The Christian rock band Daniel Amos formed the year of my birth, 1974, so it was a very good year. They recorded their first song, ‘Ain’t Gonna Fight It’ for the Maranatha! Label in 1975. The next year they released their self-titled debut album. It and 1977’s SHOTGUN ANGEL were country rock in nature. Their third project, HORRENDOUS DISC, was eventually released by Larry Norman’s Solid Rock Records in 1981. By then Daniel Amos had left their country sounds behind. Between 1981 and 1986 the band released four records known as the Alarma! Chronicles. Here, I will be reviewing a 2 disc deluxe edition of the third in that series, VOX HUMANA (Latin for ‘human voice’). The original 12 song album was put out by Refuge Records in 1984. This deluxe edition came out in 2016 on Stunt Records. The group’s roster on VOX HUMANA is: Terry Taylor (lead vocals, rhythm guitars, occasional keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals), Ed McTaggart (drums, percussion, synthesizers), Rob Watson (keyboards, synthesizers, percussion, backing vocals), Tim Chandler (lead guitars, 4 & 12 string bass, synthesizers, backing vocals), and Greg Flesch (lead guitars). Terry Taylor wrote all the songs and he produced the album with Rob Watson.
‘Travelog’ is a new wave pop/rock song about life being a journey: “This river channels out to my private shore/My boat’s a magic couch on remote control/Confused, I now consult my jungle guide/Departure times, best bets/And four stars that shine/As I bask in the blue light/Of my/Travelog”. ‘(It’s the Eighties, So Where’s Our) Rocket Packs’ is a fun, quirky, sarcastic track: “I thought by now I’d walk the moon/And ride a car without no tires/And have a robot run the vacuum/And date a girl made out of wires.../I thought by now we’d live in space/And eat a pill instead of dinner/And wear a gas mask on our face/A president of female gender”.
‘Home Permanent’ is a tropical sounding pop ballad about heaven mostly: “My hair points to the sky/The place I want to be”, but my favorite lyrics here are: “I gave a toy top to my little brother/It says to SPIN FROM SIN/And to my mother/I gave a recipe book/It’s like no other/Now she makes chocolate Bibles/A witness to my unsaved father”. ‘It’s Sick’ is a fast-paced song about desensitization: “Hey!/We cannot sense, we cannot know/What they’re going through over there/Bodies dropping in the snow/Russians marching everywhere/It’s history that cannot be felt by tiny souls.../It’s sick and I got it on my TV/It’s sick when I don’t feel a thing”.
Next up is ‘William Blake’. According to Wikipedia he “was an English poet, painter, and printmaker”. He lived from 1757-1827. This slow song includes these words: “Sleep, William Blake/All is well/There’s a marriage up in heaven tonight/There’s a fire in hell/You were not mad/I know time will tell/William Blake”. ‘Dance Stop’ is one of two songs Tim Chandler helped lead vocalist Terry Taylor arrange. It’s a harmless song to bust your moves to.
‘Live and Let Live’ is a pop song with an Eastern sound to it. On it, the band confirms their desire for something more than other religions can offer: “I’m longing for a land not assigned to me by birth/I’m holding close to me/Life amid the curse (2X).../Longing for another world/Crying for your tenderness”. ‘When Worlds Collide’ is a melodic ballad about human love: “Stay my love/Here in my arms/Let me say ‘I love you’/Then sleep awhile/Dream your dreams/Soon I will take you/Far away/From where the night threatens the day/And worlds collide/I’m on your side/When worlds collide/I’m on your side”.
‘As the World Turns’ is a cheery sounding pop song, but speaks of the difficulties of being a Christian: “And I never get comfort in the earth or the sky/It’s my belief they’re not my home/The world spins one way/But I go another/Against the grain/One often stands alone/As the world turns it slaps me hard/As the world turns it tells me I’m weak/As the world turns I drop my guard/As the world turns/I turn the other cheek/I sing, hey oh, slaps me hard.../I put it all together in the exercise yard”. ‘She’s all Heart’ is about an unsatisfying male-female relationship: “My longing/Not to be a god or hero/But to be a tree that grows for ages/Hurting no one/When I told her this/She could not see at all/She’s all heart I know/She’s all heart and souls that never touch/Never know how very much they are one heart”.
‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ is a bouncy pop song with these interesting thoughts: “The clergy dresses you in tights and cape/And so the pressure’s on to make no mistake/In truth, there is no way that you won’t break/You’re gonna fall/You’re much too small/From wells of power, you take a drink/You drown in it/It’s bigger than you think/A world accountable/Among the stars a grain of sand/You’re incredible/Incredible shrinking man”. ‘Sanctuary’ is a mesmerizing rock ballad that runs almost six minutes long. It’s one of Daniel Amos’ best songs. It’s a song of divine comfort and refuge: “Hush little baby, don’t you cry/Your daddy’s here/So brush the tears out of your eyes/Brush them from your eyes/From your eyes (3X)/And should you find you have the things you need/Remember, remember/Me/And should the moon burn red/Stars leave the sky/Remember, remember/Your sanctuary”.
VOX HUMANA is one of my favourite Daniel Amos records. It has 1980’s alternative pop/rock written all over it, with a nice mix of faster and slower songs presented. Lyrically, Terry Taylor’s brilliance shines on this album. He offers great commentary on the state of this world, using wit and sarcasm, but he also touches the heart by expressing both a need for human love and a need to connect with the Heavenly Father and our eternal home in heaven. While Jesus and God are not mentioned by name, believers and many seekers will know who Taylor is pointing to. I’m rating VOX HUMANA 100%.
The second disc of this bonus edition of the album begins with three demos written and performed by Taylor and Rob Watson in 1984. ‘I Can’t Resist You’ is a pop song about a guy smitten with a gal: “How do you do it?/How come I’m hooked?/A strange fascination/A word is all it took/I can’t resist you.../You’re a magnet/I am drawn to you”. ‘The Man that Can’t Be Mentioned’ includes these lyrics: “I cannot face the matter/It’s too soon, maybe later/Oh, I know you’ve gotten over your past love, girl/I remember how he held you.../Please don’t talk about him now”. Next is ‘Do Anything for You’, about a man tragically obsessed with a lady. The other fourteen tracks are alternate takes of songs on VOX HUMANA. Highlights for me include an acoustic mix of ‘Travelog’, a rhythm mix of ‘It’s Sick’, a solo acoustic version of ‘When Worlds Collide’ by Terry Scott Taylor, and a live performance of ‘Sanctuary’ from Flevo Festival in 1985. Disc 2 runs just over 68 minutes long. I’m rating it 85%. This collector’s edition of VOX HUMANA comes with several cool pics of the band and extensive liner notes. For more info visit: www.danielamos.com.