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Who's Been Having You Over
by Peter Doherty and The Puta Madres
Pete Doherty was determined to be the Johnny Thunders of this generation, and he seems to have succeeded.

Not just because he has lived longer than any of us might have expected (Let's not forget, Thunders hung around a decade after the Mats recorded "Johnny's Gonna Die").

Like Thunders, it seems to come easy for Doherty. He is the embellishment of rock n roll, and unfortunately, helps reinforce those memes about self-destruction and authenticity. Like Thunders, it seems there is a tape machine every time he picks up a guitar. Finally, like Johnny, his discography is a mess. There's plenty of re-starts and iterations, and for the most part, a casual fan would be smart to cherrypick.

For me, the first Babyshambles album was an instant classic. Review tended to be mixed (as let's face it, it's a bit of a mess), but have come around over the years. It is as shambolic as the name implies, but with Mick Jones (BAD not Foreigner) producing, it also has a touch of that revolutionary feel of early Clash records.

From there, the path meanders. The follow-up Shotter's Nation is mostly solid. This time with Stephen Street producing, there's a solid single in "Delivery". For better or worse, it keeps the tone of the debut, with the focus much tighter.

Next, it was to a rebirth as Peter Doherty and a solo album. Hailed by many, it was also classified as a Bomb by Robert Christgau. I probably sided closer to Christgau at the time. I might be more charitable to it, these days, but despite it's ambition as a re imagining, critics on both sides could probably agree that it's a bit half baked.

We would get another Babyshambles record and another solo record. Sequel to the Prequel tends to come off as a few carbon copies in on the 'Shambles, trying to capture the commercial sales potential of say, Razorlight. Time hasn't helped that album much either. Hamburg Demonstrations has its fans. It falls just short for me, mostly hurt only by comparison to earlier records.

A Libertines reunion produced a very good record, although it seems to serve the notion that not only Carl needed Pete, but Pete needs Carl just as bad. .

Ironically, the highlight of Doherty's post-Libertines out put (besides the first two Babyshambles records) is a bootleg that did its rounds on the blogs in the Wild, Wild West of the Internet - those early Web2.0 days, called "The Shaking and Withdrawn Megamix"- a collection of Pete songs recorded after he had just left the band. It has managed to remain around, getting a new face as "The Freewheelin' Pete Doherty".

In that bootleg, perhaps is the secret of Doherty. Someone with an ear for a tune, an angelic voice, and the genius to riff (and perhaps, rip) off tropes from The Clash and The Smiths.

Which is probably where you have to approach the self-titled debut of Pete Doherty and the Puta Madres. How are you supposed to take a seemingly thrown together album (boastfully recorded in four days in South America) by a band with an obnoxious name.

It is also my favorite non-Libertines piece of work by Pete since that second Babyshambles album. It has the elements of a bootleg with spur of the moment lyrics from Doherty stealing from the Velvet Underground and Oasis on "Someone else to be", and a love of gypsy music (as shared with Thunders), revealing the talents that brought you to Pete in the first place.

It won't change anyone's ideas. If you don't like Doherty's "sensitive artist" to date, it's unlikely to change your mind. At best, it seems even destined to be forgotten quickly. Still, for the die-hards, it's a nice addition to the collection.
2019 - Scrap Originals
Posted: 16th December 2019
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