Undercover – Undercover – 1982

This is the debut album from Undercover, one of the early and influential pop punk bands to come out of California in the early 80s. Incubating alongside Altar Boys and Lifesavors.

I consider Undercover to be the forerunner to MXPX, although not their sole influence. MXPX managed to merge Green Day, Ramones, Undercover and other ideas into a cohesive, long standing package.

The style of this album is now referred to as pop-punk, or even California-punk. In 1982 though, it seemed like the division of punk styles wasn’t so defined and it just was what it was.

This was a great alternative, or at least an addition to the musical diet for anyone addicted to The Ramones at the time.

Note the names. Joey Taylor on subsequent albums becomes Ojo Taylor, and Jim Nicholson becomes Gym Nicholson.

From the 1988 CD release “Volume 1” we receive this explanation in the liner notes:

Once upon a time, a long time ago in the 1970’s, there were two bands aimlessly wandering around a small town in Southern California called Yorba Linda. The name of one of those groups was J.C. Rose and the name of the other, Boaz. Jim Nicholson and myself, best friends since high school, were members of J. C. Rose along with Dave Hackbarth, who has been a priceless catalyst to a great many records and Artists since. The members of Boaz were Chris Winber, Danny Pavlis, Ray Hersom and Rick Alba among a few others. After a year or two of fruitless effots, the two groups disbanded, to form two new groups. Jim and I sayted together and added Danny Pavlis on Drums and Rick Alba on bass and started Undercover. Chris Winber and Ray Hersom went on to form Lifesavors. Undercover started rehearsing in a greenhouse owned by Danny’s parents and after a couple of months, had our first concert along with The Lifesavors (also their first concert) and another group, The Chosen Ones, consisting of Chris Pavlis (Danny’s brother) and Brian Doidge (who would later join The Lifesavors).

(the story is continued in the liner notes…)

The 1988 CD release “Volume 1” includes the two first albums from Undercover, plus an additional bonus track written by Taylor, and attributed to the debut album, “Dying In Love.”

Track Listing:
A1 Excuse Us Written-By – Walden, Alba 2:45
A2 Heal Me Written-By – Taylor 2:15
A3 I’ll Be A Fool Written-By – Taylor 1:15
A4 Francine Written-By – Alba 2:45
A5 It’s Official Written-By – Taylor 2:20
A6 Turn Your Head Written-By – Nicholson 2:45
A7 Look It Up Written-By – Taylor 2:40
B1 Read It In A Letter Written-By – Nicholson 2:05
B2 Daddy-O Written-By – Walden, Taylor 1:15
B3 Tonight Written-By – Nicholson 1:47
B4 Stop Written-By – Nicholson, Taylor 2:50
B5 He’s In Love With You Written-By – Alba 2:45
B6 I.C.U. Written-By – Taylor 2:40
B7 He Gives We Have Written-By – Taylor 2:25
Credits
Arranged By – Undercover
Artwork [Cover And Sleeve] – Milton R. Sue
Bass Guitar, Vocals – Rick Alba
Drums, Performer [Kindling], Vocals – Danny Pavlis
Engineer – Dan Willard, Thom Roy (tracks: A7), Tim Pinch (tracks: A1 to A6, B1 to B7)
Guitar [All Guitars], Vocals – Jim “Nuclear” Nicholson
Lead Vocals, Alto Saxophone – Bill Walden
Musician [Additional] – Giggles – Benjamin Taylor, Chris Pavlis, Dave Hackbarth Organ, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals – Joey Taylor
Photography By [Cover] – George Zaferes
Producer – Dan Willard, Joey Taylor
Rhythm Guitar [After Tracks] – Ray Hersom

Tracklist
1 – Excuse Us – 2:45
2 – Heal Me – 2:15
3 – I’ll Be A Fool – 1:15
4 – Francine – 2:45
5 – It’s Official – 2:20
6 – Turn Your Head – 2:45
7 – Look It Up – 2:40
8 – Read It In A Letter – 2:05
9 – Daddy-O – 1:15
10 – Tonight – 1:47
11 – Stop – 2:50
12 – He’s In Love With You – 2:45
13 – I.C.U. – 2:40
14 – He Gives We Have – 2:25
Bonus Track
15 – Dying In Love – 4:29

Credits
Arranged By – Undercover
Artwork [Cover And Sleeve] – Milton R. Sue
Bass Guitar, Vocals – Rick Alba
Drums, Performer [Kindling], Vocals – Danny Pavlis
Engineer – Dan Willard, Thom Roy (tracks: A7), Tim Pinch (tracks: A1 to A6, B1 to B7)
Guitar [All Guitars], Vocals – Jim “Nuclear” Nicholson
Lead Vocals, Alto Saxophone – Bill Walden
Mastered By – KPG
Musician [Additional] – Giggles – Benjamin Taylor, Chris Pavlis, Dave Hackbarth
Organ, Piano, Synthesizer, Vocals – Joey Taylor
Photography By [Cover] – George Zaferes
Producer – Dan Willard, Joey Taylor
Rhythm Guitar [After Tracks] – Ray Hersom

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Ministry Resource Center
Copyright (c) – Ministry Resource Center
Copyright (c) – B-1 Music
Mastered At – The Cutting System, Inc.
Recorded at Rapture Repertory Theatre’s Warehouse and C.C.C.M. on Tim Pinch’s Mobile Recording Studio except for A7, recorded at Whitefield Studio

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Lifesavors – Us Kids – 1981

This was the first album from the Lifesavors. They hit the California scene and definitely made large splash. The lead vocalist for this album (they changed frequently) was Mark Krischak. His fake English accent gave us a cross of English Punk Bands and New Wave Bands. Throw in some 50’s groove and you have probably the best Christian album of 1981. Personally I think Mark Krischak was the best vocalist the band had and he wrote most the songs on this album with Chris Wimber. Strangely the album had 2 vinyl releases with the songs in different orders. The cover and sleeve however remained the same. It was re-released in 1999 on CD with 9 bonus tracks.

Tracklist
1 – Young
2 – Operation
3 – Where You Going
4 – Blue
5 – Oh Yeah
6 – I Am
7 – Take Me Over
8 – New
9 – Isa: 36
10 – Christianity
11 – Life
12 – Genocide
13 – Jetstream
14 – Us Kids

Credits
Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals – Chris Wimber
Arranged By – The Lifesavors
Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Kevin Annis
Lead Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals – Mark Krischak
Producer, Mixed By, Recorded By – Thom Roy
Recorded By – Tim Vegvari
Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals – Mike Knott

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Mercy Publishing
Copyright (c) – Mercy Publishing
Distributed By – Grassroots Music Distribution

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Lifesavers Underground – Shaded Pain – 1987

Shaded Pain is Lifesavers’ fourth album, and it has its own unique sound, darker and more musically mature than their original works.

The band started out with a sound reminiscent of 1970s punk and with this 1987 release, they sound completely like the late 80s punk scene.

The record starts out with a somewhat chilling version of “Michael Row The Boat Ashore” in the opening track “Jordan River.” Lyrically, this album strives to tie contradictions together and it does so quite well in songs such as “Tether To Tassel” and “Our Time Has Come.”

The sound on this album is a rich, full guitar sound throughout with drums that pop, and a vocal that carries it all in a soothing/creepy fasion, depending on how the beat strikes you every moment.

Tracklist
1 – Jordan River – 3:55
2 – Bye Bye Colour – 4:02
3 – Die Baby Die – 2:25
4 – Lonely Boy – 3:49
5 – Our Time Has Come – 3:37
6 – Tether To Tassle – 3:36
7 – I’m Torn – 3:52
8 – Plague Of Flies – 1:27
9 – More To Life – 3:39
10 – Shaded Pain – 4:10

Credits
Art Direction, Layout – Ed McTaggart
Artwork – Mike Knott
Drums, Cymbal – Kevin Lee
Electric Guitar [Les Paul Gold Top], Twelve-String Guitar [Ibanez Acoustic], Acoustic Guitar [Yamaha], Bass [Black] – Brian Doidge
Engineer – Chris Brigandi (tracks: B5), Joey Taylor
Photography By – Colleen Hammond
Producer – Chris Brigandi
Vocals – Bridgett Knott (tracks: A1, A4)
Vocals, Keyboards – Mike Knott
Written-By – Brian Doidge (tracks: A4, B3, B4), Kevin Lee (4) (tracks: B3), Mike Knott

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – 3-D Studios, Costa Mesa CA.
Recorded At – Asylomar Studios
Copyright (c) – Broken Songs
Copyright (c) – Frontline Records (3)
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Frontline Records (3)
Distributed By – The Benson Company
Distributed By – The Master’s Collection
Distributed By – Kingsway Publications Ltd.

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Lifesavors – A Kiss Of Life – 1986

Not only did they change the name from “Lifesavors” to “Lifesavers” on this one, but the band took a sudden turn with this album, sounding a lot more like Flock of Seagulls than like a Cali-punk band.

Smooth production, serious looking photography, and a clean sound make this a pop album. Subsequent releases from Lifesavers all share this mature style but some of them manage to bring the edge back rather than the adult contemporary sound of 80s oldies.

Throughout, they manage to keep thoughtful lyrics and passionate delivery.

The band’s energy comes through again on songs like “Choose To Be True,” a truly catch tune. The classic “Turn Turn Turn” also makes an appearance on this album. It seems to be more an homage to Ecclesiastes than to Pete Seger or The Byrds though.

Tracklist
1 – She’s On Fire – 3:39
2 – I Pray You Pray – 3:34
3 – I Can’t Wait – 3:42
4 – Choose To Be True – 2:28
5 – Highway To Zion – 3:02
6 – Dreamin – 4:20
7 – Love Boy Love Girl – 3:13
8 – Turn, Turn, Turn – 3:39
9 – We Live For The Sun – 3:44
10 – Free Her – 3:18
11 – See Me Fall – 4:48

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Frontline Records
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Frontline Records
Copyright (c) – Broken Songs

Credits
Acoustic Guitar – Michael Knott
Art Direction – Ed McTaggart
Backing Vocals – Kenny Samuels
Bass Guitar – Brian Doidge
Drums – Kevin Lee
Electric Guitar – Doug Doyle, Michael Knott
Engineer – Doug Doyle
Keyboards – Doug Doyle, Michael Knott
Layout – Ed McTaggart
Liner Notes – Craig A.J. Keyzers
Percussion – Kevin Lee, Michael Knott
Photography By – Brian Ray
Producer – Doug Doyle
Saxophone – Allen Palmer
Vocals – Michael Knott
Written-By – Bill Robinson (tracks: 2), Chris Lizotte (tracks: 2), Jim Akin (tracks: 2), Michael Gerard Knott (tracks: 1 to 6, 7, 9 to 11), Pete Seger (tracks: 2)

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Various – Front Row – 1984

This is a 1984 Refuge Records sampler

Included on this sampler;

Rick Cua – “Changed” from his album No Mystery
Edin-Adahl – “Wake Up” from their album Alibi
Bonnie Bramlett – “White Dove” from her album Step By Step
Per-Erik Hallin – “You Put Another Song In My Heart” from his album Better Late Than Never
Will McFarlane – “That’s How I Know You Called Me” from his album A Colony Of Heaven
Tom Douglas – “Jesus Never Sleeps” which was not released on an album
Forerunner – “Faith Walk” from their album (a.k.a)
Jerusalem – “Time” which was released as a bonus track on the CD release of Can’t Stop Us Now
Lifesavors – “Break In My Head” from their album Dream Life
Bryn Haworth – “Never Give Up On Love” from his album Pass It On
Joe English – “Anthem” from his album The Best Is Yet To Come

Tracklist
1 – Rick Cua – Changed – 3:50
2 – Edin-Adahl – Wake Up – 4:14
3 – Bonnie Bramlett – White Dove – 3:31
4 – Per-Erik Hallin – You Put Another Song In My Heart – 4:13
5 – Will McFarlane – That’s How I Know You Called Me – 3:21
6 – Tom Douglas – Jesus Never Sleeps – 4:10
7 – Forerunner – Faith Walk – 4:04
8 – Jerusalem – Time – 5:50
9 – Lifesavors – Break In My Head – 2:33
10 – Bryn Haworth – Never Give Up On Love – 3:35
11 – Joe English – Anthem – 3:20

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Lifesavors – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – 1982

I’m assuming this is the Radio single for “The One”. The version here is a slight remix of the version on the album. The other cut “You And Me” is a fun Roackabilly tune that sounds very much like The Lifters.

Tracklist
A You And Me
B The One

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Lifesavors – Dream Life – 1983

This 1983 release from The Lifesavors continued where their debut ended. The guitars stayed edgy and the vocals a little raw and I felt this album was a little more fun than their previous release.

Michael Knott did most of the songwriting for this album and actually did all the original vocals but due to some internal band drama the vocals were rerecorded by Kirk Heiner and Brian Goins.

Final answer is that this is a great fun album that offered up something Christian music was missing and needed at the time.

Track Listing:
1 – Break In My Head 2:33
2 – Christian Twisters 2:18
3 – Glamour Girls 1:00
4 – Christian Army 1:50
5 – Physical 3:02
6 – Waiting For You 2:30
7 – Sooner Or Later 2:40
8 – False Identity 2:12
9 – I Won’t Give In 2:30
10 – The One 1:55
11 – Hurt, Out Of My Heart 2:55
12 – Fourteen 2:47
13 – I’m Not 2:18
14 – Watch Nowhere (Else) 3:35

Credits:
Arranged By, Co-producer [Production Assistance] – Chris Wimber
Band [The Lifesavors], Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals – Chris Wimber
Band [The Lifesavors], Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Kevin Annis
Band [The Lifesavors], Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals – Kirk Heiner
Band [The Lifesavors], Vocals – Brian Goins
Design – Ken Baley, Linda Dillon Baley, Mark Swanson
Guest [Additional Musical Services], Backing Vocals – Carla Martin, Debbie Wimber, Jerry Chamberlain, Jim Camp, Ray Rubio, Robin Renee, Sharon McCall
Guest [Additional Musical Services], Guitar – Mike Knott*, Mike Annis
Guest [Additional Musical Services], Keyboards – Ric Alba
Layout – Mark Swanson
Mastered By – Kevin Gray
Photography – Ken Baley, Linda Dillon Baley
Producer – Thom Roy
Recorded By, Mixed By – Thom Roy

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Altar Boys – (self titled) – 1984

Altar Boys’ self titled debut albut came out in 1984.

This California style punk was typical of what punk was at the time, although now we seem to have a lot of splinters of types of punk – melodic, thrash, pop, hardcore, metalcore, screamo, and more.

A lot of punk was poppy at the time, modeled after The Ramones, and sounding like a precursor to MXPX or Green Day.

Starting to play together around 1978, musicians that would later form the bands Undercover, Lifesavors, and Altar Boys (in that order) all came out of the same scene. Mike Stand and Ric Alba ended up in Altar Boys along with Jeff Crandall and Steve Pannier, while Mike’s brother was in Undercover, and Ric had previously done some playing with Lifesavors.

Ric also played with Undercover before Altar Boys. In the spirit of punk rock, these songs are all high energy and a lot of fun, a hallmark of Altar Boys from start to end.

Track Listing:
1 – Alright! – 2:24
2 – I’m Into God – 2:52
3 – Have A Clue – 2:36
4 – Where’s It Gonna Lead You – 2:24
5 – You Found Me – 3:46
6 – Take In The Son – 2:44
7 – Well O.K. – 2:36
8 – Good Life – 3:31
9 – Oh, Oh Nancy – 1:33
10 – We Love Jesus – 2:40
11 – It’s Up To You – 3:07

Credits:
Art Direction – Alex MacDougall
Backing Vocals – Jeff Crandall, Mike Stand (2), O-Joe*
Design [Cover Design] – Debby Edwards
Engineer – Uncle Dave Hackbarth* (tracks: 12 to 15), Derald Daugherty*, Joey Taylor*
Executive-Producer – Bradley S. Hamilton
Performer [Altar Boys Are], Bass, Keyboards – Rick Alba*
Performer [Altar Boys Are], Drums, Vocals – Jeff Crandall
Performer [Altar Boys Are], Guitar – Steve Pannier
Performer [Altar Boys Are], Guitar, Lead Vocals – Mike Stand (2)
Photography By – Oh Oh Nancy
Producer – Joey Taylor*
Recorded By – Dan Willard (tracks: 4)
Saxophone – Bill Walden

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