(Locked away since 1986, here's Vision's Streetfighter album. For better or worse, the late eighties are here again on this southern rock pre-prog project....
Label: Born Twice Records
Length: 13 tracks 51:27
"Have ya' heard the news? God's not dead!" So starts this unexpected, recently unearthed effort by the southern rock / arena / pre-prog band, Vision. Recorded in 1986 and sounding every bit like a recording from exactly that period, Streetfighter is a bit of an awkward fit in today's more sophisticated (if less adventurous) music scene. Rough around the edges, and with a lead singer whose phrasing seems aimed at an arena crowd instead of your headphones, Streetfighter still has some nice jams, and really shines when the arrangements (from time to time) allow for some impressive soloing. For a reference point: this is the band whose members included keyboardist Billy Powell and bassist Leon Wilkeson, of Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Vision certainly was a band set apart from many other CCM acts, having a stronger than average instrumental base and the ability to genuinely rock out. Certainly, the instrumentals are stronger than the lyrics, which retain much of the era's 'we came to rock, rock for The King, rock for The Rock' themes (couple of titles: "Rock This Town," and "Born to Rock"). When they slow down a bit, Vision picks up traits of several bands of the day: The Sweet Comfort Band, The Joe English Band, and Mylon and Broken Heart, in particular – all fine contemporary bands that were establishing an admirable legacy of their own at the time.
The title track, "Streetfighter," shows the band doing what it does best – laying down some tough, southern rock with a solid foundation of drums, bass and keyboard and some tasty guitar breaks. "Called to War" typifies the military themes that were prevalent in many groups of the period - from Petra to The Allies – and is musically fine but once again makes the album very much a period piece in the history of Christian rock. "Mighty One" is an anthemic rock praise song distinctive for some fiery violin soloing and precision prog-like ensemble work from the whole band. "I'm Free" gets the party started (even if a little late, at track nine) with some rollicking piano and a hoe-down ending that totally comes as a surprise.
So here we have a genuine piece of late-eighties Christian rock and roll: a little heavy-handed but certainly fun, and even showing flashes of real musical brilliance. Some tracks have fairly abrupt fades and some songs sound like they could stand another few takes to really find the pocket. Apparently, this is the whole enchilada – the good, the bad and the in-between. So if you feel like rocking for The Rock, rocking this town, or – you know, just listening to some good late-eighties rock, this must be de' place......