by Martin Popoff
Back when post-punk really meant post (as in recently past), Stiv Bators from Dead Boys and Brian James from The Damned, for no good reason, formed a band with – also for no good reason – a couple other equally ragged and shagged-out ex-punks of much less distinction named Nick Turner and Dave Tregunna. The Lords of The New Church was a name far too grand for this collection of sullen, broke, and broken blokes, but a stroke of genius nonetheless, the band acquiring not an inconsiderable amount of mystique because of it, as well as from the band’s gloomy, Gothic cover, and vaguely evil lyrics. But musically, the band never lived up to the hype. The debut album is considered the best, given its aggression balanced deftly with Goth, tribal drum patterns, trashy production, and a filmy recognition of various ’60s rock styles. Stiv (long since dead from a car crash) was the singer doppelganger to his friend Johnny Thunders, and indeed the album contained a trite NY Dolls tribute, that band and this one both somehow sounding like obscurant musicologists, neither likely all that on purpose.
Is Nothing Sacred? is the most experimental and new wavey, and the third and last, The Method to Our Madness, is the most straightforward, rocky, and properly produced (basically, ’80s drum sounds). It’s still somehow irritating because you want it to be better, say more, the band to be bigger. This was a cool band with music that strangely left a void. Still, “Kiss of Death” is an awesome metal track, like The Damned cross with The Cult, while much of the rest sounds like The Cure crossed with The Cult, “Method to My Madness” also being starkly hard rocking. Each reissue includes lyrics (quite good) and liner notes written by one of the remaining living band members (one guy per album, Brian James putting in the least effort). It’s a pity, given the gloomy, conspiratorial musical and visual vibe, the two front guys (and the friggin’ amazing albums they’d been on), and, of course, that fetching name. I always harbored a wary respect for this catalogue, while playing it none too often due to its screechy, scratchy, but not all that heavy songs of dispassion. Still, I’m somewhat mesmerized (OK, barely seduced) and sorta had to own these. Maybe some day I’ll get it.