Joey Pinter

Joey Pinter
Self titled solo LP
Reviewed by Dwight Fried

Respected NYC songwriter, Joey Pinter, never received household namebrand status, like so many of his old C.B.G.B.’s and Max’s Kansas City associates in Blondie, the Ramones, or even the NY Dolls, but underground record collectors, old school people who were there, and in-the-know punk enthusiasts all speak of him with the same glowing, illustrative language most usually reserved for his old friends, Walter Lure and Johnny Thunders. As a lead vocalist, he ain’t no Carl Wilson, more like a punk rock George Thorogood and the Destroyers. His smoke damaged bark is like an angry cross between Tom Waits and Lightnin’ Hopkins, a raspy croak from the lived it all twice, punk soul tent revival. As a rocknroll guitar player, he is one of the best. Ever.

1970′s scribes from “Rock Scene” and “Creem Magazine” were always blown away by his emotion fueled guitar playing in early street-punk bands like Fuse and The Knots. His old Knots “Action” 45 is still a hotly sought-after artifact in “Goldmine” and record convention circles. The great Peter Crowley added that single to the prestigious Max’s jukebox, back in the glory days of glitter. Leee Black Childers used to photograph him and cats like Alice Cooper used to advise him. Joey Pinter remembers when the Lower East Side was like, all piles of bricks and broken windows, hookers in long furcoats, dope dealers dropping buckets out of tenement windows, drag-queens, skinhead mobs, deviant film-makers, early b-boys with Kangols and ghetto blasters, runaway street urchins, squatter punks, Dominican pimps walking up and down Rivington Street in tacky suits, and sloppy ass drunks trying to sell you random found objects, like an unidentifiable piece of bent metal, or used porno mag, or pairs of dirty pants, or aggressively squeegee your windows at the stop-light, hoping for a tip. Lou Reed’s NYC. Street art, and after hours bars and street hustles, when uptown was mostly still too afraid to come downtown. When Pinter lived in NY, it was not full of $1000 a night hotels and yuppies and foodies and hookah bars and shit. It was poverty, immigrants, after hours clubs, a true and vivid melting pot of music, culture, art and ideas. After stints in various bands like the Dogs and Pleasure Pirates, and a furious decade of enduring the wearying highs and lows of the pre-gentrification Greenwich Village rocknroller coaster, Joey and his Knots sidekick, Tony Coiro, decided to reconvene with a new band lineup. When the Heartbreakers broke up, Walter Lure and Joey Pinter and Tony Coiro and Charlie Sox (later Jeff West, when Charlie died) formed the ultimate entertaining garage-soul Downtown Party band, THE WALDOS, whose joyous and energetic performances were religiously attended by the who’s who of NYC rocknroll royalty, back when the Bowery really WAS undeniably electric, before it became the cost prohibitive domain of millionaire kids, hedge fund managers, and Skrillex fans. It may have intimidated some, to step into the spot-lit lead guitar role, alongside Walter Lure, but Joey Pinter had that same D.T.K. streetwise feel, and a tough as leather attitude that precious few can even approach. The Adny Shernoff from the Dictators produced, crunchy pop classic, “RENT PARTY” LP flaunted a surplus of some of the most memorable and beloved songs of it’s era. Unforgettable classics, like, “Love That Kills”, and “Crazy ‘Bout Your Love”, “Crybaby”, “Never Get Away”, and “Golden Days”. THE WALDOS were one of NYC’s great bands and everybody in the classic line-up was a star in his own right, with a larger than life personality. Tony and Walter were both fabulous performers, Jeff West was killer on the cans, and Pinter was a total Keith Richards pirate figure, on lead guitar.

The classic Waldos line-up that crafted the masterful “Rent Party” disc was plagued with countless setbacks and double crosses, even before everybody started dying and going to jail, so they never toured much out of NYC. Sadly, many of the Waldos closest colleagues, comrades, and collaborators like Richie Lure, Charlie Sox, Jerry Nolan, Johnny Thunders, Stiv Bators, Jamie Heath, and Tony Coiro all died in rapid-fire succession, and Joey played the Heartbreakers set at the Thunders Memorial Concert. After some time spent as a guest of the state, Joey Pinter packed up his Bible, blue suede shoes, red velvet suitjacket and trusty guitar and relocated to the City Of Angels, where he continued to develop his reputation as a top-notch live performer, broadening his devoted fan-base to include the next generation of red patent leather clad, shaggy headed bad seeds. In recent years, he frequently played alongside various members of the Heartbreakers, Street Pirates, NY Junk, the Humpers, Dr. Boogie, Dirty Eyes, Crazy Squeeze, Testors, Trash Brats, Syl Sylvain and the Teardrops, and the Mau-Maus. He sells out Hollywood venues when he reunites with his old pal, Walter Lure. He was very close friends with Billy Rath (R.I.P.) and was always happy to play onstage with him. Joey Pinter’s dedicated followers have been lovingly awaiting his eponymous solo debut, and Jungle Records re-release of “Rent Party” last year has turned countless new rocknroll fans on to his playing, frequently being featured currently on various radio-shows, prominent blogs, fanzines and podcasts, worldwide. At last, the impatiently anticipated long-playing solo debut compact disc has arrived, and will soon be available for mass consumption.

First thing you notice is the beautiful, elegant packaging. Joey Pinter is the most Down to Earth punknroll star in the world-even his album art reflects his complete lack of pretentiousness. Every greasy kid band on the planet poses in front of the dumpster in the alley in their new haircuts and shiny clothes, or hires a comic book nerd to draw some 70′s van, Frazetta knockoff, barbarian glamazon brandishing a sword on the misty mountain top, JP is simply photographed with his guitar on a blue collar front porch in Chicago with a clothes line. The disc, itself, has a photo of the raggedy amp Walter played in the Heartbreakers, that Pinter played in the original Waldos. Appropriately, the album kicks off with Joey’s antisocial anthem “Be Like You” that rocks like the Professionals, or Physicals, or Damned, or any vintage punk band you love, brimming with piss and vinegar and venting spleen. One of my pals compares it to the Great Train Robbery fugitive, Ronnie Biggs’ notorious collaboration with the Sex Pistols. “Television is your alter/I never wanna be like you!” Joey may be a hermit, but he ain’t hypnotized by the corporate death machine’s Twinkee munching propaganda bullhorns. “Came To Dance” is about cutting a rug, while also slicing through the superficiality of lifestyle programming, underage heiresses, and TV’s relentless divide and conquer fearmongering—short and sweet and to the point. “Smart Enough” is like Marc Bolan jamming with the Heartbreakers. Vintage NYC. Pissed-off. “Favorite Child” is a thing of rough beauty like a bonfire ballad with a rusty can o’ chili beans and a sky full of yellowy stars-a lovely Tom Waits style lullaby. “Blood” is a bolt of howling sandpaper vocalizin’ and Cheetah Chrome/Keith Richards like guitar motherfuckery. “20 East” is apparently about a real landmark and has me smilin’ which I seldom do. Killer! Love it to death! If you ever wanted to know what early Alice mighta sounded like had Thunders and Sylvain replaced Buxton and Bruce, this is your golden ticket! “Old” is about not wanting to deal with the ratracing phonies and scam merchants, two-bit hustlers, and shitbags. Joey Pinter is a conscientious objector of bullshit culture, across the board, who summarily rejects all phoniness- he don’t dig the slick p.r. that passes for news, the gutless corporate music, trendy foods, or fast food religions, and is unwilling to suffer fools gladly–he did his decades long tour of duty in the sticky trenches of rocknroll’s seediest dive bars already, and now, he’d rather read a book, or write new tunes, then entertain some showbizzy, social climbing bullshitters. “Sad Girl” is another delicate love song about the intense love of his life where Joey opens up his heart and spills it all over the stage. “My life has been a drag for so long…”, he confesses…it’s intimate, like a solo Thunders song. Very sweet, a touching tribute to his soul mate, those two are like a fairy tale, together. “Orient Door” reminds me of the Patti Smith Group’s “Dancing Barefoot”, or a 60′s pop song, with its understated, almost psychedelic feel. People who grew up in the album culture will love the diversity of his music–folks who were expecting ten fast Ramones songs will be surprised. “Swamp Boogie” loiters around the all night diner with Dr. John and John Lee Hooker. Cool. Joey Pinter’s an outlaw guitarslinger, a grandfather, a street survivor, an academic history buff, a pipe smoking curmudgeon, and a switchblade wielding, torn and frayed, full-fledged rocknroll hero, but he has this abiding and inspirational faith and optimism and even his grouchiest and most short-tempered anti-society protesting is always shot through with light and hope and admonishing people to do the right stuff. He’s seen ‘em come and seen ‘em go and lived it all ten times or more, and now, he knows shit, and endeavors to share that hard earned wisdom, experience, and strength with others. He wants to save you some hardships and pain, but he knows most of us ain’t listenin’; we’re too distracted by manufactured scandals and media brainwashing on our tiny gadgets. “Upnorth@” has a poppy Waldos feel, a bit like the Records, and a sneeringly savage vocal with that trademark Joey Pinter gutter-drunk guitar smoking up your alleyway. “What Now” is a great name for a Joey Pinter tune–it really captures his essence. That song is just so HIM. He’s like a cranky Doc Holiday figure.

The real spirit of dangerous rocknroll with soul pre-dates Alan Freed and Elvis Presley and probably always existed in bathtub-gin juke-joints and hillbilly hoe-downs and gospel hollers, and NYC’s Joey Pinter is still able to distill 120 years or so of recorded music history into wildly potent two to three minute ecstatic blasts of sweetness, swagger, animosity, and shake a tailfeather fun. I don’t expect this CD is going to be a big crossover sensation with the sports people at the food court who like Taylor Swift and think punk rock means jock bands influenced by the Offspring. But three or four damaged generations of hoodlums, greasers, acid punks, terrace stompers, Bowery rats, and glitter dolls on the corner stoop will all find something on this disc that immediately resonates. Jeff Ward from Gunfire Dance and NY JUNK says, “I played it loud, then played it again… louder!” If you like the Shangrillas or Bubblegum Screw, Jerry Lee Lewis or Chuck Berry, the Electric Chairs or Willie Deville, the Dictators or D-Generation, the Pretty Things or NY Dolls, the Who or Spiders From Mars, there is something here for you. This record is spilling all over with nasty attitude and heartfelt emotion. “Written Down” is another instant classic: “it’s all been written down before…”

I remember I asked Wayne Kramer one time where he gets his faith to push forward in dark times from, and he told me “experience”. Joey Pinter has that same brave certainty that it’s all gonna be okay. I’ll be playing this record for a long time to come. Seventeen songs, but no fuckin’ around. “Isadora’s Last Dance” is another classic Waldos style barnburner that succinctly illustrates that Walter was not the only primo songwriting talent of that band and seems like a vulnerable olive branch extended to an intensely loved one. Very poignant, sentimental song for someone he obviously feels strongly about. “Serves Me Right To Suffer” is an old blues tune that Peter Crowley probably told him to cover–bruised and battered, splattered all over Manhattan. “Jesus Loves A Crisis” is like a Rolling Stones gospel jam about his spirituality and who he calls upon when rich landlords are kicking him out, or he’s getting ripped off by predator showbiz sharks, or the future seems uncertain. Ain’t nobody else writin’ about salvation or forgiveness, or looking inside and admitting wrong, these days. Very deep–Billy Rath would have loved that song. “Haldol” is a harrowing tale of Less Than Zero pill freaks and speed demons in lavish houses they did nothing to earn in the Hollywood Hills, alleycat shriekin’, pool parties gone bad, Manson chicks and sayin’ farewell to all the bullshitters, barflies, psychos, and liars. And just like that, this whoosh of a party platter ends abruptly and you feel as if you just saw Joey Pinter’s life flashing before your eyes. Five stars.

Nowadays, Pinter has relocated to the Blues Mecca of Chicago, but will be making a special appearance in his old NYC stomping grounds for the JOEY PINTER ALBUM RELEASE CELEBRATION on August 26th. This is gonna be a spectacular shindig featuring JP and co starring his friends the Hipp Pipps, The Waldos, NY JUNK, and the Sweet Things! ‘Lot of excitement in the air, a lot of surprises in store. If you are in striking distance of Sodom On The Hudson, you won’t want to miss this important extravaganza. It promises to be standing room only, family reunion kind offlyer event, with people bussing in from all over the country, so dry clean your favorite mohair sweater, stripy tie, silver scarf, feather vest, plastique trousers and sequined suitcoats, and buy your tickets early!

Joey Pinter
Joey Pinter Rock and Roll
“take a chance with me”
“Chinese Rocks
The Waldos “Flight”
New York Junk w/ Joey Pinter “Poison Heart”