Christ Child: L.A.’s First Fake Punks

Los Angeles is a city of actors, and Guns N’ Roses were fake punks as real punks or vice versa, but they were far from the first their town upchucked. Ten years earlier, well before hardcore even, a mysterious band named Christ Child put out their first and only album (then alternately self-titled or called Hard, later reissued as Crazy, Dirty & Dangerous) on Columbia subsidiary Buddah, and it went nowhere, but it was a hoot-and-a-half regardless. Rumors suggest they were either session dudes or moonlighting metalheads (from “the hills of Malibu and Topanga Canyons” say liner notes) merely pretending to be punks (showing Limeys how it’s done say liner notes), but additional details seem scant. Their cover photo shows skinny ties and shades but mostly long hair, and they all hide their faces. The LP rocks awesomely and hilariously, regardless – predating even Vom’s homemade 7-inch 1978 EP, as far as heavily metallic bandwagon-jump half-spoofs of punk go. Robert Christgau gave it a “C”; Dave Marsh gave it zero stars, dismissing it as an “inane attempt to cash in…a truly putrid artifact.” But if nothing else, particularly in songs like “Blow It Up” and “Carnival Of Frustration,” punk gave these dorks an excuse to take a stab at the kind of dirty-assed, off-balance, grimy, slimy, scummy, too-misogynist-to-believe early ’70s basement sludge that, by ’77, nobody was playing anymore. Lyrics concern “bullshit lies,” junkies born in the gutter and raised in the slum, groupie bitches with backstage passes (“Star Whores,” complete with outer-space disco-synth blippery), virgins sacrificed and their blood imbibed. “Turn you sideways, upside down/ Feet in the sky and head on the ground/ Stick it in, you scream for more/I can kick you out the door” – if you’re still here, that’s from a number called “Teacher.” It’s like they’d heard of punk rock, but not actually heard it yet. Funnier, from the protest tune “Washington, A.C./D.C.”: Senator, congressman, executive chief/ Should be in the sewer when I take my relief.” Why hasn’t anybody covered that one?

  , 17 November 2010

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