After discovering Christian rock music one of my favorite things to do was ride my bike up to our local Christian bookstore. I would spend hours at the “listening station” sampling whatever they had a cassette demo of (anyone remember those?)
It was one such day while perusing the endless racks of cassettes and CDs, I found myself drawn to the music playing over the store speakers. As I shopped, ethereal notes washed over me. The vocals where whispery and dreamy. The guitar tones where like nothing I had ever heard from a Christian band at the time. They dripped with delay and echo effects. It was amazing stuff and I had to know who this band was.
The sales clerk told me it was The Choir, Chase the Kangaroo. He handed me a cassette and I made a B-line for the register. From that moment I was hooked, and after soaking in the musical and lyrical genius of Kangaroo for a few weeks, I had to back track. I quickly added Voices in Shadows, Shades of Grey and Diamonds in Rain to my collection. I loved everyone of them, still do, but Chase The Kangaroo is by far the best record the band has ever produced. And although the 1988 release was not their most commercially successful album, (that title belongs to 1990’s Circle Slide) it certainly is their most profound. Kangaroo is the band’s “White Album” if I may be so bold.
Don’t get me wrong, The Choir has recorded many fantastic albums and in fact, they are set to release their 20th project, The Loudest Sound Ever Heard, but nothing in my humble opinion, has been able to recapture the magic found on Chase The Kangaroo. Stylistically it could be released today and you would be hard pressed to guess what year it was recorded. I honestly think it could stand with anything coming from Coldplay, The Killers, One Republic, Snow Patrol and yes I’ll say it, U2.
In the BSR produced Never Say Never radio special, drummer and lyricist Steve Hindalong admitted that there was something special about the Kangaroo project. For this he credits a new recording studio, complete with an assortment of new musical toys to play with, and freedom from the ever watchful eyes of label A&R reps. While recounting the making of Chase the Kangaroo Steve remembered having a blast spending the record companies money and while the “suits” at the label where expecting to receive demos from the band, the guys kept stalling and eventually they ended up turning in the completed record.
Standout tracks from Chase The Kangaroo are Clouds, Children of Time, Consider and Sad Face. One of my favorite cuts was a goofy moment where Steve sings an acoustic ode to the bands road manager, while Derry is out of the studio. Controversy ensued when the Christian label rep heard the lyric “…he smokes a lot of Camels…” in reference to the road managers heavy cigarette habit. The label insisted it be stricken from the recording, but somehow the lyric remained.
I think that’s typical for the guys in the Choir, they just kind of do their own thing and it works. So here’s to another 20 years of the same…