Steve Taylor, better known at birth as Roland Stephen Taylor, was born on December 9, 1957. His Dad was a Baptist minister. Steve graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1980 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in music and theater. He was signed to a recording contract by Billy Ray Hearn, president of Sparrow Records, and in 1983 released his debut ep I WANT TO BE A CLONE. It was produced and engineered by Jonathan David Brown who would work with the likes of Petra, Glen Campbell, and Daniel Amos. Taylor performs vocals and keyboards and Brian Tankersley plays bass.
‘Steeplechase’ starts things off. It has a quirky sound and is a statement about approaching church with a consumer mentality and reminds us our main concern should not be what a church can do for us: “A change of habit/Used to go bar hopping/You started church shopping, did ya?/It’s been a problem finding one to fit ya/You didn’t feel good, did ya?/It’s a steeplechase/Blame your failures on/Churches where you’ve gone/Steeplechase/Ice cold Christian fakes/Turn to frosted flakes.” Next up is one of my favourite Christian rock songs of all time, the title track ‘I Want to Be a Clone.’ Musically, it sounds like you’re on a pogo stick-in other words it has lots of bounce to it! Lyrically, it calls out the church for trying to force people into uniformity of belief: “They told me that I’d fall away/Unless I followed what the say/Who needs the Bible anyway?/I want to be a clone/Their language it was new to me/But Christianese got through to me/Now I can speak it fluently/I want to be a clone.../So now I see the whole design/The church is an assembly line/The parts are there/I’m feeling fine/I want to be a clone/I’ve learned enough to stay afloat/But not so much I rock the boat/I’m glad they shoved it down my throat/I want to be a clone.” Uniformity is a far cry from unity! Taylor even does a Bob Dylan impression at the end of the song.
‘Whatever Happened to Sin?’ uses sax and is a fast number that would be fun to dance to. It would also be a good song to work out to. The song is a call for Christians to wake up from their slumber, apathy, and complacency. It specifically targets abortion, homosexuality, and less than noble politicians: “When the closets are empty/And the clinics are full/When your eyes have been blinded/By society’s wool/When the streets erupt/In your own backyard/You’ll be on your knees/Praying for the national guard/If you don’t care now/How the problems get solved/You can shake your head later/That you never got involved/Cause the call came ringing/From the throne of gold/But you never got the message/Cause your mind’s on hold.” I could hear Sting singing the next song, ‘Written Guarantee’ for some reason. It is about the benefits of surrendering all to the Father: “Full of feelings that I couldn’t afford/Till I up and threw my heart overboard/Take it all cause I remember when/I lost my life so You could find it again/It’s a written guarantee/When I give it up to You/You give it back to me/Who is gonna disagree?/When I give it up to You/You give it back to me.”
Steve Taylor tries out his rap skills, possibly tongue-in-cheek on ‘Bad Rap (Who you Tryin’ to Kid, Kid?)’ and does a decent job. The lyrics address skeptics of the Christian faith bluntly and with gusto: “Convictions make your skin to crawl/You act like you’re above it all/You say faith is a crutch for a mind that’s closed/You guzzle your crutch and shove it up your nose.../Can’t understand those Christians/So you type us all in stereo/They’re hypocrites/They’re such a bore/Well, come on in/There’s room for one more.” ‘Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Number’s Up?’ brings the funk musically. Harry Bruckner is on bass for this one. It sounds like a song a fundamentalist would write to a liberal: “You say humanist philosophy/Is what it’s all about/You’re so open minded/That your brain leaked out/Whatcha gonna do when your number’s up?/Time to lay diplomas down/Whatcha gonna do when your number’s up/And you’re buried six feet underground?” My caution would be that education and learning should not be seen as enemies of the Christian faith. We need Christian intellects who know what they believe and why. Ravi Zacharias comes to mind.
I WANT TO BE A CLONE is a strong debut ep from Mr. Taylor. Each song makes a statement and is not afraid to challenge both individual Christians and the church as an institution. Fans of new wave and pop music should check this one out. Though it runs less than twenty minutes, it says a lot. I am rating it 87%.