L.A.M.F. is the only studio album by the punk rock band Heartbreakers, which included such musicians as Walter Lure, Billy Rath, and Johnny Thunders' New York Dolls bandmate Jerry Nolan. The title acronym means "Like A Mother Fucker" and is said to derive from New York street gang language (i.e., a "keep off our turf" warning). The original vinyl release of the album was notorious for its lackluster sound, in spite of several different mixes made by the band.
In the fall of 1976, Sex Pistols manager Malcolm McLaren, who had managed the New York Dolls in their waning days, invited Thunders and company to come to England and participate in the Pistols' Anarchy tour along with The Clash and The Damned. The band took the offer, and proceeded to arrive in England on the same day that the Pistols were goaded into cursing on live prime-time television by an inebriated TV host, which precipitated the cancellation of many of the tour dates.
Stranded in England with little or no money after the Anarchy tour sputtered to a halt, the band were contemplating a retreat to their home country when their manager, Leee Black Childers, urged them to stay in England, believing that they could easily better their reputation as a group there than in the States. The gamble worked; after several gigs in London, Track Records, who had lost the Dolls, promptly offered the Heartbreakers a recording contract.
Curiously, Track asked the band to sign to the company as "The Chris Stamp Band Ltd." a holding company owned by Track, with the provision that if that holding company went out of business, the rights to any recordings the band made would revert to the band's own business partnership. The band agreed and signed on to Track.
Six songs — "All By Myself", "Let Go", "Get Off The Phone", "I Wanna Be Loved", "Can't Keep My Eyes On You", and "I Love You" — were recorded at Essex with Track staff producer (and former Thunderclap Newman member) Speedy Keen. The band then switched to a different studio, Ramport (owned by The Who) to record the remaining eight songs that ended up on the album. During a break in the recording, the Who's Pete Townshend even invited the Heartbreakers to appear as extras in the movie version of Quadrophenia. All went smoothly.
In the meantime, "Chinese Rocks" had been released as a single. Dee Dee Ramone and Thunders both went to their graves arguing who wrote it, the single sold 20,000 copies in spite of a mix that was considered a "hash-up" by some reviewers and fans. Said Thunders at the time of the song, "They can hate fuckin' heroin and still like 'Chinese Rocks'... either they like or they don't fuckinlahkit.'" Either way, given the state of many of the band members' addictions, there was no denying that the group knew of what they sang. (Conversely, the Heartbreakers would later stand accused of having introduced heroin to the London punk scene.)
Jerry Nolan apparently agreed with Savage's, and other critics', concerns about the album's sound. He reportedly told the rest of the band that if the album was released "without a proper mix", then he saw no reason to remain a Heartbreaker. It would be the beginning of the end: Nolan quit during a UK tour, Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook subbed for him until Nolan was asked to return as a hired hand. The rest of the Heartbreakers considered both The Damned's Rat Scabies and former Clash drummer Terry Chimes, both of whom they knew from the Anarchy tour, as permanent replacements.
Track Records went into liquidation not long after releasing "It's Not Enough" as the album's second single. The band, with Chimes on drums, recorded a two-song demo of two new songs, "London Boys" and "Too Much Junkie Business", as an audition for EMI in December of 1977, but bassist Billy Rath and second guitarist/co-lead vocalist Walter Lure returned to the States soon afterward, effectively halting the Heartbreakers.
L.A.M.F was listed at #100 on Joe S. Harrington's Top 100 Albums (2001-2003)
In 1982, the rights to the Heartbreakers' tapes were acquired from Childers, acting on behalf of the band partnership, by Jungle Records, an English independent label. Jungle engaged Thunders and former Generation X bassist Tony James (then with Sigue Sigue Sputnik) to do a new remix of L.A.M.F. from the multitrack tapes, but the results, done in just three nights and released by Jungle as L.A.M.F. Revisited, met with mixed reaction from purists.
In 1994, Jungle Records executive Alan Hauser ordered that all of the Heartbreakers' tapes be reviewed, with the best available mixes to be preserved on Digital Audio Tape. It was soon discovered by Hauser that many of the original mixes left behind by the Heartbreakers were best suited to the band's protopunk sound, while others had a sound similar to Sixties pop hits. It was then concluded that the fault with the sound on the original Track Records release of L.A.M.F. lay in the mastering and manufacturing of the vinyl version of the album, especially when compared to the rare cassette edition released by Track at the same time, which "sounds as if it had a shower, shave, coffee and a cigarette". (liner notes of 2002 reissue by Nina Antonia, p.10).
The 300-plus available mixes were narrowed down to a shortlist of fifty tracks, and various London-area friends and colleagues of Johnny Thunders, including sometime Thunders collaborator Patti Palladin and journalist Nina Antonia, were asked for their input. The mixes used were primarily what Hauser and company considered to be the "rockier, punchier" versions. This "final" edition of L.A.M.F. was amended with a bonus disc featuring studio outtakes, Essex Studio demo versions of three tracks, and other related tracks and alternate mixes, including the post-Track demos of "London Boys" and "Too Much Junkie Business", that the band recorded for EMI.
The first edition of what is sometimes referred to as L.A.M.F.: The Lost '77 Mixes was released by Jungle in 1994. Eight years later, a remastered edition, appended with an MPEG video of "Chinese Rocks", was released; this is the version currently in print. Henry Rollins picked L.A.M.F.: The Lost '77 Mixes as the recommended version of the album (over L.A.M.F. Revisited) in his 2005 book Fanatic!.
Each edition has differing qualities, with the original LP being the rawest, L.A.M.F. Revisited being clearer while retaining some of the vinyl rawness (with Johnny doing vocals on Can't keep my eyes on you), while The Lost 77' Mixes is the clearest of the mixes.
(*)NOTE: The original Track Records version of L.A.M.F. credited Dee Dee Ramone, Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan, and Richard Hell with the writing of "Chinese Rocks". Jungle Records "corrected" this error for their 1994 and subsequent editions of the album, providing the credit attributing the song's authorship to Joey, Johnny and Dee Dee Ramone. However, it is widely acknowledged by many, including the Ramones themselves, that "Chinese Rocks" was primarily written by Dee Dee Ramone. The Ramones later recorded their own version of the song for End of the Century, crediting it simply to the entire band. The online databases for both ASCAP and BMI, however, state "Douglas Colvin" (Dee Dee Ramone) and "Richard Meyers" (Richard Hell) as the composers of the song.
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