Can’t You See I’m Touched?!!!

Being a rural teenager seemed to involve an awful lot of driving around at night, pumping tunes and laughing.  I didn’t learn to drive until later than most of my friends* and so I was prey to their musical tastes, great and not so great alike.  One band I remember a few of my rock chums really being into was The Lords of the New Church, I remember them being very downbeat and not really rock enough for me at the time.  BUT what I did love was their cover of ‘Like A Virgin’, my mate Andy was particularly keen on this because of all the swearing and I do have a, surprisingly, clear memory of sitting around a driftwood fire on a beach, drinking cans of cider and laughing as Andy mimed to it.

Lords of the New Church Like A Virgin 01Lords of the New Church Like A Virgin 02 (2)

So much, so 1989, but I happened across a copy of Lords of the New Church Like A Virgin 12″ a couple of years ago and I just had to have it.  Now I genuinely hadn’t thought about the band for 25 years but I have always been a sucker for a good sensitive cover version, particularly if it is packaged in a suitably sombre, serious manner. Voilà.

Lords of the New Church Like A Virgin 03

It’s horrible!  Stiv Bators sneers his way through the song as only he could, every syllable just dripping with lechery and disgust as the band grind it flat.  It’s a pop song I really like, we all did, but it does get a kicking down a back alley here.  What was interesting to me, hearing it at the remove of a quarter century** was the fact that there is no swearing in it, at one point Bators sort of implies the line ‘fucked for the very first time’ but sort of, ahem, pulls out without quite sneering it – no mean skill to have.  Mucky little sods that we were, we clearly supplied our own swearing.  The other thing I noticed was that, despite loving the way Bators bellows ‘Can’t You See That I’m Touched?!’,  it was pretty much a two play joke, twice and then back in the rack.  Good job Like A Virgin was a double A side single then.

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The Lords of the New Church were spawned when the Damned and the Dead Boys toured together, Stiv Bators and Brian James hitting it off and finding the rhythm section of Sham 69’s Dave Tregunna and the Barracuda’s Nick Turner.  So far, so punk rock supergroup – but that’s where it got interesting.  The Lords of the New Church settled on a sparse, gothic rock and roll sound, all topped off with Bator’s growl.  They made a splash in our part of the world, hung around until ’89 and split^.  Listening to them now it is so striking how close they were to so many of the rock sounds that I would love in a few years, that exsuffligate dusty glam blues which a lot of lesser lights would later turn to great effect. You will never listen to the Cult in quite the same way again after hearing it.

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The AA side of Like A Virgin hits hard with ‘Method To My Madness’ the (almost) title track to their 1984 LP The Method To Our Madness.  I love Turner’s spritely drumming and the bit where Brian James really gets to cut loose.  Add in Bators’ half-assed sigh of a vocal and I just get very excited.  From a Brit point of view I hear a lot of Zodiac MindwarpDogs D’amour, the Almighty and even Fields of the Nephelim (circa Dawnrazor) in these double time grooves.  Just please, please get past the appallingly 80’s nature of the video – only two men who have ever lived could carry off the frock coat, frilly shirt and conch belt combo that Bators wore for it, one of them was him the other is typing this. True story.

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Like A Virgin gives up the goods a second time for an even better track called ‘Gun Called Justice’ which is precisely the type of weary-voiced dust-ridden spaghetti western outlaw blues I didn’t realise I needed quite so badly.  The lyrics are clever and the performance just brilliant, the whole band smoke and Bators shows that he may well have had some country bones in his Ohioan frame.

Overall then I find myself touched for the very fourth time by the Lords of the New Church.  Maybe I’ll leap into action and explore further in 2032.

Lords of the New Church Like A Virgin (2)
Availiable as a print from our shop, just quote reference ‘Baw Bag #2’.

835 Down.

PS:  Not on this single but it is an incredibly clever song about the New York Dolls and it shows Mr Bators at his fucked up finest. Dominus vobiscum.

PPS: No idea why they are billed as ‘The Lords’ on this one release.

*and I’m still really shit at parking.  True story.

**F’king hell I’m old.

^allegedly tired of Bators’ recreational habits, James had advertised secretly for a new singer.  Bators had the advert printed onto a T-shirt which he wore during their final gig in London – which is about as cool as things get in my view.  The band reformed several times over the years after Bator’s death in 1990, but I don’t count that I’m afraid.

Lords of the New Church Like A Virgin

28 thoughts on “Can’t You See I’m Touched?!!!

  1. I dig the ‘Gun’ song. CB will be having a little bit of a nightmare tonight because of the cover.
    (Listening to some Abdullah Ibrahim right now that you turned me onto. Really liking it).
    (I’m just about up to date on your station. I’m going to prolong it a little longer)

      1. Teachers couldn’t get me to do anything (read, homework, behave etc) no matter what they tried and here 1537 has me doing it willingly. Maybe there’s a side job for you. Teaching little CB type kids.

  2. An interesting one. If you didn’t post some pictures and video, I’d swear you made this up… who covers Like A Virgin!?

  3. 1983 Mmmm, remember it well…not really very well. As a Damned fan, I gave it a go. Lyceum I think. Didn’t think much of their shambolic/drug-addled performance. How dare they take drugs when they’re performing in a rock’n’roll band! We, the audience are the ones meant to be slumped in the corner, nodding off.
    Also, I went in white and came out black from the cheap hair dye rubbing off on me. Never again.
    Luckily, I was a skinhead around that time and could give the Barnet a good scrub with a hard brush! Compared to The Angelic Upstarts, this lot seemed like a bunch of girly wimps.

    1. What! You have just committed thoughtcrime. Consider yourself banished from this blog for 19 minutes.

      I think Angelic Upstarts is a bit of an unfair comparison … I still have ear scars from when I first heard ‘Who Killed Liddle Towers’.

      1. True and true. Can I come back now?

        I was lost after the skinhead phase and went a bit psychobilly, but couldn’t bring myself to get full-on hair rocky. I just wandered about looking for a home like a homeric hobo, landing on the shores of Donnington at one point. (Loved the mud, but Bon Jovi spoiled it for me. If I’d have had a surface to air missile, I’d have blown their chopper outta the sky.) After the mid-eighties drug tempest, I ended up shipwrecked on the impermanent shores of musical eclecticism. Damn, I miss those days of living on the rock solid scene.But at least here on this island I have Kid Creole and The Coconuts to converse with when the crabs get too irritating.
        Waffle over.

  4. Enjoyed the post a lot, Joe.
    I know you worship at the altar of the Lords, so I have to step carefully here, but did I mention that someone gave me a box of records once that had an album of theirs in it and so repelled by the 80s hair-glam-heavy rock vibe of the cover that it went straight through to the Record Fair crates. True story, I’m afraid to say.

    1. Noooo! Well I can only hope it was picked up by some dashing young buck with a devil-may-care attitude who will love and appreciate it as it deserved to be.

      And thank you.

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