Sunday, May 20, 2018

Church of Rhythm "Not Perfect"

Church of Rhythm
Not Perfect
1996 Pamplin Music
Produced By: Max Hsu

album cover

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Track Listings

Take My Hand (3:35)
Faith (3:51)
Not Perfect (3:52)
Strayed (3:31)
Common People (3:46)
Where is God? (4:21)
And Can it Be (3:13)


Vocals: Jason Gregory, Paul Shamoun, Max Hsu
Keys/Sample Programming: Max Hsu
Guitars/Bass: Brian Gocher

Church of Rhythm is probably best known for two of their band members, Max Hsu and Dave Ghazarian, moving on to help form the group Superchick, however from 1995-1999 the band released two albums, the debut on Reunion Records and their follow up effort, Not Perfect for Pamplin Music.

This is another band that I can thank my older brother for introducing to me. I never owned their first album so I can't really comment on how their sound may have changed from one album to the other. I've only really listed to Not Perfect...and I'm fine with that as it's one of my favorite albums. This is one of those albums where the message outweighs the music. While I have nothing against the music itself, in fact there are some great tunes here, the lyrics are very honest and open and that is something that I appreciate.

When you ask people about music and who they enjoy or what they enjoy about a particular artist the answer you usually get has something to do with the music itself. While there is nothing wrong with that answer, the lyrics and the meaning behind the songs I feel often gets drowned out at times. The guys in Church of Rhythm tackle many different topics on this album, from joy, sorrow, suicide, backsliding to witnessing. With each song they pretty much just put the topic out there in front of you. The songs aren't vague, you know what their message is.

Perhaps one of my favorite songs on the album is the track I Believe in God. I'm much older now than I was when I first listened to this song/album, however this song still moves me and challenges me to share my faith with others. What I can't wrap my brain around is when did our society become so "smart" and "sophisticated" that we don't believe in God anymore? I say this because one look at the world, the local or world news, heck even on social media platforms you see people who are in need of God, yet don't believe or no longer believe because they've become too "smart" or fill in the blank if you will. It's quite sad really, but every time I hear this song I'm reminded that "though none go with me, I will follow".

A man walked up to me the other day
He was very educated and he had a lot of things to say
He was oh so forward thinking and so very up to date
And he wanted to teach me about faith
He said how can you believe in a thing you've never seen?
He said how can you believe with all the evil that we have seen?
He said don't you know that no one believes in your simple old fashioned faith

I said I believe in God
I said I believe in the impossible
I said I believe in God
Though none go with me I will follow

He said man I've been to a church
He said I've been lied to, judged and hurt
He said all I heard was guilt and hypocrisy, why believe?
Isaid friend, you didn't meet my God that day
I said friend, sit down let me tell you about grace
I said I've been where you are some yesterday, but today,
I believe

I said I've been saved by faith
I said Jesus loves me this I know
I said I believe in grace
And where He lead me I will follow

Don't turn away,
Please don't close your eyes
If I did not believe with all that I am
I would not waste your time

As a young adult, the song Not Perfect spoke to me as I was trying to find my way through life and trying to fit in. I was in my first year of college when this album was released and like a lot of young people, I was on my own. A lot of my church friends went to other schools so I didn't know most of the people around some ways it was like high school all over again...ugh! This song reminded me that no matter how imperfect I am, He loves me.

One of the ugly things that I still see in our society is racism. Being the dad of two small daughters, I pray that they will be able to see past color and the hatred that many still seem to have in their hearts. There are some great songs on the radio today that deal with this issue (my daughter's favorite is We All Bleed the Same by Mandisa) and Common People is another great song that tackles racism from the Christian perspective.

I see a blind man on the street
He doesn't know what I look like
So he can't judge the man I am
Except by what he sees inside

I see a child on the street
He doesn't know the mistakes I made
I know he takes me where I am
He sees a friend not a crusade

Lord help me live like this
Lord help me love like this

We are a common people, each of us a fallen man
Let's find that common ground
And stop drawing lines in the sand
We are a common people, living in a common life
There are ties that bind us all
When we look beyond the lines
Common people, you and I

I see a brother o the other side
Of my crusade, my holy fight
I think I know where I went wrong
When I gave up love to be proved right

I saw a man die on a cross
He forgot the mistakes I made
He died for me the way I was
And He wants me to love the same

Can't we tear the fences down
Can't we rip the labels off
Can we share the common ground
Instead of judging what is not
Can't we love instead of hate
Can't we trust instead of fear
Can we stop fighting for a moment
And feel our common tears
Is it us against them, wrong against right,
Black against white, my kind your kind
There comes a time to put the argument down
And have a party on the common ground

Strayed is a perfect reminder that it doesn't matter how far we run from God that He's only step away. His love for us never ends and he's always beside us, no matter what we've done or where we've gone.

When I was young I grew up in a Christian family
I wanted to please my parents
I wanted them to be so proud of me
So I took their faith and I learned their religion
And I went to a church where everyone was a Christian
I strayed far, but I'm fine

Then I went away to school and I found new friends
I wanted to please them too, to be liked by them
And if they didn't need God, then neither did I
And I got to be so busy, that He pretty much slipped my mind

Well I've been out of school and I'm finally alone
No one to telll me what to do, but no beliefs to call my own
But in my moments of loneliness, in my desperate independence
I wondered if there was a God and if He cared where I'd been

I strayed far but I think I've missed You, God, all this time

And when I'd run, till I'd run out
When being broken made me look a second time
Well now I can see, I can see clearly
That You've been with me all this time

I strayed far, but You've been with me, God, all

I strayed far, but I'm fine
I strayed far, but I'm fine
I strayed far, but You've been with me God all this time

I strayed far, but I'm fine
I strayed far, but I'm fine
I strayed far, but You've been with me God all this time

There are times I believe that in everyone's life, Christian or not, where we as the question, "Where is God?" The song aptly titled, Where is God? tackles this subject head on. Let's face it, this world we live in is so corrupt and at times is down right scary. Things happen all the time that I personally don't understand and I don't have answers. However I've put my faith and trust in God and I believe that His plan remains perfect.

He can't stand the fighting anymore
He goes to his room, he shuts the door
And somewhere a father and a mother talk about divorce again
She's been missing since last may
She would have turned 13 today
And somewhere a father and I say a prayer for his little girl

Where is God in all of this
Where is my faith in all of this
Where are the answers, to help me live through this

Maybe I'm a doubting Thomas
Maybe I've a skeptic's heart
If I can't believe that everything can be Jesus-talked away
I know God is real
And I need Him more than I need any slogan
God be real to me, and heal this darkness in my faith

I may not understand, but there is God
I may feel alone, but I have God
I may not believe, but through it all He's still my God

There is God in all of this
There is my faith in all of this
There are the answers to help me live through this

I love this album for so many reasons, but most of all because of the way it makes me feel and the way it makes me think when I listen to it. Church of Rhythm deal with some tough issues, but I always feel better after listening to it. It's one of the few albums on my crowded music library that I constantly go back to. Most of the songs are easy to sing along with once you learn the lyrics and I often find myself singing along in the car or when it comes up in my music mix on my phone. The album is fairly easy to track down on the secondary market and isn't expensive. For the album to be 22 years old, I think it's held up well against the test of time. Give it a listen and let me know what you think about some of the songs.

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