33. Zionic Bonds – Andy McCarroll & Moral Support

ZIONIC BONDS

Andy McCarroll & Moral Support

I have been waiting to discuss this album! There are few releases I love to listen more than this great punk rock release from Andy McCarroll & Moral Support. After losing the LP of this great record in a move it was nearly 15 years in between listens. Then a few years ago I heard that it made its way on to CD and I grabbed on immediately. I would assume not a month goes by that don’t listen all the way through.

Andy McCarroll did record two folk/rock albums in the UK in the mid-1970′s. The sound is quite a bit more subdued than on this Clash influenced release. But both of those early releases are worthy to be tracked down. I am considering a similar blog that counts down “The Top 50 Christian Albums You Should Own…But Probably Don’t.” This would be a Top 5 release easy, and a serious contender for number one.

I remember walking through a small Christian Bookstore in Orange County, CA as a Junior in High School. This little store had a really cool guy working there that would “sneak” in some underground or controversial albums. One day I had dropped by and he ran to meet me outside when he saw me coming. In his hand was the brightest record LP cover ever. I saw it from a distance! He just said “trust me!”

I drove home as quickly as possible and for the next several hours I listened to Zionic Bonds over and over again. then i turned the record over to listen to Side B! I could not escape just how “new” and current it sounded. At the time there was Resurrection Band, Daniel Amos had released Horrendous Disc and that was about it. This was before undercover, The Lifesavers and The Altar Boys broke through.

The album kicks off with a whining guitar fading in before the drums, bass and guitar assault is launched.  The bass and drums drive the song “Sin” with a ferocity that was unheard of at the time. McCarroll’s vocals – an acquired taste admittedly – were unique, heavily accented and raw. The lyrics matched perfectly.

The results of rebellion causin’ societal ills  / It pounds and beats to death like a pneumatic drill /  You take it very lightly and excuse it at will /  Don’t realize it’s cancer, don’t realize…Sin Kills

After McCarroll points the finger at societies acceptance of sin he turns the accusing finger back on himself.

It affects my body and corrupts my brain
It effects like poison running through my veins
It penetrates all, all it touches it stains
It’s like living your, living you life…in a sewage drain

I wanna hate it (hate it) with all of me!

On “How the Kids are Feelin’” a high speed rocker with a double speed lyrical rhyme scheme bemoans the struggle of the inner city kid that falls into the wrong crowd.

Backstreet bad boys, talk rough, make noise, to be heard to be seen
Be noticed, do anything, get drunk, get in a fight, cigarette, wanna light
Security in the gang, safety first, everytime

How the kids are feeling…

McCarroll levels complaints against the schools that push kids through with no moral component and ask..

Please miss, is this a joke, am I really just another brick in the…

But McCarroll does not leave the with the same hopeless his secular counterparts did at the time.

This is how it is
How the kids are feelin’
How they need Jesus

” To Know You” addresses the need how the need to know Jesus outweighs every other pursuit in life. This theme is set to a world beat/ska driven rhythm and groove.

I go and enlist at the old age four
I go there to study, that’s what I’m there for
There’s so much to learn that my head could not store
But I’d squeeze some in in order to know you more

Once again the godless school system is the victim of McCarroll’s complaints…

But the one thing most important, they forget to do
Is to tell me that I can know about You…to know You

The teacher says, untidy work, you should be ashamed
Why so much stress on lesser gains, if I don’t know You
Everything is in vein….

McCarroll finishes the song by declaring what is actually the most important.

While in those days of schooling
One thing’s my aim
To fill my mind with those things
That will last and remain…to know You

The poppiest single on the project follows with “Slippin’ and Slidin’” Here agin the call is to the adults to be guides to the young ones. He bemoans that lack of passing down clear and Biblical morals to the next generation. Even those who profess a morality without the Biblical foundation receive the brunt of the song. McCarroll attacks the humanistic philosophy that cannot account for the morality they wish to thrust upon others.

They don’t know on what foundation their building…I wish they’d understand…

The next is clearly the most memorable. It is stark, borderline eerie vocally. But on “I Am Human” the topic of abortion is front and center and the musical composition matches the poignant and unflinching lyrics. Where Phil Keaggy sweetly asked “Who will speak up for the little one…” McCarroll directs his venom against the hypocrisy of the physicians as he charges with a near monotone, almost computer or robot sounding vocals…

Why do you murder babies
Abort them and get paid
Just like an executioner
With mask upon your face

Everyday human life gets cheaper
You act and you destroy
You play with my world
As if it was a toy

I am special, I am human

Then he sends a charge against society in general and the humanistic, postmodern philosophy that sees to true value to human life.

If nothing is forbidden
Anything is possible
It opens doors for Hitlers
Makes man expendable

I am special…I am human

We are special…we are human

Side two opens up with a great instrumental that at first may seem a little out of place on such an aggressive record. But here the band gets to really show their chops. “Cyan City” is a wonderful melody that is reminiscent of the kind of instrumental work from After the Fire.

“King Man” bring the record back to The clash British punk styling. Lyrically the song looks at the ultimate fool as the one who believes there is no God and the vain philosophies and ideologies that derive from such a presupposition.

King man and his family
Evolved to himself from a chimpanzee
A royal line, shows stately
No noble blood, just an animal king

Hard times…when you don’t realize you’re not the most powerful alive

“Livin’ a Lie” is another in the more pop vein on the project. This time the lyrics are directed toward those in the Church that are not truly born again. those that are living a lie and called to repent. This is especially true for those who have a mental ascent toward the Gospel with no impact on the heart. These are the ones Paul warns Timothy about in 2nd Timothy 2.

“In Control” follows with another ska/reggae tune, but this time much slower. The concept of the sovereignty is the focus here. Mccarroll examines not just the thought that God is control of the kings and nations but in your next door neighbor as well. Set against the early 80′s fear of nuclear war between the US and USSR, McCarroll still has his faith resting on the One who is in control.

Do you believe God is in control?
Yeah, do you believe God is in control?
Of the USA and USSR
And Bobby and Jean who live next door?

God is in control…God is in control

The song finishes with the constant refrain of God is in control while news reports of impending doom and destruction throughout the world are placed over the vocals.

“20th Century” finishes off the album with a 50′s ballad melody set against a staccato guitar work and McCarroll’s nasally vocals.

He’s more than a shoulder to cry
He’s more than a crutch to keep yourself up
he’s more than a prop when the going’s rough
When all around starts to erupt

He’s more than a help to get your head straight
Not psychological phenomena
He’s more than an aspirin for the weak in mind
Or a three times daily kind of pick me up

There is God – Though I cannot see
There is a God – A hope for you and me
There is a God – The final reality
Of the 20th century

Lyrically straight forward, musically aggressive, topically current. I recall an interview with Bono of U2 in which he referenced the music of Andy McCarroll. He also mentioned that Moral Support was unique in that the band contained both Protestants and Catholics, which was pretty much unheard of at the time. The band did score a hit in Ireland but. unfortunately they were short-lived and this was the only release. But what a release it was!

34 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Glen Farrell on February 13, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    > I remember walking through a small Christian Bookstore in Orange County, CA as a Junior in High >School. This little store had a really cool guy working there that would “sneak” in some underground or >controversial albums.”

    Strange, I seem to have the same recollection, except that I was in middle school . I can’t remember if I have this one or if it was one that I simply made a point to listen to periodically.

    Reply

    • Posted by Tom on April 26, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      I had the opposite experience… I was in WInnipeg, Manitoba… and the music guy said to me “don’t buy that one” (90% of the time when he said that the album was AWESOME… no exception here… ) And yes… I would rate this in the top 5 CCM rock albums you should buy if you’ve never heard it… I still love this thing… been loving it since 1982 when I first got it. (Ok.. I may have gotten in in 1983… it was a long time ago…)

      Reply

  2. Posted by Shawn McLaughlin on February 13, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Just so you know, Dave…..This isn’t amongst the vinyl that I have.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Shawn McLaughlin on February 14, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Is the CD still available? Believe it or not, this is probably the ONE great Christian album I have never heard.

    Reply

    • Posted by jon on October 4, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      i hope its available somewhere. i lost my vinyl copy and have been looking for another one for AGES! this is indeed a fantastic album!

      Reply

  4. Posted by aarjayaitch on February 14, 2010 at 11:06 pm

    You are so right! This IS still one of the best albums ever made! I did not know it was ever released on CD. Where can I get a copy?

    Reply

  5. Posted by ted patterson on February 14, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    check radrockers.com. the catch is that you have to spend at least 25 dollars – not counting s/h

    Reply

  6. Posted by historyguy on February 15, 2010 at 2:03 am

    Great call…

    Back about 1981 or 1982, I was just becoming aware of Christian rock, and found a 3-for-the-price-of-one deal that got my collection started: Daniel Amos – Alarma, Jerusalem – Volume 1, and Moral Support – Zionic Bonds. Talk about three incredible albums!

    This is one that I simply w-o-r-e out! Eventually, it really did wear out, and I didn’t have it until I found it on mp3′s. As I’d previously bought the album and it’s not now available, I figured it was ok to download. Anyway, it still sounds as good 20 some years later! I still love “How The Kids Are Feeling”…

    Reply

    • Posted by low5point on February 15, 2010 at 2:06 am

      Nearly 30 some years later :) … agreed. If they would have made more album it would have charted higher

      Reply

  7. Posted by Shawn McLaughlin on February 20, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Actually, you can get it at Rad Rockers for just 10 bucks.

    Reply

  8. Your forgot to mention one of the all-time great instrumentals (of ANY decade!), “Cyan City”! One of the most infectious songs ever penned!

    Reply

  9. Posted by Gilly on June 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Andy McCarroll was my art teacher!!!

    Reply

    • Posted by don on February 18, 2013 at 8:18 pm

      so what ever happened to him? moral support was awesome. im 60 years old, never cared for punk or new wave, but zionic bonds blew me away back in ’82…..and still does.

      Reply

      • Hi:

        Love his album too!

        Google his name….I believe Andy was just touring in Seattle, no kidding, last fall.

        Have u ckd out “Red Alert” by Malcolm & The Mirrors, similar genre, great tunes. Malcolm is pastor @ Calvary Chapel London these days.

        Lord Bless You….David Alan / AfforddableRoadBikeReview

  10. Posted by Rick on August 29, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    hmmm…I’m older. I got this while attending a fairly conservative Bible college in Springfield MO. My friend and I were the school soundmen. We would go into the chapel late at night, blast this through the system and jump around the platform. You had to do it late at night, because there was a sound feed into the administration building, specifically into the presidents office. As far as we know, he never heard it. At least he never came down and danced with us. Anyway, my album got left in someone’s car…AAAAAGHH. A friend had mercy on me and made a copy of his CD. Definitely top 5 CD’s ever. SO far ahead of its time, Christian music wise.

    Reply

  11. Posted by Diane Murrell on September 1, 2010 at 3:01 am

    Anyone know where Andy is now? Email me off-line.

    Reply

    • Posted by campbell on September 19, 2010 at 8:14 am

      Hi Dianne.
      Just spotted your email anbout Andy Mccarol if you manage to get in touch with hm can you ask him to get in touch with me .
      I am a band / tyour promoter in New Zealand.
      Thanks Campbell

      Reply

  12. Posted by Jeff Vance on September 3, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Never heard of them. Any chance of hearing a clip of them online somewhere?

    Reply

  13. love your blog! you really should do “The Top 50 Christian Albums You Should Own…But Probably Don’t” blog. if only to give more exposure to the obscure artists. like Ishmael United, Bill Mason Band, etc. i lean more towards the ‘new wave’ side of things and these records really helped save me. After The Fire, Flock 14, The Receivers, of course DA, LSU, Undercover as well, but Andy, Ishmael, etc were the true pioneers. because this music is so hard to find, i enjoy reading other people’s perspectives. since we both graduated in 1983, i look forward to hearing your stories…

    Reply

  14. Posted by mark on October 18, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Living in Tulsa OK in the eighties I knew every christian record store in town and they knew me.
    Every payday seeking the underground rock.
    I was in a christian rock band at the time and was heavily influenced by all things wth an edge
    Owned all the DA ,77′s,lifesavors,amaziah,barnabas,rez,stryper,giantkiller etc
    whathappened to the evangelical christian music,todays stuff is mosty preaching to the choir

    Reply

  15. Posted by paul on October 22, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    I bought this when it first came out and it seem to stand above some of the other punk stuff coming out. It’s funny that when I see these different albums talked about I want to listen to them right now.

    Reply

  16. Andy can be heard on Youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_azpRey8Cs&feature=related and I think is still teaching at an integrated primary school in Belfast.

    Reply

  17. Posted by Lavan on January 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    Just to attest the musical worthiness of this record, I still own it and listen to it, and I’m not a Christian. Before you get all sad about that, please remember that I’m sharing this fact to eliminate any notion of bias. This record was, is, and will remain very, very special.

    Reply

  18. Posted by carl on February 14, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Just on a whim I googled Andy Mc and came upon ya’ll. I still have Zionic Bomb but the record player bit the dust and what with all the online music we just listen that way but…as I sit and remember and listen to my childrens music I continue to share with them the music that shaped my youth. As I read the posts my heart is warmed by ya’lls fondness for this time we shared together not knowing eachother. My kids are solid HG filled powerfull that enjoy the music of their own age, turn it up and let the neighbors hear the word in song and dance unto the Lord!!!!

    Reply

  19. I bought this when I was in my teens in 1981, I ordered it form a Christian Bookstore. It is great, little different than just the Rez Band.

    I remember getting this and two others, Rick Cua and Ishmeal United, great stuff, great memories.

    Reply

  20. Posted by Dave on May 22, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Living in Northern Ireland I was a huge fan of Moral Support and Andy in particular. I have another three of his albums knocking around the house somewhere – one a very early LP when he was in a band from Lurgan called Maranatha which he would probably like to forget about and two others, one pre-Moral Support and one post-! I was definitely a fan boi – have the odd photograph too from those Moral Support days. Of the band I knew Jimmy best, he was the guy who wrote the instrumental Cyan City. I would dispute one fact in your excellent article however. I am 99% sure all the band members were from the Protestant community. Andy was a school teacher and then led City Church in Belfast for a while. When his marriage to Aly broke up he resigned and his faith seemed to go belly up. As far as I know he is still teaching in East Belfast somewhere.

    Reply

    • Posted by low5point on May 23, 2012 at 2:48 pm

      My information came from an interview with McCarroll which appeared in harvest Rock syndicate back in the day.

      Reply

    • Posted by al on October 4, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Would be interested in reading that interview with McCarroll which appeared in harvest Rock syndicate back in the day when he referred to Bono etc. Could you please let me know where I could source it or do you have a copy? thanks Al

      Reply

  21. Posted by Paul on January 15, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    go to andymccarroll.com he has released some new tracks

    Reply

  22. Posted by bobby on May 4, 2013 at 7:06 am

    Pretty accurate review. absolutely the best album of that getime. Love DA for TT’s vision, but the immediacy and accessability of Zionic Bonds for the average Christian young person was better. Just brilliant work.

    Reply

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