Bootlace Johnnie and the 99s
The Reviews
An ex-Curator's Story



Bootlace Johnnie and the Ninety Nines


A lost hero of Britrock – missing in action for 30 years – Stamp’s ’70s outfit Third World War were an influence on the punk generation. These new recordings with old partner Jim Avery, drawing on bitter experiences of music business battles past, are blessed with the hard flinty truths of real blues and alt country. Welcome back lads. 
Gavin Martin - The Daily Mirror, 2005

Stamp - along with ex-Thunderclap Newman bassist Jim Avery - shot to infamy with early-'70's proto-punks Third World War (loved by Lydon, Strummer and co). Their first recordings for 30 years (including some Steve Albini-produced demos) sound like precious things rescued from the grime of a lifetime spent warring with record companies ("Tender Guillotine") and inner demons ("The Ice Lizard Hometown Fair"). The contrast between Alistair Murphy's delicate production-minimal sax, harmonica and picked guitar- and Stamp's gravel toned intensity is especially . 
Rob Hughes - Uncut, March 2005

Seminal punk heroes make mellow come back. In 1970 a bunch of anarchic squatters released Ascension Day, a filthy and furious proto-punk ‘call to arms’ that preceded the safety pin brigade by seven years. Loved by few and hated by the press, after two albums the band seemed to evaporate.

Since their demise they have been hailed as heroes by the likes of Rotten and Strummer, and now the two main players, vocalist Terry Stamp and bassist Jim Avery, return with an album that it essentially a collection of home and studio recordings. An acoustic yet still acerbic affair, it’s a welcome return. 8/10 
Peter Makowski - Classic Rock, 2005

A forgotten figure of Rock Music sings unbelievably touching songs.

It is 1974, and in the Kaschemme the group plays loud, and the members are called Bootlace Johnnie and Jimmy and the Duke Of South Redondo, and the lyrics are as long as a trash novel, and the voice is hoarser than the bad liquor, a singer grumbles about his life, the piano plays a goodbye, and the saxophone blows sadly in the dirty bar, which might go by the name of maybe Frank's Cantina.

Terry Stamp sings and speaks these songs, as if he has slept for the last few decades under the counter. In former times he was with Third World War, who never made it. Jim Avery plays guitar, one-time bassist with Thunderclap Newman, who unbelievably - despite "Something into the air" - also never made it. Stamp wrote these songs over many years in Los Angeles, and they appeared last year in England on CD. "Bootlace Johnnie" is an album for people who don’t like the latest CDs of Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits and Graham Parker but who listen to "Closing Time", “The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle "and" Heat Treatment " over and over again.

Terry Stamp has this quality that his songs merge completely, moving towards a climax, which sometimes never comes, and the song simply ends. The vibraphone tinkles, the saxophone consoles in the background, and the piano jangles… Storytelling as always, has more to tell, like Talking Blues, like vagrancy. These are naturally not songs which you might hear on the radio. Perhaps they are not songs at all.

But here there is no exaggeration, no pose, no melodrama. The story “Wastelanders", a desperate, inexpressibly sad trip through France, could take eternity or three days. Terry Stamp remembers a few amusing stories in these laconic pieces. They are written without choruses, and become ever more elegiac, the music almost coming to a standstill.

"Tender Guillotine", a stone-softening folk-ballad, ends: "We kicked their arseholes then/ and we'll kick their arseholes now."

And all memories add up to nothing.

Arne Willander Rolling Stone (Germany), 2005

Ein Vergessener der Rockmusik singt unglaublich anrührende Lieder

Es ist 1974, und in der Kaschemme spielt irgendeine Band, und die Figuren heißen Bootleg Johnnie und Jimmy und Duke of South Redondo, und die Texte sind so lang wie ein Schundroman, und die Stimme ist hieser vom Fusel, der Sänger zetert um sein Leben, das Piano klingt nach Abschied, und das Saxophon bläst letztes Pathos in die Spelunke, die vielleicht Frank’s Cantina heißt.

Terry Stamp singt und spricht diese Lieder, als hätte er ein paar Jahrzehnte unterm Tresen verschlafen. Früher war er bei Third World War, die es nie geschafft haben. Die Gitarre spielt Jim Avery, einst Bassist bei Thunderclap Newman, die es trotz “Something in the Air” unglaublicherweise auch nie geschafft haben. Stamp hat diese Lieder offenbar über viele Jahre in Los Angeles geschrieben, die Platte erschien im letzen Jahr in England. “Bootlace Johnnie” ist ein Album für Menschen, denen die letzen Platten von Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits und Graham Parker nicht gefallen haben. Oder die immer wieder “Closing Tim”, The Wild, The Innocent and the E Street Shuffle” und “Heat Treatment” hören.

Terry Stamp hat diese Eigenart, daß seine Lieder ganz, ganz lange einem Höhepunkt zustreben, aber manchmal kommt der Höhepunkt gar nicht, und der Song ist einfach zu Ende. Das Vibraphon perlt, das Saxophon trötet im Hindergrund, das Piano klimpert. Storytelling als Immer-weiter-erzählen, als Talking Blues, als Vagabundieren. Das sind natürlich keine Songs, die man im Radio hören kann. Vielleicht sind es überhaupt keine Songs.

Aber hier ist kein Schmus, keine Pose, keine Dramatik mehr. Die Erz ählung “Wastelanders”, eine desperate, unsagbar traurige Fahrt durch Frankreich, könnte ewig, und drei Tage dauern. Terry Stamp erinnert sich in diesen lakonischen Stücken an ein paar komische Geschichten, die man ohne Refrain erzählen muß, und wird dabei immer elegischer, die Instrumentierung kommt fast zum Stillstand. “Tender Guillotine”, eine Folk-Ballade zum Steinerweichen, endet folgendermaßen: “We kicked their arseholes then/ And we’ll kick their arseholes now.”

Und alle Erinnerungen addieren sich zu nichts.

Arne Willander Rolling Stone (Germany), 2005

This is the first release from Terry Stamp in almost thirty years, as following the release of ‘Fatsticks’ in 1975 he moved to Los Angeles and became a virtual industry recluse. However he was tracked down by producer Alistair Murphy who convinced him to get back into the studio and release an album. His Third World War bandmate Jim Avery was also involved, bringing together again a partnership that inspired many other musicians, including Joe Strummer. ‘Bootlace Johnnie and the Ninety Nines’ is a collection of emotions, powerful songs that rely on Terry’s voice, with the music moving and swirling around to add colour and texture to the depth. Reminiscent of Van Morrison and Tom Waits, it is hard to believe that he has waited until he was 59 years old to release another album. This is strong stuff, something that needs to be listened to intently, preferably in a smoky club late at night but a CD player at home will have to suffice. Available only direct from Burning Shed,

Feedback Issue 81, 2005

Back in the early 1970s Terry Stamp fronted Third World War, a politicised and aggressive street punk band - some said the English equivalent of the MC5 - five years before punk properly exploded in the UK. In 1975 he recorded his debut solo album Fatsticks on A&M before disappearing to Los Angeles, where he kept his head down for nearly thirty years. In the intervening period, both Joe Strummer and Steve Albini have cited Third World War as an influence, although apart from the most ardent record collectors (the second TWW vinyl album is listed as £70 in one reference book), they’ve slipped almost completely out of sight and memory. In the summer of this year Stamp released Bootlace Johnnie And The Ninety-Nines (Burning Shed) to almost complete apathy, certainly as far as the established music press were concerned. But I’m slowly coming to the conclusion that Bootlace Johnnie is the best thing I’ve heard for ages. Produced by long-time fan Alistair Murphy, Stamp’s comeback is a brilliantly written collection of songs which explore historical and mythological themes together with his own experiences within the music industry--a lot of it located in the pre-punk London of the early ‘70s--already well past its swinging ‘60s prime and desperately trying to regain some sort of spark. Think Van Morrison’s Belfast, circa Astral Weeks, purely for the sense of location. His voice is a hybrid of Dylan, Nick Cave and Tom Waits, but peculiarly English and beautifully downbeat throughout, ideally suited to twilight walks in dank winter drizzle. Two Steve Albini recorded bonus tracks, both demos, have tastefully been attached to the end, and the best of them, "Down Pentonville Way" delivers the final high point on an album which is comfortably stuffed with them. In conclusion, you really need this record and you need it now. Don’t hesitate.

Rob Forbes - Nighttimes, 2005

Terry Stamp “Bootlace Johnnie and the Ninety-Nines” (Burning Shed 2005)  Terry has been around since the 70’s and was part of ‘Third World War’ - this set of songs draws heavily on his experience and sounds like Pete Doherty might with 30 more years’ existence. The nearest comparator I can think of is Paul K; the wrecked voice, the mythologizing songs and the delivery is straight out of the same songbook, a similar narrative drive as Tom Waits pushing the songs into your head where the characters spring instantly to life. ‘Bootlace Johnnie’ is a colossus of a song, straddling genres, decades and continents - he does for West London what Springsteen has done for New Jersey. Poetic like the rain soaked streets of a first-class B-movie; you enter his world and become a bit-part in the stories. DC

DC - Americana UK, 2005.

Terry Stamp was the mainstay of the early 70s proto punk band Third World War, and this album produced with care and attention by a band put together by English producer Alistair Murphy.

Terry and musical collaborator Jim Avery (also ex Third World War) put together the demos of the album in the States and sent them across to Alistair Murphy who put the band together to back the music.

Full of passion and emotion, Stamp's vocals indicate that this is a man who's lived the songs, his vocals are both warm and careworn, with an excellent and sympathetic production, from the strong opener Christmas the Way I Like It to Nightingales, or the title track, this is an enjoyable album, and the unique voice of Terry Stamp can be introduced to a new generation thanks to the care and attention of Alistair Murphy.A superb album.

James Turner - Rock Society May 2005