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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Undercover – Branded – 1986

Branded was a turning point album for Undercover. It has a mature sound but it certainly leaves behind some of the elements that set Undercover apart in their early days.

Their first album featured Ric Alba on lead vocals, then on the follow up Bill Walden took over, as Ric had moved on to Altar Boys. Bill recorded lead vocals on two albums for Undercover before this, their fourth where Sim Wilson took over the mic.

The mature sound is very dark compared to the original upbeat, peppy happy-go-Jesus songs on their first two albums. The third record started to get more serious, but not brooding like Branded is. Sim’s vocals are powerful and booming, begging you to take seriously everything he says, ensuring you that the drama is all worth it.

Most of the band did stick together, so they still have some signature sounds, although this could have been a different band. The band obviously didn’t see it that way because on this, their fourth album they labelled the record “side 7” and “side 8.” Maybe that was apologetic.

There are a lot of introspective tracks such as “I’m Just A Man,” “Cry Myself To Sleep,” and “Come Away With Me.”

Tracklist
1 – I’m Just A Man – 3:24
2 – The Fight For Love – 3:00
3 – Where Can I Go – 3:13
4 – Tears In Your Eyes – 2:05
5 – Pilate – 3:00
6 – Build A Castle – 3:25
7 – Cry Myself To Sleep – 2:31
8 – Prelude – 1:55
9 – Darkest Hour – 3:26
10 – Interlude – 0:35
11 – Come Away With Me – 4:44
12 – If I Had A Dream – 5:02

Credits
Arranged By – Undercover
Engineer – Mike Mierau
Engineer [Second] – Bobby Saucedo, Paul Abajian
Keyboards, Bass – Joey
Mastered By – Bernie Grundmann
Mixed By – Dino Elefante
Producer – Joey Taylor
Vocals – Sim Wilson
Vocals, Drums – Gary Olson
Vocals, Guitar – Gym Nicholson

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The Holidays – Restless Heart – 1989

I have struggled to learn anything about this band. This was their second and last album. Like their first album this one has a strong New Wave sound and hits on all cylinders. I find it odd that a band that were this good with two albums have no history anywhere I look. This album was Engineered and produced by Ojo Taylor so you think it would have been better known. Bottom line it’s a good album.

Tracklist
1 – Tear The Curtain – 4:13
2 – Two Times Two – 5:07
3 – Round And Round – 4:23
4 – Touch Me – 4:40
5 – Should I Tell You – 3:25
6 – Sunshine – 3:33
7 – Promises – 4:03
8 – It’s A Fight – 2:45
9 – Color Me White – 3:19
10 – My Love – 3:31
11 – The Lines Of Time – 3:51

Credits
Art Direction, Layout – Darin Beaman, Timothy Wu
Band, Drums [Loud Drums] – Rich Michaels
Band, Guitar [Guitars], Vocals – Marky Schrock
Band, Lead Vocals, Bass – Mini Mendez
Engineer [Second] – Dennis Murphy
Keyboards, Lyrics By [Additional], Percussion – Ojo
Lead Guitar – Don Ulrich (tracks: 6)
Percussion – Super C
Photography By – Bruce Heavin
Producer [Produced By], Engineer [Engineered By] – Ojo Taylor
Vocals [Additional Vocals Primarily By] – Dennis Murphy, Inki Svensson, Roger Mantel
Vocals [Also Singing] – Chris Mantel, Gary Olson, Terry Eutsler, Tricia Tyme

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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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Crumbächer – Incandescent – 1985

Though often assumed to be a German band Crumbächer was actually a U.S. band whose lead singer’s name was Stephen Crumbächer.

Incandescent was their first album. I was supposed to be an EP, but upon the record company hearing it, they requested the band cut a few more songs to make it a full length album.

Crumbächer were probably the first synthpop band in the CCM genre. There’s really not much to say about this album, it had a German synthpop sound and was actually quite good for this style of music.

Point of trivia is that the album was produced by Ojo Taylor from the band Undercover.

Track Listing:
1 – Understudy – 3:25
2 – Infrared/X-Ray Eyes – 4:16
3 – Glowing In The Dark – 5:12
4 – So Strange – 5:41
5 – It Don’t Matter – 4:45
6 – Jamie – 4:46
7 – Sweet By And By – 3:29
8 – Track You Down – 5:16

Credits:
Backing Vocals – Dawn Wisner-Johnson, Jimmy Wisner
Drums – Jimmy Wisner
Guitar – Dan Hohulin
Keyboards – Dawn Wisner-Johnson, Stephen Crumbächer
Producer – O-Joe Taylor
Vocals – Stephen Crumbächer

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Lifters – (self titled) – 1983

The Lifters were a rockabilly/50’s style band that showed up with this self titled EP in 1983.

In an era where the Stray Cats were popular this album filled a gap in Christian music.

With only 3 members this band put out a legitimate rockabilly sound. Too many musicians always seem to ruin this style of music.

Point of trivia on this album is that Darrell Mansfield supplied the harmonica tracks for the album.

Track Listing:
1 – Living Water
2 – Baby Left Me
3 – Bucket of Blues
4 – Eternity Bop
5 – I’m Yours
6 – He’s My Lord

Credits:
Antwan Adams – Horns
Chris Brigandi – Songwriter, Guitars, Lead Vocals
Eddie Espinosa – Songwriter, Guitars
Dave Hackbarth – Horns
Kass – Bass Fiddle, Electric Bass, Background Vocals
Mark Kirschak – Songwriter
Michael Knott – Songwriter
Darrell Mansfield – Harmonica
Brian Ray – Songwriter, Drums, Percussion, Background Vocals
Ojo Taylor – Songwriter, Piano
Bill Walden – Horns
Dan Willard – Producer

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