The Lords of the New Church – The Lords of the New Church (Special Edition)

Gee whiz, they’ll re-release anything nowadays, won’t they? But I must confess: I owned the original album, in fact I happily purchased all three of the Lords of the New Church’s albums and the 12-inch of their cover of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” with Stiv spread-eagle in a white dress and black fishnets on the cover with his balls squeezing out of his panties. Used to go see them whenever they played at 688, too. It wasn’t that I was some huge fan or anything – I mean, I was young, and I liked them alright, and they were always lots of fun live. It was more that the Dead Boys were kaput by then, and I’d missed out on ’em (or so I thought – several years later I did manage to see the briefly reunited original lineup when they blitzed into the Metroplex in the wee hours one crazy night, once Stiv finally decided to show up, that is – and they were amazing!), so this was like the next best thing.

Assembled in 1982, Lords of the New Church were (originally) Stiv Bators joined by guitarist Brian James of The Damned, bassist Dave Tregunna (ex-Sham 69) and drummer Nick Turner (The Barracudas). Despite Stiv’s degenerate, fuck-all image, they were significantly more polished than any of the members’ previous bands, with catchy, commercialized new wave tunes and a somewhat gothy sound/look that The Damned were also beginning to employ by that point, filtered through your usual stereotypical “rocker” trappings. Listening to this reissue of their debut album today, I’m struck by how much it sounds like Billy Idol! That’s not necessarily a knock, although the production, guitar tone, drum sound etc. date this recording terribly. There are some good songs, though, especially the college radio hit “Open Your Eyes,” with a don’t-trust-the-mainstream-media message that is even more relevant today. There’s also a bunch of silly throwaway bullshit, too, but hey, it probably sounded really cool at the time. Actually, it did, at least to my 18-year-old self. Don’t judge me, man.

There’s a bonus CD of a live show from ’82 which roughs up the polish significantly and is worth it just for a reminder of what a good frontman Stiv was, a regular little Iggy Jr., and how he put up with the screams of “Dead Boys!” without leaping into the audience, fists a’wailin’, is a mystery. Prolly 12 sheets to the wind. “We’re called Haircut 100!” he announces shortly after the band storms the stage. “Thanks for the clap,” he deadpans later, acknowledging the crowd’s applause. Heh heh heh!!…early ’80s punk humor…

I’m kinda shocked that some configuration of former losers from the Lords aren’t reforming to tour in promotion of this re-release. I mean, if the Dead Boys can hobble back out of retirement with only Cheetah Chrome and the drummer clinging from the original lineup, what’s to say enough old, drunk, former punks/now overweight dads wouldn’t be gullible enough to go see a Stiv-less version of Lords of the New Church. Eh? Say what? They already did that in 2003 and even recorded an album?? Well… there ya go. To quote the title of their second album: “Is nothing sacred?” Answer: not when there are potential bucks to be made. Even paltry, sad, half-assed old sorta-punk rock bucks.

The Lords of the New Church
The Lords of the New Church (Special Edition)
[Blixa Sounds]