Almost as staggering as the 2006 reformation of the legendary Aussie
rockers Radio Birdman is the continued existence of their just-as-good
offshoot, the modestly-named New Christs. While maybe not quite
the second coming that their name suggests, these grizzled veterans
can always be relied on for some high-powered rock & roll.
The New Christs were formed by Birdman singer Rob Younger
all the way back in 1981 for a one-off single ("Face A New God",
the sale price of which these days would fund a modest retirement)
and then supported Iggy Pop on his first Australian tour. By
all accounts they blew Mr. Osterberg, who admittedly had an
inferior band on that jaunt, off the stage; not too surprising, as
Younger is one of the most powerful and charismatic vocalists you're
likely to hear. He's especially astounding in a live setting; seeing
Birdman in 2006, I was amazed to see a guy who looked like my white-haired
uncle commanding the stage like a true rock demon.
The current Christs lineup includes Dave Kettley on scorching
lead guitar, pounding drums (but with that all-important little bit
of swing) by Stuart Wilson, excellent keyboard and guitar flourishes
by Brent Williams, and - last but not least - the perfect bass
underpinning of Jim Dickson, who provided similar services
on the last Birdman album Zeno Beach and tour. The word "legendary"
is a bit inadequate for the lanky Dickson; suffice to say that he
played a huge part in getting The Byrds off the ground, managing
and producing them as well as offshoot The Flying Burrito Brothers,
and has been involved in music as as a bassist and producer ever since.
The album starts off a little bit shakily with the mid-tempo, somewhat
dark-hued "Try Something", but moves right up into full-on
hi-octane rock mode with "My Existence". After that there's
hardly a dull moment, with blazing tunes like "These Reasons",
the slightly Western-tinged "The Posse" and the closing
"Bonsoir a Vous" that'll fry up your brain before leaving
tire marks on your back.
It looks like Birdman have split again following that last album
and tour, but if Younger keeps the Christs going it'll be a fine consolation.
To paraphrase the New Christs' old album title, they got this!
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