Monday, March 03, 2008

Albums by Christians that Rock, vol 2 - Chagall Guevara & Steve Taylor

Chagall Guevara - Chagall Guevara

Like an artist making headway into your personal and social realms using guerilla tactics, this semi-celebrated semi-supergroup burned out before they faded. Or maybe they faded out into obscurity when their rabid fan base was ready to chew them down.

Chagall Guevara begins the album with a "Murder in the Big House", a death knoll for, well, maybe pop Western society, maybe for the music industry these CCM vets just left for MCA, maybe for the status quo. It seems that Steve Taylor and Co. are serving notice to listeners with ears: This may be you. It's an apocalyptic call worthy of Marley and the Clash, with shimmying and rollicking guitars riding over a thick-as-walls bass line put down by____. Recalling the last night of Babylonian rule recounted in Isaiah and Poe's "Fall of the House of Uscher"

"Escher's World" is a tour-de-force of mismatched lyrics decrying the insanity and inanity of the world we occupy and define, using a few lyrical and musical twists and turns inspired by the artist and his stairwells.

A host of swirling and crunching guitars supplied by guitarists and backing vocalists Lynn Nichols (who, among other things was an A&R rep and a producer for Phil Keaggy's seminal Sunday's Child, as well as a song-writer and guitarist in his own rights) and Dave Perkins (who helped to produce Taylor's iconoclastic I Predict 1990 and was in the same label group as Mark Heard back in the mid-80's that tried to break out of the Christian music ghetto) and a backbeat to beat the dead skins from your ears.

"Hey, don't I know you
from some other life
you were wide-eyed and green
and a little bit taller
and you didn't look away
when spoken to...
deaf from the din of your self-righteous babble...
I think you've been blinded
by your own light

And like a surgical cut in a back-alley, Taylor breathlessly asks, "Was it sudden / was it clean / were there a lot of shades in between" before he implores, begs and demands his subject to "step away... and looose yourself".

Musically, "Play God" is the most intriguing, with a horn section arranged and played by Taylor, Nichols and Perkins to send chills down the spine of music geeks everywhere. The song is another sarcastic masterpiece, evocative of Dylan during his electric years. Taylor sneers, "And you still play God / how'd you get so good / so almighty / so mighty misunderstood." "You ought to swim the Channel / you stroke so fine." The horns twirl and flut away to a swirling oblivion.


  1. Oh. Yes. This album definitely rocked. I think I have it on cassette tape somewhere. I might still listen to it if it were in a slightly more updated format . . . Thanks for the blast from the past!

  2. ha-ha!

    the worst part is, unless i hound ebay, i just will not find any cds of what i desperately need to update my library.

    all hail the digital revolution!

  3. P.S. My uncle (Phil Madeira) is in that video at least once, btw. Closeup of a long-haired guy with a hat at the table mouwing down on a drumstick or something.

    Also, he's the creepy disembodied head in the "Smug" video in "Squint." ("Smug" WAS from "Squint," right? Oh brother . . . )

  4. seriously? your uncle's phil "heaven's lounge lizard" madeira?

    yeah, he's great! i'm trying to think of some other records he's been on. but his part in smug (with that growl! "let me tell you something about smug people...") was hilarious.

    i'll have to look up some stuff when i get home.

  5. Seriously.


    One of the benefits of this relationship was getting to have breakfast at a Nashville pancake house with Steve and Debbie Taylor back when I was in college. That, and a Chagall Guevara photo signed by the band.

  6. i remember having a discussion about the then-upcoming Second Chance movie with some people. my brother had to explain to his wife who Steve Taylor is and added that i used to have a man-crush on him.

    to which i could only add, "Used to??"


Be kind. Rewind.