Nailing that quintessential NooYawk rock and roll sound but doing it in the Czech Republic is some feat but New York Junk nailed it.  It’s fair to say these cats are vets of the scene and been in the thick of the Bowery scene since its inception back in the ’70s and survived to tell the tail.  Getting Tarbeach Records to release the record of seven tunes recorded in the Czech Republic at the tail end of 2019 and mixed pre-pandemic these seven tunes are coming out on red vinyl.

It’s a simple formula.  Guitar, Bass and Drums and play from the heart, make it Rock and Roll – sing about what you see and believe in yourself then everything else is gravy.  You either have “it” or you don’t.  We know whos fakin’ it and who isn’t and on this evidence, you can take the people out of Noo Yawk but you can’t take the Noo Yawk outta the people.

New York Junk have released three previous records starting with ‘Passion of the 10th St Blues’ (2008), ‘Doing Time in New York City’ (2014), and ‘7 Train’ (2018). Their sound is somewhere between Thunders and The Stones with a bit of Lou Reed creeping in on some of the melodies but there are some real gems in here. I love side two from the more aggressive ‘Scared’ with a cool thump on the floor toms and strained vocals it’s fragile yet looking for trouble great opening tune to side two. The albums best track ‘Passion’ with its rather splendid Thunders dripping guitar solo the songs got a tonne of passion and it shines through.  They’re not reinventing the wheel here they’re just writing great tunes and relying on what’s pouring out of their hearts and spilling into the grooves of the record. Let’s stay with side two and the title track which is a repetitive riff that’s moving slowly and gently, for the most part, meandering through the cracks of the recording towards the solo sure it’s like a VU moment in time but that’s always going to be cool.

Anyway, Let’s continue as we flip flop back to side one and the opening blast of the ‘Gutter Angels’.  Like a poem to the Lower East Side leaning on the Voidoids or something Lou Reed might have penned. ‘She Don’t Care’ could have been borrowed from Walter Lure whilst ‘Walk My Dog’ is some Thunders homage and fairly standard. Closing off side one is ‘Don’t Cry For Me’ which sounds like we’ve just been dropped off in the early ’70s after finding out this time capsule is captained by Sylvain Sylvain and the cabin crew consists of Johansen and Killer Kane. Pure nostalgia done with care and a big smile – whats not to like?

All in all a really enjoyable seven tracks from New York Junk and for anyone who hankers for a slice of that time when giants walked the earth and strutted their stuff. Check it out if you’re smart enough and start ‘Dreamin’.

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1986… It was a seminal year for metal with Reign in Blood, Master of Puppets, and Peace Sells all being released. I was 12 and diving deep into metal music. One night at Hastings Records in Coronado Mall in Albuquerque, I bought this album thinking it was someone else. I was extremely lucky as I likely would have completely missed this album at the time. I don’t remember seeing any reviews or hearing about the album at the time.

I did not have any hardcore or crossover albums at the time so the songs were unlike anything else in my collection. The first thing you hear is the fire truck siren introducing “fire at the firehouse.” A spoken word metal type verse leads into a brilliant hardcore part that serves as the chorus sets forth a template that is used to great effect.

There is little time to catch one’s breath as the 19 songs go by quickly with songs addressing: racism, big business, Dr. Seuss, the environment, chemical warfare, religion, nuclear war…. and having a god in your soup. This album also had one of the first blends of metal and rap (if not the first) with the brilliant “green eggs and ham.” It is straight hardcore for a little over half of its two minutes before a monster riff transitions it to a cover of “rock box” by Run DMC. I hate to imagine how many times I have played this song in the past almost 35 years.

One of the things that always set this record apart is the jazz influence. This permeates the guitar work throughout the album and even has “legal murder” start as a mellow lounge song before transitioning into warp speed.

Upon my first few listens when it was new, it was a very tough challenge to decipher a lot of the lyrics, but it became easier and easier to make out the words over the years as I never had a lyric sheet. It was not until the late 90’s or so that I was able to upgrade from cassette to CD. It is a miracle that the cassette never snapped in half. When it was reissued on CD, it came with a lyric sheet, and I was quite pleased with myself that I had so many correct.

Ludichrist’s follow up record “powertrip” was a good album, but it has never matched the debut to me. The songs had grown a little longer and the metal influence was a little more profound. Line-up changes had also occurred which continued with key members going onto start the band Scatterbrain. They had some success on college radio with a really solid album that included a totally different version of “down with the ship” from “Immaculate Deception.” Sadly, Scatterbrain emulated Ludichrist in having the debut overshadow the follow-up album and EP.

With this record, Ludichrist created an album that rests within my Top 10 or 15 of all time. It remains a go to album for me today. Part of me still remembers playing Castlevania on the NES while this provided the soundtrack.

This review is dedicated to Richard Campbell who left this world way too soon and who enjoyed this album as much as me.

Author: Gerald Stansbury

 

Q and A with Tommy Christ – A Look Back at ‘Immaculate Deception’

First off, thank you Tommy for taking some time to talk about Ludichrist. I was 12 years old when ‘Immaculate Deception’ was released, and it was like nothing else in my record collection at the time. I had got into Megadeth’s ‘Peace Sells but who’s Buying’ around the same time, but you guys were something else completely. Obviously, the hardcore scene in New York at the time was a hotbed of great bands with the likes of Agnostic Front and the Crumbsuckers just two of the great ones at the time. How did Ludichrist figure into the scene in the early days of the band?

We started out playing a couple of “Pay to Play” type shows, selling tickets to our friends, but then starting playing real gigs, opening for others at CBGB. I think we were considered hardcore, but as we changed and added guitar players, the sound started to get tinged with some metal.

How did the crowds at your shows compare to the other bands in the area?

Once we had our demo out, we got good crowds at CBGBs and eventually headlined there. We were definitely not the most popular NYHC band in the mid 80s. Cromags, Agnostic Front, and Murphy’s Law were. Our best local crowds were at Sundance on Long Island, which is where we were from. Well, technically Chuck was from Queens.

You had recorded some demos. Did you try to actively shop those to labels? Were you guys approached by multiple record labels?

We sold our demos in record stores, (in a plastic baggie with stickers!) I don’t remember if we shopped it or what. Probably record company people that would come to CBGBs got our demo, but I really don’t remember. Combat was the biggest label we dealt with. Probably some smaller ones too. I don’t remember. Profile (Cromags label) being too excited with us. Chris Williams or Williamson was never really a fan.

Combat Core seems to be something a little more unique in the 80’s as you were seemingly on a subsidiary of an independent label. What was the relationship with them like?

I liked the people we worked with a lot. Howie Abrams, Steve Martin, and the art department guy whose name escapes me, but I can picture him, and some of the PR people were great.

Before I get to one of my favorite moments in music ever, tell me a little bit about the songwriting approach at this time within the band.

Almost all of the stuff started out as either a chord progression, or a few chord progressions. I would write the lyrics (except for a few of the very early Ludichrist songs that Al wrote the lyrics for), and then I would sit down with whatever guitar player wrote the music and we’d put together an arrangement. Then we’d get together as a band and play with it a little more.

I had recently shared some YouTube links to songs from ‘Immaculate Deception,’ and they were met with a lot of appreciation. A comment that followed was if the band’s lyrics were a joke as she had looked at the song titles. I pointed out that you guys were addressing things like racism and taking care of the Earth in your lyrics as well as a variety of other topics. How did people generally react at the time as it is probably fair to say that people might not catch some of the lyrics on a cursory listen?

I guess people liked the lyrics. My favorites were the stories, because that’s what I liked to write. On the first album, “Young, White, and Well Behaved” comes to mind as a fun story. I also liked adding some humor to even the serious topics. I guess “Most People are Dicks” was, and is, the most popular line I ever wrote.

Now, being that ‘Immaculate Deception’ is one of my favorite albums of all time, I wanted to drill down a little bit into some of the songs on the album. I am not going to go in order though so let’s start with ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ which I think is one of the first metal rap songs in history with you incorporating ‘Rock Box’ by Run D.M.C. for the second half of the song. The part where that riff comes in is pure magic for me. How did you guys decide to do that, and what did the people around you guys think?

I don’t remember the details. Chuck was listening to a lot of rap then, and working at Rick Rubin’s Chung King Recording Studio, where a lot of rap was happening. Glen wrote the music to the first part of the song. I don’t know exactly how we added the Run DMC part. My guess is Chuck and Glken did it, but I honestly don’t remember.

The same year that Slayer was being met with resistance around getting ‘Reign in Blood’ pressed because of ‘Angel of Death,’ you were also singing a song addressing ‘Mengele.’ Did you receive any similar pushback for tackling what a monster he was?

No. At least not that I can remember. Slayer lyrics are quite a bit different than mine.

One of the beliefs the band had that you would come back to at times is that ‘Most People are Dicks.’ Was there one thing or several things that helped create those lyrics at the time as I know we have all felt like that at times?

I wish I could remember! It’s just a fun line…

I mentioned addressing racism earlier. The first song ‘Fire at the Firehouse’ does an awesome job lyrically of pointing out the stupidity of racism. What were you seeing around you at the time that made you want to address it?

Again, I really don’t remember. It’s like 35 years ago!

Since it was the 80’s, nuclear war was addressed as well as the effects of big business, but you also did incorporate a lot of humor in places too. I am thinking of your line in ‘God is Everywhere’ where you complain there is a god in your soup. This was an approach and balance you would take with you through the next record and then Scatterbrain. Digressing with Scatterbrain for a moment, more people probably know Scatterbrain’s version of ‘Down with the Ship’ than this version. What made you want to revisit it, especially with the way you incorporated all of the other musical nods on the Scatterbrain version?

By the time we were reworking that song, the band had changed a lot. Every player was ridiculously talented, and for Guy, Paul and Mike, theri backgrounds were not hardcore, and not even metal, so other influences creeped in. We probably just started screwing around at practice, and it stuck.

Returning back to Ludichrist, I often looked for another band that I felt really shared similar musical ground to you but really never found one as your individuality really shined. The jazz feel of ‘Legal Murder’ could stand perfectly side by side with the rage of ‘Murder Bloody Murder.’ Your vocal style would change to fit what each part of a song would need. Who were some of your vocalists you enjoyed then and now, and how did they influence your style, if they did at all?

Some of my favorite hardcore bands early on were Dead Kennedys and Discharge. I always liked singers that kind of talked too, like Lou Reed and Lux Interior. So my style kind of became a cross between talking and screaming.

The album also had several guests on ‘You Can’t Have Fun’ with the likes of Roger Miret, Eddie Sutton, John Connelly, and Chris Notaro providing backing vocals. Was that planned or something spontaneous that happened during the recording?

We were friends and in some cases labelmates. We planned it and invited them to do it.

I mentioned ‘Peace Sells’ earlier which was also produced by Randy Burns. What was it like working with him in the studio?

I don’t remember much about recording the album with him. I do remember mixing it in Los Angeles after the recording. Some of the guys thought there was too much reverb.

One last question regarding ‘Immaculate Deception,’ I think it is fair to say that the album cover represents the band perfectly with Edward Repka providing one of his iconic works here. Did the band give him a general idea of what you wanted, or did he create it without any kind of influence?

He came up with it himself, as far as I can remember.

While the focus here has been ‘Immaculate Deception,’ Ludichrist put out an excellent follow up album in ‘Powertrip.’ There were several changes internally in the band. I am one of those annoying people who always preferred the debut as it hit me at the right time and definitely carries some nostalgia with it too. ‘Powertrip’ has been one of those records though that I enjoy more and more every year. Musically, the band continued to expand with excellent musicianship, and some signs to me that made the transition to Scatterbrain a logical next step. What are your thoughts on ‘Powertrip’ today?

Some songs are really great, some not so much. The speed and changes and technical playing of those guys is amazing. For example “Johnnypump” and “Powertrip.” I don’t like some of the lyrics I wrote. Some generic stuff, and some dumb metal shit ,like “Johnnypump” and “Damage Done.” I like “Zad” a lot, musically and lyrically, and with “This Party Sucks,” you can hear what would become Scatterbrain.

Finally, I don’t think I am alone in saying that I have really missed not having more musical contributions from you over the years. Ludichrist plays the odd show every now and a great while in New York. Do we have any chance of seeing new music from you in some form in the future?

Maybe. I still write, but have been doing stuff besides lyrics. I doubt we’d ever do another album, but I could see us writing a new song or two to play live.

One of the last things I want to mention is that for all of the craziness that Facebook can create at times. I had the fortune of meeting another diehard Ludichrist fan named Richard Campbell many years ago. We would often talk about the band. This interview is dedicated in his memory.

Thanks Gerald. Rock on Richard…

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Author: Gerald Stansbury

Should have been huge! How many times do we hear that said of a band?  We’ve all seen bands we think should have – could have, but there is one in particular band I love who seemed to slip between the cracks and time overtook them and alas that moment was gone.  Darren Birch was a quarter of one of if not the most exciting bands of the UK underground scene who played around the toilet scene in the late ’80s early ’90s – they were Garage punks from Birmingham who, with a pocketful of excellent tunes and a strong image had it all.  In Ant, they had a frontman who had the swagger of a Jagger and the cool spirit of Iggy.  They stormed Londons Marquee Club on numerous occasions and put on a show every time. They were head and shoulders the best band anywhere at the time, yet, they remained unsigned with only a seven inch and twelve-inch singles to their name. It was years later they released a CD that delivered all the tunes they played live and managed to capture that magic onto tape yet their moment had gone and sadly had their frontman.  They lost frontman Ant under tragic circumstances so the chance of a reunion had gone. 
Bass player Birchy has a story to tell and has played with some of the pioneers of the first wave of punk and some – he currently plies his trade in several bands namely the Godfathers and Black Bombers (currently)  if you’re not familiar then you need to change that pronto. But not until you read the words from our little recent chat. Over to you Mr. Birch.
Let’s take it back to the beginning for you.  What made you want to pick up a guitar and why the bass? 
I had my first Bass at fourteen years old. A Jazz copy with an awful high action…The guys I played with in my first band called it the Bow and Arrow.  I loved the Damned as a kid and was inspired by hearing Algy play that intro to ‘Love Song’ and then the sound Paul (Gray) had when he joined the Damned.
Who else was influencing a young kid in Birmingham?
There were others I was drawn to like JJ Burnel and Lemmy they were certainly influences on me at the time. I’d also say around that age I was discovering Bowie and the Spiders era and loved Trevor Bolders playing.  then as I was growing older I was discovering all sorts of players from Dennis Dunaway, Bootsy Collins, Barry Adamson…Even in my Jazzier moments Charles Mingus!!
What about early memories of playing shows?
The earliest shows I was playing was in punk bands.  I’d only been playing about six months and even though the other guys I was playing with were three and four years older than me I guess it was the usual story of ropey PA’s just for vocals in pubs I wasn’t anywhere near old enough to be in – Fun Though.
My first memory of seeing you play was in London with Gunfire Dance.  You were always a band I’d go and see and I found the live shows so exciting? Tell us how the band came into being?
Gunfire Dance was the first 2Proper” band I was in.  Me ‘n Ozzie started the band around 83/84we were influenced by the growing scene of Hanoi, Lords, Thunders…that kind of thing. The line up you all know and love (haha ) with Jeff and Ant (R.I.P)  consolidated around 87/88.
Yeah, We always wanted to be a high energy band… We loved gigs like the Cramps, Lords, Iggy that kind of unpredictability.  I think the band is more appreciated now than back in the late ’80s were certainly more understood…We were never part of that Stones/Face thing that was going on nor were we part of the Glam/Hard Rock scene I think we were out on our own at the time…our influences stretched back to the ’50s, 60’s the whole punk scene maybe bands like Thee Hypnotics were kind of our kindred spirits back then.
What about memories of playing abroad? Did you enjoy touring? 
The tours we did around the UK were always self-financed and self-organised except the tour with Tigertailz (Island paid for that.  We had a publishing deal with them but alas no record deal) we also went out with Bang Tango!!! We certainly had a lot of fun and those Marquee shows were always great (as I recall)
Most people will know of your work with Gunfire Dance.  I remember buying a demo cassette and eventually a 7″ single and 12″ why did it take so long to get a long player out? 
We spoke to loads of managers , labels  etc… But fo rone reason or another it just never happened. We recorded lots of stuff at Island some with Rat (Scabies) and some with Brian (James) but none of it got released until the Evil Boy Records put out ‘Archway Of Thorns’ in 2005.
When we played CBGB with D Generation and The Waldos a guy named Rat Boy (Motorcycle Boy) was playing in Pillbox put us in touch with Jeff Dahl and he released the 7″ on his Ultra Under label in the States then the ‘Killing Time’ 12″ we did that ourselves.  Then we went back to the States for a second time and did New York but the band was falling apart, I guess the combination of doing it without success will do that.
What did you do after the band broke up?
After the band called it a day I didn’t play for a while the “Music Business” had left a bitter taste in my mouth for a while anyway.  I had been DJaying and had a club called ‘Stay Sick’ which lasted a few years – That could get messy.  Then Oz, Ant and myself got together with a friend called Mark Barrows and started Stepping Razors which came about inadvertently by us being asked to tour with Tyla (now that’s another story).  Jeff had left for New York by this time so we got together and it was fun…We were a great band – We cut a demo at the famous Toe-Rag Studio and then got some interest from Island (again) after a great show with Royal Trux but again it fell apart for one reason or another it was around this time I’d also started playing with Alan (Black Bombers) in the Morricone influenced Horse Feathers. Still going to this day we even got as far as recording that album (reviewed Here)
Me and Oz ended up playing with Brian (James) he’d asked us back in the Gunfire Dance days if we’d play in his band doing his solo album (the one on New Rose Records) we would have been The Brian James Gang but Brian suffered the loss of both his parents and then he had the money from Guns N Roses for using his song so he moved to France to raise his Son away from London.  some years later we got a phone call out of the blue it was Brian – he’d moved back to the UK and was now in Brighton and he wanted to do something so we resurrected the Brian James Gang with Jez Miller on guitar and vocals doing some Lords, Early Damned and his solo stuff… my ears still have yet to recover!!
I guess the next time I caught you live was when you were playing with Walter Lure.  Tell us how that all came about?
The Walter thing was when Oz got in touch via myspace we saw he’d been to Europe and released a live CD so we asked if he’d be interested in coming to the UK and we’d put a band together for him.  He said yes and the first show was that 100 Club gig where Walter flew in the day before we had one rehearsal and did the show it was brilliant.  He hadn’t played here for twenty-five years.  I can remember the expectancy and when I see the youtube footage of that gig I feel proud of what we did with one rehearsal!! Ha ha, We ended up doing a few more plus the Rebellion show and supported Jim Jones at their final show at the Forumthen when Walter finally retired from Wall Street we did a full UK tour.
Was there ever a chance to record as The Waldos?
It would have been good to record with Walter but there was never the time……He’s over here soon with Mick Rossi….When we played with Brian the plan was to record an album but it got sidetracked by that Lord’s reformation and never happened…
Onto your recent exploits – Black Bombers and Godfathers.  Firstly tell us how the band came together (Black Bombers)?
It came out of the Blue to be honest. Having not done anything for ages Alan and I got together with a few friends and ended up pulling a few songs together originally it was a four-piece but we struggled to find a direction. Eventually, it went down to a three-piece and when Dave joined on Drums we sort of found our sound.  We wanted to just play Rock and Roll but it had to be adult rock and roll musically and lyrically and try and avoid cliches…cranky…and gnarly – much like us men of a certain age! Haha.
The sound of the recordings is unbelievably good and I always tell people to go listen to the sound of the songs it’s huge. Have you always used the same guitar and amp?  What if any effects do you go through? We did the first 7″ in our rehearsal room, miked everything up and blasted away, even the vocals came straight from the PA ala ‘Funhouse’.  We did it that was not only to keep the cost down but we really liked it.  Recording like they used to back in the day – old bluesmen or something at Chess and that’s pretty much how we’ve done everything since.
In fact ‘Vol 4’ the backing tracks are all first takes we never played a song twice.  We rehearsed them without vocals so we knew them inside out and when it came to recording we just bashed them out. as for gear I have the same Precision that I bought with the Island advance back in Gunfire Dance days and I use no effects at all just crank it up!
You’ve recently found a home with Easy Action who also appreciates and releases some fab music and the packaging is always quality who came up with the artwork and design of the LP?  Dave our drummer is our resident artist, He designs all our covers he does a lot of work for easy action on the Dave Kusworth albums, in fact, he plays on some of them.
 
With a new Mini album or is it an EP? just released what next for the band? Yeah we just put out ‘Vol 4’ a 10″ mini album its been having some great reviews and we did a short run of shows to support it with the likes of Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind, The Folk Devils and a few more throughout the year (any promoters get in touch)  Also we’ve started putting some new songs together that will make a new album.
You’re also a member of Godfathers and recently released a live album, the sound of the band is exceptional and the band sounds like its having a ball really attacking the back catalogue. A lot of those old songs sound amazing and really fresh.  Tell us how and why you got involved with Peter and Godfathers?
I’ve been involved about three years now.  I stood in for a few festivals originally then Peter said they were going to record a new album and asked if I’d be involved and it’s as simple as that really. We made ‘A Big Bad Beautiful Noise’ which I think is a really good album and it stands up to any of the early 80’s Godfathers albums.
Before we finish up I wanted to ask why ‘Archway’ has never had a vinyl pressing.  Any chance of one?
 I would like to do a vinyl version of Archway of thorns…..Maybe get a band page up first see if there is enough interest…
Songs like ‘Blue’ sound timeless, how did the songwriting work in the band? The songs would come together in rehearsals really…’Blue’ for instance was just written around the bass line and some chords I threw together…Jeff put his thing over the top and Ant wrote the lyrics…We were all quite individual musicians and everyone played their part.
Is there anything still on the cutting room floor or did ‘Archway Of Thorns’ have the lot? 
There are some songs that we never recorded…..A few on YouTube clips…I have some live tapes from the Marquee with songs on that we never did in a studio…
Good Quality?
Not Bad.  The tapes I have were recorded by our driver on a minidisc player…There are a couple from Edward’s in Brum too.
You ought to celebrate the band and release the album on vinyl.
Jeff is coming over and doing a couple of Electrajet gigs in November…Oz is gonna play drums. ..Black Bombers gonna support. …That’s probably as near as you’ll get to a reunion…. Ha…
and that’s where we’ll end for now.  Thanks, Birchy for your time and effort.  I loved gunfire Dance still do and they shouldn’t be forgotten they should be championed as should his contribution to music whether it be through Walter Lure when he tours or as part of The Godfathers or with his own band Black Bombers if you’ve never heard any of them then be prepared for a treat  all mightily fine bands that deserve people time oh and if you would like to see ‘Archway Of Thorns’ on vinyl where it belongs then the campaign starts here.

Further adventures in Rock and Roll featuring Darren Birch can be found below

Horse Feathers Review Here

Black Bombers Review Here

Godfathers Review Here

A new documentary on legendary DEAD BOYS frontman STIV BATORS is to get its UK premiere next month.

Born 70 years ago, the charismatic singer was the original embodiment of the self-destructive punk frontman with Cleveland, Ohio’s DEAD BOYS before embarking on a solo career. He went on to team up with members of SHAM 69 in THE WANDERERS. His greatest success came in the mid-80s with THE LORDS OF THE NEW CHURCH alongside The Damned founder Brian James, Dave Tregunna from Sham 69 and ex-Barracudas drummer Nicky Turner.

The succinctly-titled Stiv, which features heaps of rare and unseen footage, as well as new interviews with all the major players in the singer’s life, is to receive its UK premiere on 24 March at the Regent Street Cinema, London as part of the Soundscreen Festival, presented in conjunction with Vive Le Rock! The screening will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Danny Garcia.

Tickets are available here.