|Once And For All||Whiteheart|
|Say The Word||Whiteheart|
|Mercy Lives Here||The Choir|
|The Time Has Come||The Choir|
|Beautiful Scandalous Night||The Choir|
|All In God’s Hands||Sweet Comfort Band|
|Can You Help Me||Sweet Comfort Band|
|Haven’t Seen You||Sweet Comfort Band|
|All Hail The Power Of Jesus’ Name||Bob Bennett|
|Lord Of The Past||Bob Bennett|
|My Redeemer Lives||Bob Bennett|
|Let Everything Else Go||Phil Keaggy|
|What A Wonder You Are||Phil Keaggy|
|Wedding In The Country Manor (excerpt)||Phil Keaggy|
Okay, the holidays and corresponding work/stress load are over. Well, the work load is over. The stress remains. Ah well, of such is life.
Anyway, this first episode of the still relatively new year continues the theme of last year’s final show, namely songs culled from my old store’s playlist. How I miss that store. Geoffrey, come home!
|Beautiful World||Dead Artist Syndrome|
|Every Moment||DeGarmo & Key|
|The Misfit||Erick Nelson and Michele Pillar|
|The Next Thing||Geoff Moore|
|You Whisper Something||Glass Harp|
|40 Watt City||JAG|
|Crazy Times||Jars Of Clay|
|Over My Head||King’s X|
|The Same Old Story||Larry Norman|
|Loved And Forgiven||Lost Dogs|
|Love Is Not The Only Thing||Mark Heard|
|The Generous Mr. Lovewell||MercyMe|
No, your eyes do not deceive you. Second new episode in a week. Really. This one draws from songs I had on the in-store playlist of a (believe it or not) store where I was the assistant manager before the corporation folded earlier this year. And no, it wasn’t my fault.
|Lead Me To Reason||AD|
|Do I Stand Alone||Mike Stand|
|Burn Up In The Fire||Andy Pratt|
|Power Of Love||Arlo Guthrie|
|Nobody Loves Me Like You||Benny Hester|
|Joy Deep As Sorrow||Bob Bennett|
|You Run||The Call|
|My Mind Played A Trick On Me||Charlie Peacock|
|She’s Alright||The Choir|
|The Stand||Chuck Girard|
|The Only Way Out||Cliff Richard|
|Jesus Wept||Daniel Amos|
First, my apologies for not having made a new show in several months. Life has been getting in the way. But, at least for this evening, I have armwrestled it into sufficient submission to get a new show made. It is dedicated to Daniel Amos (the band) and the genius that is Terry Scott Taylor (the person).
|Love, Grace, And Mercy||Daniel Amos|
|(It’s The Eighties So Where’s Our) Rocket Packs||Daniel Amos|
|Ordinary Extraordinary Day||Daniel Amos|
|Grace Is The Smell Of Rain||Daniel Amos|
|The Pool||Daniel Amos|
|As The World Turns||Daniel Amos|
|Our New Testament Best||Daniel Amos|
|Safety Net||Daniel Amos|
|Who’s Who Here?||Daniel Amos|
|Mall (All Over The World)||Daniel Amos|
|Through The Speakers||Daniel Amos|
|If You Want To||Daniel Amos|
|I Love You #19||Daniel Amos|
|Horrendous Disc||Daniel Amos|
|Ain’t Gonna Fight It||Daniel Amos|
|Broken Ladders To Glory||Daniel Amos|
|The Bible||Daniel Amos|
|Shotgun Angel||Daniel Amos|
|Father’s Arms||Daniel Amos|
|Don’t Light Your Own Fire||Daniel Amos|
|Sky King (Out Across The Sky)||Daniel Amos|
|Jesus Wept||Daniel Amos|
|Big, Warm, Sweet Interior Glowing||Daniel Amos|
|Banquet At The World’s End||Daniel Amos|
|With The Tired Eyes Of Faith||Swirling Eddies|
|I May Never Know||Terry Scott Taylor|
|Dig Here, Said The Angel||Daniel Amos|
For those whose memory of Christian rock spans further back than, say, Switchfoot, Horrendous Disc by Daniel Amos holds a special place. Few albums have ever been as controversy-raising without actually being released, as for three years debate raged on multiple fronts as to why the album, originally planned for a 1978 debut, didn’t see the light of retail day until 1981, finally hitting the shelves a whole six weeks before the band’s fourth album ¡Alarma! announced its complete transformation from country/rock ensemble to new wave edgemeisters. Horrendous Disc was a bridge between the two; while not entirely abandoning the softer melodic side of Daniel Amos’ eponymous debut or followup Shotgun Angel, it also discarded the country flavor of these releases in favor of an ofttimes Beatlesesque rock vibe. Not a lot of fans remained faithful during these artistic twists, but for those who did, or who came on board when the twang was traded for thunder, Horrendous Disc was sweet meat indeed.
Fast forward four decades or so, and has become the wont of many Christian classic rock albums Horrendous Disc has been given the remastered rerelease treatment. This time through, the project’s popularity was such that additional items kept being added to the available versions. True to the album’s spirit, the project was a year late in release. It is now here, though, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, it is perilously close to being far too much of a good thing.
Starting with the album itself, the remastered sound is packed with power. The late Mike Stone, who produced the original recordings, did a masterful job of capturing the band at full throttle, giving everything a crisp, deep, rich sheen. While parts of the album have not aged well, particularly, with the exception of the title track, all of the second side which suffers from hewing too closely to the aforementioned Beatlesesque influence at the expense of strong tunemanship, overall Horrendous Disc is still well worth a listen.
Where things start noticeably fraying is in the bonus material, which in addition to the usual alternate takes and such of known songs includes a bumper crop of songs recorded throughout the time period when Horrendous Disc sat in mystery-shrouded limbo. There are also two songs recorded during the album’s original sessions that were dropped prior to its eventual release. Finally having these long rumored but never heard twenty tracks available is a joy. The problem is they reveal a band in transition that would not regain its full stride until the transition was complete. The songs individually and collectively are okay, but Daniel Amos whenever it was riding high — which was most of the time — wasn’t okay. It was brilliant. The newly released material is interesting historically and definitely not unlistenable, but it’s far from showcasing the band at its best.
It seems strange to think a set of five CDs could be missing several possible configurations and songs, yet the compilation left more than a few moments that could have, and should have, been included either scattered hither and yon or on the table altogether. Ranging from elusive to absent altogether are such items as all of the original mix versions Mike Stone assembled for the album, all of the track variations that appeared on the original US, Canadian, and British releases, and everything planned for unreleased projects such as an 1979 EP entitled Pointless Blazing Wrath. As exhaustive as the compilation is, having these items missing is quite frustrating.
In addition to a lengthy CD booklet, a companion book titled (what else?) Horrendous Book is available. The book does a good job covering the basic facts regarding the album and assorted struggles that delayed its release, but suffers from weak graphic design and a painfully obvious lack of proofreading. A personal note: while I can and do mangle the written language on a regular basis, I am very good at proofreading the work of others. Also, I’m in no way knocking John J. Thompson, Bruce Brown, or Brian Quincy Newcomb, each of whom penned essays for the CD booklet. They were all vital parts of Christian music journalism’s early days. But I can write a little too, and I also was there. How about asking me to contribute something once in a while, people? Okay, got that off my chest; back to the review.
The final element is the project packaging. The discs come in individual cardboard sleeves contained inside an oversized box that also includes individual band member photos taken during a time when Daniel Amos utilized satirical costumes as part of its assault on religious cults. It’s nice, but for archival reasons it would have been preferable to have the discs housed in digipacks for better protection and the box replaced by a open-ended version in which all the digipacks would snugly fit.
It’s not that the Horrendous Disc release is bad. It’s not. It is a mammoth effort and something over which all Christian rock fans young and old can, and should, rejoice. However, in its mammoth approach it missed several opportunities to be truly great. Sure beats not having it at all, though.
Now here’s a novel concept — a regular show! Haven’t done one of these in a while. Hope you enjoy it.
|A Sentimental Song||The Choir|
|Rubber Canoe||Benny Hester|
|The Wall||Phil Keaggy|
|40 Watt City||JAG|
|Turn A Blind Eye||The Call|
|Who’s Who Here||Daniel Amos|
|Pimps And Preachers||Veil|
|Meant To Live||Switchfoot|
|Flood||Jars Of Clay|
|Come For The Children||Oden Fong|
Making a brief detour from my usual alt fare to feature Petra this time through (I know, that should be for a DeGarmo and Key show). Love them or no, there is no denying that within the Christian music world — I’m leaving U2 out of the equation as they have never operated within CCM — no band has done as much to legitimize rock as a viable, church-acceptable format as Petra.
|Jekyll And Hyde||Petra|
|God Gave Rock And Roll To You||Petra|
|Beat The System||Petra|
|Not By Sight||Petra|
|Without Him We Can Do Nothing||Petra|
|Praise Ye The Lord||Petra|
|Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows||Petra|
|The Coloring Song||Petra|
|More Power To Ya||Petra|
|Road To Zion||Petra|
|Why Should The Father Bother||Petra|
|Holy Is Your Name||Petra|
|You Are My Rock||Petra|
|All Over Me||Petra|
|God Gave Rock And Roll To You||Petra|
|Suite Of Reflections (excerpt)||Phil Keaggy|
(This post originally appeared on Goldfish and Clowns.)
It’s difficult to envision veteran Christian alt rockers The Choir being in the company of country artists back when it was barely out of its teens, a time finding artists such as The Carter Family, Bob Willis, and Bill Monroe routinely crisscrossing the country planting seeds of a genre they created. Also, it’s not that Bloodshot, The Choir’s new album, is in any sense a country album. However, there is a common thread; more on this in a bit.
Throughout its career The Choir has with graceful ease traversed between atmospheric and near avant-garde, musically built around Derri Daugherty’s sometimes dreamy and at other moments razor slice guitar while Steve Hindalong’s lyrics have purposefully plumbed relationships, life fragments, and faith through a poet’s eyes. In this respect Bloodshot is no different than its predecessors. The Choir have for decades made extremely even albums, never failing to deliver something solid wrapped within textural diversity. Bloodshot, however, has some twists revealing Messrs. Daugherty and Hindalong, plus Tim Chandler on bass and Dan Michaels on assorted reed instruments, are still more than capable of bringing something new to the turntable.
Bloodshot is in many ways the most straightforward album The Choir has ever recorded. Not that the music is an exercise in formulaic commercial ear candy; rather, the songs are simpler without being simplistic: more direct, more immediately accessible. Daugherty frequently employs strummed chords as a foundation upon which to bounce his effects-rich electric work, using it to create far more guitar interplay than is present in most Choir efforts. Even when there is but one guitar present, Daugherty accomplishes the rare feat of creating multiple sound swirls dancing around each other, always perfectly meshed within the song in lieu of drawing attention to themselves alone.
The album also differs lyrically from the majority of prior albums in that it is far more heavily relationship-focused. Not that faith is being dismissed, but on Bloodshot Hindalong is at his most playful and celebratory of love between two people. This is the album you play for those who deride Christian music as bereft of romance.
Where the album harkens back to country’s emerging years is in its songs at their core. They are solid, uncomplicated, and tuneful; the essence of country long before it went cosmopolitan. It is not difficult to hear the compositions and picture them coming out of a dome-shaped AM radio, performed by a small acoustic ensemble in some station’s studio designed for live music. Whether this is intentional or unplanned is something only The Choir can answer, but regardless it is there.
It’s easy, and sadly all too common, for an established band to trot out the same ol’ same ol’ album after album, knowing this will satisfy the vast majority of their audience. The Choir think and act differently. Bloodshot isn’t a radical departure, but rather a superb exploration of songs and sounds fused together, creating a record that’s memorable for all the right reasons.
The album is available for preorder on iTunes.