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The New Christs : Bucketfull of Brains #26 - August 1988

An article by JOHN STOREY

Rob Younger was in a string of, arguably, THE most influential bands to emerge from Australia over the last decade and a half- making his initial (and still apparently indelible) mark with the seminal Radio Birdman (after an earlier stint with The Rats), then after the band's demise in 1978 continuing briefly with the New Race and The Other Side (the latter sadly unrecorded) before establishing the New Christs in 1981.

Whilst the New Christs have easily outlasted any of Younger's previous bands- the output has been sporadic and the singer himself remains the sole survivor of the original lineup.

Records have been few and far between and (compilations apart) restricted to the 7" format. The quality of the songs and the undeniable power of the music remains, however, undiminished.

When not actively involved in the New Christs, Younger has been responsible for producing a host of outstanding records for his compatriots- a brief selection includes The Eastern Dark, the Lime Spiders classic early singles, the Melting Skyscrapers superb "Suspect Device", several Died Pretty singles (including the first pair and the latest "Towers Of Strength"), The Wet Taxis' outstanding "Sailor's Dream" 45 and others by the Hard Ons, The Stems, Psychotic Turnbuckles, Angie Pepper, Bam Balams, Huxton Creepers, Porcelain Bus and Primal Scene to name but a few.

Similarly overseas bands like the Playmates (Sweden) and Fixed Up (France) have also sought, and benefited from Younger's guidance. Whatever it is that this man has, there's a lot of people who want some of it!!

Although the New Christs first 45, the now extremely rare "Face A New God" b/w "Waiting World" (currently changing hands for 75 and upwards!), was released as early as 1981 the band didn't make their first Australian tour until mid 1983 when they supported Iggy Pop. Sharing the stage with Rob Younger were Kent Steedman (on loan from the Celibate Rifles) and Chris Masuak (like Rob, a former Birdman) on guitars, Tony Robertson on bass and Mark Kingsmill (Hoodoo Gurus) at the traps.

1984 saw the release of two singles- "Like A Curse" and "Born Out Of Time", both on Citadel - as are all the subsequent Australian releases- and both apparently recorded at the same sessions together with a fifth song that has never appeared.
Already the line-up had changed with Richard Jakimyszyn coming in on second guitar instead of Kent who'd returned to the Rifles.
The two singles, oozing with intensity and controlled but furious rock'n'roll and with Younger's grimly impassioned trademark vocals really established the New Christs amongst the best of the new wave of Australian bands and gained them a devoted cult following in Europe and the USA.

After a couple of years, during which little was heard of the New Christs, Younger re-emerged with a totally new band- apparently unhappy with the earlier two-guitar line-up "It was a bit heavy handed ....just awkward....not playing with much feel") and claimed that the New Christs was "just an on-going fucking name".
Completing the new line-up were bassist Jim Dickson (who returned to Australia after the Barracudas split up, having originally played there with the Passengers and the Saints amongst others) who had long threatened to form a band with Rob, Charlie Owen on lead and slide guitar and Louis Burdett on drums. In print, The New Christs made great play of the fact that this was a new band playing in a new style.
However, their first single (released in '87) "Black Hole" b/w "Addiction" retained the claustrophobic, steel edged smack that made those earlier records so good, full of screaming lead guitar and pummeling rock action. Quite splendid really.

Almost becoming prolific, the band released another record in 1987, this time a double 7" package - three of the four tracks co-written by Younger and Dickson; obviously Jim's contribution is a lot more than just his pulsating bass playing.
The title track "Dropping Like Flies" provides ample opportunity for Charlie Owen to show off his slide technique and the ominous "Dead Girl" contrasts well with the lighter than usual feel of "You'll Never Catch My Wave".

The band were also active on the live circuit during 1987, playing well received shows with good press coverage and appearing as special guests of the Georgia Satellites.

The New Christs have spent the last couple of months playing hither and thither across Europe but, as we go to press, it seems unlikely that there will be any UK shows; as usual it seems to be finance that's the main problem.
Judging by the following report by Jacques Daniel (and Gog/Julie Leaders eyewitness account), it seems we're really missing out on some mighty fine Rock'n'roll once again. One crumb of comfort is that a new single called "Heading South" should be released by Citadel very shortly though there's still no indication that we'll ever be gifted with an LP!
In the meantime, lay hold of the singles (or the complementary "Detritus" and "Divine Rites" compilations) and let the New Christs lay waste to your living space.

Live in France : Nevers and Toulouse, June 1988.

An article by JACQUES DANIEL.

At Nevers, a provincial town about 150 kilometeres to the south of Paris, the New Christs were the third band on a bill topped by English guitarist Wilko Johson at a two day music festival .

Outside the hall were enterprising happy-punks selling magazines and records from small stalls and inside a crowd of about two or three hundred were listening to a French latino rock band finish their set.

Then, at 8.30 pm the New Christs came on stage to a great welcome from the crowd including ,by the way, half a dozen French fanatics who had been following Rob Younger and his band half away across Europe and even my friends Gog and Julie Leader from "B.O.B." had come from London to see the band here too.
But Younger, with his mesmerising stage presence and legendary history 1nspire this sort of idolatry and New Christs fans are of the most committed kind, after all there are not many groups that rock as hard as this!

At first sight, it's giant bassist Jim Dickson (well know here from his many concerts with the Barracudas) who draws your eye, but it's Younger who really demands the attention- bent over, leaning forward and piercing the dark with his soul searching glare all the while singing with a rare intensity and grim determination.

A riveting performer, with the sane dangerous and unpredictable aura as Johnny Rotten at his prime with the Sex Pistols in the early days. On stage the band split into two pairs with Rob and Jim the frontmen and Charlie 0wen and the drummer (of neccesity) remaining mostly in the background.

Beginning with a new song entitled "No Way", The New Christs played for over an hour and their fifteen songs were a superb example of hard and dynamic rock'n'roll.

And it's the dynamics that really set this band apart from the competition, instead of power-drive from start to finish (like the Celibate Rifles or Hard Ons tend to do) The New Christs know when to lay back and burn before delivering a crushing fore-arm smash to the brain.

Playing only original songs, about two thirds of the set was familiar from their records- there was "No Next Time", "Like A Curse", "Born Out Of Time", "Black Hole" and three numbers from the most recent, double 7" release with Charlie Owen playing clamourous bluesy slide guitar on "Dropping Like Flies".

Five of the songs are new or unreleased- hut at least one of them, "Heading South" has already been recorded and scheduled for the next single; it's a another monsterous song with brutal riffs and a baying vocal from Younger.
"Rock'n'Roll Surgeon" is inspired by Radio Birdman guitarist Deniz Tek's other skills and has another lung busting vocal and the others, both great rocking songs too, were "Disconnected" and "Circus".

In reponse to the crowd's wild acclaim, there were two encores. The first had a great version of the driving "Crying Sun", a song that Rob has performed with at least two of his previous bands, first Radio Birdman, later the New Race- it sounded as good as ever here in the French countryside tonight.

Two nights later, further south in Toulouse at a gig presented by a local radio station, The New Christs gave another fantastic night of rock'n'Roll fury.

This evening they changed the set around and also added "The March" and "Plastic Whirl', two more new songs, halfway through. When they were temporary held up by some technical problems, there was another unexpected treat.
Rob said "here's a slow song for you.....a once in a life time event" and sang a powerful vocal accompanied by Owen's loud guitar lines and just a little bass from Dickson.

So, here in France I can say we had two wonderful nights of rock'n'roll from one of the greatest of all the many Australian bands.
For me, more fun than anything since last time Rob Younger was here in 1978, when Radio Birdman played with the equally legendary American band The Flamin' Groovies. Please don't wait so long next time, Mr. Younger!

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