Friday, May 3, 2019

Titanic "Maiden Voyage"


Titanic
Maiden Voyage (Collector's Edition)
2010 Retroactive Records

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Track Listing

Hollywood Blvd.

(* please note that the linked music is from the original release)

Musicians

Robert Sweet: drums
Ray Kilsdonk: bass
Bill Menchen: guitars
Simon Tyler: vocals

This heavy metal classic originally released in 1996. The 2010 Collector's Edition features stunning new artwork, while the music has been remixed, remastered, and partially re-recorded. We extend a special thanks to the amazing Robert Sweet (Stryper) for providing real drums on this Collector's Edition. We asked him to "really let loose" and to "drum like you've always wanted to - with no restrictions" and that's exactly what he did! The result is a world-class heavy metal release with drums by a bonafide superstar! Enjoy!

If my memory serves me correctly, Titanic is one of those bands that I learned about in my high school years thanks to the pages of Heaven's Metal magazine. I never was able to pick up any of their original albums, but thanks to Retroactive Records all of their albums were re-released. Having not actually listened to their music before, I purchased Maiden Voyage solely for the fact that Robert Sweet was on drums. That isn't something that I would normally do, however I have loved just about any project any member of Stryper has performed on and this one is no exception.

Being a mid-90's metal album, the music is heavy with crunchy guitar riffs and of course some amazing drumming. I love to turn this one up loud when listening. Simon Tyler's vocals took me awhile before I started to appreciate what he brought to the band as his style was a little different than what I was used to. Very few songs have the rest of the band chime in so most of what you year is Simon. I like my metal to be a little more melodic (at least on the chorus'), but different doesn't equate to being bad. In fact, the more and more I have listened to this album in my car and at home the more I've come to enjoy it.

The album's booklet doesn't give song writing credit so I don't know if Bill Menchen wrote all the songs or if it was a collective effort. These songs have a lot of lyrics and whomever wrote them was very crafty. Metal songs aren't always known for containing a ton of lyrics so Titanic is the exception to the rule. One song that stood out to me was I Don't Believe. It's basically an anthem of everything the songwriter believes and doesn't believe in.

I don't believe I stand alone
I don't believe in throwing stones
I don't believe in fairy tales
I don't believe that God fails
I don't believe in black or white
I don't believe I'm always right
I don't believe you know the truth
I don't believe in dead youth
I'm not gonna take it back oh no
I'm not gonna take it back 
I don't care what you say

I believe I picked this album up on Amazon for fairly cheap and as of this post is still available. The Amazon description says this album is great for fans of Judas Priest and Saint. I am a fan of Saint and I can see the similarities, but I've only listened to a handful of Judas Priest songs so I'll have to bow out on that comparison. Overall this album does get better with each listen and is one that I can highly suggest. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Various Artists "Metal Meltdown"


Various Artists
Metal Meltdown
1989 Pure Metal Records

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Songs & Interviews from:

Whitecross
Scarlet Red
Tempest
Bride
One Bad Pig
Jerusalem
Leviticus
Lightforce
Rosanna's Raiders

This plays out more like a radio show than your typical compilation album. Hosted by Ken Farley (I'm guessing he was a radio host for a Oklahoma radio station based on information from the last track), Ken talks about the emergence of Christian heavy metal music, why it's relevant, why there was/is push back from the Christian body. It's meant to be an introduction to parents I assume to clue them in on what exists for their teenagers to listen to versus the secular bands at the time (Motley Crue is specifically mentioned in one interview) and to give a little more information about the bands featured.

I'll be honest, listening to this today I did find it a little humorous at times, but growing up listening to this music I can relate. My parents weren't too keen on my having Stryper's "To Hell with the Devil" album just based on the album title alone. I remember what it was like having to show my parents the song lyrics to convince them there was nothing wrong with songs like Bride's "Hell No"!

For each band there are interview snippets inserted in between parts of various songs. Unfortunately no full songs are played, just enough to wet your appetite for more. To get the full effect you need to listen to the "album" from beginning to end, which will take approximately one hour.

Song snippets included for each band are as follows:

Whitecross
  • When the Walls Tumble Down
  • Walk With Me
  • Because of Jesus
Scarlet Red
  • Don't Dance with Danger
  • Cry Out
Tempest
  • True Love
  • Rock for the Light
  • Goodbye
Bride
  • In the Dark
  • Live or Die
  • Heroes
One Bad Pig
  • Let's Be Frank
  • People Cry Out
  • Smash the Guitar
Jerusalem
  • Plunder Hell and Populate Heaven
  • We're Gonna Take Europe
  • Dancing on the Head of the Serpent
Leviticus
  • Get Up
  • I'm a Believer
  • Saved
Bjorn Stiggson
  • Way of Living
  • Lovin' my Woman
  • Come On
Lightforce
  • Metal Missionary
  • Mystical Thieves
  • Crossfire
  • Searching
Rosanna's Raiders
  • We are Raiders
  • Serve Someone
  • Run the Race

While I enjoyed my recent listen to this CD, I really can't recommend it unless you are a hardcore Christian metal collector of the genre or one of the bands. The quality of the interviews aren't the best and with the music playing in the background I found it hard to hear what they were saying at times without having to turn up the volume. Some of the interviews are interesting, especially since this hails from pre-social media days. Some of the bands never released a follow up album (on the Pure Metal label or any label for that matter) so I can see how some would find this to be a fun collector's item. Be prepared to pay $25+ on the secondary market for a copy. That's a little high in my opinion, but then again I wonder how many copies originally sold (even at the special price of $5.49!) and how many exist today?

Monday, February 4, 2019

Revisiting Some Pro-Life Songs


Psalms 139: 13-16

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

When I was in the 10th grade I worked on a Pro-Life project for my English class. While I don't remember all the ins and outs of the project itself, I do remember using several songs and their lyrics to help me take a stand. I recall evening playing one of the songs in class, handing out the lyrics to everyone to follow along as they listened.

Now you may be asking why am I bringing this up? Well with the recent news of abortions being allowed in Virginia and New York, its really had me riled up and angry. With abortion being in the headlines again the songs of my youth came rushing back to me. I thought since this is a music blog after all, why not share these songs and lyrics? I know some may find it odd for a male to feel so passionate about abortion, but it's something that for some reason God laid on my heart a long time ago. Just because our society may deem abortion more "appropriate" these days, to me it's still murder. I know this is a controversial topic, even in Christian circles, however I feel the need to defend those who don't have a voice and these songs helped me share my faith and my position on this topic as a young adult.

A lot of these songs are by rock bands, so while the style of music may not be your cup of tea, I do encourage you to at least read the song lyrics if nothing else. These songs are listed in no particular order by the way.

BARREN CROSS "Killers of the Unborn"

Lay her down, commence to drill | A primo murder, the legal kill | I am a child about to die | My mother does not hear my cry, no

Killers of the unborn, killers | Killers of the unborn, stop the killing
Injection starts to work its way | I don't feel love, I just feel pain | I'm getting weaker, my poison blood | And death surrounds me like a flood
The operation is over | I'm now in pieces in a garbage bag | Guilt will now take over | 
'Cause where is the relief you thought you had | 

The shame and tears she bears | 

The scar of guilt she is going to wear | 

But he can forgive her | 
If she gives her life to the savior | 
No, no, they're gonna kill me | 
I don't want to die, just let me be | 
No, no, I feel the pain | 
I feel, I feel the pain, no


GALACTIC COWBOYS "If I Were a Killer"


This is just a hypothetical story | Of someone, let's just say it's me | I'd gain acceptance for my murderous ways | By stalking a defenseless prey
If I were a killer | I'd smile just like the boy next door | If I were a killer | I'd say I do it for the poor | If I were a killer You'd bring me victims more and more | If I were a killer
Supreme Court would agree to hear my case | And find me innocent of crime | Holding public rallies to incite sympathy | Creative actuality
If I were a killer | I'd smile just like the boy next door | If I were a killer | I'd say I do it for the poor | If I were a killer You'd bring me victims more and more | If I were a killer
If I were a killer | I'd smile just like the boy next door | If I were a killer | I'd say I do it for the poor | If I were a killer You'd bring me victims more and more | If I were a killer | I'd hide behind a doctor's door | If I were a killer | I'd scrape you off my office floor | If I were a killer
Killer


KING'S X "Legal Kill"

I only know what I believe | The rest seems so absurd to me | I close my eyes so I can't see | But the picture just gets clearer everyday | I read somewhere to learn is to remember | And I've learned we all forgot |There was peace in her before | But that was yesterday | But I can see the beauty that is here for me | The chance to live and walk free | From a legal kill

I know your side so very well | It makes no sense that I can tell | The smell of hell is what I smell | And you hand it out with handshakes everyday | I have trouble with the persons, with the signs | But I feel the need to make my own | Yes there's two ways to be | And truth does not depend on me | But I can feel the fight for life is always real | I can't believe it's no big deal | It's a legal kill

I can feel the fight for life is always real | And I can't believe it's no big deal | It's a legal kill | And I can see the beauty that is here for me | The chance to live and walk free | From a legal kill


DC Talk "Children Can Live (Without It)"

I don't want another country | I want ta recognize intent | Of our forefathers when they wrote | Precisely what they meant | Taken on the form of Christian | But the power is denied | In God we trust only when we lust | For the apple of our eye | One nation under God | With morals out of proportion | An end result is murder | Under legalized abortion 

Children can live without it | Who's gonna take it away? | Children can live without it | Maybe we'll learn someday | Oh, that we'll learn, I pray 

A miracle of God | Now looked on as a choice | It's time for all His children | To unify a voice | With influence in our numbers | And power in out prayer | We must defend the children | And fight for what is fair | What appears to be an upset | Can change its ugly course | And we can do it all | Through Jesus Christ our Lord

Children can live without it | Who's gonna take it away? | Children can live without it | Maybe we'll learn someday | Oh, that we'll learn, I pray 

O, they can fight, but they cannot win | They can scream, but none will hear them | Don't ya know that our conscience will die | If we take away the freedom to survive? 

Children can live without it | Who's gonna take it away? | Children can live without it | Maybe we'll learn someday | Oh, that we'll learn, I pray
Children can live without it | Who's gonna take it away? | Children can live without it | Maybe we'll learn someday | Oh, that we'll learn, I pray
Children can live without it | Who's gonna take it away? | Children can live without it | Maybe we'll learn someday | Oh, that we'll learn, I pray


GRAMMATRAIN "Execution"

Watch while I'm burned in salt | Tell me now where's my fault | I'm torn in two, you pull me through | Oh ignore my shout now scrape me out

Oh nation murders me, me, me

Suck me down your hose | Pieces of my fingers and toes | Use me to brew your lab rat stew | Oh dissolve my voice for your woman's choice

My execution, it's your revolution

Spill my blood on "civil" hands | And I pay to make you free

Oh, nation murders me | Yeah, with politicians dreams | Now silencing my screams, screams, screams

My execution, it's your revolution


HOLY SOLDIER "See No Evil"

I float inside her womb | Oh mother, I am coming soon | Suddenly, fear and dread | When mother says she wants me dead

Oh how can you do this to me?

Thousands come | Please don't kill me | Thousands go | I want to live | Day by day | Can anyone hear me | The numbers grow |I want to live

God hears them cry | We hear the lie | And we simply look the other way

See no evil | Hear no evil | Speak no evil

From a pail with open eyes | I see the man that I despise | He looks at me and turns his back | As my life fades, it fades to black | And there's no turning back

Thousands come | Please don't kill me | Thousands go | I want to live | Day by day | Can anyone hear me? | The numbers grow | I want to live

God hears them cry | We hear the lie | And we simply look the other way

See no evil | Hear no evil | Speak no evil

Mommy, mommy, I'm afraid

Friday, December 7, 2018

Various Artists "Starball Contribution"


Various Artists
Starball Contribution
1996 Flying Tart Records
Produced By: Alex Parker

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Track Listing

Out of my Head - Phantasmic
Dead Horse Grin - Duraluxe
I Really Don't Like It - The Huntingtons
J.I.S. - One 21
Wake Up, Christine - The Julies
Two Girls and a Guy - Left Out
You're Special to Me - Joe Christmas
Warped and Twisted - Plague of Ethyls
Dura-Lux - Duraluxe
Motorcycle Daddy - Stratochief
Chewing on Hate - Situation Taboo
Convoy - Fluffy
We Got the Beat - The Huntingtons
Saturday Night - Left Out
I Love Rock-n-Roll - Joe Christmas
"J" Friends - Seven Foot Politic
Eyes Without a Face - Phantasmic
You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Sixpence None the Richer
Give a Little Laughter - Don Ho

The Flying Tart record label was...interesting to say the least. The label's owner, Alex Parker, tried hard to get the label off the ground. One way he did this was by releasing several compilation albums featuring many different bands. Starball Contribution is one of those, but this is more than your traditional compilation albums. First off not all the bands on the album were signed by the label and second, there are snippets of other audio mixed in between the tracks. This means in order to really appreciate this album, you have to listen to it from beginning to end. I can't identify all of the audio clips used, but I do recognize a snippet from an old Batman (and Spider-Man) read along story record and of course Archie Bunker from the All in the Family television show. I especially like the snippet of Archie between songs "You're special to Me" and "Warped and Twisted".

The album starts off with a very good track by Phantasmic, aka Tess Wiley. I have only ever owned one of her albums which was full of cover songs, but I loved it. Her music features a lot of distortion and her vocals are very moody, but beautiful. This song was taken from the Fluffy vs. Phantasmic album.

I never was a big fan of Duraluxe, but I like their first song on this album. I can't really make out what the song is about, but Chris Colbert wrote the song and I'm at least familiar with his name being plastered all over the Christian music scene.

The Huntingtons take their inspiration from the Ramoans and they don't deny it. Their first song on this album was taken from their debut album, Sweet Sixteen. It's classic punk rock and to this day I still love their raw sound.

Another punk band featured is One 21. I have only heard a small sample of their music and it's just not for me. "J.I.S." was taken from the album In the Year King Uzziah Died.

You know the label did it's job when you go out and buy an album after listing to a compilation and that's just what I did after hearing the Julies for the first time. I can't really aptly describe the style of their music, other than it was good. I believe Lovelife was their only album and I'm not able to find much other information by them online.

Left Out is the third punk band featured on the album. At one time I owned their Pride Kills album, but eventually let it go as their style of music isn't something that I normally gravitate to. This was also one of the bands I couldn't find anything of on YouTube to link to.

If the song by Aleixa sounds familiar, it should. It was originally included on the album, Sweet Family Music - A Tribute to Stryper. Not my favorite rendition of the song, but that Tribute album was decent.

Joe Christmas features two songs on the album and I prefer the later cover song more. "You're Special to Me" at the time was a previously unreleased song. The band would only release two albums on the Tooth & Nail label and I don't think this song was included on either album.

I don't know much about the band Plague of Ethyls, but I really like their song "Warped and Twisted". I think this is one of those songs that I didn't originally care much for, but with subsequent listens to the album I've grown more fonder of the song. The song credits go to Karyn Colbert, which I believe is Chris Colbert's wife. She sings lead and has a beautiful voice, then again I love female fronted rock music so I may be a little biased.

Duraluxe shows up a second time with another song, "Dura-Lux", a previously unreleased song. I believe it was to be included on an upcoming album, but whether or not it was released I'm not sure. This song has a much different sound over "Dead Horse Grin", so much that if I didn't know this was the same band I would have never guessed. This song has a slower pace, almost reminds me of the "shoe gazer" sub-genre. The mixed male and female sung vocals have a haunting feel and at times I can't help but to mumble along with them.

The first song on this album that really grabbed my attention was by Statochief. I have no idea who this was/is and even to this date can't find anything on them other than their song "Motorcycle Daddy" was included on one other Flying Tart compilation album. I was shocked to find a "video" of this song on YouTube. It's a silly song, but one of my favorites. One just can't help belt out the chorus at the top of your lungs. Listen and you'll hear what I'm talking about! The insert says the songs was taken from the Motorpsycho Fanzine Vol. 1...but I can't find anything online about this. Hmm...

Situation Taboo is another band I know little about. I'd guess you'd classify their music as industrial? This was another song I was surprised to find on YouTube. "Chewing on Hate" was taken from their Digitalis release.

Another standout track is Fluffy's cover of the C.W. McCall classic. I'll admit I haven't seen the movie and I wasn't really familiar w/ the song, but it's such a great cover. I'm not sure if the music video I found on YouTube is authentic (my guess is it isn't), but if you only click on a few links this needs to be one of them!

One great cover is followed up by another good cover, this time we have the Huntingtons covering the Go-Go's classic "We Got the Beat". Maybe not as good as the original, but still a fun cover. At the time this song hadn't been previously released, but would eventually end up on their Rock n Roll Habits for the New Wave album.

Left Out chimes in for the second time on the album with a cover of "Saturday Night" by the Bay City Rollers. What got them to cover this song I have no idea, but it's not a bad version. Sadly I couldn't find the song to link too, but just imagine the song in your head if sung by a punk band and there you go.

Joe Christmas keeps the covers coming with their take on the classic Joan Jett & the Heartbreakers' "I Love Rock n Roll". I love this song and replacing Joan's vocals isn't an easy task. While it's no where near as good as the original, its still a good attempt. No matter who's singing lead, you still can't help but sing along.

One of the more mysterious songs on this album is "J" Friends by Seven Foot Politic. I've never been able to find any information on this particular song, however the band did release a few albums. None of these albums included this song so I have no idea how it came to be included on this album. Oddly enough, it's one of my favorite songs. I guess you'd classify Seven Foot Politic as swing music? Maybe think Brian Setzer? The song opens up with a catchy bass guitar riff, followed by some trumpet. This goes on for a few minutes before the tempo increases and the vocals come in. Catchy song, can't help but to tap my foot to this one.

Tess Wiley helps start to close out the album with a cover of Billy Idol's "Eyes Without a Face". I can't tell you how long I went without realizing this was a cover song and not an original song. It's a great version of the song, full of distorted guitars and Tess' hauntingly beautiful vocals.

Another song taken from a different Flying Tart compilation is Six Pence None the Richer's cover of the classic "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch". Originally included on Christmas in Heaven, this is a great cover of a song I'm sure just about everyone has heard.

No one should be surprised at the song that closes out the album. After all the odd audio clips between the songs, why not include a song by Don Ho? Alex Parker thanks him in the album credits ("even though he has no knowledge of his participation").

This is one odd album, yet it remains to this day one of my favorites. Perhaps it is because of the overall wackiness of the audio bites or the general eclectic variety of music included. Whatever the reason it's an album that I like to pull out and listen to from beginning to end once or twice a year. I seem to remember it being really hard to find on the secondary market, but a quick eBay search when I typed this I was able to find a few copies...and for cheap too. With some of these songs not being widely available I think it's a great album to pick up, but you'll have to make that call for yourself. I do encourage you to check out a few of the tracks I was able to find audio of before you write this off as "just another compilation album".

Thursday, October 18, 2018

PFR "Goldie's Last Day"


PFR
Goldie's Last Day
1993 Vireo
Produced By: Jimmie Lee Sloas

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Track Listings

By Myself (3:39)
Dying Man (3:27)
Satisfied (5:06)
Mercy Man (4:53)
Shine (3:34)

Musicians
Patrick Andrew: Bass Guitar, vocals
Joel Hanson: Guitar, vocals
Mark Nash: Drums

Additional Musicians
Paul Franklin: Steel Guitar on "Shine"
Phil Madeira: Organ
Blair Masters: Keyboards
Gordan Kennedy: Guitar, Vocals
Jimmie Lee Sloas: Bass Guitar on "Spinnin' Round"
Eric Darken: Percussion

Another band with another album from my early high school days. PFR started as Pray for Rain, only having to shorten their name by their 2nd studio release, Goldie's Last Day. PFR was never a favorite band of mine, but I did enjoy many of their songs. Long before we had K-LOVE on the radio, my local Christian station played the single "That Kind of Love". If the station hadn't run that song into the ground me for I may still enjoy it, but now it's a track I usually skip over.

The song "Goldie's Last Day" is one of the standout songs, however it's sad too as it's about the last days of a pet dog, Goldie.

The album as a whole is kind of all over the place. The opening track starts off with a banjo before giving way to a heavier guitar riff. "By Myself" has some great vocal harmonies and is probably the best song on the album. "Mercy Man" is another solid song, but many of the others just don't see as cohesive. It's a good album and one that will stay in my music library, however their subsequent efforts show the band's growth.

If you ever listen to the album make sure to stick around after the song on the 11th track finishes. There will be some silence before you hear some talking. Affectionately known as the "Gargling Solo", it showcases the guys having fun in the studio.

This album isn't hard to find on the secondary market and is usually pretty cheap. I'd say at least half of the songs are worth it.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Age of Faith


Age of Faith
Age of Faith
1991 Benson Music Group
Produced By: Mark Baldwin

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Track Listings

Take the Low Road
Love
Arms of Mercy
Tender Mercies
Last Night
Grace

Musicians
Jimi Ray: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Rick Harwell: Keyboard, Hammond B3, Vocals

Additional Musicians
John Hammond: Drums
Gary Lunn: Bass
Clayborn Huff: Bass
Lance Huff: Drums
David Huff: Guitar
Mark Baldwin: Guitar, Keyboard

Just about everyone has a particular album or at least a group of songs that when you listen to them you are magically transported to a different time in your life. For me, Age of Faith's debut album is one of those. I was a teenager growing up in the early to mid-90's so I was already at an impressionable age. I grew up going to church in Charlotte, NC on the west side of town. My youth pastor was fantastic and between him, the church and my friends in youth group they all made a big impact on my life. I wasn't always one to listen to much music, however about this same time my older brother started working for Baptist Bookstore (aka LifeWay) and would bring me home all sorts of Christian music. Our youth pastor would also implement Christian music into our Sunday night gatherings. At some point between all of this I was introduced to Age of Faith.

Age of Faith signed with Benson and released two albums before the original duo would go their separate ways. However during the time frame of these two albums, I had the opportunity to see them live in concert multiple times. A local skating rink in Charlotte would transform on Saturday nights into what was called "The Gathering Place". I don't recall who organized this, but I do remember taking a break from playing arcade games and listening to the band. I also have fond memories of the band leading worship at a youth retreat called Christmas Adventure in Pigeon Forge, TN. I would also see them live in concert at the Carowind's theme park for Christian Music Day once or twice.

Their debut self-titled album is great and one I still pull out and listen to every now and then. I'm more familiar with the first 5 or 6 songs as I originally had the album on cassette so I'd hear the first side of the cassette more than the second side! I eventually upgraded my cassette to CD to, you know, keep up with the times. I've listened to the album so many times in my youth that I can still recall many of the lyrics and sing along today as a 40 something old dude. 

"God's Got an Army" opens up with a youth group singing and when I hear the opening riff, I'm immediately a teen again standing in front of the stage. The chorus is a good reminder (no matter your age) that that you do your best fighting from your knees.

"Sarah" tackles a topic that a lot of young people face...love and what is real love? Now as a dad with two young daughters, this song has a new meaning to me. My girls aren't quite at that age yet where they'll have to deal with this, but I know it's coming.

I can see in your eyes you're confused
Finding it hard to know how to choose
Oh be true to your heart
Don't give in

Sarah, wait for real love
You'll know when it's knocking at your heart's door
Sarah, wait for real love
I know the love you're looking for
Sarah, wait for real love

Staying on the topic about love, the song "Love" covers Biblical love and has a easy to song along chorus. This is easily one of my favorite songs on the album.

Love is patient, Love is kind
Love is not conceited, Love is never blind
Love does not get angry it simply forgives
Love carries on, Love always lives

Until I sat down to add to write this blog post, I had no idea, I mean zero, that the song "Unconditional Love" was a cover of the 1983 Donna Summers song! Of course AOF's version sounds nothing like the original. 

Some of the best guitar work can be found on "Tender Mercies". Rick also jams on the Hammond B3 organ...put it all together and it makes for another highlight of the album. 

While I certainly have my favorites, the whole album as a whole is fantastic. Jimi lent his talents to many of the songs, along with Rick and a few other guys. Lyrically the album is just as good as it is musically. I could relate to many of these songs as a teenager and even now as a grown adult the songs still speak to me. There are many times I think about culling down my CD collection as I have more than I can fit on my music rack, but this is one of those albums that I just can't part with.

While AOF may be no more, Jimi himself is still playing some venues. You can check his website  for more info and even follow him on Twitter. The first two AOF albums on disc can be tricky to find on the secondary market, however the band's later music is readily available online.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Michael Sweet


Michael Sweet
Michael Sweet
1994 Benson Music Group
Produced By: Michael Sweet & Greg Fulkerson

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Track Listings


Musicians
Michael Sweet: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Gregg Fulkerson: Guitar, Organ, Keyboard, Background Vocals
Jamie Wollam: Drums and Percussion
Michael Spears: Bass
Doug Beiden: Background Vocals

Does this album really need any sort of introduction. Michael Sweet, frontman of the iconic Christian band, Stryper. After the band originally called it quits, Michael went on to pursue a solo career and signed with Benson, the distributor of Stryper's albums to the Christian market.

When I first learned of this album I was super excited. On one hand I was bummed that it meant Stryper was no more, but on the other hand I was excited I would be getting some music that I figured would still be in that Stryper vein. His self titled solo debut does contain that Stryper sound, but this is no Stryper album. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

I would describe the sound of the album in general as commercial rock. That's not a knock against the album though as I still enjoy listening through it. Like with Stryper, there are some great guitar riffs and solos. Michael is a underrated guitarist in my opinion and he's got some good work on the album. The songs have big vocal chorus, making it super easy to sing along with. As I type this the chorus of All This and Heaven Too and J.E.S.U.S. are stuck in my head.

Tomorrow, Tonight and Someday are the required ballads. The album was dedicated to his wife Kyle, and you can tell that by the lyrics to Tomorrow Tonight. Even though in the liner notes he credits Ephesians 5:25-28 as the source for the lyrics, the chorus reads:

Can we dream about tomorrow, tonight, oh baby
And we'll dream that everything's gonna be alright

The next verse continues:

I've got a thousand prayers, each one is for you and I
Lord knows I really care for you baby, I would live and die for you
I know I've hurt you before, I know I've hurt you, now I wanna heal you
Baby I'm sorry once more, for what I've put you through

I honestly don't think he's referring to Jesus here with "baby". I really don't care if this love (?) song is about God or not. It appears as if it's more of an apology song to his wife more than anything. I don't have the context here so I don't know what Michael is exactly referring to, but the whole song just sounds like a commercial rock ballad.

Overall I think it's a good solo effort and if I'm being honest I prefer it over some of his more current Sweet & Lynch stuff. It's dated, 90's Christian rock. While some of Stryper's songs may not have been overtly in your face Christian, Sweet doesn't shy away from his faith with this album. Since this album followed Stryper's controversial Against The Law album, I wasn't sure what we'd get w/ Michael's first solo effort.

Some of the songs may sound dated (I Think You Hear Me Knockin') in today's market and a song about abstinence (Ain't No Safe Way) may sound out of place in today's society, I still believe that this album still holds up well in 2018 and should go back into my CD rotation. The album is pretty easy to find and is usually pretty dirt cheap. If you're a fan of Michael's music or just a Stryper fan that wants more, why not check it out. It may not blow your socks off, but it's a good solid album in my opinion.