Houston Calling

“Hi, I’m Bill. I’m a Cops watcher…”

November 22nd, 2007 · 6 Comments

So, like a sore tooth that you just can’t stop tonguing*, everyone has bands/songs/albums that are their guilty pleasures. Whether it’s 80s-era hair metal, Meat Loaf, Ricky Martin (Denise, I’m looking at you…), or something from the seventies AM radio days that you hum while coming out of the dentist office, everyone’s got something they’re not going to admit liking in mixed company.

I recently read a review of the recent Amy Grant’s Greatest Hits on local blog dryvetyme online, on which it mentions how Grant’s music is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. Definitely a bold thing to admit–and this comes from someone who once put the Barbara Streisand/Barry Gibb collaboration, “Guilty,” (sheer coincidence, I assure you) as a hidden track on a mix CD for friends. Other than guilty pleasures (yeah, I like the Bee Gees and the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack) it got me thinking about music I was forcefed in my youth–like early Amy Grant, among others–and other bands I got into as a result during the days before I was left to discover my own music.

Basically, I’m referring to what is known as contemporary Christian rock music. I was forcefed CCM for much of my elementary and junior high years. Casual readers of Houston Calling may not know my musical history, but poke around the archives long enough and you’ll come across a few posts where I wax nostalgic. Like this one. Or this one. Or this.

About the time Napster hit its peak I decided to download a few tracks from bands I listened to in the days before my parents could no longer control–or decided to give up trying to control–what went into my ears. With an afternoon to kill on iTunes, I searched my memory for some of the bands I remember from the Griswold-esque road trips with my parents, subjected to mostly lame music, despite the fact our late seventies station wagon (uh, “family truckster”) came with a Ford Motor Company-approved cassette tape that featured such rebellious tunes as Toto’s “Manuela Run” (HA!), Neil Diamond’s “Forever In Blue Jeans,” Michael Martin Murphy (c’mon, “Wildfire” too much for you?), and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Ashford & Simpson.

We listened to that in limited doses–my dad was past his Beatles, Stones, and CCR days, and with impending preacherhood, was into Keith Green, Amy Grant, Don Francisco, David Meece, ABC, Russ Taff, and The Imperials. I wish I had been listening to Animals around the late 70s, but hey I was seven or so and at that age, you pretty much listen to what your parents listen to. Most of it was/is horrid in retrospect. Some of it, like Steve Taylor, David & The Giants, and Petra, leads me to think these guys had pasts typical of most musicians in the 70s. Doing a bit of research, many of them did. Check out this description of David & The Giants: In the 60’s & 70’s, David & the Giants were a very successful Rock ‘n’ Roll band, & played with many famous groups & artists such as; Styx, Black Oak Arkansas, Cheech & Chong, The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Chuck Berry & Stevie Wonder to name a few. They had many regional hits including, “Ten Miles High” & “Superlove. Their drummer, Keith Thibodeaux, was the former Little Ricky on the “I Love Lucy” show.

Only one band from that era stands out as being something I’d likely enjoy today–a punk-ish band called Undercover. Their album Boys And Girls Renounce The World seemed edgy at the time, from what I recall, and I may pick up one of the many vinyl copies I see floating around various online auctions to see if the album lives up to my memories of it.

Recently, a co-worker who knows my affinity for music recommended the latest album by Derek Webb, former lead singer for Houston Christian band Caedmon’s Call (a band I have never heard but have heard about). Webb’s The Ringing Bell, is an impressive album and as strong, lyrically and politically, as you’re likely to get from a Christian artist these days. He’s obviously no right-winger that gets led by the masses (“It’s sheep we’re up against,” right The Housemartins?) and I strongly recommend his album and the accompanying graphic novel–it’s most definitely worth the $20.

Also, as a result of this post I checked out a book called Raised With Wolves (which I got on half.com for a buck), which gives a decent account of the development of Christian rock music. More than I knew, anyway. I found it an interesting read.

Any guilty pleasures you’d like to post about? Feel free to do so below.

*Thanks Bill Hicks.

Tags: Miscellaneous · Music

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 bcd // Nov 23, 2007 at 1:22 pm

    a whole guilty pleasures post by you and no mention of MegaDeth or Queensryche? c’mon….

    and name-dropping Petra sent a shudder up my spine. ugggggggh.


  • 2 Adam P. Newton // Nov 23, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Oh the memories of CCM in the ’80s — Petra, Whiteheart, Whitecross, & more….

    And yes, while I stand by my love for Amy and fully recognize how many hipster points I lose for making that admission in public, thanks for name-dropping my blog. It’s appreciated!

  • 3 Sketch the Journalist // Nov 24, 2007 at 2:42 pm

    So you finally dug up some dirt on Undercover eh? Nice post – especially the link to the Google book mention.

    And good to see the D Webb recommendation was on target too.

  • 4 David A. Cobb // Nov 25, 2007 at 10:01 am

    Paste rated Derek Webb’s album as one of the best of 2007. FYI

  • 5 King AdRoss // Nov 26, 2007 at 2:58 pm

    Whoa! We grew up in the same family scenario but in different parts of the country. My first non-secular album purchase was at age 13. Even then, I was vilified by the others at my christian school academy for converting. My Def Leppard drawing in my locker was wripped down by an overbearing 9th grader who said he wasn’t going to let me go to hell. Put prior to the arrival of “Pyromania” in the mail, I was into Petra, Stryper, and the like. I was just learning about music anyway so what did I know? Now or then…

  • 6 David A. Cobb // Nov 26, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    Definitely out of that stuff by the time Stryper hit but I had friends who were into metal (and never grew out of it) who had an affinity for them. I thought it was awful, which it was.

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