9.12.08

Great Christian Music: Daniel Amos

I lack any sort of healthy perspective regarding Daniel Amos, the legendary and nearly totally unknown Christian alternative act of the 80's to the present. I feel like I should say that upfront. I wasn't forced to listen to Christian music as a kid, but there were some dodgy times back there when the Southern Baptist church I attended put the guilt trip on pretty hard, making me think that the Replacements and Smiths tapes I loved so much back then were going to be the soundtrack for my journey straight to hell. I wanted to like Christian music, but let's get real...in 1987, the Christian music industry's artist of the year was Sandi Patty. The Dove award winner for best rock album went to Mylon Lefevre. Nothing personal against the guy, but how relevant does this sound considering that Guns n' Roses released Appetite For Destruction the same year?



Seemingly out of nowhere, Daniel Amos emerged with a funny named album mixed in with the other tapes at my local Christian bookstore. The thing is that Daniel Amos had been around for awhile, starting their career as a country rock act in the Poco/Eagles vein performing in front of thousands of Calvary Chapel parishioners. At some point, Daniel Amos (a band, not a person) turned a corner and started playing weird new wave while disowning the rest of the Christian music biz, discarding it as lacking substance or artistry. It took until 1987 for me to hear the band which was my loss. I could have been spared at least one Degarmo & Key album purchase.

"The Shape of Air":



Of course, Darn Floor Big Bite (named for a gorilla's sign language explanation of an earthquake) bombed. See if this rings a bell: Christian music wasn't ready for an album that explored man's inability to understand God, especially one inspired by Czech poet Czeslaw Milosz. After all, there were Petra records to hear. To add insult to injury, the album would be tied up in label politics for years afterwards, so the band was unable to reissue the disc for audiences possibly more prepared. There are stacks of great Christian albums that might not ever be available again other than burnt CD-Rs passed from one fan to another. It seemed that Darn Floor Big Bite would be resigned to that fate as well.

"The Unattainable Earth"



Thankfully, due to the hard work of writer J. Edward Keyes and the Arena Rock label, Darn Floor lives again in a deluxe edition. I recognize that this entire post is sounding suspiciously like an advertisement, but it's really more like an evangelistic message. If you've ever cared about Christian music at all, if you've ever complained that real artists wouldn't get caught dead in the genre, if you spent the late 80's in the company of the Jesus and Mary Chain instead of listening to music about Jesus...you owe it yourself to pick up a copy of the Darn Floor Big Bite reissue. This is the sort of album this "Great Christian Music" feature was created for.

7 comments:

  1. Banquet at the World's End is one of the songs that stuck in my head and greatly impacted my latter theology, and especially praxis. And if I need background music for a time of contemplation, Joel is the perfect accompaniment.

    I would also recommend The Lost Dogs, or any of Terry Taylor's solo or collaborative efforts. The guys and bands associated with The Lost Dogs, as well as the likes of (to name a few) Rich Mullins, Jan Krist, and the Prayer Chain, are some the musicians I can point to as having kept my faith from growing sterile, stagnant and complacent. They pushed me to greater imagination, and invited me to ask questions and dream dreams about what God's vision for His Body and His Kingdom.

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  2. You keep preachin', I'll keep shouting amens from the choir loft.

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  3. three cheers for 80's keytar solos!

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  4. The Lost Dogs = Awesome.

    Don't forget! Standing alongside Daniel Amos is the excellent Christian band Adam Again. Led by super-duper producer Gene Eugene (RIP), this superb quintet created some quality alt-rock/new-wave weirdness between 1985-1993.

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  5. I really do love Adam Again (Dig was my jam), but the always seemed like the little brother band to DA for me. Probably not fair, but their catalog just doesn't quite match up to the lyrical content of Terry Taylor.

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  6. I love this band. And I rushed to itunes and bought Darned Floor. This was one of my favorite albums back in the day.

    The itunes version doesn't have the bonus content, be warned.

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  7. Daniel Amos has been one of my favorites from college. And while the Alarma Chronicles (especially Fearful Symmetry) has always been my favorites, Darn Floor Big Bite shaped my theology and thinking for a long time to come.

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