Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Resurrection Band - Colours
   
Musical Style: Hard Rock Produced By: Resurrection Band
Record Label: Light/Retroactive Country Of Origin: USA
Year Released: 1980/2017 Artist Website: Resurrection Band
Tracks: 10 Rating: 85%
Running Time: 36:18

Resurrection Band - Colours

What is your favorite Resurrection Band album?  Ask a dozen hard music aficionados and chances are you will receive a dozen different answers, a total that equates to the number of studio albums of unique material released by the blues based hard rocking Chicago, Illinois based five piece throughout its three-decade career.  Also known as Rez Band or simply Rez, Resurrection Band put out in 1979 what I consider the magnum opus of its early recordings, Rainbow’s End.  Outside of not being inclusive to any filler, Rainbow’s End wowed me with its outside the box psychedelic influences not to mention standout tracks “Afrikaans”, “Sacrifice Of Love”, “Concert For A Queen” and “Rainbows End”.  Of that newer, I am most drawn to Innocent Blood for featuring a similar level of consistency (no skip buttons) in addition to one of the groups most well known cuts, blues rock masterpiece “Where Roses Grow”, and two of its heaviest in “Alter Of Pain” and “80,000 Underground”.  You also cannot go wrong with Resurrection Band swan song effort and every bit as even concept album Lament.

There are those that place accolades on Between Heaven And Hell, Hostage and DMZ, although I digress in that the three might be top heavy with great songs - can you say “Shadows”, “Tears In The Rain” and “Military Man”, respectively -  but are held back by too much chaff in terms of deep cuts.  How many of you, for instance, are drawn to keyboard heavy tracks “Talk To Me”, “Who’s Real Anymore” and “Reluctance”?  Awaiting Your Reply and Silence Screams are solid as they get but hinted at the promise Rez Band fulfilled on as noted and better follow up efforts Rainbow’s End and Innocent Blood.  I also like latter period albums Civil Rites and Reach Of Love but both come with a few too many skip buttons for my tastes, while Mommy Don’t Love Daddy Anymore is also not without merit but suffers from following on the heels of the more highly regarded Colours.

Released in 1980, Colours represents Rez Band’s third album and first on Light Records.  The groups move to Light surprised many, not the least of which is the labels reputation for contemporary Gospel music and how at the time it was home to Ralph Carmichael, Andraé Crouch & the Disciples, The Archers and Sweet Comfort Band.  Hence, how it further surprised when Colours turned out to be Resurrection Band’s heaviest work to that point, a particular that would not be challenged until its late eighties Silence Screams and Innocent Blood era.  Yes, predecessors Awaiting Your Reply and Rainbow’s End were heavy, but Colours - lone Resurrection Band album not to be recorded with keyboards - took things to the next level in pursuing the harder, faster and more intense direction.  The same applies lyrically in light of how the group continued to expand upon its socially conscious awareness themes.  While not necessarily concept related, Colours addressed the plight of the inner city in that the lost, broken and needy were right outside the ministry doors of Rez Band’s Jesus People USA community home.

Whereas Colours was originally a vinyl and cassette release, it did not see re-issue on CD (by Light Records) until 1991. Retroactive Records, however, re-mastered and re-issued Colours in 2004 (jewel case) and a second time in July of 2017 (4-panel digi pak).  In between, Colours also saw CD re-issue on Grrr Records in 2005.

Opening cut “Autograph” breaks down into two parts, with the first a highly melodic instrumental in which guitarists Glenn Kaiser and Stu Heiss prevail with their catchy riffs and harmonies.  Second cuts in after two minutes and allows co-lead vocalist Wendi Kaiser to shine, as she lends her raspy delivery to a track that maintains the melodic propensities albeit in a lighter and more expeditious form.  Lyrically, “Autograph” proves symbolic in terms of the Lord’s ‘blood signature’ provided on the cross (to those that are His):

I said, “Sign here please,” and You inscribed
Your Name in my heart
Didn’t know what I was getting into
Or what was getting into me for that matter

You’re His Signature
The very Stamp of His Soul
Spirit in the wind,
Agony of the cross all told
Signed in blood

Albums title track ensues and maneuvers from the start to Jim Denton’s vibrant bass presence.  Reflecting a slight worshipful quality, “Colours” highlights Glenn Kaiser’s gritty and blues soaked voice - one of the great front men in all of hard rock - as it joyfully exclaims, ‘whatever one could ask of faith, obedience will give. Together all express the love in hearts where Jesus lives’.  Helping round out to a full five minutes is the wonderful two-minute instrumental break carried by Heiss’ bluesy lead guitar (at this point it deserves note how I love the fact nearly half the albums first nine minutes are instrumental). 

“N.Y.C.” rates with the heaviest of the heavies.  With tapping drumsticks at the start, the song blasts ahead to guitars with malicious intent and John Herrin’s precise timekeeping as Rez Band exhibits unequivocally that newfound intensity in question.  The signature distorted drum solo closes things out.  “N.Y.C.” reflects upon the honest reality of the streets:

Out on the curbside, sat a little boy
Is crying cause a story to unfold
I’ve no father, I’ve no family
It’s getting dark and getting cold
I’ve been left here by myself and all alone

It’s time we live in honesty, it’s time we learn to cry
To soften our hearts once again
It’s time we lay our bullets down
Embracing Jesus’ love
Salvation comes in no other name

Every great album features its share of quality deep cuts, and such is what we have in “Hidden Man”.  A bit truncated at below three minutes, the song might not be quite heavy or fast as “N.Y.C.” but holds its own all the same with its heartening mid-paced flair and straightforward but not simplistic groove.  If any song manifests the bare bones hard rocking Rez Band mentality it is “Hidden Man”.

“Amazing”, second Wendi cut, falls a bit flat.  Perhaps it is due to the songs short length (two and a half minutes) or its punk like rhythms, but it has never done anything for me despites 35 years of listen.  This is what separates me from the ‘Colours is the best Rez Band album of all time’ crowd and ultimately forces me to place Colours a notch below Rainbow’s End, Innocent Blood and Lament: the presence of a lone skip button.  In my opinion, what Rez Band should have done instead is to cut “Amazing” in favor of splitting the separate parts of “Autograph” into two different songs in the three to three and a half minute range each.  This would have resulted in the near perfect track listing and a grade in the 90% to 95% range.

“American Dream”, in contrast, is not so much my all time favorite Rez Band song but potentially one of my all time favorite songs.  Now, the first Christian heavy metal band is open to debate, but one could accurately say that “American Dream” is the first song from a Christian band to cross the metal threshold.  Doubts?  Listen to the distorted guitar edges and all out intensity to the band performance and tell me this is not metal.

I find that technical metal is the label that actually applies, as “American Dream” roars out of the gate in assaulting fashion to its curtly done opening verses before a time signature to a bridge with lyrics that despite being penned in 1980 suggest of today’s front page news:

A Shuttle offstage - a change of scene
The expose of the American Dream
Watergate burglars, comedy relief
Laugh at ideals surviving our grief’s
It’s fool’s gold for gilded fools
Playing gaily with twisted rules
Hail to the families in their TV rooms
Suicide, genocide, abortion, cartoons
Terrorism, violence, starving refugees
Conscience, crucified, reality recedes
Nuclear tyrants, computerized plan,
Holding hostage everyman…

Of course, the trademark explosion still follows the classic line (in reference to the Second Coming):

It won’t happen: nineteen fifty
It may happen: nineteen sixty five
It WILL happen: JUST… DON’T… THINK ABOUT IT!!!

A blistering guitar solo fades in before things close to stark hope for the future:

Form dust to dust
Our lives fades away
We are the winds empty sighing
Vanity, all vanity
All but the cross, all but His dying

A tight segue is made to “Benny & Sue”, which comes across more reserved in comparison with its straight on hard rock edge.  There are times I have related to it as a let down due to following “American Dream”, but that might not be fair from how it has grown on me as a dramatic piece that tells the tragic story of two young lovers: Benny dying from a motorcycle accident and Sue going through an abortion while a teenager.  Revealed in the process is the passion to Wendi’s voice, particularly for the stark refrain - ‘as you cry little girl I cry for you’ - and final plea at the end: “Susie, Susie, do you hear Jesus call?  To follow sin, or follow Love, the hardest choice of all”.

Colours returns to heavier territory on “City Streets”.  I rate this one a close second to “American Dream”, with Ted Nugent inspired guitar riffs and straight from the gutter demeanor complemented by albums most barbed vocal performance from Glenn.  The duel lead guitar break from Stu and Glenn further enhances the robust energy at hand.  Lyrics are nothing less than inspired: 

You found me broken in the bad part of town
Couldn't look up to Heaven 'til I was all the way down
Your love reached for me, felt the scars on Your hand
Saw Your cross on the skyline - now I understand

Born for love, born for life
You were born in the city
You died for love, You died for life
You died for the city
You're returning for love, returning for life
Jesus, returning for the city   

“Beggar In The Alleyway” comes closest of the Colours material to ballad territory.  Song presents with its share of twists and turns, as reticent passages uplifted by sober guitars trade off with others that as heightened emotion builds, rhythm guitars cut in with knife-edge authority.  Underrated song and another fine deep cut, although I also cannot help but think its elevated emotion might have better-suited Glenn’s voice or better yet, turn it into a duet with Glenn handling verses and Wendi the refrain. 

“Beggar In The Alleyway” best embodies the inner city themes in question:

And you were a beggar where the north wind spreads,
Down garbage-strewn alleys you made your bed,
And He was the lover who held your head in a lap of compassion,
He cried and said, "Stay with me, stay with me until dawn,
The night is cold, why wander on?
You've been lonely far too long, stay with me until dawn,
Put aside all you've done wrong,
Nothing matters anymore, but the love you're searching for,
But the love you're searching for."       

Dark, reflective and somber, “The Struggle” ranks alongside other closing Rez Band album tracks “The Return” (Awaiting Your Reply) and “Every Time It Rains (Rainbow’s End) with its thought provoking and moody semblance.  Main difference is “The Struggle” takes a grittier guitar heavy approach as opposed to the blues-rock to the former and psychedelic acoustic lacings of the latter, while further separating itself with guitars carrying the instrumental moments as opposed to saxophone.

Being that Colours was originally a gatefold vinyl release, the digi-pak re-issue on Retroactive makes perfect sense in that it captures the layout and inner artwork to the original (minus lyrics).  Re-mastering takes things to the next level as well.  I find the Light CD re-issue not to sound bad in that the raw but not thin Colours production is fine in its own right.  Retroactive, however, tightens things exponentially with added doses of polish, which expands upon the low end and further enhances the crisp guitars. 

Colours in my opinion might not be the best Resurrection Band album but is no doubt in the thick of things in ranking a notch below Rainbow’s End, Innocent Blood and Lament.  Helping it rate so high is some outstanding material, including “Colours”, “American Dream”, “City Streets”, not to mention a plethora of quality deep cuts.  Adding to its allure is how Colours is potentially Rez Band’s most consistently heaviest album.  Give credit to Retroactive Records for again making Colours available in follow up to its previous re-release from 2004.   

Review by Andrew Rockwell

Track listing: "Autograph" (4:03), “Colours” (4:58), "N.Y.C." (3:24), "Hidden Man" (2:48), "Amazing" (2:22), "American Dream" (3:24), "Benny & Sue" (3:53), "City Streets" (3:22), "Beggar In The Alleyway" (3:57), “The Struggle” (3:46)

Musicians
Glenn Kaiser - Lead Vocals & Guitars
Wendi Kaiser - Lead Vocals
Stu Heiss - Guitars
Jim Denton - Bass
John Herrin - Drums

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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