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Altar Boys | No Substitute

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No Substitute

by Altar Boys

The completed long “lost” 6th album by The Altar Boys, originally started in the early 90s, features all four band members reuniting to deliver an anthem filled, guitar driven, 12 song project with the urgency and message that this band is famous for.
Genre: Rock: Punk-Pop
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Rebel Rock
4:38 $0.99
2. No Substitute
4:00 $0.99
3. Let Me See Your Hands
3:32 $0.99
4. Light of Freedom
4:01 $0.99
5. Outside in the Distance
3:25 $0.99
6. History Comes Back to Haunt This World
5:18 $0.99
7. The Kids Cry
3:58 $0.99
8. Surround Me
4:34 $0.99
9. Thousand Miles
4:27 $0.99
10. Devotion
4:28 $0.99
11. Give Our Hearts Back to God
4:16 $0.99
12. Revolution of Love
2:53 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
“Expect the unexpected?” “With God, all things are possible?” Well, ya, of course!

But come on! A new release from The Altar Boys in 2018? What? How? That’s crazy! And The Altar Boys are inclined to say: “Exactly, we're totally surprised ourselves!”

Here's the backstory: In 1991 and early 1993, Mike Stand made a series of smart and passionate recordings for a future, brand-new Altar Boys project titled, “No Substitute.” Try as they may, however, the band was never able to release this record. Sadly, it was all but abandoned and thrown on the “scrap heap.”

Fast forward to the fall of 2017.

Upon the urging of both fans and friends, these recordings were revisited. What was surprisingly discovered was a perfect “time capsule” that remarkably preserved both the urgency, music, and message of The Altar Boys - as it was, intact, from way back when.

This discovery did not happen in a vacuum. Instead, the focal point of this journey finds God temporarily taking something near and dear away from Mike, yet all the while giving him something back with strict marching orders: “To finish what you started!”

Now, some 25 years later, what was deemed impossible has miraculously happened...

The Altar Boys will release their long-awaited 6th album: “No Substitute.” The band genuinely believed it was over, but “You can’t stop the Rebel Rock message of faith and hope, sent to this world of Rebel rock souls.” And so it is, because, as it was then - and now! - There’s “No Substitute.”

Band Bio
The Altar Boys is an Orange County California based guitar driven power punk group with a message and sense of urgency that is hard to miss. The group came together in 1981 and was founded by both Mike Stand his cousin Jeff Crandall. Guitarist Steve Pannier and bassist and songwriter Ric Alba (later Mark Robertson replaced Ric on bass) rounded out the group.
As Altar Boys' chief songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, Mike led the band to produce five hit records: Altar Boys, When You're A Rebel, Gut Level Music (GLM), Against The Grain, Forever Mercy, (in addition to three compilation albums, The Collection and now No substitute). Together they film countless videos, including the package, Mercy Is What We Cry for and toured the globe. Although Mike was very much the driving force of the group, it is important to note that The Altar Boys were very much a "band of brothers," where the sum of the parts were greater than the whole.
In 1988, while simultaneously continuing with the Altar Boys, Mike released his first solo effort, Do I Stand Alone. He followed this up with the 1990 release Simple Expression.
After 10 1/2 years of continually touring and recording, Mike and the other band members felt that the Altar Boys had accomplished their goals and mission. It was time to move on. Many of the band members, along with Mike, decided to finish college.

In early 1991 the group began planning a 6th release and commenced work on a new project titled “No Substitute. The band incorporated a number these songs from the new project into their live set were they were well received. In July 1991 a photo shoot for the album was completed and Mike Stand recorded a “very detailed and meticulous” recording of 7 of the songs. Try as they could, The Altar Boys were never able to release this project, and it was indefinitely shelved as the band went on a permanent hiatus and parted ways on New Years Eve 1992. For the sake of posterity, another set of songs for “No Substitute” was recorded in early 1993 as a sort of tribute to what could have been. By late 1993 many of the songs for “no substitute” were doled out to Mike’s latest project Clash of Symbols (2 to be exact).

Nevertheless, the majority of the tunes sat on the scrap heap begging for just one more listen and opportunity to be heard. In late 2017, through a series of unbelievable events, Mike and the band revisited the songs from “no Substitute.” What they discovered was a perfect “time capsule” that just needed a little more TLC. They all felt it was time to finish what they had started in 1991 and all agreed that they had been given a “window of opportunity” to complete this long lost project. With the help and encouragement of family, and friends the band has done the impossible, and by the grace of God have completed what was started so many years ago. On “No Substitute” the heart legacy, vision and message of the Altar Boys continues to punch through with an edgy and distinct musical direction that is a nod and hearty salute to the band’s earlier recordings.

Other Albums by the Altar Boys:
Altar Boys 1 (First Album/ Record)

This is Altar Boys first full length recording project - often referred to as "I'm Into God," or the "First Album," and a few other names as well. It is strange to even refer to this project as an "album," but when it was released in March of 1984, it was only available on vinyl. However, a few months later the record company (MRC) did up the ante and made it available on cassette (a huge jump in those days). Be that as it may, this is the "album" that started it all: simple, direct, raw, but most importantly honest. Still trying to hone their own sound, Altar Boys 1 is a mixture of several genres of music including: ska, punk rock, New Wave, Power Pop, and just straight ahead rock. The personal anthem "You Found Me" makes its debut on this recording, it was later re recorded on GLM, and was also covered in the early 90's by the punk rock group MxPx.
Tracks Include:
I'm Into God
Have A Clue
Where's It Gonna Lead You?
You Found Me
Take In The Son
Well, O.K.
Good Life
Oh, Oh Nancy
We Love Jesus
It's Up to You
Go For You
Mary Ann
You're Lost
Anytime At All
When You're a Rebel

"When You're a Rebel" is the second release from Altar Boys. Like the first project, this record continues the theme of living your life for Christ and surrendering to Him. There is an urgency in "Rebel" that pleads with the listener to heed, and to hear the call to "not be conformed to this world." However, this message is balanced with the melodic "Does God's Heart Cry?" that communicates the suffering and heart of our creator. "Rebel" is the next musical step in the development of Altar Boys, and a precursor of things to come, as it lays the musical foundation for their much-heralded third release, "Gut Level Music."

Tracks Include
1. Difference In Me 2.More of You 3. Calling Out to Believers 4. When I'm With God
5. I'm Into God (Reprise) 6. When You're a Rebel 7. Jesus Is Number One
8. If You Let Him In 9.When I See You 10. He Knows You Better
11.Does God's Heart Cry?

In early 1986 the Altar Boys headed into the studio to record 11 new songs for a third record that would result in the critically acclaimed release: “Gut Level Music." Many hail this project as the greatest Christian punk record ever recorded. Though that can be debated, there is no arguing that Gut Level Music permanently solidified and elevated the band from a typical garage band to something unique and so much more.

TRACKS: 1. You Are Loved 2. G.L.M (Gut Level Music); 3. I’m Not Talking About Religion 4. I Question It 5. You Found Me 6. Unconditional Love; 7. There Is a Love 8. Calling To You; 9. Final Hour; 10. Life Begins At the Cross - Bonus track: I just can’t Let Go (added in 2015)

Live At Cornerstone 2000 (C2K)
Short: In the summer of 2000 the Altar Boys reformed and performed a rip roar’n set at Cornerstone 2000 (C2K)

In the summer of 2000 the three original Altar Boys, along with bassist Mark Robertson who replaced Ric Alba in 1990, came together for a reunion performance at the world renowned Cornerstone Festival in Bushnell, Illinois. The "Boys" never sounded better as they ripped through their classic set of hits. The audience was as overwhelmed and happy to see the band together again, as the boys were to be there in the first place. Though not recorded, Altar Boys would play one more time together on the main stage at Cornerstone 2002. The recording of this particular performance is vital in that it captures one of only a handful of performances that the band played after disbanding in 1992.
1 Against the Grain 2You Found Me 3 If You Let Him In 4Gut Level Music (GLM)
5 He Knows You Better 6 A Few Words From Mike 7. I Question It
8 You Are Loved 9 Hearts Lost In Nowhere
10 Life Begins At the Cross 11 Lots of Applause 12 I'm Into God
13 When You're a Rebel

Mercy Thoughts (Unreleased Demo/live Recordings from Mike Stand and the Altar Boys)

“Mercy Thoughts” is a collection of live/outtake/demo recordings by both of Mike Stand as a solo artist, and of the Altar Boys. The following is a detailed statement by Mike Stand taken from the liner notes on the original CD release: In sorting through my personal library of live material, I was intrigued. I’ve never really taken the time to stop and look back; I have always tried to keep moving forward. Yet, as I began compiling these songs, I took a long objective look back (as objective as I could). At first, I was really embarrassed, to say the least, by the simplicity, innocence, and lack of depth in my early material. Then I began to think, ”Why should I be so embarrassed?” In spite of its obvious weakness, it had something a lot of music doesn’t have, heart. I like to think that same heart, though a bit battle weary and scarred, is still prevalent in my material today. My songs reflect a man who hasn’t arrived yet. He hasn’t even sighted land. Then again, who of us has arrived? (None of us, at least, are still alive). We keep journeying on, reaching ahead, and trying to live with the past. God gives us mercy and grace, or we would never make it. This project represents eight of the more important and growing years of my life. Special thanks to Jeff, Ric, and Steve, the greatest guys you could ever be in a band with; and to many of you who have personally touched my heart along the way. This project is dedicated to you! In Christ, Mike Stand
1 Listen to Your Heart Breakdown (Demo)...2 Take In the Son (Altar Boys Live).
3 Come Along and See (Altar Boys Live)... 4 Now You're Mine (Demo)
5You're Lost (Demo) 6 Well, O.K. (Altar Boys Live)...
7Where's It Gonna Lead You? (Altar Boys Live)...
8 When You're a Rebel (Altar Boys Live)...
9 Gut Level Music (Basic Recording Track - Altar Boys)...
10You Are Loved (Live Acoustic)...
11 Fallen World (Live Acoustic)...
12 Do I Stand Alone? (Demo)
13 It's Me (Demo)
14 Life In the Streets (Demo)...
15 World Burning (Demo)
16 Altar Boys Go Skating (Demo - Altar Boys)...
17 Throw Your Torches Down (Demo - Altar Boys)...
118 Altar Boys Go Skating - (Demo: Acoustic Version)...
19 Stand and Fall (Demo)
20 I Can Hear (Demo)



to write a review

Corey Darula

Twenty-Five Years Later, There's Still No Substitute For Gut Level Music
In March of 1992 I remember seeing Altar Boys on their "No Substitute Tour" in Minneapolis, MN and Aurora, IL on back to back nights. On this tour, they debuted several songs from their forthcoming record, "No Substitute." I couldn't get the choruses of these new songs out of my head as I waited for the CD to come out. And I waited, and waited...and it never happened. I was left with lines in my head and I really wanted to hear this record! Over 25 years later, Altar Boys are back to finish what they started with arguably their best effort since 1986's Gut Level Music. And let me tell you, while long overdue, it has been well worth the wait!

Fronted by the energetic Mike Stand behind his Fender Telecaster, "No Substitute" picks up with the same intensity of G.L.M. as The Boys get back to their roots - guitar driven punk rock rooted in a message of faith and hope that is delivered with the same sense of urgency as it was in the 80's and early 90's. In the opening lines of "Rebel Rock" Stand declares, "Well I thought the book was over 'til I turned to the last page." The first of several anthems on the record, it is clear that there was some unfinished business left for Altar Boys. "No Substitute" is loaded with 12 songs, a collection of rock and roll best listened to from start to finish. There isn't a song that doesn't belong on this record.

In the title track, Stand asks "What do you want?" And quickly reminds us that "I've got the answer in my hand." With "Let Me See Your Hands," Altar Boys have yet another concert anthem on their hands. "Light of Freedom" reminds us that life is a battle and that the truth lives on, a song so relevant in today's times. One of my concert favorites going back to 1992 is "Outside In The Distance," which asks us to surrender our broken hearts and find freedom from our fears and hurt.

Steve Pannier lays down lead guitar, his best work coming on 1,000 Miles, a song that was almost (and fortunately not) cut from the record. 1,000 Miles has blistering guitar riffs, taking us back to "World Burning" from 1989's "Forever Mercy." "Miles" has already become a fan favorite. "Surround Me" anchors with love, joy and gladness in the midst of weakness. This original version is more true to their sound than the version Stand released with Clash of Symbols in 1994. "Give Our Hearts" also returns to form from the version previously released by Clash of Symbols.

Mark Robertson, who joined the band after the departure of Ric Alba, is back on bass while Jeff Crandall lays down the beat on drums. This steady rhythm section provides the foundation for Stand and Pannier to add their crunch on guitar. After 25 years, Altar Boys haven't skipped a beat as they proved with their album release concert at House of Blues in Anaheim on September 16th!

The most remarkable aspect of "No Substitute" is that all of the lead vocals were sung back in '91 and '93. Keith Sorrells, Stand's Son who is a successful producer with Project K Studios, worked meticulously with the band to resurrect the vocal and guitar tracks from analog tape that was recorded back in the day. Read more about the miracle of how "No Substitute" came to fruition on the band's website as they have journaled and shared some great insights on this 25 year journey in the making.

In recent years, Stand has focused mainly on his successful rockabilly band Altar Billies. Altar Boys did several reunion concerts including Cornerstone 2000 and 2002, and a Broken Records Reunion Concert in 2006. With the release of "No Substitute," here's to hope that there is still room for a little Altar Boys. In a world that needs their music and ministry, maybe they are just getting started again?