1986 What? Records
Produced By: Rick Neigher
True Confessions (3:36)
Perfect World (4:08)
Romeo and Jane (3:43)
You Belong With Me (4:47)
I Handle Snakes (3:52)
Emotional War Games (3:51)
Living Doll (3:38)
You Don't Belong Here (5:43)
You Will Go Free (6:32)
Vocals: Tonio K.
Accompany Vocalists: Rick Neigher, T-Bone Burnett, others
Guitars: Rock Neigher, Nick van Maarth, Peter Banks, T-Bone Burnett, Tonio K.,Charlie Sexton, Billy Steele, Daryl Caraco
Mandocello & Violin: David Mansfield
Bass: Rick Neigher, Eric Gotthelf, Phil Chen, Tim Chandler, David Miner
Drums: Burleigh Drummond, Freddy Alwag, Ron Aston
Drum Programs: Rick Neigher, T-Bone Burnett
Percussion: Burleigh Drummond, Elfrain Toro
Synthetics: Rick Neigher, Bob Rose, Dave Aston, David Lewis
Horns: Phil Kenzie, Little Effort
I don't pretend to know much about Tonio K., other than he was signed to the small imprint label of Word Records, What? Records, back in the late 80's. I had bought one of his albums on cassette (Notes from the Lost Civilization), but I had never seen his other albums, let alone heard them.
Recently while shopping in a local Goodwill store I ran across this CD. I usually don't look at the CDs, opting to browse the vinyl instead. This is one instance that I was glad I checked because that turned out to be the best $.99 I've spent in a long time. This last week this album has stayed in my SUV's CD player and I've listened to it from beginning to end countless number of times.
The song writing on this album is fantasic, with many of the songs dealing with real human emotion and relationships. I've read that the What? Records imprint was designed for artists that didn't necessarily fit the CCM mold and may do better with a mainstream audience. That said this album is still full of spiritual lyrics...just not bold in your face lyrics like many of his CCM counterparts (if you can say he had a counterpart).
Just about every song on the album is fantastic and it's hard for me to pick a favorite. True Confessions and Perfect World are great songs that kick off the album.
Emotional War Games is a great song that focuses on relationships and how easily they can become fragile if the two people don't act as a team.
Is this the tunnel of love?
Is it a torture chamber?
Is it a gift from above
Or are we in some kind of danger?
Lord team me patience
Show me a way
Teach us forgiveness
Before it's too late
Because I want my baby
And she wants me, too
But if we don't stop fighting
Lord we're all through
The one song that I thought sounded like it was out of place on the album is "I Handle Snakes". The liner notes contain a note from Tonio K. that states "the theological treatise, "I Handle Snakes" was written and recorded in the mid-1980's. Thematically, it has nothing to do with the other songs on, or intent of, this record. It is included here only at the insistance of certain A&R, mangerial, and media folk. They know who they are; you decide what you think.
From what I gather from listening to the song, which is quite catchy by the way, is about the crazy things that man does sometimes in order to gain love or a greater depth of love from God.
It's hard for me to compare Tonio K. to other artists. He just kinda stands out there in a class all on his own. I can't believe how great this album is and how it's never caught my attention before a week ago. It's quickly becoming one of my favorite albums of all time. If you've never listened to any of his work, I urge you to click on a few of the links above and give him a listen. Most of his music has been re-released (available at Gadfly Records), but the original release of this album can easily be found on eBay for less than $15.