Kenneth ‘Kenny’ Marks was born on November 6, 1950 in Detroit, Michigan. He is of Yugoslavian descent and graduated from Messiah College in 1971. His debut album, FOLLOW HIM, came out in 1982. ANOTHER FRIDAY NIGHT was his fifth studio album (1989, Dayspring). It was produced by Bubba Smith and executive produced by Lynn Keesecker. Kenny writes: “This recording is dedicated to all of us who are discouraged and disappointed at times. May you find encouragement in this music”.
Steve Forbert wrote the album opener, ‘Running on Love’, which features the harmonica prowess of Buddy Greene. It is a superb country-rock song of testimony: “I was runnin’ on empty, I was runnin’ on fumes/I was runnin’ on desperately/Neath a cold, dark moon/Now I’m runnin’ on tenderness/Thankin’ God above/I was runnin’ on loneliness, now I’m runnin’ on love (2X)”. ‘Whisperin’ A Prayer’ is one of eight songs co-written by Kenny and Phil Madeira. This energetic rocker shows concern for one’s fellow man: “Is there anything on your heart that’s tearing you apart?/If there is, you can open up with me/I’m whisperin’ a prayer for you/I’m holdin’ out my hand to you/I wanna know what I can do for you/I need to see a sign from you/I’m lookin’ for a simple clue/I wanna know what I can do for you”.
‘Hope for a Broken Heart’ strikes a positive chord: “It’s hard to laugh when you’re dancin’ to the beat of a broken heart.../Heartaches come and heartaches go/And broken hearts still need to know/That though you may be sinkin’ low/There is hope for a broken heart/Hope for a broken heart”. ‘I’ll Be a Friend to You’ is a gentle folk ballad. The following words serve as the chorus: “There’s so many ways I need to learn to love you/There’s so much I want to do/There’s so many ways I need to show you/That I, I’ll be a friend to you”.
‘Next Time You See Johnny’ is one of Marks’ terrific story songs about Johnny and Jeannie. These words come from Jeannie’s perspective: “Bedtime, in her room all alone/She feels a presence of Someone unseen, Someone unknown/’Jesus’, she hears herself start/’Let the fire of forgiveness burn bright in this broken down heart/And the next time You see Johnny/Tell him it’s alright/There’s a fire of forgiveness that’s always burning bright/There’s Someone he can pray to each and every night’”. Less than ten years after this song came out, Kenny himself went through a divorce. Kenny, Phil Madeira, Phil Naish, and George Cocchini wrote ‘Nobody Else But Jesus’. Mark Douthit plays sax on this all-out rocker of praise: “There’s no one, nobody like Jesus/There’s no one, nobody like Him/He’s the One watchin’ over me/He’s the One that I wanna be like/There’s nobody like Him/Just tell me who can turn the water into wine/Nobody else but Jesus/Just give me someone who can change this heart of mine/Nobody else but Jesus”.
‘Graduation Day’ is a sentimental ballad: “Graduation day/There were tears in their eyes/Photographs and promises/They threw their hats goodbye/Graduation day/And the sun was shinin’ bright/A piece of paper and a heart full of dreams/It was the best day of their life/On their wedding day/There were tears in their eyes/Words of love and promises/They threw the rice and waved goodbye/It was the best day of their life”. ‘Threshold of Regret’ tackles domestic abuse: “Every generation is watching from the wings/Listening to their mom and dad saying careless things/That they don’t mean for them to hear/But they’ll remember them for years”.
‘Somebody Loves You’ is a fantastic bluesy rock song. It exalts Christ: “There’s no cry that goes unheard/There’s no tear that goes unseen/There’s no hurt He hasn’t felt before/No one He can’t redeem/There’s no wall that He can’t scale/There’s no mountain that He can’t move/There’s no place He hasn’t been before/No sorrow He can’t soothe/Somebody loves you/You wonder who/Talkin’ bout Jesus/He cares for you”. Last up is the classically influenced ‘You Made a Difference For Me`. It is a song of sincere gratitude: ``I see it passing right before my eyes/The slow parade of people without You/And I see myself without You long ago/Where would I be if not for You?/You made a difference for me/Far beyond what I could see/If there’s one thing I know to be true/I’d be lost if it wasn’t for You”.
ANOTHER FRIDAY NIGHT is an excellent Christian rock album that draws from a handful of other musical genres as well. Doug Dimmel, Kenny Greenberg, Randy Moore, Eric Darken, and Phil Kristianson are just some of the players used. Chris Harris, Mark Heimermann, and Michael Black provide strong backing vocals. There is a good mix here of songs that deal with relationships between humans and songs that explore the relationship between God and humanity. Youth and young adults who enjoy the music of Rick Cua, Bryan Adams, Tom Cochrane, and Randy Stonehill should acquire this album, which I`m rating a solid 100%. Connect with Kenny Marks on Facebook or visit: www.kennymarks.com.