Carman Domenic Licciardello was born on January 19, 1956 in Trenton, New Jersey. He got saved at an Andrae Crouch concert. Carman put out his first album GOD’S NOT FINISHED WITH ME in 1980. His 1983 live album SUNDAY’S ON THE WAY did quite well. In 1985 he released THE CHAMPION (Myrrh Records). It stayed on the Billboard overall sales charts for a record 168 weeks! Carman’s current bio says: “No matter what Carman does, it will be different, never seen before and unusually original. This is exactly what we’d expect from a musical icon. It goes without saying that still, to this day Carman defies description and definition and remains a cultural phenomenon-a true American original”.
‘Prepare to Die’ is one of several songs on this project penned by Carman alone. Jimmie Lee Sloas plays bass on this effective 80’s pop/dance tale about spiritual warfare: “I’m depression, I’m your enemy/The power of death is within my command/Hey, I’m leukemia, open your eyes/I can bury you right where you stand/I’m your ultimate nightmare, the reality of fear/My threats have been intimidating people now for years/You dumb religious fool, just get on out of here/Cause I’m cancer.../You come against me with your fearful evil spell/But I come against you in the Name of the God of the armies of Israel/Prepare to die/Leukemia, prepare to die.../Disease, hatred, jealousy/Enemies of the cross/Prepare to die”. ‘Abundance of Rain’ features great background vocals by First Call. It is a fast-moving Christian pop cry for revival: “Lately I’ve been feeling dry as a bone/Like the Holy Spirit has found a new home/Yet by faith I still can see/The cloud of glory that’s been so familiar to me/My spirit’s been dry/Abarren to rain/Yet I hear the sound of the abundance of rain.../Lord, send the rain/Let it fall/Lord, send the rain/Send Your rain/Lord, let it rain/Lord, send Your Spirit (2X)/Let it fall”. Carman co-wrote the adult contemporary anthem ‘Revive Us, Oh Lord’ with Steve Camp. Background vocalists are: Pam Mark Hall, Kim Boyce, Lisa Bevill, Pete Carlson, Rick Cua, and Brent Lamb. The song includes both honest confessions and bold requests to God: “We’ve turned from Your ways/Lord, Your fruit we’ve ceased to bear/We lack the power/We once knew in our prayer.../Revive us, oh Lord (2X)/And cleanse us from our impurities/And make us holy/Hear our cry/And revive us, oh Lord”.
‘A Little Bit More Conviction’ has a strong rock edge. My beef is that it puts a bit too much emphasis on works for my liking: “Well, I saw me a Christian man with a cigarette in his hand/He was smoking in front of children/Acting bad/He didn’t care how it appeared/He didn’t show no godly fear/His witness could have been more than it had.../Two sisters scantily dressed leaving nothing left to guess/They go to a dancing club and drink some beer/While the parents watch TV/The kids play in the street/What happened to the Bible and some prayer?” Tom Hemby plays acoustic guitar on ‘It Happened to Me’. It speaks of the great difference Christ makes in our lives: “Now that Jesus lives inside of me/And sees me through each day/I know Jesus lives inside of me/And answers when I pray/Something marvelous has begun to rule my life/Yes, it’s love I feel/Oh, it’s made my soul alive/Could it be?/Yes, it happened to me”. Keith Thomas co-wrote the energetic rock song ‘The Destination is There’ with Carman. It sounds like something David Meece would have recorded. It encourages us to follow God’s leading and purposes for our lives: “Don’t borrow someone else’s dream/Keep your own in sight/For the vision that God gives you will keep you all your life/Your desire is the confirmation the destination is there/God wouldn’t have put it in your spirit if it wasn’t going nowhere/So set your sights on the promises and don’t you be scared”.
‘Fear Not My Child’ is a tender ballad duet with Kim Boyce in which God speaks lovingly to us, His children: “He said ‘My child, don’t look behind/Discouragement is all you’ll find/Don’t watch the waves that roll the sea/But just focus your eyes on Me/And I will make you strong and then/Your shattered courage I will mend/And if you fall and should get hurt/Remember these eternal words/Fear not My child/I’m with you always/I feel every pain and every tear I see/Fear not My child/I’m with you always/I know how to care for what belongs to Me’”. If we would heed this advice from the easy listening ballad ‘Love Can’, our world would be a better place with less quarrels: “God made everybody different, giving each a special call/There are some talents that He gave to you/That He did not give to me at all/We all see the same horizon and feel the teardrops of the rain.../Love can bring our worlds together/Love can cause the boundaries to fade/And love can help us like each other/And love the only you that God has made”. Last up is Carman’s first #1 song, ‘The Champion’. It runs 8 minutes and 39 seconds long. It is his truly remarkable signature story song in which he uses humour, memorable one-liners, and vocal distortions to good effect. It centers in on the cosmic battle between Satan and Christ: “In the vast expanse of a timeless place/Where silence ruled the outer space/Ominously towering it stood/The symbol of a spirit war/Between the one named Lucifer/And the Morning Star, the Ultimate of good.../Proclaim the news in every tongue/Through endless ages and beyond/Let it be voiced from mountains loud and strong/Captivity has been set free/Salvation bought for you and me/Cause Satan is defeated/And Jesus is the Champion!”
Keith Thomas produced and arranged THE CHAMPION, while Lynn Nichols executive produced it. This album is proof positive that Carman is a unique artist within the world of Contemporary Christian Music. His songs are seldom boring. They are creative and portray God as alive, well, and victorious over the enemy of our souls. They also encourage us to draw nearer to God. Fans of 1980’s pop and rock music need to add this one to their collection. I’m rating THE CHAMPION 86%. For more info visit: www.carman.org.