Friday, November 14, 2014

Flashback Friday: Return of The Clone Prince

No I didn't spell the title wrong, the word is cloned. No, this isn't a Bob Dylan Post. Don't worry, things will become clearer soon. I could have used Send in The Clones or A Clone Again (Naturally).

Earlier in our Flashback Friday journey we met Randy Stonehill, someone whom, while a great musician, also had a fairly warped sense of humor, and has been the counterbalance to the often over serious CCM Universe. While Uncle Randy may have been Christian Music's Clown Prince, our latest subject excelled not in humor but in biting satire.

Roland Steven Taylor was born December 9, 1957 in Southern California, the son of a Pastor. The family soon up an moved to Denver Colorado. Maybe it was a mis-wiring of the brain, maybe it was the lack of oxygen in Denver. Whatever the reason, it is quite obvious that Steve (aren't you glad he didn't go by Roland) Taylor doesn't think like the typical Christian, and while the Industry may have rued the day he was born, Christian College Students and DJ's loved him.

One of the few Academic Elites of Christian Music (alright, alright, he was a Music Major). He started his adult career as a Youth Minister and Janitor at his father's Church. Musically he says The Clash, specifically London Calling "saved his life". While at Colorado University he recorded a few demo songs, and he went to Southern California after graduation to try to get signed by a mainstream label. He was unsuccessful, but one man, Jim Chaffee, was impressed and got him a job as assistant director of The Continentals.

Anyone who knows of Taylor's music knows he wasn't anything like the continentals. Chaffee got him another job, this time with Chuck Bolte's Jeremiah People, a Musical Comedy Troupe with heavy doses of satire. I remember them back in the 80's. They were great. Of course for pure comedy value Isaac Air Freight was superior.

Chaffee's Cheer leading finally paid off when he convinced Tayor's first boss, Cam Floria, founder of The Continentals, to give Taylor a two song slot at his Christian Artists Conference in Estes Park, Colorado. Maybe it was the home crowd, but the Crowd Acclaim convinced Billy Ray Hearn, President of Sparrow Records, to sign Taylor as he came off the stage.

Clone Wars 

I Want To Be A Clone (1983) was a hit. The Six Song EP sold 85,000 copies, and in an industry dominated at the time by The Imperials, that was quite a showing. Christian Kids everywhere were introduced to attitude. Taylor launched his sarcastic wit directly on the Church, as Clone focused on the Christian Churches penchant for turning out cookie cutter Christians. Churchianity as it is called. Let Taylor tell you in his own way.

 Taylor's Meltdown

Meltdown (1984) was Taylor's full length debut, and anyone worried that he couldn't find enough targets to fill an album needn't have worried. The title cut focused on our celebrity obsession, and was sparked by a trip to Madame Tussuad's Wax Museum. He saw the statues and wondered "What would happen if someone turned up the heat". Kids, remember, he only THOUGHT it. Due to clone's success he decided to form a permanent touring band. He raided the studio musicians from clone to do it, and lest we forget who was the real star, he named them Some Band, as in Steve Taylor and Some Band. Meltdown was Taylor's first Music Video, and it also "starred" Lisa Welchel (The Facts of Life) in a supporting role as a TV Reporter.
Two memorable songs came out of Meltdown. While the title cut focused on our obsession with celebrity, the other song targeted bigotry in the Church, and apartheid as well. This is We Don't Need No Color Code Taylor was on a roll, and he kept up a pace of an album a year. Taylor's fertile mind, 80's Pop Culture, and the budding Televangelism Scandals, provided plenty of material for Taylor's Wit to focus on. For On The Fritz (1985) Taylor, in a most memorable "Fashion" turned his satire on the Public School system and the practice of teaching "Values Clarification". to the young skulls full of mush. For the song "Lifeboat" and its accompanying Music Video, Taylor enlisted the support of Mrs. Aryan "the world's ugliest woman". See if you agree. Even though I went to Public School, I seem to have missed out on the Lifeboat game. That's not saying I had to fight liberal indoctrination. Even though I wasn't tasked with deciding who lives and who dies, I did hear about "situational ethics". You know the drill "In certain situations Lying, Stealing, Cheating, etc is the best thing to do. People's feelings will be hurt or worse if you told them the truth. For the poster boy of the teaching, look no further than our 42nd President, William Jefferson Clinton.

1986 brought Limelight, a filler EP recorded in London during the 1985 Greenbelt Festival. 1987 Gave us "I Predict, 1990, an album which was more controversial than successful. It was attacked for its cover by some who thought that there were images of Tarot Cards on it (there weren't). Jimmy Swaggart included an entire chapter of his book Religious Rock and Roll, A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing on Taylor, and even the NOW gang was outraged when they protested against the song I Blew Up The Clinic Real Good. Considering that Taylor's forte was Satire, that meant that the NOW gang actually was protesting for bombing, since Taylor was saying it was wrong. Tayor Retired soon after I Predict, 1990, but soon resurfaced as frontman of the MCA band Chagall Guevara (don't be ashamed if you can't pronounce it). This is Violent Blue Taylor returned for one more album, Squint in 1993. This is Cash Cow.

Taylor has had a very busy retirement. He has produced 5 Newsboys albums, as well as Guardians Buzz and Bottle Rocket, among others, and his Label Squint Entertainment brought both Sixpence None The Richer and Chevelle to the limelight. That's a nice ending Cash Cow-Hat's off to the bull.

Recently Taylor has turned to the Movies. He is the Director of Blue Like Jazz, which came out this year. Of course his fans wish, even now, that he would make another album. We need his satire more today than ever. After all there is only one Steve Taylor. We can't clone him.
UPDATE 2014: The Clone Prince Is Back. He's still working with Peter Furler and Guardian and the like, but like a true artist, he just cant stay retired. His latest band is called Steve Taylor and The Perfect Foil. The Debut album, and its video is called Goliath. That is it for this week. I Am Awaiting Your Reply.