Randall Evan Stonehill, better known as Randy, was born on March 12, 1952. In 1991 this CCM legend released WONDERAMA (Myrrh Records).
The album begins with the title track ‘Wonderama’. It is one of several co-writes with producer Terry Scott Taylor. It sounds sunny musically and finds Burleigh Drummond playing sleigh bells, glockenspiel, cymbal swells, chimes, kettle drums, and shaker. The song is allegorical: “In the spotlight is a silhouette/Of a dragon breathing fire/And the battle begins as the soldiers of tin/Brave the great high wire/By the morning all the world is saved/Through a noble sacrifice/They were all amazed when the King laid down His life/The sweethearts kiss on the springtime wedding day/And the patrons sigh knowing love can be that way.” ‘I Will Follow’ has Terry Taylor, Rick and Linda Elias, and Riki Michelle on background vocals. It is a mellow song of great faith: “I can’t say what is going to be/What tomorrow may bring to me/But I know with certainty/You will see me through/With a love that’s true/So faithfully/Ah, ah, ah/Where You lead me I will follow/Ah, ah, ah/I will follow You.”
‘Barbie Nation’ is an upbeat pop song that speaks of how our culture foolishly overvalues physical appearance: “You’re sexy and driven and doomed to succeed/You’ll get what you want but it’s nothing you need/And echoed in the heartache you conceal/Is something good, something real/She was told that in the end/Every Barbie gets her Ken/Lie, lie, lie, no such guy, just pretend/We pull the strings, wind the doll/We create the myth that she can have it all/It’s a sin.” ‘Don’t be Sad’, co-written with Angelo Natalie, encourages us to live in the present: “Now we all cry so many useless tears/Over heartache we can’t forget/And it’s a crime to waste our precious time/Shackled by those old regrets/Yesterday is gone forever/And tomorrow hasn’t happened yet.”
‘Rachel Delevoryas’ is a moving story song about a girl from Randy’s childhood. The song relates how cruel children can be to children who are different: “Rachel Delevoryas/Was eating her lunch as the boys walked by/’Rachel is ugly’ she heard them shout/She sat on the schoolyard bench and cried and/It was clear that she’d never be one of us/With her dowdy clothes/And her violin/And a name like Rachel Delevoryas.” Next up is a short, classical piece ‘Intermission at the Wonderama’, featuring violins, cello, and viola.
‘Great Big Stupid World’ showcases Randy’s humor and admits that our world is feverishly spinning out of control: “Well, we’re studying the National Enquirer/Is it true Sonny Bono is the Anti-Christ?/We debate if T.V. wrestling is really a sport/While we’re testing rock ‘n’ roll and its effects on mice/Bonding with our little computer screens/Getting anorexic on our Lean Cuisines/Turning plastic surgeons into millionaires/So everybody finally gets to look like Cher.” ‘Sing in Portuguese’ makes use of the voices of a mariachi band. It is a touching song which includes these words about Randy’s grandmother: “She lies so still now in her snowy white hospital bed/With the life that she loved so much/Still going on in her head/She’s there in her kitchen and laughter is filling the room/Or her garden in spring with her roses in bloom/Now she smiles like she knows me/Though I’m never sure who she sees/But her eyes still light up when I sing in Portuguese.”
‘Mice and Men’ is a pleasant sounding pop song that reminds us we are not ultimately in control of everything: “And all the clever plans of mice and of men/Tangle up like a ball of string/Try as we might to simply pretend/They were so important/Ah, they never really changed a thing.” Dave Raven plays drums, Tim Chandler plays bass, and Jerry Chamberlain is on lead guitar. ‘The Lost Parade’ features the Los Angeles Chapter of The Salvation Army Horns. The song includes these poetic words: “And the big rock spins in space/In its lonely circle dance/Like a ghostly ballerina/Trapped within her trance/And we praise the feast of fools/And we shun the Bread of Life/And the stars shine like the tears of God/For the weary world tonight.”
‘Lantern in the Snow’ calls the prodigal in all of us back home: “A dreamer’s song whispered in your ear/And you searched through the restless years/For the prize that was always here/Just for you, a gift for you/Through the wintery veil you cried/Let your memory be your guide/To the peace and the warmth inside/Just for you, a gift for you.” ‘Wonderama Postlude’ is a short instrumental featuring accordion and calliope, that ends the album.
WONDERAMA should please fans of the Beatles and James Taylor. It is artistic and creative. It is, in many ways, more thoughtful than much of what is played on CCM radio today. My only beef is that the album suffers from pacing problems at the end. It needs a faster-paced song near the end. I’m rating WONDERAMA 85%. For more info visit: www.randystonehill.com