Your Gateway to Music and More from a Christian Perspective
Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Horrendous Disc was originally created in 1980, and now after twenty years it is finally being released on CD. In the considerable Daniel Amos cannon, Horrendous Disc was supposed to be the transitional album bridging the gap from their early days as the safe cowboy gospel country singers to the costume-wearing, goof-ball antic playing, alternative new wave musicians that followed. A large leap to be sure. Of course, that's not exactly how it worked out, since Alarma! the album that was created after Disc actually preceded it in Christian music stores everywhere (or at least those wise enough to carry it). But that's another whole saga that is better told by Taylor himself. Regardless, Disc is finally on compact disc, and fans rejoice with virtual beach parties everywhere.
Looking back, it's difficult to imagine how such an album would have caused such controversy. Strong testimony of faith and apparent biblical application ring out in every song, but then again this was 1980, and the Contemporary Christian Music scene was a whole different beast back then. Nevertheless, despite much adversity, Disc was released and is now generally regarded as the premiere "Alternative Christian Music Album," whatever that means. One thing is for certain, Disc is a work of sheer brilliance and bravado that only foreshadowed the even stronger work from Terry Taylor and Daniel Amos to come. As such, Disc is as much of historical interest as it is musical enjoyment. It's healthy to revisit older music every now and again just to see how far the CCM soundscape has come. You need not point any further than this album, which not only has stood the test of time remarkably well, but signifies the beginning of a much needed shift to more relevant, challenging and creative albums. Gratefully, that shift is history now, and we have Daniel Amos to thank for it.
The musical style of Disc is a unique amalgamation of good old Beach Boys and Beatlesque rock and roll with a decidedly early eighties new wave flair. Disc is not nearly as rooted in eighties music as Vox Humana was with its plethora of typical eighties-era keyboard bits, yet the particular rhythms and use of horns and keys on Disc are clearly rooted in the popular music styles of the time. The result is a charmingly eccentric collection of smart songs that inspire both thoughtful faith introspection and wacky dance gyrations. No wonder the cool kids went crazy for this unheralded album.
Not only does Disc contain some of the much loved staples of Daniel Amos's concert days, like "I Love You #19" and "Hound of Heaven," but some of the less well celebrated material like Terry Taylor's "Sky King" ballad, Jerry Chamberlain's "Man in the Moon," and Marty Cook's "Never Leave You," are well worth revisiting. The best of the batch, however, may be the delightful quirky songs like "near sighted girl with approaching Tidal Wave" and the title track, which provide absurd amounts of sheer fun and further signify why this Disc was such a milestone.
As an added bonus, Larry Norman has also included not one, but two cover versions of "Hound of Heaven" at the disc's end. The first is Norman's more straightforward version, but the second is a curious lounge-style take. Both feature Norman chortling "D A, D A, D A," in a flattering fashion that would have been quite appropriate for a tribute disc. On that note, the liner notes also include the song lyrics, some disappointingly muddy copies of both original and left-out photographs, and a long and somewhat confusing note from Larry Norman. Equal parts apology, defense, and tribute to Daniel Amos, Norman's letter makes for interesting reading. He also promises a second pressing of Disc at some future date that will not only include the European version, which differed slightly from the U.S. release, but more bonus tracks and other unreleased and archival bits.
God bless Terry Taylor and Daniel Amos for making this disc, and Larry Norman for finally re-releasing it on CD.
Steven S. Baldwin 9/9/2000