Thursday, April 30, 2015


Audio Adrenaline has 2 Grammy’s and 5 Dove Awards to their credit.  They became popular for such songs as ‘Big House’, ‘Hands and Feet’, and ‘Ocean Floor’.  In 2013 they released KINGS & QUEENS with former DC TALK vocalist Kevin Max at the helm.  Fast forward to 2015 and the band is back with a new album, SOUND OF THE SAINTS (Fair Trade Services), and a completely new cast of characters.  The new line-up is: Adam Agee (former Stellar Kart vocalist), Dave Stovall on bass (formerly of Wavorly), Brandon Bagby on guitar (was part of Know Hope Collective), and Jack Campbell on drums (an Australian).  Agee says:  “We are excited to inspire a new generation of fans the way Audio A inspired us...These new songs carry on the message of Audio A-positive, encouraging and challenging.  God can use all of us, even the underdogs”.  The producers used on the album are: Seth Mosley, Joshua Silverberg, and Nick Baumhardt.

‘Move’ is the band’s favorite new song to play live.  Major League Baseball and WWE are both using it.  It is a catchy pop/rock song of encouragement: “Before the battle had begun/We had the victory/So don’t be shaken/By the voices of the enemy/Hey/Take your shot/The world is watching/Don’t be afraid/It’s not too late/You’re not alone/Got what it takes/Hey/God says go, there is no stopping/You got to move”.  ‘Love Was Stronger’ has a modern praise and worship feel to it and begins with these words of testimony: “I was a child of wrath/An enemy of the King of peace/But love was stronger/Love was stronger/I tried resisting grace/The Son of God still took my place/Cause love was stronger/Love was stronger/You are stronger than my sins/You carried to the cross/With resurrecting love”.

The title track was penned by Mark Stuart, Adam Agee, Seth Mosley, and Jared Anderson.  It has a cool Americana influence and includes these poetic words: “I’ve been washed in the roar of the ocean/Found peace in the echoes of a cave/And the trees of the field/They clap their hands/But there’s something in the sound of the saints/From the lips of those You’ve saved/A redemption song will rise/With a sound so full/It cracks the sky”.  ‘Out of the Fire’ is a good rock song that asks God for help: “I hear the lies of the enemy/Draw me into captivity/I know this is not how it’s meant to be/I gotta break free (2X)/I want the world to know/There is an anecdote/A cure for this disease/You are the remedy (2X)/Out of the fire, pull me into the river/Out of the fire/Only You can deliver me from myself”.

‘Miracles’ is a ballad that finds the band conversing with God: “It doesn’t matter what the world says/I’ve seen what You can do/I know it’s more than just coincidence/It’s amazing how You move/It’s not always parting oceans/Sometimes it’s the little moments/When You show how close You are/Some would say it’s only chance/I’m not gonna second guess/I’ve seen the hand of God/Cause I believe in miracles/You can do the impossible”.  ‘Rejoice’ places full confidence in God: “I will not fear cause I believe You are here/Your Spirit’s with me/Even when I’m lost at sea/In the darkest deep/I will rejoice/Cause Your light leads me home”.

‘Spirit Burn’ actually has a bit of a country music influence early on.  The song is a call for spiritual renewal and revival: “Bless Your church with tongues of fire/Holy Spirit move/Leave no trace of man’s desire/Spirit burn right through/Spirit burn, Spirit burn.../Mark Your church to bear Your Name/Come in power/Come and reign/Sanctify and stir Your saints”.  ‘Saved my Soul’ is a pop/dance track that includes these words of thanks to God: “You found me in a desert place/And I felt Your love like a pouring rain/And You saved my soul/Yeah, You saved my soul/You lift me out of the sinking sand/And You hold me up/In Your nail-scarred hands/And You won’t let go/No, You won’t let go/In my weakness You are strong/I’m not too lost or too far gone/Hope is here, hope is here”.

‘So Can I’ extols Christ: “Son of God, one and only/You left heaven’s glory/To be abandoned by Your friends/In the hour You needed them/They watched while You were hurting/On a cross so undeserving/Oh, You sacrificed it all/For the world You took the fall/Oh, they said that You had died/But look at You, You’re so alive!”  ‘World Changers’ is a nice anthem about fulfilling the Great Commission: “How could we be silent/When we know the One who saves?/We won’t keep it quiet/Cause Your Spirit makes us brave/We are a generation/To rise up and make You known/To every tribe/Every tongue, every nation/We will go”.

SOUND OF THE SAINTS is quite a strong debut album from this all new incarnation of Audio Adrenaline.  It blends modern pop/rock sounds with modern worship.  The lyrics point listeners straight to God and Adam Agee’s voice nicely suits this fun to listen to album.  Be forewarned-this is not your father or mother’s Audio Adrenaline sound-wise, but it is terrific in its own right.  One almost should view bands like Audio A, Newsboys, and Petra as ministries whose members may change, but the message remains the same.  I’m recommending SOUND OF THE SAINTS to fans of Newsboys and Hawk Nelson and rating it 90%.  For more info visit: and

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Larry David Norman was born on April 8, 1947.  He passed away on February 24, 2008.  In 2005 he released UNDERGROUND MANOUEVERS (Solid Rock Records) which included a lot of bootlegged recordings.  The liner notes give an inside look into why he did not continue on with the mainstream band PEOPLE!  You will also learn about Norman’s tortured relationship with Word Records, and his relationships with artists on his Solid Rock label.  This project clocks in at a generous 78 minutes and 34 seconds.

The album opens with ‘Jon’s Blues’.  Larry recalls: “Jon Linn opened up my shows with this instrumental many times over the years”.  It features great electric guitar work though he was legally blind.  He later died in a car accident.  Next up is ‘Stop This Flight’ (with The Young Lions).  Larry writes: “When I decided I had to get out of the Christian Music scene and move somewhere that people were more important to the artistic community than rank, self-promotion and cash flow, I wrote this song...I just couldn’t comprehend being stolen from by Christians.  I would rather it was non-believers who were taking all the money”.  So, the song is autobiographical and Larry’s voice sounds road weary: “16 hours from London/You know I’m flyin’ on a DC-10/I wonder if when this plane sets down/I’ll ever be able to walk again/I spent 35 days in Europe/Singin’ till my voice is gone/You know there’s never time enough to get a good night’s sleep/What is this road we keep runnin’ on?”  It is a great rock song.  A very short live song ‘Forget Your Hexagram’ is next.  It offers advice about the supernatural: “Don’t mess with gypsies and don’t you have your fortune read/Keep your table on the floor and don’t you listen to the dead”.

‘Shake your Rattle and Crawl’ has a fun old time rock and roll feel to it.  Larry wrote it for his baby boy Michael: “You make me laugh when I see you crawl across the floor/Whatcha doin’ boy?/Shake your rattle and crawl (4X)/Stay in your stroller while your Mama’s shoppin’ at the mall”.  A live acoustic version of ‘You Shall Be Saved’ follows.  It includes humorous interaction with the audience, but has a serious message: “I don’t know what the future holds/Don’t know what life will bring/But I ain’t worried about nothin’/Cause God’s figured out everything/I got one foot on this earth, one foot t’ward the grave/But I know in whom I have believed/And I shall be saved”.

‘Slave Song Medley’ is short and acoustic.  It begins with ‘Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?’  It also draws from ‘I Got Shoes’ and ‘Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen’.  ‘The Rock that Doesn’t Roll’ (with The Young Lions) is a rock and roll crowd favourite.  It begins with these words of testimony: “I was lost and blind and a Friend of mine came and took me by the hand/And He led me to His Kingdom that was in another land/Now I feel so blessed cuz He gave me rest/I finally feel like I passed the test/I wanna be with Him/That’s my goal/With the Rock that doesn’t roll”.

‘That’s What Love is For’, an acoustic ballad, is next.  Larry reflects: “This brings back fond memories of when I came back to America and found that audiences at festivals couldn’t be bothered listening to me, no matter how ‘high I was on the bill’.  I didn’t have an earring, a spikey mullet, a thin tie and wasn’t bobbling all over the stage screaming”.  Some of the words to the song are: “Love can bless you when it’s true/Give you hope and guide you through the darkest corridor/That’s what love is for/You have come and now the emptiness is gone”.  ‘More Than a Dream’ is an energetic punk rock song by English poet and songwriter Steve Scott.  It draws the following from the New Testament: “He said ‘I must split now, but a Friend of Mine’s due/He’ll bring wisdom and power and comfort to you’/The fat cats they killed Him/Announced the case closed/They spoke out of turn/Cuz on the 3rd day He rose!”

The longest track on the CD follows.  ‘Australian Haze/Crossroads’ comes in at 6:58.  It features blistering electric guitar work.  Norman calls it an unrehearsed performance.  He says: “I don’t even know the words.  I’m just trying to make up lyrics which sound vaguely related to the song, and I always enjoy the improv of preaching through the music”.  Some of the lyrics are: “You must love one another.../Some people take the high road, some people take the low.../The high road goes to heaven and the low road goes to hell/Go Johnny, go, go, go”.  A solo acoustic version of ‘The Outlaw’ reflects on Jesus Christ: “Some say he was a sorcerer, a man of mystery/He could walk upon the water/He could make a blind man see/And he conjured wine at weddings and did tricks with fish and bread/He spoke of bein’ born again/He raised people from the dead”.

‘Letters to the Church’ (with The Young Lions) is an easy listening song on which Norman’s voice breaks a lot.  Larry calls it “a song for televangelists”.  Some of the words are: “You speak of compassion, but you don’t really care/You can talk of heaven, but are you going there?/God’s tryin’ to touch you but you’re out of reach/And you don’t practice what you preach”.  On ‘The Road and The Sky’ Norman is joined on vocals by Tom Howard and Randy Stonehill.  This song has an old time country rock feel to it and begins with these carefree words: “Well, when we come to the place where the road and the sky collide/I’m going over the edge/Just let my spirit fly/Well, ya told me I was gonna have to work for a livin’/But all I wanna do is ride/I don’t know where we’re going/From here, why don’t you decide?”

An acoustic solo performance of ‘Song for a Small Circle’ references several of Norman’s contemporaries: “And love to you Sir Stonehill with your guitar full volume on your amp.../With Clapton on guitar/Charlie Watts on drums/McCartney on the Hoffner bass/With blisters on his thumbs/Dear Dylan watch your fears all hide and disappear/While love inside keeps growin’”.  Of the next track ‘Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus’ (with The Young Lions) Norman writes: “This is a bootleg from Europe...My voice is pretty bronchial so this is from the middle of the tour”.  Keyboard, electric guitar, and drums are used on this Christian rock classic with bold lyrics: “You got gonorrhea on Valentine’s Day/You’re still lookin’ for the perfect lay/You think rock and roll will set you free/You’ll be deaf before you’re 33/Shootin’ junk until you’re half insane/Broken needle in your purple vein/Why don’t you look into Jesus/He’s got the answer”.

‘In the Garden’ is both about Eden, and the end of Larry’s marriage: “We were tripped by a dark device/We were so close to paradise in the garden/Now we stand alone in the burnin’ sun and think of what we should have done in the garden.../Now the garden’s dead and gone/And our suffering goes on and on and on”.  The bluesy Steve Scott song ‘Stranger Blues’ is next.  It finds a Christian conversing with a non-Christian: “Well, stranger you can laugh, oh stranger pour your scorn/But I bet you won’t be laughin’ on that resurrection morn/I love the Lord and He’s coming back one day/Stranger, won’t you change your sinful ways”.  ‘Messiah’ (with The Young Lions) is an effective apocalyptic rock song: “Red clouds blotted out the sun/Darkness fell on everyone/Rivers of blood were running/I could see the armies coming/I could see their weapons fallin’/I can hear the Savior callin’/Messiah/He took this world by force”.

Five bonus tracks finish off this CD.  ‘Father of All’ is a praise and worship ballad with just Larry and a piano.  He writes: “I love these lyrics.  They came right out of my heart.  I stopped singing this on stage because I realized how personal it was”.  Here’s a sample: “Father, I give You my life/Jesus, I give You my soul/Spirit, I give You my will/And I submit my control/Father of all, Savior of all, Spirit of all/I give my all to Thee”.  A studio version of the song would appear on Norman’s 2001 album TOURNIQUET.  ‘Love Medley’ finds Larry singing at the top of his range and includes these words: “And when you’re feelin’ down/You know the times you don’t feel good/I like to make you feel the way you should/And if you’ll be my woman/I’ll be your man/And when you’re down and out/Well, baby just reach out your hand”.

Next Larry delivers ‘Cup of Water Sermon’.  He reminds us that as Christians we are to be more compassionate and actively care about the poor and unsaved.  A version of ‘Why Can’t You Be Good? is next.  It includes these words set to acoustic guitar: “You don’t even try to do the things you should.../You say that you love Him and that your faith is true/But you got so many stronger interests/What are you tryin’ to do?”  ‘If God is my Father’ asks a great question: “If God is my Father/Then you are my brother/Why can’t we bother to really reach out and love one another?”  ‘We Three Together/The Wabbit and The Twain’ is a fun ragtime number.

UNDERGROUND MANOUEVERS is a must have for any serious Larry Norman collector.  It is an intimate album that mixes fun, energetic tracks with softer, more thoughtful numbers.  In many ways it is a raw album with imperfect vocals and imperfect instrumentation.  One can only wonder what type of material Larry Norman would be writing were he still with us today.  I’m rating UNDERGROUND MANOUEVERS 95%.  For more info visit:


Tuesday, April 14, 2015



In late 1964 Brian Wilson had stopped touring with the Beach Boys.  Capitol Records released two best of albums, ENDLESS SUMMER (1974) and SPIRIT OF AMERICA (1975) that contributed to the Beach Boys being a hit on the road, even without Brian.  In 1975 Brian came under the care of Dr. Eugene Landy, a psychiatrist who encouraged him to exercise, detox, and write songs.  Brian was getting better but had mixed feelings about working with the Boys again.  He did however, and the result was 15 BIG ONES released in July of 1976 on Brother Records/Reprise.  This 20th studio album for the group was mainly recorded at the group’s Brother Studio in Santa Monica and produced by Brian.  The cover photo was of the five group members, each in an Olympic ring.  In August NBC aired ‘The Beach Boys 15th Anniversary Special’.  Brian Wilson started touring with the Boys again in the Fall of 1976.

A cover of Chuck Berry’s ‘Rock and Roll Music’ starts the album off, with Mike Love on lead vocals.  This, the album’s first single, hit #5 in August, becoming their first Top Ten single since ‘Good Vibrations’ ten years prior.  The song begins with these feel good lyrics: “Just let me hear some of that rock and roll music/Any old way you choose it/It’s got a backbeat, you can’t lose it/Any old time you use it/It’s gotta be rock and roll music/If you wanna dance with me (2X)”.  Brian Wilson and Mike Love wrote ‘It’s OK’.  It includes a horn section of Roy Wood and Wizzard and has a classic Beach Boys rock and roll sound to it.  These lyrics aren’t too deep: “It’s OK to get out there and have some fun/By yourself maybe or else with a special one/Good or bad/Glad or sad/It’s all gonna pass/So it’s OK/Let’s all play and enjoy it while it lasts”.  ‘Had to Phone Ya’ was originally recorded by Spring, a duo of Brian’s wife Marilyn Wilson and her sister Diane Rovell.  It is a light pop love song: “Had to phone ya/Had to phone ya just to talk to you/Had to phone ya just to tell ya I was missing you.../A-when I phone ya/California’s not so far away/You’re not alone/Ya know I’m only just a dial away/I visualize that you’re looking fine/Feels so good when you come on the line”.

Next up is a cover of ‘Chapel of Love’, which is lacking.  The Dixie Cups made it popular in 1964.  It has idealistic lyrics: “Bells will ring, the sun will shine/I’ll be hers and she’ll be mine/We’ll love until the end of time/And we’ll never be lonely anymore/Because we’re going to the chapel and we’re gonna get married/Going to the chapel/And we’re gonna get married”.  Mike Love wrote ‘Everyone’s in Love with You’ which praises transcendental meditation guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.  One of the backing vocalists is Toni Tennille.  Harpsichord and flute are used on this peaceful song: “Everyone’s in love with you/Though most just barely glimpse a part of you/They all can see your love shine through/It comes from deep within the heart of you/So many people have had their love affairs/Had their loves to share like mine/Now I tell you people/I witnessed something new/A love that could only be divine”.  ‘Talk to Me’ is a song of requests: “Talk to me, talk to me/I love the things you say/Talk to me, talk to me/In your own sweet, gentle way/Let me hear/Tell me dear/Tell me, ooh/You love me so”.

‘That Same Song’ is an adult pop song penned by Brian Wilson and Mike Love.  It makes use of accordion and violins.  Marilyn Wilson is one of the backing vocalists.  It offers a music history lesson: “Well back in time with just a rhythm and a rhyme/Gregorian chants were a real big thing/They took that chant and added harmony/It was a different sound, but had the same meaning.../The rock of ages built that rockin’ sound/’Til more and more people start to come around/They worshipped in church/And built that great big choir/It grew and it grew/Until it spread like fire”.  Alan Jardine performs the lead vocal on the shortest song on the album, ‘TM Song’.  It is about transcendental meditation: “Whew, it’s time for me to meditate/What time is it?/How long has it been?/Bubbles and ripples floatin’ thru my mind/I must have drifted away/Since I sat down/Where have I been?/The mantra, my mantra, must have took me away/It must have took me away”.  ‘Palisades Park’ was written by Chuck Barris of ‘The Gong Show’ fame.  It has an old time rock and roll influence.  Carl Wilson takes the lead and Hal Blaine plays drums.  It is a song of recollection: “We ate and ate at a hot dog stand/We danced around to a rockin’ band/And when we quit I gave that girl a hug/In the tunnel of love/You never know how great a kiss can be/Until you stop at the bottom of a ferris wheel/In the tunnel of love down at Palisades Park”.

Alan Jardine wrote ‘Susie Cincinnati’.  Bruce Johnston is a backing vocalist, Brian Wilson plays harmonica, and Darryl Dragon is responsible for the clavinet.  The song is a tribute to a female taxi driver.  It begins with these words: “Well, Susie Cincinnati/Got a groovy little motor car/She lives for the night/And her husband’s a security guard/Her looks aren’t exactly a plus/But it doesn’t matter to us/Because she knows where it’s at/And she gets you there in seconds flat”.  Ed Wells wrote ‘A Casual Look’.  It has a doo-wop groove to it and will appeal to folks in, or about to enter, the military: “Oh darling can’t you see/That I’m goin’ overseas/For 2, 3, 4 years/Don’t know how long it will be/So hear, hear my plea/And come marry, marry me/Before it’s too late/And so with a smile/We walked down the aisle/She in her wedding dress/A vision of happiness”.  A great cover of ‘Blueberry Hill’ follows.  Fats Domino recorded the song in the 1950’s.  The Beach Boys’ version uses chimes, bells, and accordion.  Also, Bruce Johnston plays piano.  It is a song that deals with lost love: “I found my thrill/On Blueberry Hill (2X)/When I found you/The moon stood still/On Blueberry Hill/It lingered until/My dream came true/Though we’re apart/I think of you still/For you were my thrill on Blueberry Hill”.

Dennis Diken feels the next song is the most significant track on 15 BIG ONES.  Of ‘Back Home’ he writes: “There are no auxiliary band members, session players, or extra singers performing on this one.  It’s pure Brian, Mike, Carl, Denny, and Al going for it like they did in 1964.”  Brian sings lead and Carl plays the harp on this pretty good rock and roll song.  The lyrics are full of anticipation: “Yeah, yeah, yeah/Well, I’m going back this summer to Ohio/I’m gonna seek out all my friends I’ve always known/I’m goin’ back to that farm that I remember/Well, I’m goin’ to spend this summer back home”.  Dennis Wilson sings lead on ‘In the Still of the Night’.  It is a romantic doo-wop ballad: “In the still of the night/I held you/Held you tight/’Cause I/Really love you/Promise I’ll never/Let you go/In the still of the night”.  Closing off the album is the longest song, a cover of the Righteous Brothers’ ‘Just Once in My Life’.  Ricky Fataar contributes percussion.

15 BIG ONES is somewhat of a deceiving title, as this is definitely not a stellar album with the Beach Boys at their best.  Some of the cover songs here are pretty decent and others aren’t that memorable.  The original songs aren’t as experimental as those found on SUNFLOWER or SURF’S UP, but are okay.  The group’s signature harmonies are present and shades of the old rock and roll sound that made the Boys famous can be found on some tracks.  I’m rating 15 BIG ONES 80%.  For more info visit:

The next year, in April 1977, the Beach Boys released their 21st studio album entitled THE BEACH BOYS LOVE YOU (Brother Records/Reprise).  It was produced by Brian Wilson.  The album design is by Dean O. Torrence.  Of the album, Peter Buck writes: “The spontaneous nature of the recordings is clearly audible.  Vocals go flat, instrumental mistakes are made, audible interjections from the backup singers flat lead vocals, Brian’s new hoarse voice is to the fore and the whole thing is sounding like nothing so much as an incredibly spirited demo session for a Brian Wilson solo record.”  Originally this was meant to be a solo album called BRIAN LOVES YOU or BRIAN’S IN LOVE.  The songs were written while Brian was getting help for his drug and mental health problems.

The first song up is ‘Let us go on this Way’.  It is an experimental pop song penned by Brian and Mike Love.  It uses lyrics that rhyme: “To get t’you baby, I went thru the wringer/Ain’t gonna let you slip through my fingers/Going to school isn’t my fondest desire/But sittin’ in class you set my soul on fire/God, please let us go on this way/All day long I practiced what to say-ay/I think about this game that I like to play-ay/When I leave you I’m so depressed/Cause you’re my only happiness/God, please let us go on this way”.  ‘Roller Skating Child’ is one of eleven songs here penned solely by Brian.  It has a party pop sound to it and is a song of passion: “Well, she’s a roller skating child/With a ribbon in her hair/She gets my heart to beating/When I see her there/You know my heart starts smiling when she sings/She’s such an angel, I bet she’s got wings/And we’ll make sweet lovin’ when the sun goes down/We’ll even do more when your mama’s not around/Well, oh my, oh gosh, oh gee/She really sends chills inside of me”.

Dennis Wilson and brother Brian take the lead on ‘Mona’.  It finds a guy actively pursuing a gal: “Come on/Listen to ‘Da Doo Ron Ron’ now/Listen to it ‘Be My Baby’/I know you’re gonna love Phil Spector/Mona/Come-a-come-a-come-a come to me/Gimme gimme gimme some lovin’/Tell me, tell me, tell me you want it”.  ‘Johnny Carson’ is a lighthearted pop song that praises the famous late night host and his sidekick: “He sits behind his microphone/Johnny Carson/He speaks in such a manly tone/Johnny Carson/Ed McMahon comes on and says ‘Here’s Johnny!’/Every night at 11:30 he’s so funny/’It’s nice to have you on the show tonight/I’ve seen your act in Vegas/Out of sight’.”

‘Good Time’ was recorded first circa 1970.  It takes a casual attitude towards relationships: “My girlfriend Betty, she’s always ready/To help me in any way/She’ll do my cookin’/She’s always lookin’ for ways she can make my day.../Maybe it won’t last, but what do we care?/My baby and I just want a good time/Might go up in smoke now, but what do we care?/My baby and I just want a good time”.  Al Jardine sings lead vocals on ‘Honkin’ Down The Highway’.  This bouncy pop number gets inside a guy’s head: “Prayin’ prayin’ that she’ll hold me tight (hoo!)/And hopin’ hopin’ that she’ll see the light/Who cares if I gotta spend my money/Even if I have to act funny/To go and steal her heart away/(Honk, honk, honkin’ down the highway)/Take it one little inch at a time now/’Til we’re feelin’ fine now/I guess I’ve got a way with girls”.

‘Ding Dang’ was composed by Brian Wilson and Roger McGuinn of the Byrds.  It is thought to have been recorded circa 1973.  This short ditty has quite simplistic lyrics: “Ding (ding) dang (woo!)/Ding and a ding dong/Ding (ding) dang (woo!)/Ding and a ding dong/I love a girl, I love her so madly/I treat her so fine, but she treats me so badly”.  Brian Wilson sings lead on the ballad ‘Solar System’.  It strikes an astrological note: “The constellations are stars that form animals/Leo and Capricorn too/Star bright, star light/Make this wish come true tonight/If Mars had life on it/I might find my wife on it/Venus the goddess of love can thank all the stars above/Mercury’s close to the sun/You’ll see it when day is done/Solar system/Brings us wisdom”.

‘The Night was so Young’ features the only guitar work on the record.  This easy listening ballad includes these poetic words: “The sky’s turnin’ gray, there’s clouds overhead/I’m still not asleep, I’m in my bed/I think of her eyes and it makes me sigh/I think of her voice and it makes me cry/Is somebody gonna tell me why she has to lie?/She’d be so right to hold me tonight/Love was made for her and I”.  ‘I’ll Bet He’s Nice’ uses tambourine, handclaps, and synthesizers, but is a song of heartache: “I’ll bet he’s nice, I’ll bet he’s twice as nice as me and it makes me cry/Cause I remember you and I/Please don’t tell me if it’s true/Because I’m still in love with you/Pretty darlin’, you my pretty darlin’.../I’ll bet he’s sweet/I’ll bet he’s neat/I’ll bet he’s funny and that ain’t all/I’ll bet he shows you quite a ball/Please don’t tell me if it’s true/Because I’m still in love with you”.

‘Let’s Put our Hearts Together’ is an interesting number with Marilyn Wilson (Brian’s wife) singing with him a bit.  It is an open conversation: “I’ve never had someone, I need someone/To live with and be good to/Don’t worry ‘bout your past loves/And if they never understood you/Let’s put our hearts together/And say we’ll leave each other never/Let’s see what we can cook up between us/Together (2X)/Together you and I”.  Dennis Wilson sings lead on ‘I Wanna Pick You Up’.  It is the soft pop song of a parent to a child: “I want to pick you up/Rock you back and forth and make you smile/I want to hold you close for a while/I wanna tickle your feet/Drop you in your little tub/Wash your body and shampoo your hair/Be careful not to sting your eyes/When it’s night I’ll put you in your bed/And I’ll bend and kiss ya on your head”.

Mike Love sings lead on ‘Airplane’, the song of a traveling musician: “The sound of the engine fills my ears up/I’m hopin’ this rainy weather clears up/My lover is waiting at the airport/Soon she’ll be kissing me ‘Hello’/The woman sitting next to me tells me ‘bout her guy/And I tell her all about you and I/Airplane, airplane/Carry me back to her side/Airplane, airplane/I need God as my guide/Down, down on the ground/Can’t wait to see her face”.  The last song is a soulful one with Brian, Mike Love, and Al Jardine singing lead.  ‘Love is a Woman’ offers advice to guys: “Love is a woman/So tell her she smells good tonight/Love is a woman/So make her feel that way tonight/A woman is love/And if you’re smart/You’ll tease her, please her tonight/So take my advice, you just treat her nice/And you’ll find a woman in love”.

THE BEACH BOYS LOVE YOU is a lovely adult pop album that makes good use of analog synthesizers.  Creativity and artistry are back at the fore on this record.  It definitely keeps me interested.  The lyrics convey emotion and it is good to hear a variety of lead vocalists.  My only wish is that there were more upbeat tracks musically on this project.  I’m rating THE BEACH BOYS LOVE YOU 88%.  For more info visit:





Wednesday, April 08, 2015



In 1972 the Beach Boys released their 18th studio album CARL & THE PASSIONS: SO TOUGH (Brother Records/Reprise).  It saw the addition of two new members to the group.  Blondie Chaplin (guitar/vocals) and Ricky Fataar (drums/vocals) had both played for the South African band The Flame.  Soon after the sessions for this album started, Bruce Johnston had a disagreement with manager Jack Rieley and exited the Beach Boys.  Of this album, Elton John says: “This album is a step away from PET SOUNDS, but still has moments of breathtaking genius and experimentation”.  It reached #25 in the UK and #50 in the U.S.

Brian Wilson and Jack Rieley penned the upbeat rock and roll song ‘You Need a Mess of Help to Stand Alone’.  It uses tack piano, banjo, slide guitar, and fiddle.  The lyrics draw on nature to make a point: “I need a breeze blowing softly/To keep my wind vane from standing/I need a whole lot of sunshine/To keep my sundial advancing/I need some soil ‘fore my grass will grow/I need some spark to make my candle glow/Relief I cried/Ain’t no shuck ‘n’ jive/I need a mess of help to stand alone”.  ‘Here She Comes’ was written by the two new group members.  It speaks of the power of a lady: “Here she comes, breathing life into my thoughts/There she goes, leaves a portrait in my soul/Rolling in madness/She does everything to me/Wherever she goes, you know the devil dances/And the gods lay down in defeat/Am I living?/Crazy woman can’t you see/That I’m giving/Giving to you?/Can you dig me?”

‘He Came Down’ is a happy rock and roll song that uses Hammond organ, piano, handclaps, and finger snaps.  It is a lyrical hodge-podge of spirituality: “Jesus came down to save the world from sin/Sayin’ ‘Seek ye first the kingdom within’/Maharishi teaches us to meditate/To dive deep within, come out and radiate/All of the saints through all creation/Sing the same song of revelation”.  ‘Marcella’ is a breezy pop song of infatuation: “Mystic maiden’s more than soft and sexy/She can mess my mind with the stuff that she knows/Her newfound beauty goes beyond her covering/And sets a flame in her soul/One arm over my shoulder/Sandals dance at my feet/Eyes that’ll knock you right over/Ooo, Marcella’s so sweet”.

‘Hold on Dear Brother’ is a piano based waltz that also uses the pedal steel.  It makes clear our need for friendship: “Won’t you please/Hold on dear Brother (3X)/Brother, Brother/In your heart you know it’s love/A simple feeling that you shout/I want your love/You touch my hand/I need your love/To carry me home”.  Daryl Dragon of Captain and Tenille fame is responsible for the orchestration on the sweeping ballad ‘Make it Good’.  Dennis Wilson delivers these simple, but heartfelt lyrics: “All of my life/I haven’t known much/All I know is what I feel/And what I feel (2X)/Love/I’m in love/Love, love”.

Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, and Mike Love wrote ‘All This is That’.  This easy listening number has a decidedly New Age message: “Golden auras glow around you/Omnipresent love surrounds you/Wisdom warming as the sun/You and I are truly one.../I am that, thou art that, all this is that”.  ‘Cuddle Up’ includes these passionate (pun intended) lyrics: “The night has come/Cuddle up to me/Keep warm, mmm, close to me/In dreams/We’ll dream/Making love to wake/To find/Mmm, we’re still one/Your love (3X)/Your love for me is so warm and good to me/Growing every day/Honey, honey/I’m in love”.

I quite like CARL & THE PASSSIONS: SO TOUGH.  It has a lot of feeling and emotional investment to it.  That doesn’t mean I agree with every lyric.  Really, it sounds like a completely different group than that which recorded classic hits like ‘Surfin U.S.A.’ and ‘California Girls’, especially when it comes to the lead vocals.  However, the group harmonies are still present.  This is more mature music that should not be overlooked.  I’m rating it 88%.  For more info visit:

The next year, 1973, the Beach Boys released their 19th studio album HOLLAND (Brother Records/Reprise).  Much of it was recorded in Holland while Brian Wilson was back in the U.S. with emotional and mental problems.  The album reached #20 in the UK and #36 in the U.S.  The cover photo is an upside down picture of the Kroome Waal, a canal in Amsterdam.  Tom Petty writes that this album “is not only a wonderful listening experience, it’s a great case for The Beach Boys being more than Brian Wilson’s backing singers”.

‘Sail on, Sailor’ was written by Brian Wilson, Tandyn Almer, Ray Kennedy, Jack Rieley, and Van Dyke Parks.  Blondie Chaplin handles lead vocals on this soulful rock song that would become a concert favorite.  It tells a story: “I sailed an ocean, unsettled ocean/Through restful waters and deep commotion/Often frightened, unenlightened/Sail on, sail on sailor/I wrest the waters, fight Neptune’s waters/Sail thru the sorrows of life’s marauders/Unrepenting, often empty/Sail on, sail on sailor/Caught like a sewer rat alone, but I sail/Bought like a crust of bread, but oh, do I wail”.  ‘Steamboat’ sounds a bit like a Tom Waits song musically.  Tony Martin plays slide guitar.  The song includes these poetic lyrics: “The river’s a bed of sweet berries and flowers/Banks of thirsty lies/(Please be careful)/The stream is an eyeglass of heroes/Bridged with bright replies/The creek is a funnel of forgiveness/Winning every prize/The steamboat of living ever faithfully ride/The river’s a dream in a waltz time/Banks of jasper glaze/Have a ball and sing”.  Mike Love wrote and performs lead vocals on the mellow country and western song ‘California Saga/Big Sur’.  It uses harmonica and pedal steel and finds one longing for home: “Big Sur, I’ve got plans for you/Me and mine are going to/Add ourselves to your lengthy list of lovers/And live in canyons covered with a springtime green/While birds and flowers to be heard and seen/And on my old guitar, I’ll make up songs to sing/Sparklin’ springs from the mountainside/Join the Big Sur rivers rushing to the tide/Where my kids can search for sea shells at low tide/Big Sur, my astrology, it says that I am meant to be/Where the rugged mountain meets the water”.

‘California Saga/The Beaks of Eagles’ is based on a poem by Robinson Jeffers and makes use of the flute.  It is a mix of Kevin Max like spoken word and group singing.  ‘California Saga/California’ was penned by Al Jardine.  It sounds closest to the good time rock and roll sounds that made the Beach Boys famous.  It begins with these carefree words: “On my way to sunny California/On my way to spend another sunny day/Water, water, get yourself in the cool, clear water/And the sun shines brightly down on Penny’s place/The sun shines brightly down on the bay/The air’s so clean it’ll just take your mind away/Take your mind away (2X)”.  Carl Wilson delivers the lead vocal on the soulful rock song ‘The Trader’.  It has been said to be anti-imperialistic: “Trader said they’re not as good as folks who wear velvet robes/Wrote home again and asked/’Please help, their breasts I see, they’re not like me/Banish them from our prairies and our hillsides/Clear them from our mountains and our seaside/I want them off our lakes, so please reply/Signed sincerely’/Trader he got the crown okay/Cleared humanity from his way/He civilized all he saw/Making changes every single day”.

‘Leaving This Town’ features a great, lengthy Moog solo by Ricky Fataar.  This is the ballad of one who is lonely and searching: “Sometimes it’s hard to make it through the day/Sometimes it’s hard to find my way/Sometimes it’s hard to notice the changing days/When your friends have all gone/Leaving this town for another one/The night is coming round/I can feel the weight of coming down/So afraid to lose this dream/I want you to understand that I’m trying to do the best I can/It’s so easy to lose my way”.  Dennis Wilson and Mike Love wrote ‘Only With You’.  It is a simple love song: “Love is so many things that I feel/I have only felt with you/Only with you/And then there are the things that we do/That I’ve only done with you/Only with you/Before love had always had its up and downs/Until the love I finally found”.  ‘Funky Pretty’ is a forgettable song that draws from astrology.

HOLLAND is artistic and creative.  It does not sound rushed at all, but well thought out.  For the most part, it is not music for the masses.  The lyrics are not always easily accessible to all.  Like its predecessor, HOLLAND has a mature vibe to it.  There are, however, a couple of songs that are reminiscent of the Beach Boys’ earlier, more commercial sounding material.  I’m rating this album 85%.  For more info visit:

Originally included with HOLLAND was MT. VERNON AND FAIRWAY (A FAIRY TALE): A FAIRY TALE IN SEVERAL PARTS.  It was produced by Brian and Carl Wilson.  Jack Rieley serves as a narrator.  It was inspired by the boy’s time at the Love home as teens, listening to a transistor radio.  It runs over thirteen minutes.  Both albums I have reviewed here, plus the fairy tale, can be found on the 2000 double album CD released by Brother/Capitol Records.


Friday, April 03, 2015


Daniel Amos was formed in 1974.  They released their self-titled debut album in 1976.  In 1981 they put out Alarma! which was the first of four albums in the Alarma! Chronicles.  On this album produced by the band and Thom Roy, Daniel Amos is: Terry Taylor (lead vocals, rhythm guitars, backing vocals), Jerry Chamberlain (lead guitars, backing vocals), Marty Dieckmeyer (bass guitar, keyboards), and Ed McTaggart (drums/percussion, backing vocals).  Here, I will be reviewing the Deluxe 2 CD Collector’s Version of the album released in 2013 by Stunt Records.  The original album came out on NewPax Records.

‘Central Theme’ begins the album.  This upbeat pop song makes it perfectly clear what is of utmost import to this band: “Central theme, the most important thing/Central theme, the tie that binds together/Central theme, every line is breathing/Central theme, another heart receiving/Shining in the center, my Lord in the center/Jesus in the center, revolving around Him/Always revolving around Him.../Who is on the throne you find, the King of Kings/He’s the one I have in mind, the central theme/Lord of Lords...”  The title track ‘Alarma!’ follows.  This wonderful Christian rock song explores backsliding: “Alarma, somebody’s crying/Alarma, somebody’s dying/Alarma, somebody’s turning away.../Alarma, somebody’s pleading/Alarma, somebody’s bleeding/Alarma, somebody’s turning away”.  ‘Big Time/Big Deal’ is a quirky song musically and vocally.  It takes a sarcastic swipe at those who seek to gain popularity by being a person of faith: “Beam it on the satellite, send it through the T.V./Get it on the playlist, preach it to the masses/I want the big time, it’s not for everyone/I want the long line, to tell them what I’ve done/Give me a bullhorn, I’ll help Your Kingdom come/I get all this, and heaven when I’m done/Why stop with little things?/Wires cross the continents/The moment of conversion, on the cover of my album”.  Marty Dieckmeyer takes the lead vocal on ‘Props’.  It begins with these words: “Down to the city on a country road I roll/I let her know I’d be coming soon/I picture her in a flowered dress and hat/I really like that, I’ll have to tell her so/The people gonna love it when we walk off holding hands/They like happy ends/Maybe life’s that way”.

Alex MacDougall plays the congas on ‘My Room’.  It speaks of our tendency to isolate ourselves as Christians, rather than fulfilling the Great Commission: “I live in my room, it’s warm here in my room.../I’ve got a secret, I will slip it/Under the door, slip it to this wicked, wicked world.../Those without the secret keep on knocking at the door/Disturbance from this wicked, wicked world.../We often get together in a bigger room/We harmonize (2X)/We know it’s real (2X)”.  ‘Faces to the Window’ is a bouncy pop song that urges us not to ignore those less fortunate than us: “They got their faces to the window/Pressin’ their faces to the window/Little bitty beggars with the great big eyes/I turn the channel but to my surprise/They still press their faces to the window”.  ‘Cloak & Dagger’ seems to warn against secretly dangerous people in leadership positions: “If somebody tells you ‘bout the masterplan/Don’t believe it if they’ve got bloody hands/Secret agents masked in plastic molded smiles/Wolves that stalk the innocent and trusting child/Disguising shadows are concealers/Traitors, spies, and double dealers/In the street somebody staggers/Killed again with cloak and dagger”.  ‘Colored By’ is an alternative rock song that advises us that the truth is not always easy to discern: “Down at the little church they all wear hats/They feel they’re doing right/Over at the big church they hate those hats/It gets them uptight, now is that right?/You might not recognize, the truth gets colored by/Wrong things, bad things do disguise/Afraid you might despise the real thing”.

‘C & D Reprise’ is a 43 second instrumental.  ‘Through the Speakers’ is a terrific, spooky sounding rock number that conveys a desire to share Christ through song: “How can I love you, do the best I can/Through the speakers (2X).../I want to warn you, a chance to reach you/Through the speakers (2X)/The greater power’s gonna have to say what can’t be said/The deeper power’s gonna climb like magic/To your head, into your heart.../I better tell you Jesus says He loves you/Through the speakers (2X)”.  ‘Hit Them’ offers great advice on how to approach witnessing: “Words have their place, but live what you say/God can have His way/When you hit them with love/Lonely, lonely, lonely hearts/Need tenderness/Giv’em, giv’em, giv’em your love/Your very best”.  ‘Baby Game’ is about one who is not growing into spiritual maturity but should be: “She cries for her milk when she should be eating.../She’s going nowhere, she’s staying the same.../No direction, purpose, or aim/When she ought to be walking, she’s acting so lame”.

‘Shedding the Mortal Coil’ is a playful song musically and vocally.  It is about spiritual metamorphosis: “It’s falling off/It’s unraveling/It’s come undone/It’s disintegrating/Shedding the mortal coil (2X)/I’m shedding the mortal coil”.  ‘Endless Summer’ is a rock song that is a bit of a downer: “Surf and sand, eternal tan/We’ve paid the price in looking twice our age.../And we had to get to surf city/But I’ll tell you man, it’s just drag city/We won’t come back from dead man’s curve”.  ‘Walls of Doubt’ is the longest track on the album, coming in at 3 minutes and 57 seconds.  This easy to listen to pop song is one of my all time favorite Daniel Amos songs.  It is one of encouragement: “It’s alright, run if you want to/But I see you coming through/Another wall of doubt/You hear the voice in your heart/You get that longing/It goes far beyond all the words/The great arguments/It’s O.K./Long for your Lover/You’ll find He’s standing out/Beyond the walls of doubt.../Love is the Master’s plow/Crash down the walls of doubt”.  The album ends with ‘Ghost of the Heart’ which includes a female vocal by Karen Benson.  It is deep lyrically: “Way back in my heart/Is the motive for this/I ask the question/’Did I do it for self?’/I need the light on/The monster of vanity gets frightened by the Ghost of the heart/An observation that’s pertinent to the subject which I want to address is/When I seek the kingdom/The master of disguises gets frightened by the Ghost of the heart”.

ALARMA! is something completely unlike what Daniel Amos’ contemporaries like Petra and DeGarmo and Key were doing at the time.  While this is Christian rock music, it definitely has a new wave/alternative slant to it.  It is quite experimental.  The lyrics offer commentary on society and on Christianity, which is quite insightful.  I’m rating ALARMA! 86% and recommending it to fans of Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, and Steve Taylor.  For more info visit:

Disc Two of this reissue runs 73:14.  It begins with three mainstream demos recorded at White Field Studios in 1980.  First up is ‘Little Things’ an awesome pop song finding Ojo Taylor playing organ.  It will resonate with nearly anyone who has ever been in a romantic relationship: “Girl, we lost it/We gotta get back in the game/Face tomorrow/Stop getting broken by the little things/And it’s the little things baby, that tear the heart in two/The little things baby, that make us play the fool/Those little quarrels seem like nothing today/But they brought us down and put us away”.  ‘Off My Mind’ is a love song.  ‘As Long as I Live’ has a strong breezy Beach Boys influence.  It could just as easily be the words of a parent to a child: “When I see you like this, well I break down and cry/This world won’t keep you from heartache, but I’m gonna try/Though half of your dreams don’t come true/I’ll see that the others do/And I promise you (as long as I live)/I’m gonna love you baby, as long as I live”.  These three mainstream demos are much more commercial sounding and radio friendly.  They make you believe Daniel Amos could’ve been a mainstream pop success.  The next eleven cuts are demos and outtakes from ALARMA!  The first three don’t appear on the studio album in any form.  ‘No Spaceship’ is an infectious pop/rock song.  ‘Out of Town’ is forgettable.  ‘Only One’ is a great easy listening song with a 60’s influence to it.

Tracks 15-20 are alternate mixes of songs found on Alarma!  Highlights are instrumental versions of the title track and ‘Colored By’.  The last track on the bonus disc finds Malcolm Wild of the duo Malcolm and Alwyn reading part of Volume I of Terry Taylor’s story ‘The Alarma! Chronicles.  The CD booklet includes that story, complete album lyrics, and some great old photos of the band.