White Heart released their self-titled debut album in 1982 with Steve Green as lead singer. They then put out two albums with Scott Douglas at the microphone. POWER HOUSE was the group’s first record on Star Song and fourth with Rick Florian as lead vocalist. It came out in 1990. Joining Rick on this album are: Mark Gersmehl (keyboards, lead and backing vocals), Mark Nemer (drums and percussion), Anthony Sallee (bass guitar), Billy Smiley (acoustic and rhythm guitars, background vocals), and Brian Wooten (lead and rhythm guitars). The album was produced, engineered, and mixed by Bill Drescher, and executive produced by Darrell A. Harris.
The first three songs were all #1 hits. ‘Independence Day’ was penned by Gersmehl, Smiley, and Florian. It is a cheerful rock song with a great electric guitar solo and is about finding true spiritual liberty: “I have been to the land of me/And I know I was never free/Freedom came when I gave it all away/That’s why I call it independence day/Call it independence day/Let the rockets blaze across the sky, raise the flag of faith up high/Let the doubters call it what they may/It’s independence day”. The title track, ‘Powerhouse’ was written by all the band members except Rick. It is an electric guitar and drum driven, headbanging rock song about spiritual revitalization: “Hey, brothers and sisters/Oh, I’m gonna meet you there/You know there’s strength in numbers/When we come to the house of prayer/We’re not looking for weapons, we are looking only for love/We’ve come to hear a message/Let the Word rain down from above/Powerhouse, oh the powerhouse/Come to the powerhouse/Powerhouse, we need the powerhouse/Come to the powerhouse”.
‘Desert Rose’ is one of the most beautiful and intimate CCM ballads ever. It is meant to encourage those who are lonely: “Lost in a windswept land, in a world of shifting sand/A fragile flower stands apart/And there in that barren ground/You feel like the only one trying to serve Him with all your heart/And you wonder, wonder/Can you last much longer?/This cloud you are under, will it cover you?/Desert rose, desert rose/Don’t you worry, don’t be lonely/Heaven knows, heaven knows/In a dry and weary land a flower grows/His desert rose, desert rose”. One of the co-writers on ‘Lovers and Dreamers’ is former group member Tommy Sims. Florian and Gersmehl share lead vocal duties on this song that encourages us to be a people of action: “Open up, oh to the vision/You got a lotta living, living to do/Don’t you take your seat in the stands/Oh, cause what we really need are/Lovers and dreamers/Lovers of the light/We need lovers and dreamers/Dreamers with heavenly sight/We need lovers”.
Dale Oliver is a co-writer on ‘Nailed Down’. This manly rock number encourages holiness: “Everything you do sure does matter/Oh, there is no little sin/Everything would be a whole lot better/If you gave it all up to Him/Nailed down, get it nailed down, get it nailed down/Stop the turn of the merry-go-round and get it nailed down/Don’t you know that’s where freedom can be found?/Nailed down”. Mark Gersmehl wrote ‘Messiah’ on which he and Rick Florian share lead vocal duties. This rock song admits that we need someone to save us: “Me, I got this sick kind of feeling inside/I’m starting to think about all of my pride/Do we know, when are we gonna see that the power to change has got to come from something greater than you and me?/We need a leader, a lover/A pillar of fire/A teacher, a healer/Oh, can’t you see?/We need a Messiah (3X)/Oh, we need a Messiah”.
‘A Love Calling’ is the longest track, running over six minutes, as it ends with an atmospheric musical interlude that leads into the next song. ‘A Love Calling’ is an adult contemporary ballad about sharing the hope we have found in Christ with others: “Ah, there’s a new wind blowing/Since we’ve been given this call/When Your Spirit’s leading, ah, it doesn’t feel like a burden at all/There are still lands locked in darkness/There are hearts like an empty room/And we’ll never know how to help them/Until Father, we listen to You/We’ve got a love calling/ A love calling/Oh, we’ve got a love calling/’Cause we hear love calling”. ‘Answer the Call’ is a splendid rock song that urges us to fulfill the Great Commission: “Now the path is there to take, now the choice is there to make/Don’t let the vision fade/You’d be living in the dark/Running away from your own heart if you just turned away/Answer the call, answer the call/It may be the inner city, maybe your own family/The mission field may lie in you/But you know the Word is true/And it’s staring back at you/So answer, answer the call”.
‘Storyline’ encourages us to help those who are hurting: “She’s the invisible girl, sits at the edge of her visible world/And whispers ‘Don’t touch me, don’t notice me now’/Shadows have left their mark, stole the innocence from her heart/She’s afraid of what she might be/Draws the curtain so the world won’t see/Thinking ‘Who would love the person they would find in me?’/Oh, listen to the storyline/Chapter written in another time/Oh, listen, listen to the storyline/You’ll begin to know the reason why/Pain just seems to haunt their lives/Whoa, listen to the storyline”. ‘Lay it Down’ is a pretty ballad of spiritual invitation: “So kneel by the healing stream/Let His love keep flowing, flowing/Let it wash you clean (2X)/And lay it down, lay it down/Come lay it down/Oh, lay it down, lay it down/Come to the kingdom”.
POWER HOUSE came out the same year as Petra’s classic album BEYOND BELIEF, and it is every bit as good as, if not better than it. POWER HOUSE is from an era when Christian bands were putting out actual rock music. Electric guitars, complete with solos, pounding drums, and passionately delivered vocals that could rival much of what was being put out in the secular market at the time. Thematically, this album asks individuals to surrender their lives to Christ, find abundant life in Him, and share it with others. The front cover of a guy bowling is pretty cool too! I’m rating this CD 98%. For more info connect with group members on Facebook.