Daniel Amos formed circa 1974. In 1976 they released their self-titled debut album Their first full rock album HORRENDOUS DISC was recorded in 1978, but was not released until 1981 on Larry Norman’s Solid Rock Records. In 1987 the band released their 8th studio album DARN FLOOR-BIG BITE on Frontline Records, under the name Da. It was engineered by Doug Doyle. In 2008 Arena Rock Recording Company released a 2 Disc 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition of the album. On the project Daniel Amos is: Terry Taylor (vocals, guitar), Greg Flesch (lead guitars, pan flute, squeeze box), Tim Chandler (bass, backing vocals), and Ed McTaggart (drums, percussion, backing vocals). Alex MacDougall contributes additional percussion.
The album runs 36 minutes and 36 seconds. It begins with a bouncy pop/rock number called ‘Return of the Beat Menace’. Terry Taylor says the song is his “intention to bemoan the Church’s seeming inability to embrace and support the Christian artist as visionary, save for those ‘artists’ whose work is primarily a means to religious proselytizing and/or driven by hidden profit motives”. Some of the lyrics to the song are: “Imagination on the rise again/So hide your heart away/Dust off the fears and guilts and lies again/The beat is here to stay/Your satellites can reach that Eskimo/He buys a suit and tie/Re-styles his hair like girls in Tupelo/And sings ‘Sweet Bye and Bye’. Next up is ‘Strange Animals’. Terry says: “The song explores the mystery of our disconnect with one another as a result of our Fallen-ness”. Witness these words: “If I were to give you an animal’s name/Could I keep you locked in a cage in my brain?/Yes, I want to hold you/But it is not clear/Just what’s your intention/If I get too near/I feel the danger, but I cannot leave/Will you tear open/The heart on my sleeve?”
The title track, ‘Darn Floor-Big Bite’ is a great rock song about our inability to describe God in words: “Illuminate my muddled heart/Sweep the shadows from my mind/So I might imagine what You are like/And understand the great design/Darn floor-big bite/You are earth, water and light/Darn floor-big bite/Can I ever hope to get it right?/Can’t get it right”. Terry got the title of the next song ‘Earth Household’ from a poem by Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz. This song uses the sound of flutes and reflects on that which is unseen: “We chase with the hounds for the meaning of the world/The unattainable meaning of the world/Now I’m gonna run to the other side/Beyond the border land of death I ride/Slip through a tear in the fabric of the world/The earth household (2X)/Speak the foreign language/Of a place beyond/The earth household”.
‘Safety Net’ is a fast-paced pop/rock song with passionate vocals. Terry says it’s about “God’s love, grace, and mercy”. The following lyrics support that: “You fall, you get caught in the safety net/You break, but you mend/In the safety net you start living again/You start living again”. ‘Pictures of the Gone World’ is about our fallen state: “Will anyone cry for justice?/Will anyone get it right?/These pictures of the gone world/Could be our world tonight/I see fire on the mountain and blood on the water/We dream a beautiful dream/We lose a beautiful thing/I’m making love to you/I’m holding on to you/Lose this world too.../We could lose this world too”.
‘Divine Instant’ at times has a sunny, breezy, Caribbean feel to it musically. Terry says: “This is a celebration of sex as God’s holy gift and one of the greatest He has given to His children”. Here are some of the words to the song: “Can’t fight this will to live and love/To always need you, die in your arms/Yes, we found ourselves there,/Felt enduring desire/In that divine instant/Heard eternity whisper/Well, we find ourselves here/It’s the right time for love/In this divine instant/We are time standing still”. Of ‘Half Light, Epoch and Phase’ Terry says: “I lament our tendency to shrink God down to a manageable size”. Sample these lyrics: “Everyone seems to think/They’ve got it made/That You’re on a rack by the door/It’s true, I don’t know much/Except I am saved/From falling through cracks in the floor.../Tomorrow I’m planning to write the great book/In which I will capture our time/Set forth the fury, the sound/And the look/If I could just make up my mind”.
‘The Unattainable Earth’ is a great mid-tempo rock track, again inspired by Milosz’s poetry. It includes these sincere, heartfelt words: “My writing is just immense amazement/Should You really reveal anything when I just misunderstand it?/.../Down the twists and turns of a long, long story/I am here to learn about the weight of glory/My questions right now/Don’t need all the answers/Just, please don’t ever let go of me/No, don’t ever stop loving me”. The album closes with a pretty ballad entitled ‘The Shape of Air’. Background vocalists include Gene Eugene, Riki Michelle, and Mike Stand. The song begins by re-iterating that we can’t properly describe divine things with the human language: “Pour cement ‘round things/Let it dry/Break away things/See the design/Describe the voice from heaven/And paint the grace you’re given/It’s the shape of air (2X)/I can sit and stare/’Til it’s almost clear”.
Disc Two of this 20th Anniversary re-issue contains four live performances from the now defunct Cornerstone Festival in Illinois, some alternate takes of songs on the album, and a fuzzy demo of an unreleased song called ‘Sacred Heart’. It also includes an interview with Terry Taylor. He reveals the meaning of the album’s title. He heard the story about an ape named Koko who had been taught sign language. One day there was an earthquake while she was in her cage. She used sign language interpreted ‘Darn Floor-Big Bite’ to describe the earthquake. Terry believes much of who God is, is a mystery. Tom Gulotta writes that Daniel Amos “came to the controversial conclusion that what the human race doesn’t know about God is greater than what it does know”. Terry Taylor says the concepts on the album are cryptic. If you pop Disc Two into your computer, you’ll find some extra video goodies!
DARN FLOOR-BIG BITE is a great alternative rock album. It features distinctive vocals and strong instrumentation. I recommend it to fans of Jacob’s Trouble and Hokus Pick. It celebrates the journey we call life. At the same time, it conveys an inquisitive spirit, with a thirst for spiritual education from God Himself. I’m rating DARN FLOOR-BIG BITE 87%. For more info visit: www.arenarock.com and www.danielamos.com.
e buys a suit