Friday, August 19, 2016

Music Review - The Choir - Wide-Eyed Wonder

For some reason it has taken me an immensely long time to write this review. Yes, life has been busy but also so much of my early Christian walk is woven with the melodies of this album that attempting to do it justice would be a tall order. Or maybe I don’t know where to start. Or maybe I don’t know what to leave out. Upon further reflection perhaps the reason I don’t want to do my usual review of this album is because to dissect the music might just kill the magic that it had and frankly still has. So I’ll meander about instead.

The Choir’s Wide Eyed Wonder was my introduction to the band (and one of my first Christian albums). As such, I had no clue about Chase The Kangaroo or their former name or that Robin had replaced Tim Chandler* as the band’s bassist. All I knew was that a friend (who seemed to find all the great music three minutes before I did) talked highly about this band so I picked up the album when I saw it on the shelf at my local purveyor of fine** Christian music. It was a purchase I’ve never regretted.

Having been immersed in the world of The Swirling Eddies at that time, I incorrectly took some of Steve’s lyrics as humorous, when in fact he intended them to be poetic. And they are poetic, so I mean no disrespect. But lines like “No, not the spider-shed” and “Were you talking to the snow man? Did you take his cruel advice?” are also a bit random and appealed to my off-kilter sense of humor.

Wide-Eyed Wonder was very different from the music I had been listening to since I began my teen years, which was mostly heavy metal and hard rock. Compared to what I had been listening to this stuff was almost pop, but with a little bit of edge and a little bit of weirdness. I liked all three. The most upbeat of all The Choir albums, there’s a childlike wonder about the songs which captures Steve’s joy over the birth of his daughter and also mirrored my wondrous joy in my newfound relationship with Christ. Of course I knew none of this in my youthful ignorance. All I knew is that there were some unusual sounding songs that were also very singable, very easy to like. There was also a longer, more atonal song called “Car etc.” that I kind of liked but it wasn’t my favorite. There was also a horribly out of place cover of a George Harrison song***. Its fine by itself but it’s a dour acoustic folk song in the middle of a joyous and adventurous celebration. Also tied to this album was the first time I saw the band live. It was the spring of 1990 and I was at Anderson University. I had a girlfriend but no other friends and was so lonely that it ached. I kept seeing this guy around campus who wore a trench coat upon which he had written poetry or lyrics or something all over it. He was a bit on the odd side but friendly so I started talking to him. Surprisingly he also liked The Choir and Adam Again and a few other bands I liked so when I learned that The Choir was playing in my hometown, a mere ninety minutes away, I invited him to ride to the concert with me. It would be great to say that this was the beginning of a lifelong friendship but we didn’t keep in touch after I transferred out at the end of the semester.**** I realize I haven’t said much about the actual album but hey, it’s my blog and I can write like an old man about my ancient memories if’n I want to. You probably already have this album anyway but if you don’t, well, you can’t buy it even from the bands website. YouTube probably has it so treat yourself to some fine tunes that have held up amazingly well for over twenty-five years.

* Looking back at this point in my history I was musically drawn to bass parts but didn’t realize it. I knew there was an instrument called the “bass guitar” but had no clue as to its seductive power or purpose.

** And not so fine. I’m talking to you, Carman and Petra!

*** Really, Choir? Can you tell me, with a straight face, that you listened to the final cut of the album and didn’t think to yourself, “Well, maybe that Harrison cover breaks the spell.”?

**** He’s on Facebook. I sent a friend request though I have no idea why.

1 comment:

The Old Man said...

Remains one of my favorites as well. Heard this one after hearing Circle Slide. Then Chase the Kangaroo. Back in the day I'd skip over the cover song when I listened to the album.