfer, and not the mix). How bad was the original mix? Well, it drove drummer Jerry Nolan out of the band, and the album has been remixed several times over the past few decades. That bad. It’s a shame too, because the songs are great. In the ’90s a version of the album called L.A.M.F.: The Lost ’77 Mixes showed up and the sharpness of these mixes confirmed what people who saw the Heartbreakers live already knew – the band were a mighty juggernaut, deeply steeped in rock’n'roll history but playing it with enough amphetamine-aggression and attitude to put them at the forefront of the punk movement (both in the US and the UK). Each song is a classic, with “Born To Lose”, “Chinese Rocks” and “Pirate Love” among the most iconic tracks of the entire punk era.
The new version of L.A.M.F. from Jungle Records is given the subtitle “Definitive Edition” and it’s a robust package, with a whopping four discs, a 44-page booklet, and four pins. The first disc is the “Lost ’77 Mixes” version of the album (which is the best way to hear it in my opinion). The second disc is original mix of the album, remastered and with the “mud” removed, although it still sounds pretty muddy to me. The third disc collects 13 demos from three different sessions. There are two songs – “Flight” and “Take A Chance” – that didn’t make the final album, as well as four songs from an early-1976 session with Richard hell on bass, making this a nice companion piece to the original album. The final disc is yet another 21 alternate mixes of the same songs. While simply buying the “Lost ’77 Mixes” might be a more economical choice, and the seemingly endless variations on the same 13 songs is overkill, L.A.M.F.: Definitive Edition is a handsomely compiled set and hopefully the final word on a great album.
Disc 1: ‘L.A.M.F. – the lost ’77 mixes’
Born To Lose, Baby Talk, All By Myself, I Wanna Be Loved, It’s Not Enough, Chinese Rocks, Get Off The Phone, Pirate Love, One Track Mind, I Love You, Goin’ Steady, Let Go, Can’t Keep My Eyes On You, Do You Love Me.
Disc 2: ‘L.A.M.F. – the Track LP restored’
Born To Lose, Baby Talk, All By Myself, I Wanna Be Loved, It’s Not Enough, Chinese Rocks, Get Off The Phone, Pirate Love, One Track Mind, I Love You, Goin’ Steady, Let Go.
Disc 3: ‘L.A.M.F. – the demo sessions’
I Wanna Be Loved (mix 2), Pirate Love, Goin’ Steady, Flight, Born To Lose, Can’t Keep My Eyes On You, It’s Not Enough, I Love You, Take A Chance, Do You Love Me, Let Go, Chinese Rocks, Born To Lose.
Disc 4: ‘L.A.M.F. – the alternative mixes’
Born To Lose, Born To Lose, Baby Talk, Baby Talk, All By Myself, All By Myself, It’s Not Enough, It’s Not Enough, Chinese Rocks, Get Off The Phone, Pirate Love, Pirate Love, One Track Mind, One Track Mind, I Love You, Goin’ Steady, Goin’ Steady, Let Go, Let Go, Can’t Keep My Eyes On You, Do You Love Me.