Saturday, July 2, 2016

Leviticus "Knights of Heaven"


Leviticus
Knights of Heaven
1989 Royal Music
Produced By: John & Dino Elefante

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Track Listings

Born Again (3:38)
Oh Lord (4:51)
Feel So Good (2:20)
Strong Love (3:38)
Messiah (3:55)
Love on Fire (3:40)

Musicians

Bjorn Stiggson: Guitars, Background Vocals
Peo Pettersson: Lead Vocals, Keyboards
Kjell Andersson: Drums, Percussion
Niklas Frannklin: Bass, Background Vocals

David Amato: Additional Background Vocals

"they're coming over the hills, across the lands, over the mountains, right to the end...to tell the world the Message of Love...riding on white horses...the Knights of Heaven..."

Knights of Heaven is another album that I can give credit to my older brother for discovering during his years working in Christian retail. It was around the same time he would bring home demos of such bands as Angelica for me to listen too, he gifted me with a CDs on the Royal Music label. Leviticus, Q Stone, Edin-Adahl...who are these people? While not all of those CDs (regretfully) stayed in my collection, Leviticus did and quickly became one of my favorite albums of the 90's.

One of the first things I noticed about the album was that it was produced by John & Dino Elefante. I was already a fan of their work on Mastedon, Guardian and other bands so I figured it had to at least be decent. It only took a few times listening to the album from beginning to end before I became a fan. I loved the big vocal harmonies on the chorus, the slick production and overall vibe of the album. Knights of Heaven got me really curious about this metal band from Sweden and what else they had done. Sadly other than a best off collection released in 1993, this was Leviticus' last album. However I was able to track down some earlier albums and while I enjoyed them, their sound was remarkably different. This just proved that Knights of Heaven had the Elefante's fingerprints all over the project...which at least for me was a fan. While this album had a more melodic sound than their previous work, all of their music is really good and deserves a chance to be heard.

From what I can tell / remember, Peo Pettersson only sang lead vocals on this album. No offense to the previous lead signers, but Peo had a good set of lungs on him. He ranks up there with Ken Tamplin and Michael Sweet as one of my favorite vocalists. 

Some of the stand out tracks are Isn't it Love, Strong Love, Over the Hills and Messiah. Not only does Peo shine, but they have some great guitar solos and the big vocal harmonies on the chorus makes it fun to sing along with. I haven't listened to this album in some time, but immediately after popping it in my player the vocals came right back to me.

Oh Lord and For Once in My Life are the two ballads on the album, with in my opinion the latter of the two being the better. Feel So Good has this upbeat tempo and a goofy sounding chorus, constantly using the sound "oooee". The best part of the song is that it is the shortest on the album! 

It seemed as if for awhile this CD was hard to find on the secondary market, or at least expensive when you could find it. A quick scan of sold auctions on eBay however shows this album has been selling for less than $10 in the last 6 months. If you are fan of the Elefantes, Leviticus or just looking for a great melodic rock album I urge you to give Knights of Heaven a chance.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Jars of Clay "Jars of Clay"


Jars of Clay
Jars of Clay
1995 Essential Records
Produced By: Jars of Clay
"Liquid" and "Flood" produced by Adrian Belew

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Track Listings

Liquid (3:31)
Sinking (3:48)
Like a Child (4:35)
Art in Me (3:58)
He (5:17)
Flood (3:33)  (original video), (music video
Worlds Apart (5;18)
Blind (3:59)

Musicians

Dan Haseltine: Programming and Lead Vocals
Matt Odmark: Programming and Guitar
Stephen Mason: Guitar, Bass and Background Vocals
Charlie Lowell: Piano, Organ and Background Vocals
Tim Smith: Drums and Percussion

I graduated high school in 1995 so this is one of the many albums that played on rotation in my truck for several years. Music I have found can be very powerful and it meant a lot to me, especially in my youth. When Jars of Clay came onto the scene and my brother I believe brought them to my attention, I wasn't immediately a fan. Their musical style was a little "softer" if you will than many of the bands and albums I was listening too at the time. Regardless of their mainstream popularity they found with their song/video for Flood, I still didn't give them a lot of attention. However once I picked up their CD and gave them a chance, well what is the saying "the rest is history"?

One of the aspects I love so much about this album is the praise and worship aspect. I find that kind of odd for me to admit as I'm so tired of the songs that play on CCM radio (no offense to the artists, I'm just tired of hearing the same 10-15 songs on a daily basis). Like a Child and Love Song for a Savior are favorites of mine and anytime I hear them I can't help but sing along.

Recently my girls (5 and 6) have asked me to listen to some of my music while going to bed. Before this they would usually listen to a VBS CD or something similar. Well recently I randomly grabbed Jars of Clay off the shelf for them to listen to...and they loved it! They both have ears for Christian music and if the radio isn't on the local K-Love station they will quickly realize it and ask me or my wife to change the station! 

While preparing this post and listening to the album again in it's entirety, the female vocals on Worlds Apart sounded hauntingly familiar. According to the liner notes it was Mancy Alan Kane, which oddly enough came up recently in my mix of music I listen to while traveling for work. Now I need to pull out one of her CDs again and give it a listen.

I've enjoyed giving this album another listen recently as it contains some really well thought, well written songs. I'm not sure why I never bought many of their other items outside of Much Afraid, but their debut album will be one that stays a part of my musical library.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Chatterbox "(Despite)"


Chatterbox
(Despite)
1994 Tooth & Nail Records
Produced By: J. Scott Albert

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Track Listings

Torque (4:25)
Empty (6:09)
Fallen (5:55)
Spine (5:13)
Internal (0:30)
Soulscum (4:26)
Divide (3:44)
External (3:49)
Epignosis (5:28)
Sunshine (11:13)

Musicians

Jeff Bellew: Vocals, guitar, bass, samples, noise
Garrett Morgan: Additional guitars on Empty and Divide
Chris Reid: Additional guitars & bass on Sunshine; percussion
John Stewart: Backing vocals on Spine
Mark Salomon: Lead vocals on 2nd half of Epignosis; percussion
Pidgeon John: Percussion
Scott Albert: Additional guitars on Soulscum, backing vocals on Spine & Torque
Jack W. Bellew: Narrative on Fallen

This is one of the few 90's CDs in my library that I didn't pick up when it was relatively new. I remember the band and I'm sure I've got a track or two on some Tooth & Nail compilations somewhere, but the industrial metal genre just wasn't something I explored much in my youth. I recognize a lot of the names involved with this project, but I can't say I was necessarily a fan of similar projects like Circle of Dust or Brainchild.

I picked up this CD (along with a large stack of others) from a discount used book/music store called Edward McKay in Winston-Salem, NC while traveling for work. It was one of the first discs I popped in the CD player on the drive home and while I admire the talents involved in making this album, I'm just not sure this is for me or even if I'll include it in my music library.

While not a favorite album of mine, I do kinda enjoy the opening track, Torque. Perhaps I would enjoy the album more if there weren't any vocals. Maybe my musical tastes have changed as I've grown older, I'm not sure, however it seems as though this album is still held in high regard in some musical circles. I would say if you are a fan of industrial metal then check this out. At the time of this post I could only find one seller that had the CD for sale and they were located in Australia. No sold copies showed up on my search either so good luck tracking down a copy. I may end up parting with mine so if you are interested send me an e-mail and we'll talk.

Friday, March 25, 2016

"Why" by Scarlet Red - a Good Friday / Easter song




While getting ready for work this morning I remembered it was Good Friday and for some reason this particular song my Scarlet Red popped into my head. It's been a while since I popped their "Don't Dance with Danger" CD into the player, but this song of Jesus' crucifixion felt appropriate to be shared on this day.

Remember on that third day, HE arose!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Pete Stewart "Pete Stewart"


Pete Stewart
Pete Stewart
1998 ForeFront Records
Produced By: Michael Tait

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Track Listings

Better Off (4:08)
Uphill Battle (3:09)
Worship Song (3:08)
Spinning (5:03)
The One (4:22)

Musicians

Guitars: Pete Stewart
Bass: Otto Price
Drums: Rick May
Backing Vocals: Michael Tait

Like many Christian teens in the 90's that listened to Christian music, I was a fan of Grammatrain. I soaked up everything they released. Their CDs stayed in my CD wallet I kept in my truck. Many days pulling out of the high school parking lot you could hear Grammatrain blasting out the windows. Needless to say when my brother handed me this pre-release of Pete Stewart's first solo album after Grammatrain disbanded, I was excited. Then I popped the CD into my truck's player...

I wanted to like this album, I really did...but strings? Is that a tambourine I hear? What happened here?! This isn't Grammatrain!! 

Correct, this is Pete Stewart. Still on the ForeFront label, Pete decided to go a different direction musically. I don't know if that was his idea or the labels decision, but all the sudden Pete had a different sound. The first listen through the album I just wasn't all that impressed, but the more I listened the more I started to appreciate the new approach. 

The lead track, Out of my Mind is great opening number. It's got a very catchy guitar riff to open the song...but then it stops and it's replaced by a drum machine? Give it a second though and you're hit with those guitars again. The vocals are strong and overall the song could almost appear on a Grammatrain album..almost.

Better Off shows off a different side. It's a mid-tempo song and I always find myself singing along more so than some of the other tracks.

Uphill Battle might as well have appeared on a Tait album as the song opens with vocals by Michael Tait. It's a great song, but I can't help but think Pete is trying too hard in the vocal department to match Michael's performance. The song is actually one of my favorites on the album, but then again I loved both of Tait's albums.

Worship Song is the albums "ballad". It's just Pete and an acoustic guitar. "You lift me up | so high where my voice fills the sky | high above the Heavens | You fill my soul with peace and deliver me | and I will call upon Your name"

Little Country Church is an odd song, but it's very catchy. When it starts you're not sure if you're still listening to Pete or not. Gospel background singers and a different sound are eventually replaced with some great guitar work and more of a driving rock sound. With this latest listen I found myself tapping my foot driving up interstate 85.

I guess when I listened to this album the when it was new, I only listened to the first "side" as after Little Country Church a lot of the songs just didn't sound familiar to me. In fact I found this CD tucked into the very last page of a massive CD binder that I found in the garage the other day. I tossed it in my van as I knew I'd be traveling for work soon and would need some music to help make the drive bearable. I'm glad I gave the album another listen as I really enjoyed it.

The album has a very different sound from his days with Grammatrain, but I've learned that is OK. Artists should continue to mature and grow, not only in their walk with the Lord but also with their music. I have no idea how this album came to be and what Pete thinks about it, but I really enjoyed listening to it from beginning to end recently. Somehow I never got around to picking up his other two solo efforts, but I will be on the look out for them. I may even consider picking up the retail release for this album just so I can have the album art and liner notes. It can be had for less than $3 (at the time of this post) on Amazon.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Bloodgood "Dangerously Close"


Bloodgood
Dangerously Close
2013 B. Goode Records
Produced By: Paul Jackson

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Track Listings

Run Away (3:28)
I Will (3:27)
Bread Alone (4:09)
Pray (2:51)
Run the Race (4:04)
Crush Me (2:52)

Musicians

Michael Bloodgood: Bass, backing vocals
Les Carlsen: Lead vocals
Paul Jackson: Guitar, backing vocals
Oz Fox: Guitar, backing vocals
Kevin Whisler: Drums

In the 80's and 90's I listened to a lot of the bands signed to ForeFront, Intense, Alarma and other labels, but one band that my surprise you that I never listened to much was Bloodgood. I owned a few of their albums on cassette, but like most of the cassettes I owned at the time I just never listened to them very often. I owned those Live in America VHS concert videos, but I guess I was more into Angelica and Stryper around this time. The one album of theirs that I owned on CD and really enjoyed was their first for the Broken label, All Stand Together.

Fast forward to 2015 and who do I see start to pop up in my Facebook news feed? None other than Bloodgood. The band was promoting their newest album, Dangerously Close, but most of the time I saw them pop up on Facebook was because of their loyalty to the Seattle Seahawks NFL team. I'm from Charlotte, NC so I'm a Carolina Panthers fan and needless to say the Seahawks and their fans are like a four letter word in these parts! However I was intrigued that Bloodgood was performing and recording again so I had to check them out.

The first new music I found was the music video for the opening track on this album, Lamb of God. I was immediately blown away and I knew that I wanted to add this album to my musical library. By this time it was getting closer to Christmas and I needed a few inexpensive gift ideas for my family so I told them about this album and hoped that I'd find it under the tree on Christmas morning.

Outside of the opening track, I found that I enjoyed nearly every track on the album. I say nearly because there are a few musically that just didn't vibe with me (Crush Me). One of the aspects of this album and band that blows me away is Les' vocals. I don't know how old he is as of this recording, but oh my can this guy still sing. I guess I shouldn't be that shocked as several older bands have been reuniting and the lead singers still sound great (i.e. Michael Sweet of Stryper). Speaking of the yellow and black attack, I also noticed that Oz Fox had joined the band and I could immediately tell upon listening to the full album. I don't mean to take anything away from Paul Jackson as I've been equally impressed by his craftsmanship.

The liner notes don't give you song lyrics, but it does give credit to the members that wrote each song as well as tell you who has the guitar solos. Paul takes the lead on Lamb of God, Run Away, I Will, Pray, I Can Hold On, Crush Me and In the Trenches. Oz takes lead on Child on Earth, Bread Alone and the both share guitar duties on Run the Race, Father Father and Man in the Middle.

Michael Bloodgood is as good on bass as anyone I've seen or heard play (sorry Doug Pinnick). What I didn't know going in was the drummer, Kevin Whisler played drums for one of my favorite bands that never got the attention they deserved, The Watchmen!

Since receiving this album for Christmas I've had a lot of time to listen to it. I have a good commute to work and I travel for work a bit too and this album has stayed in my vehicle's player the majority of the time. I feel bad that I haven't given more time to other albums I also got a Christmas, but I've just enjoyed this album that much. The song writing is fantastic and musically I'm just blown away. I'm seriously considering going backwards and looking to pick up some of their earlier works now. I can't recommend this album enough. I'm sure long time fans are enjoying it as we speak, however I've officially been won over.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dakoda Motor Co. "Into the Son"


Dakoda Motor Co.
Into the Son
1993 Myrrh Records
Produced By: Louis Gutierrez & Michael Gurley

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Track Listings

Wind 'an' Sea (2:52) (music video)
Grey Clouds (3:59) (music video)
Need a Love (2:40)
Ocean Seems (5:09)
Everything (3:14)
Sondancer (3:40) (music video)
Wasteland (2:15)
Freedom (4:07)

Musicians

Peter King: Guitar, vocals
Davia Vallesillo: Vocals
Derik Toy: Bass
Chuck Cummings: Drums

Where do I start? I've got so many fond memories of this band and this album. Let's see, I believe my first real exposure to Dakoda Motor Co. (DMC) was thanks to my older brother. Like with many bands of this era, I was able to listen to the album at the Christian book store he worked at. Occasionally he'd bring home some of the demos too. Anyhow, I was instantly hooked on this band. Released in 1993 on Myrrh Records, I would have been a sophomore in high school. Maybe it was the crush I had on the lead singer, Davia, or a combination of that and the easy to sing along with songs. Whatever the reason this album quickly became a favorite of mine, 22 years later I still find myself listening to this album and surprisingly I even still remember many of the song lyrics.

Dubbed as "surf rock", DMC was started by Peter King. No, not the Peter King of ESPN fame, but the Peter King, the professional surfer and host of MTV's Sandblast. In the early 90's I was still listening to a lot of metal, especially bands on the Intense Records label like Tourniquet, Sacred Warrior and Angelica. So why did this band and their music appeal to me so much? I'm really not sure other than I have a diverse ear for music. Into the Son would be one of those CDs that rarely left my truck's CD player. The lyrics became ingrained in my memory because it was in constant rotation. Grey Clouds, Ocean Seems, Sondancer and Freedom are the standout tracks for me, but in all honestly there isn't a bad track on the album.

Wasteland is an acoustic number sung by Peter King. Back in the day I would usually skip this track as it just didn't have the same vibe without Davia's ultra smooth vocals. However I've grown to enjoy the track more over the years and appreciate Peter's vocal contributions. Maybe it was after listening to their 3rd studio album, Railroad, that I started enjoying his vocals more.

I don't remember the exact year, but I'm going to say it was the summer of 1993. DMC played one of the smaller side stages at AtlantaFest, a big Christian music festival held each summer for many years at Six Flags over Georgia amusement park. This was an annual trip for my brother and I and I saw may great bands play there. Even though DMC's album hadn't officially been released yet, I was familiar with their music via a pre-release my brother brought home from work and from a video or two of theirs from the old INSP program, Signal Exchange. That year I think I watched every single performance at AtlantaFest. The side stage they played at was inside and air conditioned so I'm sure that played a little part to why I attended all their shows. I remember them sharing the stage w/ Xalt and was it the Violent Burning too?

Wanting to support the band, I bought their CD and a VHS video that contained several of their videos. If you look carefully at the scan of the disc you'll see that the 'Motor Co.' portion of their name is missing. This is because 1) this was an early pressing of the CD itself and 2) the band had to change their name for legal reasons. I believe there was another band already using the Dakoda moniker. Either way it's cool to own one of the first print runs of this great album.

I read several years ago that the original band members (minus Melissa Brewer) were getting back together to record a 4th studio album, but since I haven't heard anything. Their official Myspace page is basically empty. Real shame as I loved everything DMC put out...even Railroad. In May of 2007, Peter King uploaded this video to YouTube from their writing weekend in San Diego, CA.

If you are a fan of female fronted bands, surf rock, or just plain old good music I think you'll enjoy DMC. Their follow album, Welcome Race Fans, expands on their talents and song writing and adds a 4th member. If you run across either of these albums at your local Goodwill or music store do yourself a favor and pick it up.

Fun Facts

Davia Vallesillo married Bret Matson, is good friends with actress Ali Landry. She has also worked on several television shows and movies as a makeup artist. After DMC she went on to sing background w/ the group Vector on their album, Temptation.

The song All Good Generals was used by the automotive company GMC in a commercial for their Chevrolet Camaro, although I believe this was uncredited.