The Swirling Eddies

Terry Taylor Stops Kidding Around

by Brian Quincy Newcomb

CCM February 1989



Okay, so now it's out. Terry S. Taylor is Camarillo Eddy, the leader of Frontline Records' new mystery band, The Swirling Eddies. Isn't he the guy that led that far out band from the County of Orange who played country, then rock 'n' roll, then punk, then new wave before coming back to rock, all the while changing their moniker from Daniel Amos, to DA, to Da? Yep, that's the guy.

And isn't he the guy who recorded two tender solo albums on the meaning of love, faith, commitment, and death and everlasting life ('Knowledge & Innocence' and 'A Briefing For The Ascent')? Uh huh, that's him. Isn't he the same guy who has produced albums for Randy Stonehill, Altar Boys and Wild Blue Yonder? That's right!

And, isn't he the guy behind those kid's tapes, y'know the Megamouth adventures and 'A Mouse Family Christmas'? One and the same.

"Well," says Taylor, in a brief phone conversation during work on yet another project for Frontline Kids, "I was getting a little tired of relating only to the four to ten-year-old mind. The label was set for me to do another solo record, but I was more interested in doing a band thing, and, after all, I was feeling like it was time to rock 'n' roll again."

It certainly was that time and 'Let's Spin' does just that in the same uproarious humor that made 'Horrendous Disc' such and across the board success. A lot of the spirit that filled Daniel Amos in those days is the inspiration of The Swirling Eddies today.

Through 'The Alarma Chronicles' (four albums released from '81 to '86) Taylor led DA into ever more alternative forms, focusing on communicating to college audiences who enjoy figuring out the more obscure messages of what many consider to be Taylor's tragically genius mind. Although musically more accessible to the mainstream, Taylor's solo albums dealt with difficult topics and sometimes painful emotions. It's not surprising that an artist who makes a hero of William Blake would find his own art often misunderstood and overlooked. Last years 'Darn Floor-Big Bite' was considered to many to be a critical masterpiece, but critics don't usually even buy records.

Perhaps it was working on all the kids albums, where ideas were expressed in straight forward and often humorous ways, that pushed Taylor to lighten up a bit, but he does just that with the Eddies. "I tried to not work very hard on this one," he says. "If an idea came, and it was fun to think about and funny to listen to we wanted it. It was meant to not be a serious attempt, except to have some serious fun."

'Let's Spin' is that and more. While the musical ideas are still the relevant rock 'n' roll for the '90s that drove 'Darn Floor...', the arrangements are less encumbered. Although we still cannot name names, Taylor was "looking forward to working with (this rhythm section) because they've been playing together so much and had a real strong thing happening."

Based on an irrepressible groove, Taylor & Co. just go for it and from the Stones and Beach Boys all the way to Da they play it to the hilt. "It was just good fun for me cause I got to play with some folks again who I haven't played with in a long, long, time. It was rejuvenating," says Taylor.

Lyrically, Taylor says, "I just tried to say things plainly, and let it be fun again." The result is that this one is not just for college philosophy majors. "I've got an idea" recalls "I Love You #19" from 'Horrendous Disc', not just in the lyrics, but in the guitar parts and ostentatious beat and tone as well. "Rodeo Drive" is almost too obvious it's scary. "Ed takes A Vacation" a suite of all things, will recall "Near Sighted Girl With Approaching Tidal Wave" all too clearly for some people. Sort of like a Christian '60s flashback, no chemicals necessary.

Soon The Swirling Eddies will be unmasked. Even from a superficial listen I got five out of six, with a brief perusal of clues to cinch the whole thing. Frontline Records confirms that contest respondents have been on the money 85% of the time. Still, the proof is not in the hype, it's in the playing, and 'Let's Spin' is the record most likely to do just that. Taylor suggests that this summer The Eddies may play a few key festivals, for many of us it'll feel a lot like old times. Except, of course, that Ed took a vacation. Lab coats and sunglasses will definitely be in order, oh yes, and those silly Hawaiian shirts. Aloha.