Monday, August 8, 2011

Undercover: Branded/3-28-87

Undercover started life as a pogo-Punk/New wave band from southern California. They performed lightweight, but catchy songs, with simple, easy to understand, childlike lyrics.   As proof of the childlike aspect, my son loved songs like "Excuse Us," "Jesus Girl" and "God Rules" when he was a toddler.

"Branded" signaled a definite change in direction for the band, as they would progress further into Goth/Hard Rock territory.  The addition of new singer Sim Wilson definitely added a "Goth" vibe, even though the music was still rooted in New Wave.  The Keyboards were heavier, the music darker overall, and the subject matter weightier than before.

Branded is basically a concept album dealing with things like doubt and guilt, loneliness and ultimately faith in God.  Songs like "I'm Just A Man" have a Psalm like quality, however I'm thinking of the darker, questioning Psalms.  "Tears In Your Eyes" and "Come Away With Me" are written from God's point of view, wanting to draw the person close who only pushes Him away. "Pilate" addresses the guilt Pilate felt over crucifying Jesus. The album closes with "If I Had A Dream," basically a worship song, albeit a heavy one, here the singer finds himself in God's presence, free and forgiven.

If the albums before this were too simplistic, those that followed, while musically inventive, were too dark, and somewhat impenetrable lyrically.  Undercover hit their creative zenith with Branded, and the live album 3-28-87.  Even the older songs like "God Rules" and "Three Days" were given new life in the live setting, and Sim Wilson's vocals give them a maturity they seemed to lack before.

These two albums easily make my top twenty list of favorite Christian albums, but listening to them is bittersweet.  Keyboard/Bass player and primary songwriter Ojo Taylor now proclaims himself an atheist.  Taylor wrote all the songs on Branded, except for "Cry Myself To Sleep," written by guitarist Gym Nichols.  The fact that a man that could write such beautiful proclamations of the faithfulness of God in difficult times could somehow lose his faith is frightening, and sobering.  It should serve as a warning that we all should make our "calling and election sure." (2 Peter 1:10)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sweet Comfort Band recording new CD.

This should make fans of classic CCM VERY happy!  Sweet Comfort Band is in the studio finishing up a new CD titled "The Waiting Is Over."  The CD will feature original members Bryan Duncan (keyboards, vocals,) Randy Thomas (guitars, vocals,)and Rick Thomson (drums.)  Original bassist and founding member Kevin Thomson passed away in 2010.

The Sweet Comfort Band was one of the most popular CCM bands of the early 80's, and served as the launching pad for Bryan Duncan's solo career, and guitarist Randy Thomas went on to form another amazing band, Allies.

Official site: