Audio Adrenaline released their self-titled debut in 1992. BLOOM (1996, ForeFront Records) was their third album. It was certified gold in 1999 and nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Rock Gospel Album category. On this record Audio Adrenaline is: Mark Stuart (vocals), Will McGinniss (bass, vocals), Bob Herdman (guitar, keyboards, vocals), and Barry Blair (guitar, vocals).
‘Secret’ starts the album off with an energetic rock song of testimony: “I once was lost in a foaming, roaming, rabid sea/Then blooms blossomed, changed my outlook/Now I’ve been set free/I once was sinking in a quarry of quicksand/Somebody noticed and they offered me a hand.../I’ve got a secret and I cannot keep it/I’ve got a secret and I cannot, cannot keep it/There is a God and He’s alive and He keeps me well/That is the secret Mrs. Mademoiselle”. ‘Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus’ is one of seven singles from the album! It was written in response to a now famous John Lennon quote. Here are some of the lyrics to this pop/rock gem: “I could build a tower to heaven, get on top and touch the sky/I could write a million songs all designed to glorify/I could be about as good, good as any human could/But that won’t get me by/I could do anything I wanted to/I could do anything, but one thing’s true/Never gonna be as big as Jesus/Never gonna hold the world in my hands/Never gonna be as big as Jesus/Never gonna build a promised land/But that, that’s alright, okay with me”. ‘Good People’ is a song that decidedly focuses on the positive elements of society: “I grew up impressed by the people I knew in the buckle of the Bible belt.../Met a soldier from Seattle and a lawyer from the East/A Texas oil baron and a Roman Catholic priest.../Good people/Good, good people/Everywhere, everywhere it’s God’s people”.
‘I’m Not the King’ is a refreshing guitar rock song of humility: “I’m not the King/I just sing, yeah/I’m just a fraction of a thing, yeah/I am not anything without the King of kings, oh yeah.../A King’s someone to trust and love/Like Jesus Christ whom I sing of”. ‘Walk on Water’ is a light pop number that draws on a New Testament story for inspiration: “Simon Peter, won’t you put those nets down?/Follow me, I’ll lead you out of this town to a place where no boat has ever been/I will make you a fisher of men”/Jesus walked out on the water/Said “Take courage, it is Me”/Peter trusted and he wanted to go farther/So he stepped out on the sea, yeah he stepped out on to the sea/If I keep my eyes on Jesus I can walk on water, oh yeah/If I keep my eyes on Him I can walk on water”.
‘See Through’ courageously admits that even Christian rock stars have shortcomings: “I’m unstable and extreme/Good to bad, I’ve been burnt in between/The smoke from the fire in my soul makes a transparent haze/There are things that I can’t hide that would make some people think I’ve lied/I try to do right but I fail/Don’t set your eyes on me”. Daniel Hartman wrote ‘Free Ride’. The Edgar Winter Group reached #14 with it in 1973. It is an upbeat rock and roll party song: “The mountains are high, the valleys are low/You are confused by which way to go/I know there’s someone who’ll give you a hand/Lead you on to the promised land, yeah/Come on and take a free ride (free ride)/Come on and get by my side/Come on and take a free ride”.
‘Man of God’ is a ballad of great vulnerability that many of us can relate to: “Sometimes I’m a liar, sometimes I’m a fake/Sometimes I’m a hypocrite everybody hates/Sometimes I’m a poet, sometimes I’m a preacher/Sometimes I watch life go by sitting on the bleacher.../Sometimes I’m a man of God, sometimes I’m alright/Sometimes I lay down, close my eyes and pray to God”. ‘Gloryland’ tells of Jesus’ wonderful offer of salvation in a creative way: “Met the man with the beard halfway through Kentucky/He walked with me and he talked with me/Some people say I’m lucky/For that day the man I met paid the full price/Now I ride the train for free/The train to Paradise/If you want to come with me there’s room, there are no legal limits/There’s always room for one more soul/So why not come and get it?”
Next up is ‘Jazz Odyssey’, a short, cheesy, playful track. It is followed by ‘Bag Lady’, a strong rock song that asks God to intervene in the lives of the homeless and teenage mothers: “Friend and Father repair their souls/Make them feel wanted, make them feel whole”.
‘I Hear Jesus Calling’ is a demo that includes these simple lyrics: “I hear words that were said over 2000 years ago/I hear the Spirit when it’s near/Reminds me who I belong to.../Softly and tenderly my Jesus is calling/Calling, calling for you and for me”. ‘Memoir’ ends the album on a cheerful note: “I’m a season past springtime and my life has gone boom/Keep my eyes on the Father/Everything is in bloom/Everything will just get better/Through the seasons I’ll roam/And all of the music’s over/I will get to go home”.
BLOOM should be studied by any young band as a tutorial on how to make a relevant Christian rock album geared towards youth and young adults. Mark Stuart’s vocals are unique and distinct on this 13 track album. The four group members wrote 12 of the tracks. Electric guitar and meaningful lyrics that encourage and detail a personal relationship with Jesus Christ really drive this record to greatness. This album has certainly aged well! If you haven’t given it a spin in quite some time, now is the time to do so! It clocks in at 50 minutes and 27 seconds. I’m rating BLOOM 97%. For more info visit: www.audioa.com.