In 1982, Mike Stand with Ric Alba and Jeff Crandall, formed the punk rock group The Altar Boys. In 1984 they released their debut album. The band was a pioneer of christian punk rock. After five studio albums and a ‘best of’ album it became quiet around the band. In 2010, however, the news came that Mike Stand would re-record some Altar Boys classics under the name The Altar Billies. The band consisting of Mike Stand, Chuck Cummings (Common Bond, Aunt Bettys) and Johnny X decided to record the songs in Rockabilly, Cowpunk style.
The album starts with “Against the grain” of the eponymous album from 1988. The song is casted in pure rockabilly style. The song is therefore completely different from the original, while certainly recognizable. The album continues with “Calling To You” from the album “Gut Level Music”. The roots of the punk song is clearly heard, which really benefits this song. The original of ‘Where’s It Gonna Lead You “had clear ska influences. In this version they are replaced by bluegrass guitar. The rhythm section which comes with a nice swing on the drums and bass provide an audible full sound.
The One ‘is the most quiet song on the CD. It has the feel of a real country gospel song, both in text and music. We continue with the classic “Listen Up” from the album “Forever Mercy”. The song is beautiful translated into a rockabilly sound. ‘Live’ is taken from the latest solo album by Mike Stand. A great song. The rockabilly twist makes it a very catchy song.
The CD is completed with a ‘punktry’ version of” Calling To You”, which actually means that the sound is just a little fuller. There are also some live rockabilly recordings added. They sound raw (in a good way). The punk roots are clearly audible. To conclude an instrumental version of ‘The One’ is to be found. Despite the many double tracks “The Altar Billies” is quite a nice cd which brings back good memories of “The Altar Boys”.
Review by: Sieto Kooijker