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

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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Who’s your Daddy? Sixpence, The Fatherless & The Widow

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One of my favorite shows is Undercover Boss. I am amazed that almost without fail, the powerful CEO’s, and executives that appear on the show are reduced to tears when speaking of their Fathers influence on their lives, be it good, or bad. You cannot underestimate the overwhelming power of a Dad.

 

In 1991 at age 20 I stood in the driveway of my family’s home, and watched my Dad drive out of our life. Three years later I stood over the ornate box that held his lifeless body. 23 years have passed since that difficult time, and I am here to tell you that the heartbreak, and loss that crushed me on each of those fateful days has not, and I believe, will not, ease this side of eternity. The feelings of hurt, and longing for my Dad are never far away. They quietly lurk below the surface of my heart, waiting to pounce when I least expect it. They gleefully manifest themselves via painful memory, and salty tears.
chanFrancis Chan, and his wife Lisa have written a book called You And Me Forever,(marriage in light of eternity). At the end of one chapter. Chan asks the reader to take a moment, and just think about Jesus. Then, after a few moments Chan suggests listing Jesus’ attributes that you find most compelling, or the characteristics that draw you to Him.

As I started the exercise I soon realized that one of the things that I most cherish about Christ is His role as my Abba father.  (Abba is an Aramaic word that would most closely be translated as “Daddy.” It was a common term that young children would use to address their fathers. It signifies the close, intimate relationship of a father to his child, as well as the childlike trust that a young child puts in his “daddy.” – GotQuestions.org?)

As I continued to reflect, Psalm 68:5 came to mind, “Father to the fatherless, defender of widows–this is God, whose dwelling is holy.”  When I had heard this verse previously, my view had always been that the “fatherless” in this verse referred to little kids, or your typical rag-tag orphan. I never realized until that moment that God not only cares for the fatherless little ones, but He also cares deeply for fatherless big kids like me…and you.

This realization rang true. Over the years, as I have felt the deep hole left by the absence of my Earthly Father, I have found myself leaning more on my Heavenly Father. When I pray, I refer to him as Dad. And there are times when I actually imagine crawling up into his lap, and just resting in His embrace. I need to hear from Him, I need Him to tell me that everything will be ok, and that He’s proud of me. Daily I look to him for direction in leading my own family. Without my “Heavenly Dad”, I would be lost.

 

If today you find yourself broken, hurting, rejected, or just plain lost. let me encourage you to run into the arms of your Abba Father . There you will find all the love, acceptance, peace, and contentment you will ever need.

Do you have a problem viewing God as your Dad? If so why?

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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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Did Jesus Really Build Your Hot Rod? Whiteheart, Convertibles

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There’s no denying that Terry Taylor/Daniel Amos/Swirling Eddies/Lost Dogs is one of the most creative, and influential forces  that “Christian music” has produced over the last 30+ years. And although I count myself among his legions of fans I can’t say that I always understood what he was doing, nor have I connected with every project that he produced. Take for example the 1996 Swirling Eddies record Sacred Cows.
The idea behind this release was to get the Eddies into a studio and have them Swirling Eddie-tize some top CCM hits of the day. The reaction to the parody project was understandably mixed as some folks “got it”, while others felt the songs were disrespectful and unkind. To be honest I was torn, I had no problem with the Eddies poking fun at Amy Grant, Carmen, and even DC Talk, I mean come on, did the boys from DCT really expect us to take “I Love Rap Music” seriously?

However, when the Eddies busted on DeGarmo & Key, and Stryper I wasn’t laughing anymore, and when I saw that they had targeted Whiteheart I was ready to lose it completely until I noticed the song selected for ridicule was “Convertibles” off of the Don’t Wait For The Movie record. Ok…I admit it, that song was cheesy with a capital C.

Dont Wait for the MovieEven as a 15-year-old “die-hard” Whiteheart fan, I had thought “Convertibles” was goofy. Sure, sure, I sort of got what Gersh, Smiley, and Kennedy were trying to say on that track, but I still thought it was a campy diversion on what I had considered an otherwise stellar disc. And for 27 years I pretty much have felt the same way, until I read the following excerpt from Tim Keller’s, Every Good Endeavor.

“Parents want to give their children everything they need, but they also want them to be come diligent, conscientious, and responsible people. So they give their children chores. They could obviously do the task quicker and better themselves, but that would not help their kids grow in maturity. So parents give their kids what they need–character–through the diligence required for the chores they assign them. Luther concludes that God works through our work for he same reason.”

“What else is all our work to God–whether in the fields, in the garden, in the city,in the house, in the war, or in government–but just such a child’s performance, by which He wants to give His gifts in the field, at home, and everywhere else? These are the masks of God, behind which He wants to remain concealed and do all things”.

Keller adds,”Even the humblest farm girl is fulfilling God’s calling. As Luther preached,”God milks the cows through the vocation of the milk maids.”

With that said, is it too much of a stretch to suggest that God did in fact make convertibles through the hardworking men on automobile assembly lines? And if you ever have driven in a convertible, with the top down, wind blowing in your hair, blue skies above, and warm sun on your face, you would certainly be hard pressed not to consider that a wonderful gift from God.

Whether it be your vocation, or enjoying 80’s Christian rock songs, there really is freedom that comes when you understand how God desires to accomplish His work in this world. So bring in that Sacred Cow ’cause I’m in the mood for a Holy Burger, only, hold the cheese please.

So have you ever had a song that you disliked or felt was cheesy, only to realize later that it might have been deeper than you first thought?

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