Five 90’s Christian Rock Albums You Must Own: Shaded Red, Self Titled & Red Revolution

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<b>Shaded</b> <b>Red</b> Discography

Shaded Red

Right up-front let me address the thought behind putting up two records for consideration. Simply stated, I think they both deserve recognition. In fact, I felt so strongly about the band’s self titled debut, that when the parent distribution company was launching the group’s sophomore record, I convinced them to let me bundle the two projects, and give their first release away with the purchase of Red Revolution.

The core of Shaded Red consisted of two brothers, Jamie (vocals, guitar), and Jon (guitars, bass, trumpet, piano) Roberts. According to an online bio, the brothers studied music in college, and it was then that they discovered their intense musical chemistry.

Although I can’t confirm this, there is a rumor that the Roberts family had been involved in promoting Christian concerts, and when their Father had learned of his sons desire to start the band, he lead them before a wall of photos featuring CCM artists. As the story goes, their father pointed out how most of the artists on the wall no longer had careers in Christian music. His point being that any success they might achieve would most likely be fleeting.

True, or not, I always found that tale to be extremely ironic, considering the short, and seemingly ill-fated  time Shaded Red had together as a band. Their father’s words were eerily prophetic.

Shaded Red lyrics - Shaded Red lyricsThe band’s debut release in 1997 garnered positive reviews from critics,and immediate tour opportunities with bands like Petra, and Guardian. The raw, emotive nature of the lyrics, and surprising sonic power that the trio managed to generate is what drew me in. I found the musical arrangements simple yet refreshingly creative. Subtle use of horns, and piano round out this record’s “live” vibe.

 

“Caught”- Hooky, and singable. I instantly loved this song, because Jamie was able to work “Cold Fusion” in to the lyric, and make it sound cool…no pun intended.

“Let It Out”- A crunchy rock anthem that depicts the Good News of Christ death, and resurrection as so energizing the individual is unable to contain it. He must “let it out” for others to hear.

“Use Me” – Simple, heartfelt, beautiful. This piano based track I’m sure, made for a moving concert finale.

As the band began to gain momentum, tragedy struck. On January 11, 1998, the band was in a serious accident while on their tour bus. The bus hit a patch of black ice. Chris Yeomen, the drummer at the time, died, and Jon Roberts was left with a shattered Pelvis. The two brothers seriously considered ending the band all together. Understandably, the passion was gone.

However, after time of physical and spiritual healing, Jon regained the use of his leg,s and God restored Jamie’s love for music. The song “When God Ran”, originally written by Benny Hester, was the medium that brought Jamie through.

In ’99, after months of recuperation, Shaded Red returned with Red  Revolution. Many critics felt that the new record was a major step above their debut. General market publications such as Billboard Magazine took notice of the project because of its unique stylings. The fusion of spanish trumpets, and orchestral arrangements with rock elements made for an eclectic sound that really worked well.

 

“Revolution” – The first track on the record, it set the tone, and exemplified the “mariachi rock” that runs throughout the disc.

“When God Ran” – A huge hit by Benny Hester way back in the early days of CCM. It could have been really cheezy, but the impact it had on Jamie, and the way the band pulled off making it relevant, warrants recognition.

“One Year” – IMHO opinion the deepest song on the record, and the one that totally kicks my butt with rock awesomeness. Clearly a testimony to the pain, and struggle that Jamie & Jon were processing in the aftermath of their tragic accident.

If any band should be granted license to ask the question “What if”, it would be Shaded Red.

What if there was never an accident?
What if we had never lost our friend?
What if Jon had never walked again?
What if Jamie had never returned to music?

To me there is great mystery, and tension in all of life’s “what ifs.” And although there is some wisdom to be gained by examining these questions, dwelling too long on them could drive one over the edge, or worse, leave them hopelessly stuck in neutral.

I humbly submit that the Roberts brothers found peace in the God who control’s the “what ifs”, trusting that whatever the outcome, it was always going to be for their good, and for His glory. We all stand to benefit from the tragedy, and victory that marked Shaded Red’s brief story.  For that reason I suggest that their two records belong in your music collection.

Question: What if Shaded Red never existed as a band?

Five 90’s Christian Rock Albums That You Must Own

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Jedi Wisdom For Dummies. Kosmos Express, The Force

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Qui-Gon Jinn - Star Wars Wiki                                                                                                                         One of my favorite movie quotes comes from Qui Gon Gin in Star Wars Episode I. After failing to obtain a badly needed hyperdrive from that flying, blue aardvark looking thing, Watto, Qui Gon displays great wisdom, and patience when he states the following, “I’m sure another solution will present itself.” A quote so subtle it could easily be overlooked, yet so profound it could change your destiny. Which if you recall, is exactly what happened to young Anakin Skywalker when he offered up the use of his pod racer…

Mock me if you must, but I have actually found Qui Gons wisdom to be quite Biblical. In my own life, when I try to control outcomes, and force solutions, things usually end up going horribly wrong. However, when I don’t rush to take matters into my own hands, God move’s, and the solution does in fact present itself. But don’t take my word for it, let’s go to the Bible for examples of what happens when people become impatient with God.

(Genesis 16)
God promises Sarai that He will give her a child, and through that child He will bless the nations of the world. She get’s impatient, gives her servant Hagar as a surrogate to her husband Abram. Hagar gets cocky and gives Sarai an attitude, Sarai blames Abram, and Abram says, “hey, this is your mess, you clean it up!” And so Sarai kicks Hagar to the proverbial curb.

God sees Hagar and has mercy on her. God tells Hagar that he has her back and that she will have many descendants, but that the son in her womb, Ishmael, will be like a wild donkey, constantly fighting with his relatives. The result of this made for TV drama can be seen played out in the middle east even today. As all of the descendants of Ishmael (Arab nations) have sworn to destroy the descendants of Isaac (Israel). Talk about a mess!

Need another one?

(Exodus 32)
Moses goes up the mountain to talk with God and receive the 10 commandments. The people of Israel get tired of waiting for Moses to come back down, so they hassle Aaron into building a golden cafe. The whole camp goes bat crazy, and God is like, “Moses get back to camp before I wipe out those stiff-necked people”. Moses was like, “God, please don’t destroy them, because all of the world will mock you, and us, if you brought them out of Egypt only to kill them in the desert.” God’s like, “ok then you better get down there now.”

Moses heads down the mountain and sees just how insane the whole camp has gone and get’s ticked off, busting the first set of commandments in the process. Long story short, God tells the tribe of Levi to kill 3000 Israelites as punishment for their impatience, and for worshiping idols. Whaaaat???

Obviously we humans aren’t great at playing the waiting game, but that’s how God rolls. One of my teaching pastors put it this way, “God is doing, what God is doing…his plan is not a microwave plan, its slow roasting.”

Qui Gon would say, “Let the force be your guide.”  I would say trust God, cry out to Him in the midst of your crisis, and just when you’re at the end of your rope, He will present you with the exact solution that you need. More often than not, it’s Himself.

Simulcast

 

 

 

 

 

Can you remember a time when God presented a solution when you least expected it?

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Five 90’s Christian Albums You Must Own: L.S.U. – Grace Shaker

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<b>Vincent</b> <b>van</b> <b>Gogh</b>’s &quot;<b>Starry</b> <b>Night</b>&quot; Most Popular Oil Painting in 2011What is it about the artistic drive that sometimes sends the most creative among us over the edge? Consider with me these following examples; Vincent Van Gogh, a minister, had massive mood changes that sent him swinging wildly from joyous euphoria into self-destructive fits of depression. He famously cut off his own ear, and lived with a prostitute.Yet he produced some of the most beautiful, and revered art of all time.

My college professor Dr. Kraft. His Art Appreciation class helped to shape my adult life by showing me how art intersects faith. His own paintings, and sculptures were visually stunning while simultaneously pointing to the Gospel. Still, he too struggled with depression, and sometimes wouldn’t leave his bed for days.

And then there is Michael Girard Knott. As an early pioneer of “Christian Alternative’s” 1st wave, his music has influenced countless of aspiring musicians. His catalouge of work is as vast as it is unique. His paintings are vibrant, colorful, and rife with deep meaning. They inhabit the covers of some of Christian music’s most loved records. However, it is no secret that Mike has struggled with alcoholism for years.

Allow me if you will, to theorize. You see, I think that these REAL artists live and experience the world on a level most of us can’t understand. The powerful drives, and emotions that enable them to express themselves artistically are the same overpowering feelings that drive them into vice and emotional turmoil. They create because they have to, using artistic expression in an attempt to make sense of, or process the rush of stimuli that swirls around them. It’s almost as if their artistic gift is both a blessing, and a curse.

It’s my heartfelt opinion that L.S.U.’s 1994 release of Grace Shaker is the result of one man’s painful struggle to “work out his own salvation,” or deal with his outside “stimuli.” At times it’s ugly and hard to look at, but those moments are artfully balanced with tender glimpses of God’s grace, hope, and the unspeakable joy that comes in understanding that in spite of all our failures, Jesus offers freedom through forgiveness.  

The opening track “Double”, is awkward, and uncomfortable, made so by the tragic mishaps that befall a man in the midst of a weekend bender. Steve Hindalong’s (The Choir) use of household items as background percussion is a stroke of brilliance, blending perfectly with Knott’s anguished vocals and gentle, stumbling, acoustic guitar lines.

“Kill Will” is a track where we find Mike dealing with the temptation of infidelity, made worse by the effects of alcohol.The following lines of the chorus drip with desperation, and come across as an anxious prayer for strength to resist “…Kill Will, he’s got a mind of his own, Kill Will…” The crunchy, almost dirty guitar distortion enhances the feeling of anxiety in the lyrics, and I can totally relate to Mike’s struggle here. As a married man, the battle to remain faithful is at times difficult, whether it’s a female friend, co-worker, or the seductive lure of porn, I too have found myself whispering the same desperate prayer for help. “Kill Will dear Jesus, Kill Will”. If you’re a man and you say you can’t identify with this issue, I suspect you’re lying.

Additional tracks “Thinkin”, “Bad Disease”, and “Gift Taker” all deal with Mike’s inner turmoil, and life battles with brutal honesty. What makes this record so beautiful is that in spite of all the ugliness, and vulnerability there seems to be resolution and healing that takes place as well.

“Blame” is written from the perspective of Jesus, and is a touching reminder of Christ’s willingness to be our substitute. Taking upon himself the full punishment and blame for our sin.

“Grace” is a simple reminder that our works can’t save us.

“Freedom” is an anthem of victory, a detailed depiction of Christ’s death and how the blood that Jesus shed on our behalf gives us ultimate freedom from all that ensnares us.

The last track “Christ Saves” is declarative and final. It is the fitting exclamation point on all the pain, brokenness, joy, and sadness explored in the previous songs.

Grace Shaker was arguably the best work Mike Knott produced in the 90’s. It’s raw honesty and vulnerability puts it in rare company with Undercover’s Branded and Commen Children’s Delicate Fade. These records laid bare the brokenness and pain of the artists that produced them. They held nothing back, the sin, the mess that is humanity, the hope found in Christ. L.S.U. Grace Shaker is without a doubt a 90’s Christian Album you must OWN.

(Post #4 of #5 regarding this topic. Click here for more.)

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Take Off Your Pants and “Christian” Jacket? Chris Taylor, Formerly of Love Coma Speaks Out

90’s Christian “alternative” band, Love Coma, featuring Chris Taylor on lead vox , remains one of the most under-rated bands coming out of that era.
The Mike Roe, (77’s, Language of FoolsLost Dogs) produced album, Language of Fools was a fantastic record. The songs “Tomorrow Takes to Long” and “Walk in the Rain” are still two of my all time favorites, and I can’t recall a time when I did not spin at least one of those epic jams on my show.

In addition, a concert memory best is the time I was able to see Love Coma at legendary concert venue, the Power House Room in Greenville, SC. As soon as the band started playing, I realized that Matt Slocum (Sixpence None the Richer) was playing guitar. Just to make sure, I shouted, “Matt Slocum!!” My suspicion was confirmed as he quickly looked up and grinned. I felt pretty good about that, because it appeared no one else in the room had realized who he was, and few, if any, knew that he had previously been in Love Coma, before launching Sixpence None The Richer with Leigh Bingham (Nash). I have always thought that was a pretty classy move on his part, considering Sixpence was on the rise and they had just won the “Alternative/Modern Rock Album of the Year” Dove award for their record This Beautiful Mess, (their best project IMHO).

That said, I thought I would share a very honest and thought provoking post that Chris recently added to a Facebook thread found on the 90’s Christian Music Recovery Group. I’d love some feedback on this, please read and sound off. Thanks – Bill

“If a bunch of Christians got together and made jean jackets, would we call them “Christian Jean Jackets”? Even if there was no writing or symbolism on the jacket in any way… They were just made by Christians… Looks like any other jean jacket… maybe they even took the time to create some cool stitching patterns or have a darker wash than the typical jean jacket…

I think what ruined Christian music was, in the beginning… someone put that label on it and we’ve been using it ever since. We writers and singers and musicians who were and are part of a church have always been told Why, How and Where to use and play our music. We are always told by pastoral types and other religious types what we should and shouldn’t be writing about. It’s always been an uncomfortable fit for me, personally. Even leading worship in different churches over 15 years… It’s never felt right. I always felt like I had to re-invent the wheel every week. I always felt like I had to be doing what someone else’s idea of worship music was all about… and fair enough to them… it was their church… they started it and I came along later in the mix.

Even beyond church… I had this inner, nagging feeling of what and how I should be doing/using my gift… but I didn’t have the strength or bravery to do it without the shadow of other people’s opinions to hinder me. It’s taken a lifetime to shake that stuff off and write what I have to write, sing and perform the way I have to and paint what, and how, I have to paint.

Although this may sound like a wicked contradiction – My music may be deeply fused with God and the things of a spiritual nature, among many other things… It’s NOT Contemporary Christian Music made for marketing and industry purposes. I want nothing to do with that. I want nothing to do with modern worship music – not that it’s a bad thing… but people see how popular it is and just copy and paste the style… again… not a bad thing… I’m just more interested in digging within myself and seeing what I have to offer this world.

Each musician, songwriter and artist has to find their own path… I can’t knock what someone else is doing if it’s a genuine step of creativity and spiritual growth for them… The scriptures say “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” and maybe we should apply that process to why we even let someone’s idea of a marketing term “Christian Music” get in the way of what God is doing through music and art outside that label. ~ Peace to you all.”

My Life, In Music: Between Thieves, The Spring (Virgin Water Obsession)

I have a confession to make. I love Fiji bottled water. Not only am I drawn to the tropical Fiji water bottlenature of its packaging, but I am intrigued with the companies claim that each bottle of pure, sparkling Fiji water is tapped directly at its volcanic source, and is never touched by human hands until its’ cool, refreshing, deliciousness touches my lips. I call it virgin water, and each time I buy a bottle I make a big deal to my wife and kids about how I will be the first human to take a drink from this amazing H20.

At first they made fun of me, with the rolling of eyes and clucking of tongue, but as I continued to preach its wonders, making a production of each bottle of “virgin water” I drank, they have now begun to fight over who gets the ceremonial, and coveted, first sip.

All kidding aside, I really, really like Fiji water. I CRAVE, Fiji water. And in spite of all the skepticism that comes my way in regards to my Fiji obsession, I find it to be pure liquid joy. However, and you may know where I am going with this, as refreshing and satisfying as I find my virgin water to be, it’s thirst quenching power is fleeting.

There is only one kind water that is truly thirst quenching and it is mentioned by Jesus when speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well.

13Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”

So what is this living water that Jesus is referring to? Although many people say that Jesus is the living water, Jesus Himself intended the phrase to mean the Holy Spirit who dwells in believers and seals them for salvation (Ephesians 1:13–14). It is the ministry of the Spirit, flowing out of a heart redeemed by God, that blesses believers and, through them, brings life and light to the world.

Drink deep my friends!

Water

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