Here at IHN we’re always happy to discover new talents, but sometimes it turns out that people we work with have multitude of them. Such is the case of William Carlos Whitten (aka Bill Whitten aka The Abjectionist, formerly of Grand Mal, St. Johnny and The Silent League).
We’re well aware of Bill’s musical talents (the man did performed at Lollapalooza in 1995 and shared the stage with Sonic Youth / Breeders, after all). We were less aware of his talents for writing, but with 50Thirdand3rd publishing WCW piece on Johnny Thunders the situation has been rectified.
The music on So Alone is the color of black hair; it is the sound of machines being manipulated by addicts and criminals under conditions of destitution. All love is wretchedness. We listen to rock and roll to escape the terror of history, to escape its fragmentations and ceaseless changes. Johnny’s music does not impart anything approaching ‘truth’ but instead offers a profound sense of the ‘Real’ – the morbid, the uncontrollable, the unwholesome.
Let us dispense with a detailed list of who played what, where and what a toxicology report of each of the (at the time) living bodies might have revealed. All rock music is palimpsest just as is ‘rock journalism’, with its endless recitation of the same words and events. It would be a waste of time to illustrate this point by citing fact after banal fact, so let’s instead simply attempt to situate Johnny in a different milieu, a different light.
You can read the entire piece here and/or read Bill’s earlier interview with Ian Hunter he did for Gibson. We also highly recommend everyone to see a Youtube playlist that serves as an overview of Bill’s career – from St. Johnny to his solo work (with intro written by Jason Sebastian Russo of Mercury Rev/Hopewell fame).
Further reading on So Alone and Johnny Thunders includes Night Flight, Another Man, Only Rock’n’Roll, Louder, Off the Tracks and Tom Watson, While So Alonesome, Record Store Day Exclusive, is sold out you can still get Critics Choice vinyl via Norman Records as well as Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers – LAMF Live at the Village Gate tape on Burger Records.