Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lords of the New Church

What hath the Lords of the New Church wrought? They brought a type of punk, a gussied-up Stooges meets New York Dolls sound loaded with raunchy guitars n' sneered vocals to the mainstream. They helped pave the way for bad-boy fashion-disasters like Billy Idol and Motley Crue. And yet their music, all excesses aside, still rings as hauntingly true as ever.

The Lords of the New Church began in 1981 as that most grandiose of aggregations, the super-group. And a punk rock super-group to make matters worse! The mix of players, from different styles and different countries, did offer hope. Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys and Brian James of the Dammed formed a traditional British song-writing partnership, anchored by a rhythm section of Sham 69's Dave Tregunna and ex-Barracuda Nicky Turner. The final tally may or may not have surpassed than the sum of its parts but it surely created a striking figure all its own.

Taken as a whole, the Lords were a twisted Frankenstein monster. Image-wise, they played up a sleazy punk-goth-metal fashion complete with leather, studs and bandannas. Lyrically, they combined an incomprehensible political philosophy with a similarly disjointed anti-religious thrust. Musically things only got more complicated.

The band was founded on Bators-James shared love of the Stooges, as evidenced by Bators Iggy-worship, but this was a band who revered the New York Dolls ("L'il Boys Play With Dolls" name-checks almost every Doll’s song) and covered obscure sixties punk songs (Balloon Farm's “Question of Temperature”). Yet, despite having the proto-punk influences and the punk-metal look, the Lords decided to be a pop band. They wrote songs with huge hooks (witness the awesome, “Open Your Eyes”) and allowed the keyboards (and occasional horns) equal play in the mix. The Lords tried to make sense of punk, six years after ground zero, sort of like the Combat Rock-era Clash.

In fact, the Clash's first and last drummer (and only chiropractor) Terry Chimes co-wrote the Lord's third single, "Russian Roulette”. The song mines the same vein of Apocalypse Now jungle psychosis (in an almost Hearts of Darkness way) that his former band-mates did in "Charlie Don't Surf" on 1981's Sandinista. Chimes' wrote the song with Tony James (later Mick Jones co-conspirator in Carbon Silicon), whose former band-mate Billy Idol would take a similar but more limited, set of ingredients as the Lords to the top of the pop charts.

Most of the Lords material is out-of-print, though two collection and some dodgy material (including new material with a different lead singer, a sort of Lords of the 21st Century kind of affair) remain available.

{MORE LORDS? Leave a comment!}

"Truth is the sword of us all."

P.S. Check out Punk Friction's posts of the early Lords singles (from which the picture disc on this page surely derives). Also do not miss the BBC sessions over at the Nuzz Prowlin' Wolf.


  1. Do you have 'Is Nothing Sacred?'(1983)?That would be a nice post!

  2. I just happened to purchase their 3rd album a few weeks ago. I have a handful of other friends that have been playing their stuff lately too. Maybe a resurgence?

    -Chase Valentine

  3. Doug
    Coming up...

    A resurgence would be a fitting legacy for Stiv. The man's body of work (Dead Boys, Solo, Wanderers, Lords) is impressive.

  4. Hey thanks for this. i've been listening to lords/stiv a lot lately, and checking out the original 60's versions of these songs was cool.

  5. Anon
    My first Stiv kick was a high school where I made the inevitable comp tape: "New Lords and Dead Boys". It was a hit around the school.

  6. Saw the Lords a couple of times live in the 80's. What a fantastic show. I feel pretty lucky to have seen such a great punk "supergroup" before Stiv passed away. Nice to see someone bringing their material out to the forefront again. Hopefully it will turn some younger people onto this wonderful band. Thanks for the great blog.

  7. Anon.
    Yeah, I have to admit I wasn't expecting the depth of positive response that the Lords generated. Thanks for adding your memories!

  8. long live stiv! just picked up "is nothing sacred" on lp

  9. I remember buying that on vinyl from my local underground record store back in '85. Nostalgia!

  10. I saw LNC about 6 or seven times in UK. First time was a low key gig at Holy City Zoo Birmingham in 1982 I think. They played all their first album and Sonic Reducer. Later we spent a good 2 hours talking back stage with them. If you want to know what Stiv told me about Sid Vicious and the murder of Nancy Spungen email me:
    Stiv was staying at the Chelsea Hotel at the time.

    1. Tried that e-mail twice and couldn't make it work
      Would love to hear those stories so feel free to e-mail me at:


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