Monday, July 21, 2008

Break in My Head

In the eighties when defiance to immediate authority (mostly teachers, parents and religious types) was a defining characteristic of punk, I switched allegiances and turned from staunch atheist to devout Christian. I can still recall hackles rising as I stomped though church in my combat boots and ratty army jacket. You see conversions are secretly messy affairs...

Well, I could talk theology or I could talk music…

Music it is then.

I learned immediately that to conservative Christians, music is God’s province and non-believers’ work is seen as a satanic incursion. Hence the record burnings – destroy what is not of God and only God will remain. And Pat Boone. Pat Boone’s name is still as synonymous with white Christian America’s cultural debasement as Quisling’s name is with treason. Well Christian Rock has continued to advocate for the Pat Boonification of popular culture. The Christian executives of Nashville (yup, they love mediocrity in a big way in that town) have taken Cool-Whip, strained it through a cheesecloth and added more high-fructose corn syrup. Such is their dedication that at one point Christian bookstores possessed a chart wherein hundreds of worldly bands could be lined up to find their Christian Rock facsimile.

So I, under some pressure, ridded myself of my so-called secular albums, (except the Violent Femmes) and bought a hundred Christian Rock LP’s in hopes of finding some spark of life in those grooves. They were few and far between. I kept a few of those records over the following decades for a clutch of reasons though hardly any deserve a wider audience. (Blogs being about ultra-narrow-casting it could be a fascinating niche.)

Southern California’s Lifesavors (a Mike Knott related band) should be considered by devotees of late seventies punk/new wave/mod obscurica. They have ripping hooks, bashing tempos and terrible lyrics (American power-was often weak on the word).

Side one of Us Kids is vintage pop-punk; beginning with the fifty-five second accusation “Where Are You Going?” - no song on side one breaks the two-minute mark! Songs like “Oh Yeah” sound as if Generation X had decamped to Orange County (and stocked up on apocalyptic tracts). Side two is the new wave set. “Operation” manages to be faux-English and cod-ska all at once, while “I Am” aims for power-pop. It’s all hummable but the bumper sticker theology grates more at lower speeds.

Illustrating their allegiance to the punk/new wave dynamic, the Lifesavors even recorded a problematic follow-up. On Dream Life the power-pop songs, like “Break in My Head” and “Physical”, are pillowier while the two ragers, “Glamour Girls” and “I’m Not”, are faster and meaner then anything on the debut. The lyrics have not improved (that did happen when Mike Knott took over) but musically it’s still grittier than most American power-pop of its time. That’s what I thought in ’86 and I remain convinced.

Download Us Kids

Download Dream Life


  1. Knott did the original vocals on Dream Life and they were later overdubbed by Brian Goins, Knott was doing his band Idle Lovell around this time, his first general market band, I'll post that stuff within the week. Here's a new link I just got for the You and Me single you have pictured above.

  2. Thanks for the info and the link. REALLY looking forward to hearing the Knott vocals on Dream Life

  3. oops, sorry, my bad for not being clearer. I was going to post the Idle Lovell album from 1984, I'm not sure if any mixes of Dream Life exist with Knott on vocals, I'll ask him if he has anything. Did you ever hear the demos he did with Velvet Revolver? Only 3 songs but really good. Today at sometime I'll post the Idle Lovell stuff and the Aunt Bettys demos. Those Green Day posts were fantastic!

  4. It's all still good.
    You're doing great work over there (I may say that just because we seem to share many of the same blindspots).

  5. No problem man, I think a couple of slight adjustments will be made before the actual release, it will be nice to have his on disc. One of the Down The Line Zine guys may have located the Knott vocal version, he's been talking to Thom Roy the producer of the early Lifesavers stuff, and he had the only copy that he mixed for himself. If you have any interest in projects Mark Krischak did after Us Kids, this sight has a bunch of his releases his band the Coolers was great.

  6. I'll gladly but the re-issue and will pick up the 1st album, which I see your link still has copies of.

    Any chance of a rip of the Coolers being posted, if only temporarily? I'd like to give them a bit more of a spin.


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