HALF CHURCH 1980-1986 (record review)

Posted in: Rock And Roll |

I just got The Half Church record (yes record, vinyl LP) which comes with a digital download that I cannot get to work! I will figure it out someday but for now dear friends lets talk music. If you like Killing Joke, PIL, Stranglers Etc. This is a must own. Half Church came out of the San Francisco bay area in the 1980′s when music was in one of it’s coolest moments in evolution with many bands pushing the limits of what turned them on. My first real band opened up for Half Church in 1983. The place was packed and Half church was dead on. I thought for sure they were going to be huge after what I had witnessed and then somehow… the just weren’t. Kevin Dante Hardiman (KFJC) wrote the liner story which illuminates their almost rise to glory in a honest retelling. Side A is the original EP (In Turmoil 1982) which is a fantastic piece of history in itself (the original artwork is amazing but missing here due to what I would imagine are legal issues) The real crown gem for the collectors, fans or hipsters is side B which are all never released tracks! Half Church front man Tom Jinx Durcan (Jinxy) had a steady just raging below the surface intensity that is both intimidating and welcoming while his keyboard playing was pure sad analog desperation. Monte Vallier’s solid (surprisingly given his age at the time) fret less bass playing really helped to give them a sound that was unique to their contemporaries while Bob Gaynors drums just make me anxious in general. Rounding out Half Church was Rick Tedeschi whose simplistic guitar playing had a nihilistic razors edge about it. All in all heroin and bad timing killed what should have been a band that continued to grow and eventually chart. It is what it is. As surreal as this release seems it is a wonderful snapshot of band about to break and a soundtrack to anyone who remembers or romanticises the wonderfully weird 1980′s.

I met Jinx once in front of a 7/11 he was covered in specks of white paint and looked tired. I told him who I was and that I loved his band. He really perked up at that and we had a cool little chat and he was very encouraging about my own musical desires. He told me to keep at it no matter what. I really appreciated that. Jinx passed away in 2004 and is missed by many. Monte went on to be in one of the most underrated major recording bands of the 1990′s (Swell) whose record Too Many Days Without Thinking is in my top 20 of all time. Monte continues to record and produce bands from his successful S.F. recording studio Ruminator Audio. I know Rick still plays and that Bob was injured and is still recovering but I don’t have more than that.  All in all this could have been the full Half Church record but it would not have mattered. Destiny is just that way. I love that hipsters are finding this old music and reviving it because held up to the light of day this is “real” expression “real” playing, “real” art… this was real life and I was there, and somehow I survived.

“And it’s all slipping away, it’s all falling apart” (Half Church – Paradise)

5 (out of 5)

J.S.L.

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