Archive for Christian rock

Great Rock Albums of 1985: Petra- Beat the System

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 20, 2018 by 80smetalman

In the summer of 1985, a friend of mine, who was a Born Again Christian, invited me to go see the Christian rock band Petra, in attempt to bring me back to the fold. Having nothing better to do, I went and I must say that I really enjoyed it. It didn’t matter that they were singing about religion nor was I in any way annoyed when they stopped halfway through their show to present a brief slide show on the missionary work they were doing in Africa. I thought Petra were good enough for me to give their album “Beat the System” a listen.

While I wasn’t disappointed with the album, I had to say that at the time, it wasn’t the hard rock I had heard them play live. “Beat the System” is more on the lines of progressive rock bands such as Survivor and Marillion and that’s not a bad thing at all. One song that backs up my assertion is the second track, “Computer Brains.” It is done in the 80s style of the time while not going as far as being synth pop. Saying that, I do wish the guitar solo had been a little louder on it because another memory I took from the concert was that Bob Hartman is pretty good on the six string. But you can’t fault the keyboard work on this and some of the other songs.

“Clean” is a more harder track, maybe the hardest one on the album. It would have been a blinder if they had turned up the guitars a bit more but it has a catchy vibe. Next comes the hidden gem, “It is Finished.” The song is about the crucifixion of Jesus but this song has all the tools, except one, to be a great prog-metal jam. It has some cool keyboard notes to intro and a great metal rhythm to bang your head to. Greg Volz’s vocals might be the best on the album here. Everything there almost, what holds it back from being a brilliant prog-metal tune is the absence of any guitar solo. That would have propelled it through the ionosphere. If I was a Sunday School teacher and wanted to teach about the crucifixion, I would have definitely used this song.

“Voice in the Wind” is an all right song but let’s skip to the big feature of “Beat the System.” In 1991, you might have heard a KISS song called “God Gave Rock and Roll To You” compliments of the movie, “Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey.” Well Petra recorded this Russ Ballard written hit twice, the second time on this album. I don’t mean to anger KISS fans but I have to say that I prefer Petra’s version. KISS tried to make theirs sound to ballad-like and commercial. While Petra’s version seems more choppy, it works well. I’ll let everyone have a listen and decide for themselves.

The rest of the album is more of Jesus lyrics sung to some rather good progressive rock. The closer, “Adonai,” is a good an album closer as any. In the end, this is a good album and it proves that belief in a spiritual being has no bearing on how well anyone can sing or play music. “Beat the System” is simply good progressive rock.

Track Listing:

  1. Beat the System
  2. Computer Brain
  3. Clean
  4. It is Finished
  5. Voice in the Wind
  6. God Gave Rock and Roll to You
  7. Witch Hunt
  8. Hollow Eyes
  9. Speak to the Sky
  10. Adonai

Petra

Greg X Volz- lead vocals

Bob Hartman- guitars

Rhett Lawrence- synthesizers

John Lawry- synthesizers

Carl Marsh- keyboards, drums, bass

Did I come back to God as a result of Petra? No, but it wasn’t anything down to this cool band who have a great album and were cool to see live. What ended any desire to go back to the flock was the attitude of my friend and some of his “Christian” friends. Being a week after the great Live Aid, I had to hear these people put it down because the bands were all heathen rockers. One person said the bands should have given ten percent of their earnings to Africa. I wonder if this person gave that much of his. Damn hypocrite! That ended any idea of me burning my records and coming back to Jesus. Though, I feel I never really left him.

Next post: Kim MItchell- Akimbo Alogo

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1537470169&sr=1-1&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Metal Albums of 1984: Styrper- The Yellow and Black Attack

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2017 by 80smetalman

On one occasion in 1984, I resisted the temptation of the devil. Sometime in late August, TCN Hot Rock premiered a Christian heavy metal band on its radio programme. The deejay stated that the band they were playing called themselves ‘headbangers for the Lord’ and that very much intrigued me. So, on that particular Sunday morning, personal history was made as this was my introduction to the now very famous Christian heavy metal band Stryper.

I can’t remember which one of the six songs from their debut EP, “The Yellow and Black Attack” was played on that morning but what I do remember was that I very much liked what I heard. To me, Stryper could hold their own with their secular counter parts in every way. This album has everything a metalhead could ask for. Some crunching power riffs that come through straight away on the opening track and continue all the way to the end. All the vocals on the album were truly amazing and I had a lot of praise for the singer, I didn’t know his name at the time. Of course there was a tight rhythm section but in most cases for me, especially back then was how good the lead guitar was. Well, I don’t think anyone could debate me if I say that Oz Fox belongs up there among his great guitar peers. The best thing about “The Yellow and Black Attack” is that you get all of those ingredients on each one of the six songs on it.

One thing I have stated over the past three decades was that with many heavy metal bands, they start out hungry for success and that raw hunger is expressed on their initial demo or even the debut album, some beyond that. That hunger is definitely there on this album. They might have been singing and playing their hearts out here and the result was that the music could be capable of turning stones into bread.

The problem Stryper had with both Christian and secular audiences was that no one knew how to take Christian heavy metal. Christians had always branded metal Satanic and some thought that the fusion of Christianity and heavy metal to be sacrilege. As for the heathen, many were put off by the threat of Jesus lyrics. One critic referred to them as “Quiet Riot singing Jesus music.” That’s more of an insult for Stryper than to Quiet Riot. Stryper doesn’t sound like them at all to me. True, Stryper proudly sing about their love for their Saviour but having listened to this band so many times in three decades, I have never found myself wanting to go back to the fold.

Personal note: I was a Born Again Christian during my teenage years of the 1970s but all it did for me was mess my head up more than any drugs or music ever could. However, I don’t begrudge anyone who has spiritual beliefs and if they want, I would happily listen to Stryper with them.

Track Listing:

  1. Loud ‘N’ Clear
  2. From Wrong to Right
  3. You Know What to Do
  4. Co’mon Rock
  5. You Won’t Be Lonely
  6. Loving You

Stryper

Michael Sweet- lead vocals, guitar

Oz Fox- lead guitar, backing vocals

Tim Gaines- bass, backing vocals, keyboards

Robert Sweet- drums

They didn’t know it back then but Stryper laid down the foundations that built the bridge between the gulf of Christianity and heavy metal with this, their debut EP, “The Yellow and Black Attack.” From here, Stryper would go onto bigger and better things and whether or not you were a Christian or heathen, their music would touch the metal souls of many metalheads.

Next post: Chicago 17

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1507042433&sr=8-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Kerry Livgren AD- Timeline

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2017 by 80smetalman

Once again, I was deceived by Satan in 1984. The Christian Rock radio programme, TCN Hot Rock played the song “Mask of the Great Deceiver” by Kerry Livgren. What blew me away about the song was who was on the lead vocals. That alone was grounds for me to go out and buy a Kerry Livgren album. However, when I read the tracks on the 1984 album, “Timeline,” that track wasn’t on it. Therefore I didn’t buy it. As think back to that time, I see the irony in it all, in regards to the vocalist on the song. See, it was about this time that the singer was getting attacked by Christian groups for being Satanic. They obviously never listened to Livgren’s song for even the deejay had to admit the great job done by the vocalist. I’m not going to tell you who that vocalist was, you have to listen to the song and guess. Though, it is pretty obvious. Actually, the picture gives it away but have a listen anyway.

Most of you will know that Kerry Livgren came over from the great 70s prog rock band Kansas. After leaving Kansas in 1983, he met some musicians who were like minded in his spiritual beliefs so they formed the band Kerry Livgren AD and “Timeline” was their first album although it’s considered by some to be Kerry’s second solo album. He had one in 1980 which features the track I pontificated about above.

One critic back then called the “Timeline”album stale. While I won’t agree with that, I can see where he might say that because the first tracks are very 80s synth pop. However, he does nail a good guitar solo on the opening title track and some interesting keyboards work at the end of the second one. While probably the weakest tracks on the album, the first two do set the stage for the better tracks that follow. In fact, the very next track, “Make or Break It” is reminiscent of Kansas and the track after even more so. Kerry nails down some killer guitar solos on tracks, “Take Us to the Water” and “New Age Blues,” (my favourite track), as well as some interesting keyboards work. “Slow Motion Suicide” is a great example. Another very interesting and very notable aspect on “Timeline” are the Yes inspired harmony vocals on the album. They appear throughout. There always being an exception, the track “Beyond the Pale,” sounds very contemporary for the time Joe Jackson.

Track Listing:

  1. Timeline
  2. Tonight
  3. Make or Break It
  4. Take Us to the Water
  5. Beyond the Pale
  6. New Age Blues
  7. Slow Motion Suicide
  8. High On the Hill
  9. Life Undercover
  10. Welcome to the War

Kerry Livgren AD

Kerry Livgren- guitars, keyboards

Michael Gleason- lead and backing vocals

Warren Ham- lead and backing vocals

Dennis Holt- drums, percussion

David Hope- bass

Kerry Livgren AD might have been pushed into the area of Christian Rock by some critics and followers of Christ but there are no in your face Jesus lyrics. To me, it’s just some good old progressive rock similar to what Kerry did with his former band.

Next post: Stryper- Yellow and Black Attack

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1506774683&sr=8-4&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Daniel Band- Run From the Darkness

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2017 by 80smetalman

Satan had come upon me during the summer of 1984 because the Daniel Band had lots of airplay on the Sunday morning radio show, TCN Hot Rock. I remember liking what they played but for some reason, I never explored them further. That’s why I say Satan had corrupted me because if I had explored the Daniel Band more, I would have discovered a long time ago what a great album “Run From the Darkness” is.

A little background on them, they were formed in 1979 in Toronto Canada. Their first album, “On Rock,” offered a more progressive sound. However, with this, their second album, they went full blown heavy metal. They even wore dog collars and spandex when they went on tour for this album. Plain and simple, upon listening to “Run From the Darkness,” I will second the motion that this was a heavy metal album. The first three tracks are definitely metal in your face, although I think the title track was the intended single. The third track, “Walk on the Water” is my favourite track on the album. The power chords are like Judas Priest and the harmonies in the chorus remind me of KISS in their heyday. Not a bad combination me thinks. They have also been compared to AC/DC, Boston and their fellow countrymen, April Wine. What’s not to like?

The metal doesn’t end with the first three tracks. Tracks four and five keep things ticking over very nicely. The latter is given the fan treatment at the beginning giving it that recorded live feel but “Sixteen” cooks regardless. In fact, the album doesn’t slow down to the latter end of the album. “Live Connection” is almost thrash. Even the keyboard on “Wall” just complements the hard rocking sound of the song. After “Wall” is the ballad, “It’s Over” and that’s a very tidy power ballad. As is the track after, “My Children.” This starts like a piano ballad and then the guitars come in and could flatten the walls of Jericho. The closing track, “In the Sky” takes things out in a typical metal way.

Let me once and for all dispel the myth about Christian Rock. I have listened to “Run From the Darkness” five times in the last week and not once did I find myself wanting to put my beer down and start reading my bible. Anyone who does that is just as liable to sacrifice a chicken to Satan after listening to Deicide. There are no in your face Jesus lyrics on here and even if there were, this album is good enough to where they could be singing about doing terrible things to dogs with a fork and I’d still enjoy the music from it. Added bonus is that lead guitarist Tony Rossi can hold his own with many of his non- Christian counterparts. Hey, the main can wail!

Track Listing:

  1. Don’t Give Up
  2. Run From the Darkness
  3. Walk on the Water
  4. Never Gonna Die
  5. Sixteen
  6. Live Connection
  7. Let’s Get Ready
  8. Wall
  9. It’s Over
  10. My Children
  11. In the Sky

Tony Rossi- lead guitar, vocals

Don McCabe- bass, lead vocals

Bill Findlay- guitar, keyboards, vocals

Matt Del Duca- drums

Have I converted? In regards to the Daniel Band, the answer is yes. If anyone out there still thinks that Christian Rock musicians are second rate, then have a listen to “Run From the Darkness.” This album, Christian or not, simply kicks ass.

Next post: Kerry Livgren AD- Time Line

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1506111961&sr=8-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rise of Christian Rock

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 15, 2017 by 80smetalman

Normally, I don’t write three posts in a week unless in exceptional circumstances which this is. Nothing major, I’m just going to be in Blackpool for the weekend and working a lot next week so I won’t be able to post again until next Friday. However, this doesn’t excuse any of you from your homework assignment from the last post. Only kidding.

1984 was the golden year of heavy metal but it also saw a huge rise in the interest in what has become known as ‘Christian Rock.’ With the onslaught of accusations of rock music being Satanic, Christian youth needed something they could listen to without their beliefs being affected. What emerged was a large number of bands and artists who were Born Again Christians and wanted to use music to spread their word and entertain the flock. I remember back in 1984 a lot of bands of this nature coming on the scene. In fact, early Sunday mornings, my local radio station had a four hour slot called TCN Hot Rock, where they would play music from Christian groups. When I did listen to it, I immediately dismissed the false belief that Christian bands were second rate musicians who were only using religion as a gimmick because they weren’t good enough to make it mainstream. Really, some people actually thought that. No these people could really wail and the music was very good and to shoot down another myth, not all the songs were in your face about Jesus.

You’d be surprised how many bands there are who are considered Christian Rock, even some of those who were popular among us heathens. Did you know that three of the four members of U2 were Born Again Christians? Adam Clayton is the only non believer in the band. Needless to say, their music got a lot of air play on TCN. As did another band who I featured here not too long ago, The Alarm. Other artists also came onto my radar thanks to this radio programme, including former Kansas star, Kerry Livgren. I’ll be featuring his album two posts from now. There was Mylon LeFevre, (no relation), Petra, the Daniel Band and it was here that I got my introduction to some heavy metal band called Styper. You might have heard of them.

The Alarm

U2

I remember one song getting a lot of airplay on TCN Hot Rock during the summer of 1984 so I thought, I would share it with you. It’s by Steve Taylor and it’s called “We Don’t Need No Color Code.” The song actually is a rant against a supposedly Christian College in the South who was accused of racist practices.

Like with everything to do with religion, the concept of Christian Rock is great. Like I said on other blogs, I can listen to Stryper and Mercyful Fate in the same sitting. There are some pretty amazing musicians who are Born Again Christians and I think that’s cool. However, like with everything else, people mess it up and make it look bad. The rise of Christian Rock gave rise to the arrogance in the attitudes of those who listened to it. Some would take this to extremes and if you’ve read “Rock And Roll Children,” (shameless plug), you’ll know what I mean.

Next post: Originally, I was going to put a song by the Daniel Band on this post but when I listened to their 1984 album, “Rush Out of the Darkness,” I was so impressed that I’m going to make it my next post.

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1505466016&sr=8-3&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: The Alarm- Declaration

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 22, 2017 by 80smetalman

In very early months of 1984, when MTV was still playing lots of good music, one song definitely caught my attention. It wasn’t metal, not even hard rock. If I were to categorize it, something I don’t like doing, I would say it was post punk or new wave. Categories and labels a side, what I knew for sure was that I really liked the song “Sixty Eight Guns” by the Alarm. This song was a true anthem for me at the time and I still find myself singing it after all these years. The guitars were hard enough for my tastes but the way the chorus was belted out totally blew me away.

“Sixty Eight guns will never die

Sixty Eight guns our battle cry.”

As I’ve said many times, I will not buy an album on account of one song so you have to know that the rest of the album kicks just as much ass as the feature song. Most of the first half of “The Declaration” are straight ahead new wave rockers and really cook. I do detect a little Irish folk influence in the track “Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke.” Then again, when doing further research on the band, I discovered they were Welsh, so I’m not surprised at this. “We Are the Light” is an acoustic track but even that doesn’t limit the powerful vocals of lead singer Mike Peters. For years, I have underestimated his vocal ability, I’ll never do that again.

“Shout to the Devil” is not a Motley Crue cover but very intelligently combines the acoustic flavour of the previous track and the more powerful sounds of the previous songs. Again, it’s very catchy. “Blaze of Glory” is also a good anthem like “Sixty Eight Guns” and like that song, I found myself wanting to sing along to the chorus. Only the lyrics aren’t quite as straight forward as “68 Guns.” I can at least sing the first part over and over, “Going out in a blaze of glory.” I do like how they use the horns on it. “The Deceiver” has an eerie introduction before going into a fast acoustic track with some good harmonica played on it. In fact the second side, isn’t quite as hard rock as the first but that doesn’t diminish the quality of “The Declaration” in the slightest.

Track Listing:

  1. Declaration
  2. Marching On
  3. Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke
  4. Third Light
  5. Sixty Eight Guns
  6. We Are the Light
  7. Shout to the Devil
  8. Blaze of Glory
  9. Tell Me
  10. The Deceiver
  11. The Stand
  12. Howling Wind

The Alarm

Mike Peters- vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica

Dave Sharp- acoustic and electric guitars, backing vocals

Eddie MacDonald- bass, guitar, backing vocals

Twist- drums, percussion, backing vocals

When I listen to “The Declaration” I wonder why The Alarm didn’t get more commercial success. Some misguided people did say that they were too much like U2 but I never thought so. They were unique enough to avoid that. So, I wonder if it’s down to the discovery I made about them in the early summer of 1984, they were born again Christians. True, Christian rock was getting more attention at this time, something I’ll talk about in a future post, but I don’t hear any obvious Jesus lyrics in any of the songs that would frighten off listeners. For me, The Alarm’s “The Declaration” defined the direction I was heading in 1984 and it’s still a great album.

Next post: The Pretenders- Learning to Crawl

To Buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Bob Dylan- Infidels

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 3, 2016 by 80smetalman

Bob_Dylan_-_Infidels

“Infidels” was Bob Dylan’s first album after his three albums professing his faith as a Born Again Christian. Now I posted about two of those albums, “Slow Train Coming” and “Saved” and like I said at the time, I have no problems with people who want to use music to express their beliefs on anything, within my personal boundaries on decency, which are quite broad. Those two albums were quite good in their own right and I remain convinced that those albums from Bob helped usher in the emerging tide of Christian rock artists that were gaining notoriety in 1983. Anyway, enough about that because it is said that “Infidels” with Dylan’s first secular album since his conversion and in many ways, it is a good album.

The first time I heard the single, “Neighborhood Bully” on the radio, I was duly impressed. To me, that song had a bit of hard rock swagger to it with a very catchy rhythm. In fact, it has taken it’s place as my fourth favourite Bob Dylan song. What also has fascinated me about the song was trying to figure out who was the neighborhood bully he was singing about. My first, thoughts was on account of the political climate at the time, that the bully might have been the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua and Ronald Regan’s determination to make war on it. It could have been a Middle Eastern country and it turns out that I was right. After reading about it, (they didn’t have Wikopedia in 1983), I found out that he was singing about Israel and the persecution of the Jewish people as well as the contributions they have made to the world. The fact that this has mystery has finally been cleared up for me after more than thirty years doesn’t take away the fact that it’s still a brilliant rock tune.

It appears that Bob Dylan realized he stumbled onto something when he decided to go electric with his live “Hard Rain” album way back in 1976. For most of “Infidels,” he uses the electric guitar and his songs sound more rock. “License to Kill” and “I & I” are good examples here. You definitely can not call him a folk singer who sings through his nose on this album. However, I did read back then that some called him that old singer who sounds like Dire Straits. Well, there’s truth in that. The first time I heard Dire Straits, I thought it was Bob Dylan singing with Eric Clapton backing him up on guitar. Maybe it could be true owing to the fact that Dire Straits guitarist and lead singer Mark Knoepfler produced the album and he does a grand job in doing so. I think that on “Infidels,” Dylan sounds the best he has in years. But before anyone goes off and says that Dylan had some how changed, let me say that he still tackles relevant social and political topics of the time just like the Bob Dylan of old. He just makes the music behind his messages much more enjoyable.

Track Listing:

  1. Jokerman
  2. Sweetheart Like You
  3. Neighborhood Bully
  4. License to Kill
  5. Man of Peace
  6. Union Sundown
  7. I & I
  8. Don’t Fall Apart on Me Tonight

bobdylan

Bob Dylan- lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboards

Mark Knopfler- guitar

Clydie King- vocals on “Sundown”

Robbie Shakespeare- bass

Mick Taylor- guitar

Sly Dunbar- drums, percussion

It would be silly of me to say that Bob Dylan was back in 1983 because he never went anywhere. He simply changed what he was singing about and went back to more traditional topics. This was still a brave thing to do in the ever increasing conservative mood of 80s Regan America. Still, he did and he proved that he could rock a bit as well.

Next post: Yes- 90125

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London