Do I think Doppelganger is a master-work? Yep. – But I'm a sucker for anything with a beat...
Doppelganger – 2 CD Deluxe Edition
Disc 1: 11 tracks 54:57 minutes Disc 2: 17 tracks 50:09
You know how sometimes you remember a film or an album as an iconic high-point in your life? An encounter with art so great that you hold it in a nostalgic reverence? Something that you finally get to revisit only to find (to your great disappointment) that it wasn't quite as good as you remembered it to be? Hey, don't worry – I just finished listening to Daniel Amos' Doppelganger double-disc Deluxe Edition ...it's even better than I remembered.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – it was the eighties (so where's our rocket packs, anyway?). Well, you know what I mean... There was a creative wave sweeping that strange little ghetto called 'Christian music,' and Daniel Amos was cruising along right on the crest. Country-pop was far behind them, the Beatles-obsessed masterpiece, Horrendous Disc was out of their system, the new-wavish Alarma re-established the band as a force to be reckoned with, and along came Doppelganger, a sometimes-nightmarish, sometimes-cartoonish, sometimes prophetic look at the church, our culture, and our souls. And as a bonus, it's great rock & roll.
This re-masterpiece sounds amazing on a proper stereo system – clean and textured, with layers of harmony vocals, raucous guitars, thumping bass and crisp drums. The richness of the mix makes most modern discs sound anemic and thin (when will this obsession with compression end?) and also serves to highlight the energetic performances contributed by each band member.
Disc one is the original album in all its remastered glory, and what a pleasure it is to listen to again! Terry Taylor (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, harmonies and percussion), Jerry Chamberlain (lead guitars, lead vocal on "Little Crosses," percussion), Tim Chandler (bass, backing vocals, percussion), and Ed McTaggart (drums, backing vocals) create a Twilight Zone-esque landscape of hollow men, society-dominating malls, a game-addicted youth culture and a commercially-conscious, materialistic church rapidly careening into a game show mentality. With a little help from close DA comrades Tom Howard, Rob Watson, Jeff Lams, Mark Cook, and Marty Dieckmeyer (mostly taking turns at various keyboards), Taylor and the band dissect the church with a satirical scalpel, never forgetting to also look inside on a more intimate level.
There's little point in going into detail on songs that have become classics, so I'll just say that Terry Taylor (who's responsible for writing most of what's on Doppelganger) creates a more poetic picture of a culture spinning out of control than his equally-brilliant contemporary, Steve Taylor, whose observances on a 'churchianity' valuing conformity over expression and control over creativity were broader and more closely related to stand-up comedy. Taylor's sharp observations do have their less-subtle moments, of course, best displayed on songs like "New Car!" and the manic "I Didn't Build it For Me." Of course, the strange and wonderful, "The Double," effectively the album's title-track, delivers a bizarrely worshipful bit of theology as only Taylor and Daniel Amos could do: "My double's sitting in another world / My double's laughing in the heavenly places / I am his double here, I can expect / We'll be together when time is no more..."
Musically, the raw power and raucous attack of "Youth With A Machine" jumps out of the speakers with newly remastered muscle. The bass riff that opens "Mall All Over The World" almost knocks you out of your seat, and "Memory Lane" takes you on a groove that doesn't let up 'till you get dropped off just in time for the gentle but barb-wire wrapped, "Angels Tuck You In."
The second disc is a treasure-trove of alternate takes, basic tracks and live performances that give a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the construction of the project and a wonderful little time-warp to the Doppelganger Tour – a tour that stopped for one night in New Jersey that's etched in my mind forever. Those that were lucky enough to see the band on this tour will get goose-bumps hearing the pre-recorded "Concert Intro," with snatches of dialog from Disney's Pinocchio and the warning, "absolutely no one will be seated during the terrifying dance sequence!" Wonderful days, indeed.
This music is The Truth presented in art – always something that gets right to me when done with creativity and passion. For me, at least, it makes what passes these days as 'praise and worship' music seem pale, listless, and impotent. I guess you can tell I like this album. Do I think it's a landmark? Yes. A creative masterwork? Yup. Good rock and roll? Uh, huh.
But then again, I'm a sucker for anything with a beat.