In the pantheon of obscure U.S. punk, Mission for Christ has remained an intriguing mystery. Aside from stray blogs hyping the group’s infamously scarce 7-inch, “Pennies from Hell,” plus a cursory reference in Steve Blush’s book American Hardcore, precious few online or printed recollections of the band have surfaced. Until now, all anyone knew was that the shadowy participants hailed from Washington, DC, and that they were close associates of the city’s most antagonistic musical export, the notorious No Trend.
For summer 2012, Ektro Records is shedding some much-needed light on the subject. Commissioned by the label with curatorial assistance from yours truly, The Complete Sessions reprises MFC’s nine-song 1983 demo cassette (which spawned the aforementioned single) and adds six previously unheard compositions dating from the following year. Extensive audio restoration vivifies the unruly material, while detailed liner notes place the names behind the noise in a helpful historical context.
Centered around bassist John Gibson (aka JC Agnatha), MFC featured a rotating cast that was equally well-versed in full-throttle punk, go-go funk, and art-damaged junk. Active when DC was too often portrayed as an urban wasteland split by racial and geographical divides, this loose-knit project flaunted an absurd, topical, and gleefully bizarre mesh of styles that recklessly disregarded subcultures, colors, and easy definitions. Its personnel casually bridged the disparate scenes that boiled over in their backyards, using dissonance, dub, and Dadaist nonsense to aesthetically fit in with the varied likes of Bad Brains, Scream, Void, 9353, Half Japanese, Outrage, the Psychotics, Trouble Funk, Rare Essence, and anonymous street-corner percussion ensembles.
Alas, nobody could locate tapes of MFC’s final incarnation from 1985, after No Trend mastermind and guitarist Frank Price had come aboard. Still, we’re damn lucky to have rescued the 15 fantastic tracks comprising this CD (produced by Government Issue’s Tom Lyle), and we’re eternally grateful to Gibson for being gracious enough to share them with us.
Praise the lord, man; Christ is risen!
Jordan N. Mamone, New York City
June 19, 2012