Saturday, March 31, 2012

Night Beat Rewind: March 2012

We have reached the halfway mark of the eligibility period for the Third Annual Platinum Vinyl Awards (the year is Oct 1 - Sept 30). My how time flies. So far things are pretty good except we are back to a very slow year for Children's Music. As always, we begin these rewind posts with those albums which

Missing The Mark

As I say every time, these aren't bad albums, just not Award Worthy. I'll let you know if a release stinks up the joint. Don't worry.

Last month there were no releases that rose to the Pinnacled Heights of Greatness, but this week there was one result which qualified to be called

Pure Platinum

  • Sarah Macintosh - Current 5 Emeralds
Was there really any question? There wasn't if you read my review. The former Chasing Furies front-woman takes fans of the late 90's band remembers her old fans in her latest release, and introduces new listeners to her memorable voice. While Current was the only perfect album of the month, there were plenty of releases which would qualify as


Semi-Precious Metal

March is over, and I've finished as well. This has got to be some kind of miracle. To have the March Rewind up on the last day of the month. Here's to more surprises. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Flashback Friday: Swimming In A Human Ocean

We come to the end of our Journey through the Jungle Music Skit to the point where it all began, with the authors themselves. Servant. Servant, also known inexplicably as The Servant to Amazon, was born out of a commune, more specifically the Highway Missionary Society of Grants Pass, Oregon, which was later renamed The Servant Community.

Servant was a Rock Pioneer in so many ways. A Female Lead (Sandie Brock), multiple costume changes and skits, Laser Lights, Rock opera, smoke and flash. They were the bands of the early eighties. Petra was their opening act, not as you would expect, the other way around.

We would be amiss if we did not begin with the well used "Jungle Music" skit, a pioneer of its own in name dropping. At the conclusion of the skit, Stanley is completely frustrated with Livingstone at his misunderstanding his recitation of the Rock and Roll tapes that he brought with him. He tries one more time.
S: No, No, Doctor, you've got it all wrong. Oh well. Now then, I've also brought you some Servant.
L: Oh, what a stroke of luck, why two of my servants ran away last week, Larry and Normany. They ran into the shallow water and the crocks got them. Oh well. I suppose they're in another land now.
Last time we covered the reference to Larry Norman in this short bit. This week we go to the self reference. The band referenced, of course, is Servant, the song's author. The album referenced was Shallow Water (1979), the band's debut album. Of course by this time they were on their third release, with Rockin Revival (1981) and World of Sand (1982) filling out the schedule. I was privileged to see them three times, during their Rockin Revival, World of Sand and Swimming In A Human Ocean (1985) tours. They also had two other albums: Caught In The Act of Loving Him (1983) and Light Maneuvers (1984). The band remained mostly intact during its run, with the exception of Tim Spransy taking over Lead guitar on founding member Bruce Wright's death in 1985. Another member of the Spransy family, Matt Spransy, had joined the band on Keyboards back in 1981 when they added synths. Other than that the changes were fairly minor, with Eric Odell taking second lead from Bob Hardy in 1984 and Sam Evans on drums in 1985.

Partly due to their commune lifestyle, the Prosperity Message of the Word of Faith Churches were a frequent target for the band. Not surprisingly, the lyrics to those songs showed a profound ignorance of the message of prosperity. They though it was simply about me, me, me. If you give up everything and become poor, you can not help the poor. You need help yourself. Fortunately for those who believed that way, there was plenty more to enjoy from the band, and we weren't offended by the attacks.

I have a few YouTube audio clips for you. First up is Holy Roller Blues from Shallow Water. Now I don't know who did the lead on the album, but if it was the same as the live concert, it would have been Bruce Wright.

Next up was Rockin Revival. Unfortunately we don't have any audio clips from this album. We do have a treat with World of Sand, however. This is the full album. The album is awesome, though I will point out two in particular. The Jungle Music song begins at the 11:20 point, and the Sudden Death/Come Jesus Come Rock Opera goes from 28:55 to 40:35. Both are not to be missed.

Caught in the Act of Loving Him was up next in their career. One of my favorite songs from this album was about Forgiveness. It was called Heart to Heart.

Light Maneuvers gave the band another CCM Top 40 release in We are The Light.

It all came to an end much too soon with the release of Swimming In a Human Ocean. Of course the band was totally transformed by then.Only Owen and Sandie Brock and Rob Martens on Bass went pole to pole. We have an audio of Look Through His Eyes to close things out.

That closes out the first round of Flashback Friday. We are still technically caught in the seventies. I am trying to do things by the first release for dating a band. There is still much more for the decade. Still to come is Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, Keith Green, Amy Grant, and The 2nd Chapter of Acts, and I'm not even done with the seventies again. Stay with me, this is a never ending column every Friday. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A Night Beat April Preview: Demon Hunter

There are certain bands that just nailed it when they picked their name. Petra comes to mind. I mean the name means Rock. Then there is Audio Adrenaline. Think it over, it means really really loud. You can't get more spot on than that. Another one is Demon Hunter, which has to be one of the coolest names in Christian Hard Rock. I dare you to say it in a normal voice. You can't do it, can you. The name demands a deep thrash growl. And it goes against all of traditional Christianity (which, despite the Bible, acts like "Eek, a devil, run away"). And that Logo, a goat/demon skull with a bullet hole in it. Gotta love these guys.

Demon Hunter is back with a new release entitled True Defiance. The album wont come out until April 10, but you can preview some of the music courtesy of Pre-release Official Music Videos. No this isn't Music Video Monday (it's Tuesday) but who cares? Up first is My Destiny.

The newest trend is Music Videos is the Lyric Video. If you remember old cartoons you may remember the follow the bouncing ball songs. This is the modern equivalent. For some of these bands it is most welcome. This is Dead Flowers, which I predict will be a Rock Song of the Year candidate next year, much as Red's faceless is this year.

If you love hard and yet melodic metal, I think you'll agree that Demon Hunter is a must have addition to your playlist, as well as a fun name to say. When purchase is available through Amazon I will have the link up. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply..

Monday, March 26, 2012

Music Video Monday: Lie to Me

Welcome to the latest edition of Music Video Monday, where since we began we have been sharing the Best Video's among the albums picked for this years Platinum Vinyl Awards. Rock is quite abundant, so we shall split this up among two weeks, and even then these will be packed posts. We will go loud and hard this monday. We will turn down the volume next week for our ears to recover.

We begin with a trip into The Cheval Glass by Emery from their latest album We Do What We Want.

We continue with Underoath and Illuminator

I don't know why, but I thought of my friends Rhiannon Paille when I picked this one. This is Magnetic Sky by Becoming the Archetype.

Next up is The Devil Wears Prada and Born to Lose.

And closing it out is Red and Lie To Me form Until we have faces.

That's a lot for one day, and we are still only halfway through the list. Sorry about the bleeding ears, but that's the price for the Rock. Next week we will have videos from Third Day, Eowyn, Worth Dying For, Icon For Hire and Switchfoot. Until then, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

An Apple A Day

Will set you back nearly a million dollars if it's a 17 inch MacBook Pro, and Apple Shareholders will be forever grateful. Of course you should still get a small plaque for as little as $18K (a shuffle a day). What?, that's talking about fruit? My Bad.

I have recently been reading Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. It is a book which I would highly recommend to everyone, especially if you are among the Apple Haters (You know who you are).

By way of full disclosure, I would be considered among the Apple "Faithful". The first time I ever touched a PC (I'm not including the mainframe DEC VOX2000), it was a Mac SE, and though I spent a long time using pen paper and typewriter after college, my first computer, which has served me very well, is my bondi blue clamshell iBook. My only regret with that computer is that I never understood Apple's release schedule before I bought it, and so soon after I did, a new model came out. Other than that...No Complaints.

Courtesy Amazon
 All that is in introduction to this. I have been reading Steve Jobs the biography by Walter Isaacson. It is an eye opening read to be sure, and I highly recommend it to everyone, especially to the legions of "Apple Haters" out there. Now before I got a hold of a copy I had heard that It wasn't a rah-rah book and that there a lot of things in the book that may shock the average apple fan, and that was true in some respects, but in a good way. The biggest revelation of all to some could be that Steve Jobs was human. To most people today he would be called an abusive employer unconcerned about his employees feelings, but he also wound up being a great motivator. Those who learned to push back and were not easily cowered wound up staying with him and created "Insanely Great" products such as the Macintosh, the iPod, iPhone and iPad.

It was interesting to read about how the Macintosh came about, about the ill fated Lisa (which I found out was named after his "illegitimate" daughter Lisa Brennan-Jobs.  As much as I think I follow apple events, I never knew he had a child (he had three others in addition to Lisa) or a family (he was married to Laurene Powell) until after this book came out. For a public figure he was able to retain a personal level of privacy even the average Joe has a problem maintaining.

I also learned that corporate history rarely moves in a straight line. Everybody knows Apple's release history. Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad. Wrong. Actually, based on R&D, it's Mac, iPod, iPad, iPhone. Jobs and crew started out with the concept for the iPad at first, but due to the opportunity in the Cell Phone market, decided to test the idea with the iPhone first, so those statements about "Apple is not considering the tablet market", pure jobsian spin.

The story of his cancer treatment was a big downer (no big surprise), but that doesn't kick in until the end. The Real (Toy) Story of Pixar and the NeXT misfire are real revelations if all you think of with Steve Jobs is Apple.

As a Biography I would give Steve Jobs 5 Emeralds. Even the haters might be convinced. Support the Night Beat buy buying a copy at Amazon. You can get it in Hardcover, Kindle, or even Audio CD. I will return Monday with more music, and until then I am Awaiting Your Reply.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Why should the devil have all the good music?

Welcome to the latest edition of Flashback Friday. By way of introduction to my new readers, Flashback Friday is where I introduce my readers to the pioneers of Contemporary Christian Music, beginning with the Jesus Music Era of the Late 1960's and the 1970's. As we progress each week we shall move into the Seventies, and Eighties and perhaps beyond. Not exactly sure where I should end a flashback. Maybe with the year 1999/2000.

If any one person could be labeled the "First Father" or "Adam" of Christian Rock, that person would be, by almost unanimous choice (dare I say consensus), Larry David Norman (April 8, 1947 -February 24, 2008). He certainly was recognized by Servant.
S: No, No, Doctor, you've got it all wrong. Oh Well. Now then, I've also brought you some Servant.
L: Oh, what a stroke of luck, why two of my servants ran away last week, Larry and Normany. They ran into the shallow water and the crocks got them. I suppose they're in another land now.
That was the closing line of the Jungle Music Skit, and two artists were referenced here, Larry Norman and Servant. We shall get to Servant next week, and we will get to still more bands as we move into the eighties, which is known as Christian Music's Golden Age. If you didn't get the reference, Livingstone had two servants Larry and Normany (Larry Norman). Referenced also was In Another Land (1976), which was Normans sixth release as a Christian artist. He had actually been in the music industry since 1965 with the bands Back Country Seven (1964-65) and People (1965-68). He had a hit single "I Love You", with People, which reached #14 on Billboard's Hot 100. After a brief musical hiatus he returned to lead the nascent Christian Rock scene with Upon This Rock (1969).

With the rise of Christian Rock as a major force, a reactionary movement arose among the mainstream Christian community. A reaction in itself wasn't surprising, in fact Newton's Third Law of Motion required it (For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction). What was always surprising was where the reaction came from. It would be easy to slough off an attack from "the world". It really hurt when the bullets were fired by your fellow brothers and sisters. Christianity has always been plagued with friendly fire casualties.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22 lays out the principle of "All things to all men" or "every available method" to getting out the Gospel. Paul would have been on TV, Radio, the Internet, etc. (He would have also booked passage on The Titanic, but that's another story). Organized Christianity (aka Christen-dumb) has opposed just about every major technological innovation of the 20th Century as being of "the devil", with the result that, with a few rare exceptions, the Christian Church has always been seen as a bunch of Luddites.

Norman struck back with one of the most well known "defense songs" ever released entitled Why should the devil have all the good music. Even though a live video of this exists, the quality is poor. Here is an audio only version for your enjoyment.

One of the best things about this song is it's biting sarcasm, with the parts like "I grew it out long to make room for my brain". Boldness like this was a rarity, and paved the way for CCM's Caustic Clone Prince Steve Taylor, but we shall deal with him at another time.

Six Degrees of Larry Norman

Larry Norman isn't only one of the most influential and respected people in CCM History, his is also one of the most "well-connected" people in CCM history. His Street Level Artists Agency represented legends such as Randy Stonehill, Daniel Amos and Mark Heard, but the connections go much further, and include artists as diverse as DC Talk, Switchfoot and Rebecca St. James. Even more surprising, he is also one of the founders of a Protestant Denomination of sorts. Not surprising, they don't have a problem with Rock and Roll. For more information on these connections, check out my Six Degrees Page.

That concludes this edition of Flashback Friday. We shall return next Friday with Servant, the last band listed in the Jungle Music Skit. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.

p.s. - Check out the Larry Norman page to purchase music on Amazon and support The Night Beat at the same time. Thanks.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Night Beat Rewind: February 2012

Due to the time it took to get the PVA Nominations out this year this edition of Night Beat Rewind is about two weeks late. Lucky for me this week is a slow one.

Before I get on with my ratings, I want to make an announcement regarding keeping the night beat going. Due to actions by Google many months ago, the amazon affiliate widget that I previously used was disabled. I have found a minor workaround. I am inserting Amazon text links manually into my posts, and unless I specify otherwise, a link will lead to Amazon where you can buy and support The Night Beat at the same time. I would prefer image links, but manually inserting them doesn't allow the text to seamlessly wrap around the image. If any tech savvy reader knows a way to get that to happen, please contact me.

Since I am picking up new readers all the time, I will go over the basics once again. This is a quick hits column for those releases that I was not able to get a full preview for. Of course if I did have a full review, it will be linked and pointed out. We begin, as always, with releases which were:

Off The Mark

And by mark I mean the 4 Emerald Mark which allows entry into the annual pool from which the Platinum Vinyl Awards are picked. Of course, while they wouldn't make the awards pool, you shouldn't be ashamed of anything with 3 Emeralds or above.
Now as I said before, a lot of these albums are good, but not spectacular. Some of them, especially the Modern Worship entries, sounded flat, like they were mailing it in. For worship, I think that qualifies as some sort of sin.

Now of course next up would be my listing of Perfect Platinum albums, those that got the coveted 5 Emerald Rating, except there weren't any in February. Maybe I was picky, but there was always just one thing that prevented me from saying "perfect". A lot just fell short, so we move on to those releases considered:

Semi-Precious Metal

These were the releases from 4-5 Emeralds, not including 5 of course. Of course the links, unless otherwise specified will go to Amazon, where you can buy. For the first list, I only included the Download Page.
That was a lot of work. I miss the widget. In the case of Eisley, Kiros and Jaci Velasquez, clicking on the name goes to my full review of the CD. All other links go to Amazon, where I hope you will buy through the link and support The Night Beat. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.