Tuesday, October 04, 2005
Johnny Thunder: I'm Alive (Calla C-161)
Have you ever run across an obscure record by a one-hit wonder that's even better than his hit? I have, and it's this one. Thunder (real name: Gil Hamilton) had a #4 hit in 1963 with a song called "Loop De Loop" (as in "Here we go loop de loop, etc."), but soon got typecast with songs based on nursery rhymes, and of course those didn't do nearly as well.
Thunder kept recording, though, and 1969 found him recording under the direction of Tommy James, of Shondells fame. James is credited as "Arranger and Musical Concept" of this recording. Strangely enough, James and the Shondells recorded their own version of this on the B-side of "Crystal Blue Persuasion," released the same year. But someone must've slipped a potent potion into his coffee because James allowed Thunder's version to have more fire and fury than his own.
How so? Well, there's an ample amount of fuzz guitar work and it's biting, piercing, bloody and deadly savage. And it's all the way through the song cutting its way across the funky beat. Most importantly, Thunder sounds as alive as he says he is, whoopin', hollerin', screamin' and shoutin' right up to the fade out.
Is this record better than "Loop De Loop?" You bet it is. It's a boot-shakin' gem awaiting your discovery and approval. As you ponder over the purchase (considering you find it, of course), consider this: Thunder told Billboard author Wayne Jancick, "It was my first true rock effort, and Bob Dylan, in a 'Rolling Stone' article said that it was the best record he'd ever heard.'" Who are we to argue with that?