Of all the bands in that Class of ’77 the one whose gigs I never missed were The Heartbreakers. The thrill of seeing two of the New York Dolls – a band I’d been too young to see before they broke up – was enough in itself.
Johnny Thunders and Jerry Nolan were two of the legends who kicked punk into life, and honestly The Heartbreakers were a better band.
Despite their chaotic junkie lifestyle they wrote songs so catchy that I vividly remember knowing their entire set the second time I saw them.
The highlight was always this song, dating back to their original incarnation with Richard Hell as singer, following his departure from Television.
It was written (mostly) by Dee Dee Ramone as a riposte to Hell announcing he was going to write a song better than Lou Reed’s Heroin.
Chinese Rocks, describing the junkie life in all its sordid detail over a barnstorming tune, is certainly catchier than Heroin.
It was a part of the band’s set when they started playing downtown New York clubs like CBGBs, Max’s and Mother’s back in 1975.
It stayed there when Hell left to form The Voidoids and Thunders recruited Billy Rath to replace him, adding Walter Lure as a second guitarist.
And it ended up back where it began, with Dee Dee adding it to The Ramones repertoire when they recorded End Of The Century in 1980.
The B-side, Born To Lose (alternatively Born Too Loose), is very nearly as good too.