Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Brittany Nicole Waddell, better known as Britt Nicole, was born on August 2, 1984.  She began singing at age 3 in her home church, Truth Temple, in Kannapolis, North Carolina.  She is an alumna of Duke University’s Brightleaf Music Workshop.  Her first album, SAY IT, dropped in 2007 and included the hits ‘Set the World on Fire’ and ‘You’.  She followed this up with THE LOST GET FOUND in 2009.  It reached Number One on Billboard’s Christian Album’s chart.  Britt says she values the authenticity of artists such as Adele, Mary J. Blige, Taylor Swift, and Coldplay.  Britt’s third, and latest project, is GOLD.  It was originally released in 2012 on Sparrow Records.  I am reviewing here the mainstream re-release of GOLD (2013) on Capitol Records.

The title track ‘Gold’ starts things off.  Penned by Britt, Dan Muckala, and Jess Cates, this contagious dance number is the first mainstream single from the album.  It was inspired by Britt’s fans who told her they were being bullied, were struggling, and didn’t feel that they fit in anywhere.  The song is a real self-confidence booster: “Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not loved/And don’t let anybody tell you that you’re not enough/Yeah, there are days when we all feel like we’ve messed up/But the truth is that we’re all diamonds in the rough/So don’t be ashamed to wear your crown/You’re a king, you’re a queen/Inside and out/You glow like the moon/You shine like the stars/This is for you/Wherever you are.”  ‘All This Time’ was written by Britt, David Garcia, and Ben Glover.  It is the first single for the Christian market, spending eight weeks in a row at Number One.  The song talks of how her parent’s divorce caused her pain, but states that God was there for her: “I remember the moment/I remember the pain/I was only a girl, but I grew up that day/Tears were falling/I know You saw me/Hiding there in my bedroom, so alone/I was doing my best, trying to be strong/No one to turn to/That’s when I met You.”  This pop song musically and vocally sounds like pre-major-controversy Miley Cyrus.

‘Look Like Love’ asks some very important questions: “If I believe there’s a Savior/Is the proof in me?/Is He alive and breathing?/Is He what they’ll remember?/Is He what they see/When they look at me?/Do I look like, look like love? (2X).  Britt slows things down musically with ‘Who You Say You Are’.  This one finds her confidently placing her faith in God: “Life’s gonna knock me down/It’ s not gonna keep me down/I’m gonna trust You now in every season/I know You’re here/I know You’re for me/I know that joy comes in the morning/God, I believe it now/God, I believe You now/You’re who You say You are/When life knocks me/I won’t stay down/I’ll get back on my feet now/You’re more than a conqueror.” 

‘Ready or Not’ features successful Christian hip hop artist Lecrae.  It has a cool feel to it and is about witnessing for Christ: “I’m not ever sellin’ out/A love out loud is what it’s all about/Givin’ everything to see the lost get found/Yeah, it’s goin’ down/You, you, you want me to take my light/Fit it in your box, right?/I want you to look me in the eye.../I refuse to keep this buried deep inside of me/Yeah, this lil’ light of mine, it’s time to let it shine a bit/Cause there’s no point in hidin’ it/It’s everything I am/The source of all my hope.”  ‘Breakthrough’ is a great pop song that reiterates that Britt is a fighter: “You used to have me stumblin’/Yeah, trippin’ again and again/But I been studyin’ you/And now I know you like the back of my hand/You can’t keep me here/I’ve cried too many tears/Yeah, I’ve had enough/Now I’m gonna call your bluff/You made your bet, but the stage is set, get ready/’Cuz I’m lightin’ the fuse!/...I can feel a breakthrough comin’”.

‘Stand’ was penned by Britt, Dan Muckala, and Jason Ingram.  It shows her vulnerable side: “I wake up to another day/I don’t know if I can face/All the fears that are starin’ me down/Yeah, I’m tryin’ to be brave/But I’m a thread about to fray/I want to stand, but I don’t know how/I look up and all I see is Your love holding me/When I feel like giving up/When my heart has hurt too much/Feels like I’ve reached the end.”  This one is a mellow, radio friendly song.  ‘The Sun is Rising’ is a song of encouragement that falls into the modern inspirational music category.  Here are some of the words: “The night can only last for so long/Whatever you’re facing/If your heart is breaking/There’s a promise for the ones who just hold on/Lift up your eyes and see/The sun is rising.../Even when you can’t imagine how/How you ever gonna find your way out/Even when you’re drowning in your doubt/Just look beyond the clouds/The sun is rising.”  ‘Amazing Life’ is appropriate music for a club’s dance floor: “It’s a colorful, colorful world/Painted so bright/Gonna walk on air, gonna take flight/I’ll never understand it all/It must be supernatural/I wanna drink, drink, drink every drop of sunshine/Got a smile on my face, I won’t apologize/I’ll never understand it all/It must be supernatural.”

‘Still That Girl’ is a quiet song written by Britt, David Garcia, Christopher Stevens, and Ben Glover.  It asks a good question of those of us who sometimes question God’s ways: “What if the picture is bigger than you see/And God has you right where He wants you to be?/Just listen to your heart.”  ‘Seeing for the First Time’ finds Britt having an intimate encounter with her Creator: “I lay here under the stars/In awe of who You are/You’ve never been so real/I’ll never understand it fully/Lost here in Your beauty/No words could say how I feel/It’s like I’m seeing for the first time/Like You opened my eyes/To show me everything I missed before/And I want more.”
Britt Nicole is married to Joshua Crosby.  They have a young daughter named Ella.  Britt says: “I write songs to myself and it’s always great to see them connect with other people who need to be reminded that worth doesn’t come from having all the right things or from success-it’s about being who you are.”  GOLD is a clean, fun, Christian pop album that does not disappoint!  Britt’s voice is great and the pictures of her accompanying this mainstream re-release are cute and tasteful.  This album, which I’m rating 93%, is a good alternative to a lot of the sexually infused pop music on the market today.  For more info visit: www.brittnicole.com.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Faith Grace grew up in Cochrane, Ontario, Canada.  She has been playing piano since she was 7 and began playing on a praise team at church when she became a Christian at 16 years of age.  In 1999 she moved to Kitchener, Ontario to attend Emmanuel Bible College, where she met her future husband Dan Grace.  They enjoy being in music ministry, playing at churches, weddings, camps, etc.  They both work for Christian Horizons and have two kids.  Every February, they embark on a mission trip to the Czech Republic with SOS Canada.  Faith Grace was the deserving winner of Faith FM 94.3’s Shining Star competition in 2012.  She has opened for Downhere.  Now, hot off the presses, comes her debut album FREE (2013).  It was produced, mixed, and mastered by Brad Dugas of Revelation Sound.  Faith Grace is responsible for vocals, keys, and accordion.  Her husband Dan is on guitars, drums, bass, and backing vocals.


Grant Howard is one of the instrumentalists on the album opener ‘Always Good’.  Faith has a warm and inviting voice and this song has a childlike optimism to it: “Flowers bloom, winter fades/I’m feeling like the month of May/When flowers bloom all around me/New life born almost daily/Can’t wait to see what morning brings/You’re always good/Always so good/You’re always good/To me.”  The album’s first single ‘I Just Want You’ has adult contemporary radio written all over it.  The song finds Faith longing for her Lord: “I need You, every day, in every step I take in faith/I need You, every way, more than water fills the ocean, more than the air in my lungs/More than each word that jumps off my tongue/More than money in my hand, more than my own plans/I just want You.”


‘Lead Me’ is a song of spiritual surrender: “How could I stand in front of You and how could I choose my own way when love is here right before me?/You’ve never left/Grace is free/Where You lead me I will go/Lead me I will go/Where You lead me I will go.”  ‘Whom Shall I Fear’ is a tender song of testimony: “You’re stronger in power than my mind can conceive/You stood in my place/Oh, You’ve broken every chain…/You are my God, all consuming fire/Only You are worthy of honour, praise, and glory/All authority in heaven and earth belong to You.”


On ‘Shine’ Faith is nicely accompanied by Derrick Drover on vocals.  It is a wonderful song that would fit great on Life 100.3’s ‘Praise and Worship Sunday’ format.  It speaks of God’s unique ability to transform our inner being: “Your Spirit dwells within me and I’m changed by the power of Your blood/Oh, and when I’m at Your feet Lord, I can’t recognize the person that I was/And I lift up my hands to the God who provides and I see in His light that all darkness will hide.”  ‘When Wells are Broken’ is remarkably the only song Faith did not write.  Brad Dugas penned this one.  David Wilkinson joins Faith on vocals.  This song builds into an upbeat pop number with techno influences.  It speaks of the triumph of believers through Christ: “You reign victorious and now our hearts can rest!/When I am taken, don’t you weep/Cause where I am, I’ve longed to be/I’ll someday see you and always loved you/When the trumpet sounds/We will sing around His throne!”


‘You are Good’ is essentially a heartfelt praise and worship song: “There is freedom in Your kingdom and there’s mercy in Your eyes/I will rise on wings like eagles/I will soar in the love You have for me/And when this life is washed and worn like sand upon the shore/All that’s left within me cries/’You are good!’ (2X).”  ‘Raindrops’ is a mellow song that speaks of God’s faithfulness: “Raindrops, raindrops, falling on my head and where are You?/Sunshine, sunshine shining on my face and where are You?/You’re everywhere, filling every square inch of my world, this beautiful world.”  Derrick Drover joins Faith again on ‘We are Saved’.  The song also uses a vocal chorus to good effect.  Here are some of the words of this song of celebration: “Even rocks cry out at the mention of Your Name/The mountains bow, all nature will proclaim the glory of Your Son who is risen from the grave/We are saved!/We are saved!/We are saved!/You have a plan for us (3X)/We are saved!”


The title track ‘Free’ is the album’s second single.  It is a strong light pop song that finds Faith in a spiritually intimate place: “Your Word pierces my heart/I fall into your presence/And hold these empty hands up/I have nothing left to give/But my broken hearted body/A life surrendered fully/And I am free in You/I am free in You/For if the truth has set you free…/Oh, you are free indeed!”  ‘Wisdom’ draws from Biblical principles: “A warrior, all the power at the end of a sword/But better still slow to anger/Show your self-control/Hold your tongue, hold your lips tightly as not to offend/Search her out, search her in, wisdom as a friend/Wisdom is calling out/She’s standing at the crossroads/Run after her as silver and gold.”


Faith Grace’s debut, FREE, sounds very mature, artistic, and seasoned.  This is a deeply personal album that is both thoughtful and thought provoking.  This CD is soothing and calming.  Faith has a sultry quality to her voice.  This album would make a good backdrop for a new mother rocking her baby, or a college or university student studying late at night.  This is music that is a quiet refuge from our hectic, fast-paced, over-stimulated society.  The sky is the limit for this new artist whose work is marked by such honesty and vulnerability!  Fans of JJ Heller, Sara Groves, Twila Paris, and Colbie Caillat should pick this one up.  I’m rating it 90%.  Faith Grace’s CD release concert will take place on Wednesday, November 13th at 7:30pm at the Emmanuel Bible College Chapel located at 100 Fergus Avenue in Kitchener, Ontario.  You can also acquire this album on itunes or through cdbaby.com.  It is also available at the Gospel Lighthouse locations in Cambridge and Waterloo.  For more info visit: www.facebook.com/faithgracemusic, www.faithgrace.ca, and www.revelationsound.ca.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Tricia Brock fronted the band Superchick.  They released their debut KARAOKE SUPERSTARS in 2001 and will release their swan song RECOLLECTION on October 29th.  Superchick sold over a million albums and had a Grammy nomination, as well as having over 150 film, TV, commercial, and video game placements.  Tricia Brock released her first solo record, a praise and worship project called THE ROAD in 2011.  She grew up in small town Indiana.  She says: “My parents constantly surrounded us with great music, and had us in music and voice lessons, always involved in music at our church.”  Her latest album is RADIATE (2013, Inpop Records).  It was mainly produced by her husband Nick Baumhardt and The Hit Militia.  Nick is also responsible for most of the instrumentation and programming on the album.  He is in the group Stellar Kart.

‘Everything as Loss’ is upbeat pop musically.  Seth Mosley produced and engineered this track and plays acoustic guitars on it.  This first song speaks of the shortcomings of materialism: “What I want, what I need, has got me/Running after the temporary/Like the stuff that I get will make me complete/And it’s a carousel/One I know too well/Cause I keep going round in circles/Round and round and round/Whoa, oh, I’m letting go/Silver and gold/Is not enough, not enough.”  ‘Mirror Mirror’ is a dance track that fights back against what magazines say make a person beautiful: “We’ve got the power to eliminate illusion/Pull the curtain back exposing the delusion/Spread the word and exterminate confusion/Sing it, sing it loud/And say it.../Baby, you’re original/You’re an individual/You’re a heart with a soul/You’re a gift from above/You’re a product of love.”

‘Enough’ written by Jeff Pardo and Tony Wood is the lead single.  It unreservedly places total faith in God: “It’s enough that You know what I’m needin’/It’s enough just to go where You’re leadin’/Keep my feet on the path and my empty hands always reachin’ up/It’s enough just to breathe in the moment/And wherever I am I can know this/If I have nothing else I will always have Your love, Your love/And that’s enough.”  The title track ‘Radiate’ was penned by Nick Baumhardt and Jonathan Lee.  It is a fast-paced, highly optimistic song: “Let me make it obvious/Even if I’m still a mess/I’ll still be standing with a smile on my face/Waiting on a rainbow, waiting while the wind blows/With my polka dot umbrella ella.../We can radiate.”

The next song ‘Good to Be a Girl’ is a fun pop/rock song in the vein of Superchick.  It is a song about girl power: “It’s good to be a girl (2X)/I can be a wonder woman one day/A damsel in distress/Fighting off the bad guys in heels and a dress/There’s more to me than what it seems/I am complex/It’s good to be a girl/So put on your makeup/Cause we’re gonna change it up/Impossible is not a dream/Cause we can do anything.”  ‘Daughter of the King’ draws from Psalm 139:13-14 and reminds girls and ladies where their true value and self-worth should come from:  “A dress won’t make a princess/And jewels won’t make a queen/Cause you were made for more than this/You’re worth more than what you see/You are fearfully and wonderfully a daughter of the King/You are perfect in the Maker’s eyes even when you don’t believe/His love poured out for who you are/Not who you want to be/You are fearfully and wonderfully made/A daughter of the King.”

‘Love will not let Go’ is a ballad of encouragement: “Daughter, don’t be afraid now/To lift up your face, let compassion dry every tear/Oh son, drop your defenses/And reach for the hands that will lift you out of your fear/His arms are nearer than your own heart beating.../Don’t let troubles weigh your mind/Don’t let sorrow steal your soul/God is holding your heart/And He won’t let go.”  Adam Barrie Smith plays piano, while Chris Carmichael is responsible for string arrangement and performance.  ‘Different’ penned by Nick, and Curt Anderson, is a hip sounding song musically.  It reminds us that we all have something unique to bring to the table and to the world: “We’re not invincible/But we’re unstoppable/We are original/Cause you can’t make a difference without being different/Not invincible/But we’re unshakeable/We’re individual/Cause you can’t make a difference without being different, you know.”

‘Adding up to a Miracle’ is a groovy pop song written by Nick, Tricia, and Sarah Hart.  These lyrics remind us that we should make a positive impact on the lives of others: “Every day’s another chance to be somebody’s hero/A chance to be the one to save ‘em from a zero/Find it in your heart to find what makes them beautiful/In their eyes/You are a miracle.”  ‘Pity Party’ is a very strong track about someone who is spoiled: “She cries over spilled milk/While daddy pays the bills/The more she gets the less happy she seems/Cause there’s something missing/Not enough clothes/Not a big enough car/Is it too much to ask to date a rock star?/Why does this always happen to her?”

’Without You’ was penned by Nick, Tricia, and Phillip LaRue.   LaRue plays guitar on the track.  The song contains these words of testimony: “You’re my anchor Lord in troubled waters/I’m held by grace/I’m held by grace/You hold my days and my tomorrows/I will praise/I will praise.”  The last song is the mellow ‘What I Know’.  Justin Saunders plays cello on it.  These words show great spiritual resolve: “I could throw my fist in the air demanding answers/But in spite of all the questions/I’m still giving You my life/And if it doesn’t turn out like I think it should/It doesn’t change the fact You’re always good/Your ways are higher than mine/And the truth remains the same even when I don’t know what to pray.”

Tricia says: “I am convinced I would be a complete mess if I did not have faith in the unchanging, unwavering God I know and His love for me.  I hope that people are inspired and encouraged by this album.  I hope that they enjoy the happy songs, and that the slower songs are healing.  RADIATE should appeal to fans of Pink and Gwen Stefani with its contemporary musical stylings.  Tricia shares a positive, faith-filled message much needed in today’s society.  The photos of Tricia in the CD booklet are stylish and pretty cutting edge for the Christian market.  She is made up beautifully.   I’m rating RADIATE 86%.  For more info visit: www.triciamusicofficial.com and www.inpop.com.



Tuesday, October 08, 2013


Aaron Crabb was previously a member of the highly successful Crabb Family singing group.  They won ten Dove Awards and had two Grammy nominations.  The group disbanded in 2007.  Aaron married Amanda in 2001.  Their first two projects as a duo, 2008’s AFTER THE RAIN, and 2009’s LIVE AT OAK TREE, were both nominated for Inspirational Album of the Year at the Dove Awards.  In 2010, they put out their third project, LOVE WITH NO END.  Fast forward to 2013 and they have released MERCY (Difference Media).  It was produced by Aaron Crabb and Ben Isaacs, with Matthew Hagee executive producing.  Aaron and Amanda are worship leaders at San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church.

The album opener ‘If I’m Guilty’ was written by Gerald Crabb (Aaron’s father)¸Tony Wood, and Don Poythress.  It is a Southern Gospel ballad with some of the best lyrics to come out of Christian music in quite a while: “It’s so easy to criticize when someone else fails/It’s so easy to see faults in them when we overlook ourselves/Lord knows I’m not perfect/I don’t deserve to throw rocks at anyone/So if there’s a mistake You see in me let it be this one/If I’m guilty, let me be guilty of too much mercy/If I’m gonna be wrong, let me be wrong for treating someone else right/I don’t want to push down, what I wanna do now is help a brother back on his feet.”  ‘Somethin’ ‘Bout Love’ is a soulful song of testimony written by Sue C. Smith: “I was a cripple in my soul, I was so paralyzed with guilt and shame/I was begging for some peace, for release from the sin that kept me chained/But then the Savior gave me sight/Brought the Light of the joy into my heart/There’s no way I can describe what it’s like, but I know that it starts with/Somethin’ ‘bout love, somethin’ ‘bout grace, somethin’ ‘bout a hope to chase your blues away/Somethin’ ‘bout a cross, somethin’ bout a grave, somethin’ ‘bout a Saviour and the way He saves.”

‘Take Him to the Place’ is one of three songs on this album penned solely by Aaron and Amanda.  It was inspired by a trip to the Holy Land and speaks of how Christ can truly transform lives: “Take Him to the place/And watch dead things live again/Where one touch of His grace and it’s all washed away/He’s calling out your name/Doesn’t matter where you’ve been/Or whatever you have faced/Don’t be afraid/Let Him heal your heart/Give you a new start/You’ll find life brand new/He will calm all fears/Wipe away your tears/Show you love so true.”  Next up, is a slow country tune called ‘I’m Learning’.  Here are some of the words: “I’m learnin’/With all its twists and turnin’/Oh, it’s a good life/And I wanna get it right/And I’m findin’/As the road keeps windin’/I don’t know which bridges to be crossin’ and which ones I should be burnin’/But I’m learnin’ from a man who’s walked this road before me/And showed me how it’s done/I wanna follow in his footsteps like a good and faithful son.”

‘God Loves the Broken’ finds Amanda on lead vocals and was written by Jeff Ferguson and Reggie Stone.  It is an encouraging easy listening song for those who are wounded and discouraged: “God loves the broken/His arms are open/There is no shame, there is no blame/Where love is spoken/God loves the broken/His hands, His touch, can heal/Now He has placed you, on His potter’s wheel/The pieces that He found/Left scattered on the ground/He’s molding and changing.”  ‘Holy’ is an upbeat song of praise: “You are the door, the truth, and way/The Light that guides me through the day/The heaven’s declare Your majesty/We stand with angels as they sing/Holy, holy/You are Holy/Holy.”  ‘It’s Gonna Rain’ includes these words: “We gotta keep prayin’/Gotta keep believin’/Just let your faith arise/And soon you’ll be receivin’/It’s gonna rain, it’s gonna rain.”  I would add that even if we do pray and have faith, we don’t always get what we want.  We receive what God wants us to have.  He knows what’s best for us.

‘Without You’ is a song about intimacy with God: “I hear Your voice/In the quiet of my soul/Yes, the quiet of my soul/And I feel Your peace/When the waves begin to roll/Yes, the waves begin to roll/I feel safe because You’re with me/And I’m thankful knowing You will never leave/And I don’t wanna live without You/I don’t wanna move without the warmth of Your love.”  ‘Come On, Come On’ has a rousing, modern Southern Gospel feel to it musically, and is a call for charismatic revival: “You better wake up/Stay up/Pray up too/Let me tell ya brother, here’s what you must do/Step in the water and be baptized/Get yourself filled with Holy Ghost Fire/Jesus is coming and it won’t be long/All of God’s children gonna be gone.”

‘Reaching Out’ is a terrific country ballad penned by Aaron Crabb, Matthew Hagee, and Justin Ellis.  Steve Brewster plays drums, while Scotty Sanders plays steel guitar.  The song speaks of how God is faithful to us even when we are at our lowest: “I can’t reach out to You/But You’re reachin’ out to me/I can feel You pullin’ deep in my soul/Although I don’t deserve Your touch/I know I need it so much/I can’t reach out to You/But I know You’re reachin’ out to me.”  ‘Guide Me’ uses strings and arrangements by Dave Davidson.  This closing song reminds us that we should fully depend on God regardless of our circumstances: “When I stand on mountains high/I need Thee/When I cross the valley wide, I cry to Thee/For I know the only place I will find true endless grace is at Your feet/Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit/I need Thee/Every hour I pray.”

Aaron and Amanda Crabb are both wonderful vocalists whose voices blend well together.  Another strength of this album is that musically it spans many genres, including country, Southern Gospel, adult contemporary, and inspirational.  This great album clearly points listeners to God.  A theme verse for it is Luke 6:36.  It tells us: “Show mercy just as your Father shows mercy.”  I’m rating MERCY 90%.  For more info visit: www.differencemedia.org, www.turningpointpr.com,  or contact Aaron and Amanda on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/aaronandamandacrabb?fref=ts



Thursday, October 03, 2013


Daniel Amos released their self-titled debut album in 1976.  They originally had a country sound.  By 1978 they had recorded their first full rock album HORRENDOUS DISC which ended up on Larry Norman’s Solid Rock Records.  It did not, however, get released until 1981.  Daniel Amos toured and performed quite a bit with Randy Stonehill in the 1970’s and appeared on a few of his albums.  The band are known as Christian alternative music pioneers.  Fans praise albums such as ALARMA! (1981), VOX HUMANA (1984), and KALHOUN (1991).  It has been twelve years since their last album, the highly acclaimed double disc MR. BUECHNER’S DREAM.  Their new release is DIG HERE SAID THE ANGEL (2013, Stunt Records).  It was produced by Terry Scott Taylor, and engineered by Derri Daugherty and Mark Zellmer.  Unless otherwise noted, all lyrics are by Terry Scott Taylor and music is by Taylor and the rest of the guys in the band.  The record is dedicated to the late Tom Howard and is 55:01 in length.

‘Forward in Reverse’ is a soothing pop song.  Terry Taylor has always had a unique way of speaking about Jesus and spiritual truths.  Witness these lyrics: ”I saw a shepherd king freefalling/Off a throne of mud and straw/He landed on a bed of nails/Proclaiming ‘Love’s the only law’/I saw a dead man who’d been buried/Walk around outside his grave/The one’s we’re told are not worth saving/Are the one’s now being saved.”  Next up is ‘Jesus Wept’.  Of course, that is also the shortest verse in the Bible.  We know that Jesus was acquainted with grief.  This song reminds us that crosses must proceed crowns: “Another bad guy wins/More good friends die/They mounted up like eagles/Now they’re dropping like flies/I cry ‘Let me out’/You’re saying ‘No, not yet’/Before He danced, Jesus wept.”  The song is musically upbeat pop.

The title track ‘Dig Here Said the Angel’ has a dark rock feel to it.  It touches on our mortality: “’Dig here’, said the angel/I asked ‘My heart or my grave?’/’Maybe both’, said the angel/’Things can go either way.../’Here’s the catch’ said the angel/’You’re gonna suffer for a while’/’I’ll tell you straight’, said the angel/’Don’t plan to go out in style.’”  ‘Our New Testament Best’ will appeal to fans of Pink Floyd.  It has a classic rock sound and speaks of choosing to be compassionate: “You could go old-school on me/And not spare the lash/You could bash, smash me baby/Throw me out with the trash/But you thought better of it/Your love had mercy, mercy, mercy on me/Better of it/Mercy, mercy, mercy, on me/Better of it/Mercy, mercy, mercy/We got dressed in our New Testament best/And thought better of it.”

‘Love, Grace, Mercy’ makes uses of church bell and tambourine sounds.  The song admits that God’s ways are higher and often opposed to how we would choose things to be done: “You’ve got Your methods/I’m done with trying to solve Your moves/I’m going where You want me to go/I’ve got nothing left to lose/Now I don’t wanna suffer/But that’s in fact the nature of the beast/If you want to get to higher ground/You got to get there on your knees.”  ‘Now that I’ve Died’ seems written from the perspective of a believer already in heaven, but could just as well be a sarcastic song given Taylor’s angry vocal delivery: “I can’t hurt you now or harm anyone/I’m too busy helping people and having fun/I’m not a loner anymore since I joined the tribe/On the other side/And I love my neighbor as I love myself/I’m loved by God, I’ve got my health/I’m going strong and becoming wise/I couldn’t lie if I tried/Now that I’ve died!”

‘We’ll all Know Soon Enough’ is a song that many who are frustrated with God will relate to: “We were anxious for our prayers to be answered/But our angels were distracted and so slow/We were hoping for a few quick fixes/But we found ourselves still down in the hole/Now we’re thinking that our prayers/Aren’t answered/’Cuz when it came, the answer was ‘No’”.  ‘Waking Up Under Water’ was penned by Jerry Chamberlain and Terry Scott Taylor.  Musically, it is experimental and quirky.  It is about fantasizing about utopia: “I close my eyes and she’s there for me/Our lucky number wins the lottery/I finish my book, turn in my masterpiece/Will wonders never cease?.../I close my eyes and I close the deal/The world quakes when my power’s revealed/Whenever I prayed, the answer was ‘Yes!’/I never tasted death.” 

‘The Uses of Adversity’ is a strong song that reminds us that it is dangerous for us as humans to come to a place where we feel we have God all figured out: “You’re much too small if You’re not a Mystery/So don’t send me rain if I bloom in drought/No, don’t send me certainty/If somehow it’s best for me to doubt.../I found Your handprints in the pages of history/I said Your ways are past finding out.”

‘The Ruthless Hum of Dread’ is very subdued musically.  It finds the band longing for eternal bliss: “Let me go deep inside Your safehouse love and light/Beyond the clang of the alarm/And imagine a long rest/Last kisses and a sweet death/Free to float above Your arms/Into the company of angels/A final turning of the tables/My old flesh a misery shed/Forever young and light enough/To dance among/The stars above/My head, my head (2X).”  The album ends with the beautiful ballad ‘The Sun Shines on Everyone’ which effectively uses an 18 member Sunshine Street Choir.  This song urges us to love everyone as God does: “The sun shines on everyone (2X)/The good, the bad, on everyone/See it shine/The rain falls on everyone/A common grace for everyone/On the human race comes rain and sun/Grace for all/Baby, don’t isolate them, no/Baby, don’t castigate them, no/Baby, don’t eradicate them, no/The angels will separate them, so/In the meantime, let it go.”

DIG HERE SAID THE ANGEL is a creative musical masterpiece with thought-provoking lyrics.  It is miles ahead of 80% of what is being played on Christian radio these days.  Terry Scott Taylor, born on May 24, 1950, still has plenty to say.  The Christianity presented here is very real and down to earth, and not pie in the sky.  I’m rating this album 90%.  For more info visit www.danielamos.com.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013


My introduction to the Beach Boys was through a cassette tape compilation of their music called ENDLESS SUMMER which was released the year of my birth, 1974.  In actuality their debut studio album was 1962’s SURFIN’ SAFARI.  In 2001 Capitol Records released two of the group’s live albums on one cd.  That is what I will be reviewing here.

BEACH BOYS CONCERT was produced by Brian Wilson, recorded at the Civic Auditorium in Sacramento, California, and originally put out in 1964.  On this recording the group is introduced by DJ Fred Vail.  He hired the Beach Boys for $750 to play at a fundraiser at his old high school, El Camino.  About 3000 attended the show.  The group is introduced as being from Hawthorne, California.

The concert begins with ‘Fun, Fun, Fun’ written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love.  It is, well, a fun song about a carefree girl¨”Well the girls can’t stand her/Cause she walks, looks, and drives like an ace now/She makes the Indy 500 look like a Roman chariot race now/A lotta guys try to catch her/But she leads them on a wild goose chase now/And she’ll have fun, fun, fun/Til her daddy takes the T-bird away.”  ‘The Little Old Lady from Pasadena’ was originally released by Jan and Dean, but penned by Don Altfeld and Roger Christian.  It is a humorous story song: “It’s the little old lady from Pasadena/The little old lady from Pasadena/Go granny, go granny, go granny go/Has a pretty little flower bed of white gardenias/Go granny, go granny, go granny go/But parked in her rickety old garage/Is a brand new, shiny red Super Stock Dodge/And everybody’s saying that there’s nobody meaner/Than the little old lady from Pasadena/She drives real fast and she drives real hard/She’s the terror of Colorado Boulevard.”

Next, Mike Love introduces the members of the group.  ‘Little Deuce Coupe’ is again about cars: “She’s got a competition clutch with the four on the floor/And she purrs like a kitten till the lake pipes roar/And if that ain’t enough to make you flip your lid/There’s one more thing, I got the pink slip daddy/And comin’ off the line when the light turns green/Well, she blows ‘em outta the water like you never seen/I get pushed out of shape and it’s hard to steer/When I get rubber in all four gears.”  ‘Long Tall Texan’ is a silly song penned by Henry Strzelecki.  It was a minor hit for Murry Kellum in 1963.  It is a mix of country and rock and roll, and is about a sheriff: “Well, I’m a long tall Texan/I enforce justice for the law/Well, I’m a long tall Texan/I enforce justice for the law/Well, people look at me and say/’Hurrah, hurrah, are you the law?’”

‘In my Room’ is a sleepy ballad by Brian Wilson and Gary Usher.  Many a teenager will still relate to these lyrics: “There’s a world where I can go and tell my secrets to/In my room, in my room/In this world I lock out all my worries and my fears/In my room, in my room/Do my dreaming and my scheming/Lie awake and pray.”  ‘Monster Mash’ was a 1962 novelty song that Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett and The Crypt-Kickers made known.  It’s good for Hallowe’en: “I was working in the lab late one night/When my eyes beheld an eerie sight/When my monster from his slab began to rise/And suddenly to my surprise/He did the mash/He did the monster mash/The monster mash/It was a graveyard smash.”

‘Let’s Go Trippin’’ is credited as being the first surf rock instrumental by many.  Dick Dale and the Del-Tones recorded it in 1961.  The Beach Boys version has the audience screaming.  ‘Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow’ is a 1962 novelty song  by The Rivingtons.  The song finds the Beach Boys singing the song title over and over, interspersed with lyrics such as: “The funniest sound I ever heard/But I can’t understand a single word/I can’t believe this sound makes me slap and shout.”

‘The Wanderer’ was a Number Two hit for Dion in 1962.  The Beach Boys drummer Dennis Wilson takes the lead on this one, whereas Mike and/or Brian take the lead on all the others.  The song is essentially about a player: “Well, I’m the type of guy who will never settle down/Where pretty girls are, well, you know that I’m around/I kiss ‘em and I love ‘em ‘cause to me they’re all the same/I hug ‘em and I squeeze ‘em and they don’t even know my name/They call me the wanderer, yeah the wanderer/I roam around, around, around.”  ‘Hawaii’ finds the guys fantasizing about surfing: “Now, I don’t care what town you’re from/But don’t tell me that they got bigger waves/’Cause everyone that goes/Comes back with nothing but raves/That’s in Hawaii, Hawaii.”

‘Graduation Day’ was originally by a group that highly influenced Brian Wilson, the Four Freshmen.  It is a sentimental ballad: “There’s a time for joy/A time for tears/A time we’ll treasure through the years/We’ll remember always/Graduation day/At the senior prom/We danced ‘til three/And there you gave your heart to me/We’ll remember always/Graduation day.”  The Beach Boys sold over a million copies at the time, of ‘I Get Around’, a Brian Wilson-Mike Love composition.  It hit Number One in the U.S.  The song is about cruising: “I’m getting bugged driving up and down the same old strip/I gotta find a new place where the kids are hip/My buddies and me are getting real well known/Yeah, the bad guys know us and they leave us alone.../We always take my car cause it’s never been beat/And we’ve never missed yet with the girls we meet.”

This concert recording ends with ‘Johnny B. Goode’ which dates back to 1958, being written by Chuck Berry.  It is an energetic story song: “He came from Louisiana, close to New Orleans/Way back up in the woods up near the evergreens/There stood a log cabin made of earth and wood/Where lived a country boy named Johnny B. Goode/He never learned to read or write so well/But he could play the guitar just like a ringing bell/Go, go/Go Johnny go, go/Go Johnny go, go.”  BEACH BOYS CONCERT was their first Number One album and spent over a year on the charts.  I have to admit the crowd screaming on it can be distracting though.

The second concert on this cd is LIVE IN LONDON.  It is taken from recordings done at Finsbury Park and London’s Palladium in 1968.  Brian Wilson was no longer on the road with the group by this time, due to health issues and stress.  The album came out in England in 1970, Japan in 1971, and Germany in 1972.  It wasn’t until 1976 that the album came out in America under the expanded title BEACH BOYS ’69-THE BEACH BOYS LIVE IN LONDON.  The lead vocals on this album are mainly by Carl Wilson, Al Jardine, and Mike Love.  Bruce Johnston had joined the group in 1965. 

This concert opens with the Brian Wilson-Mike Love tune ‘Darlin’’.  It is a happy sounding pop song: “Don’t know if words can say/But darlin’ I’ll find a way/To let you know what you mean to me/Guess it was meant to be/I hold you in my heart/As life’s most precious part/Oh darlin’ I dream about you often my pretty darlin’/I love the way you soften me with your love.”  ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ is the opening song from 1966’s PET SOUNDS.  It finds a young man wanting to get married to his love interest: “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up/In the morning when the day is new/And after having spent the day together/Hold each other close the whole night through?/Happy times together we’ve been spending/I wish that every kiss was never ending/Wouldn’t it be nice?”

According to Wikipedia.org ‘Sloop John B.’ “was originally a traditional West Indies folk song, ‘The John B. Sails’ taken from Carl Sandburg’s 1927 collection of folk songs, THE GREAT AMERICAN SANDBAG.”  Johnny Cash recorded it in 1959 as ‘I Want to Go Home.’  At any rate, it is one of my favorite Beach Boys covers.  It is a story song about life on the sea and the loneliness and hardships it can bring: “The poor cook he caught the fits/And threw away all my grits/And then he took and he ate up all of my corn/Let me go home/Why don’t they let me go home?/This is the worst trip I’ve ever been on.”  ‘California Girls’ is another of my Beach Boys favorites: “I been all around this great big world/And I seen all kinds of girls/Yeah, but I couldn’t wait to get back in the States/Back to the cutest girls in the world/I wish they all could be California (2X)/I wish they all could be California girls.”  ‘Do It Again’ (B. Wilson/M. Love) is a bouncy pop song that finds them reminiscing and looking forward to the future with eagerness: “Suntanned bodies and waves of sunshine/The California girls and a beautiful coastline/Warmed up weather/Let’s get together and do it again.”

‘Wake the World’ penned by Brian Wilson and Al Jardine, is a highly optimistic song: “Wake the world with a brand new morning/Say hello to another fine morning/Got my face in the running water/Making my life so much brighter.”  ‘Aren’t You Glad’ is the song of one totally smitten with another person:¨”You know that I’ll be a long time loving you/I hope that you’ll be a long time loving me/And don’t you know that there’s so much more to come?/I got a heart that just won’t stop beating for you/I got a love I just can’t stop feeling for you.”

Next up is ‘Bluebirds Over the Mountain’ which was written by Ersel Hickey.  The Echoes and Richie Valens also covered it.  This song of longing uses horns and good electric guitar work: “Bluebirds over the mountain/Seagulls over the sea/Bluebirds over the mountain/Bring my baby to me/Oh bring my baby back/I don’t know why she’s been so long/But all I know is that she’s gone/Oh, bring my baby back to me/Well, I’m in pain/Can’t you see?”

The Beach Boys perform Bobby Troup’s ‘Their Hearts Were Full of Spring’ acapella.  It is about a couple in love who grow old and die and are buried side by side: “On a hill where robins sing/And they say violets/Grow there the whole year round/For their hearts were full of spring.”  ‘Good Vibrations’ is groovy and quirky.  It is about infatuation, or lust, depending on how you look at it: “I, I love the colorful clothes she wears/And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair/I hear the sound of a gentle world/On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air/I’m pickin’ up good vibrations/She’s giving me excitations.”

There is something spiritual and special about 1966’s ‘God Only Knows’ penned by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher.  It opens with the French horn and finds Carl Wilson on lead vocals.  Those going through a separation or divorce will relate to it: “If you should ever leave me/Though life would still go on believe me/The world could show nothing to me/So what good would living do me?/God only knows what I’d be without you.”  ‘Barbara Ann’ is a fun song by Fred Fassert that had been performed by The Regents in 1961.  Here are some of the lyrics: “Went to a dance, lookin’ for romance/Saw Barbara Ann, so I thought I’d take a chance/With Barbara Ann¸Barbara Ann/Take my hand/You got me rockin’ and a rollin’/Rockin’ and a reelin’/Barbara Ann, ba ba ba/Barbara Ann.”

Two bonus cuts are included on this cd.  ‘Don’t Worry Baby’ is an outtake from the 1964 show.  The lyrics may make some blush, but by today’s standards, are tame: “Oh, what she does to me/When she makes love to me/And she says ‘Don’t worry baby/Don’t worry baby (2X)/Everything will turn out alright.’”  ‘Heroes and Villains’ is taken from a 1967 performance at the Honolulu International Centre.  It is a story song by Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks: “Fell in love years ago/With an innocent girl/From the Spanish and Indian home/Home of the heroes and villains/Once a night Catillian squared the fight/And she was right in the rain of the bullets that eventually brought her down/But she’s still dancing in the night/Unafraid of what a dude’ll do in a town full of heroes and villains.”

The Beach Boys CONCERT/LIVE IN LONDON cd runs 73 minutes long.  The group has harmonies to die for and makes a connection with their audiences like no other.  They are an American treasure and have no lack of talent.  This 2001 cd re-issue has extensive liner notes and several wonderful photographs of the group.  I’m rating this one 84%, with the second concert likely being the one I enjoyed the most.  For more info visit www.thebeachboys.com and www.capitalrecords.com.