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Albums of The Week | Johnny Thunders | Que Sera, Sera Resurrected

The glam-punk icon's so-so swan song gets polished up for posterity.


THE PRESS RELEASE: “In 1985 Johnny Thunders went into the studio in London to record what would become his third and final solo album. He gathered friends Mike Monroe, Patti Palladin, John Perry, Wilko Johnson, Henri-Paul Tortosa, Nasty Suicide, JC Carroll, Stiv Bators, Glen Matlock and others, and the resulting album was christened Que Sera, Sera.

“It wasn’t all plain sailing — with Johnny it rarely was. Johnny had spent the previous two years in relative stability. He’d been gigging around the world, and between tours he was filming in France. Life was a series of nice apartments and hotels shared with his constant companions — his girlfriend Susanne and his manager Christopher. Now circumstances meant he had neither. Without a new release, touring slowed, and his high-maintenance lifestyle led him to seek friend favors for somewhere to live. The major labels that Christopher hoped would provide financial support hadn’t materialized.

“In a row with Susanne, she complained that Johnny had never written a song for her. Johnny obliged, and along with new songs from his live set, he recorded I Only Wrote This Song for You. Before the album was finished, as soon as he had a rough monitor mix of the song, he flew to Sweden to attempt a reconciliation. Those remaining at the studio were left to put the pieces together. Patti Palladin oversaw the mixing with the engineer, and found there wasn’t really enough for an album. Patti added Tie Me Up from the b-side of her Crawfish project, and Blame It On Mom was found from an earlier session. The title track was actually an afterthought, recorded as a single 16 months later.

“The album was well-received, and it got Johnny touring again, but there was always a sense that it could have been better, and that the guitar was restrained — in ’85 many artists were seeking mainstream crossover. Two tracks were left off — Jerry Nolan’s Countdown Love was unused as he hadn’t yet recorded it; and Talk About You, a lengthy blues workout that didn’t seem to fit. With those two tracks in mind as bonus tracks for a reissue, Pat Collier, former Vibrators guitarist, was asked to mix them. When the results came through, it became obvious that Pat should remix the whole album using today’s technology and viewpoint.

“In the multi-track tapes a few outtakes were discovered, and last year the Resurrected version was released as a Record Store Day double-vinyl with five bonus live tracks. After interruptions, the CD version was reappraised and expanded to a three-disc box set. The original album is included, reinstating Tie Me Up and the old, familiar mixes. Three live gigs were uncovered, and they became the live version of the album as a bonus CD. Johnny Thunders’ biographer Nina Antonia has written new notes with interviews for the 36-page booklet. It also includes lyrics and unseen photos from the recording sessions, the cover session, and from one of the featured live gigs.”