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TEN CHRISTIAN ALBUMS EVERY SATANIST SHOULD HEAR

PART 4: Spotlight on Daniel Amos

by David Gasten

DallasMusic July 2001

#10. The Lost Dogs Gift Horse (BEC, 2000)
#9. Robert Deeble Earthside Down (Liberation/Jackson Rubio, 1998)
#8. Scaterd-few Sin Disease (Alarma, 1990)
#7. The Choir Speckled Bird (R.E.X., 1994)
#6. Adam Again Perfecta (BAI, 1995)
#5. Kemper Crabb The Vigil (Star Song/Joyeuse Garde, 1982)
#4. The 77’s Drowning With Land in Sight (Myrrh, 1994)
#3. Undercover 3-28-87 (Broken, 1988)
#2. Steve Taylor I Predict 1990 (Myrrh, 1987)

And now, we introduce to you the greatest forgotten superproduction in rock and roll history, the message in the bottle for the lost island of modern music:

#1 DANIEL AMOS Alarma! Chronicles Book Set (M8, 2000)

Place of Origin: LA/Orange County, CA
Genre: New wave, art rock
Dates of Activity: 1975-present
These albums were #4-7 of 13?
The Alarma! Chronicles Book Set is a reissue of the Daniel Amos albums Alarma! (1981), Doppelganger(1983), Vox Humana (1984), and Fearful Symmetry(1986) on 3 CDs and packaged in a 5 *” x 5 *”, 182-page hardcover book.

Can you imagine Frank Zappa conducting XTC with The Byrds’ Roger McGuinn on vocals? That is how monumentally vast the music of Daniel Amos is. The Daniel Amos sound covers so much ground, but it still manages to keep a certain fingerprint throughout and not seem as though it is overextending itself. And like Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull and Art Zoyd, there is no one in the band Daniel Amos who has that name. The frontman of the group is a brilliant man named Terry Taylor, a master oof the art of thinking in the inspired, higher realms of thought that most people only get to with the aid of drugs.

AN UNRULY HISTORY

Daniel Amos started in 1975 as a naïve Eagles-ish country/rock band, but within four years they would stir up a huge controversy in the Christian music world that would leave it forever changed. Christian rock music as we know it today actually started in 1969 when Capitol Records released former People! member Larry Norman’s first solo album Upon this Rock.

Within eight years it had developed into its own cottage industry, with several labels collectively releasing a couple hundred releases a year. But did you notice there are no Christian albums in this Top Ten list from the 1970’s? That is because the vast majority of the albums released by 70’s American Christian artists were embarrassingly amateur, schlocky, happy-clappy folk/pop affairs whose battle cry was “God, rapture us out of this bad world really quick!” Most of the Christian music of the time was coming out of the Calvary Chapel church in Southern California, which quickly formed its own unwritten rules about what could and couldn’t be done in Christian music.

This started a tradition of Christian musicians being about five years behind the regular music world, sounding like wannabes, and habitually using their music as a bait-and-switch evangelism propaganda tool. Hard rock, blues, or anything that sounded “worldly” was taboo, ignored at worst and suppressed into a section called “fringe” music at best. There are exceptions, but the majority of Christian albums from the 1970’s and early 1980’s deserve to remain in the thrift store record bins where they are often found with beat up Barry Manilow and Barbara Streisdand records.

Daniel Amos was the first Calvary Chapel band to rebel against this way of doing things. They were inspired by intellectual Christian authors like C.S. Lewis, Malcom Muggeridge, and Francis Shaeffer, who contested that Christians should be involved in the arts, making paintings, sculptures, music, theatre, etc. as good as (if not better than) what non-Christians were making.

They also contested that Christians’ art should be art for art’s sake and not separated from the rest of the world. Daniel Amos were also inspired by new wave artists like The Talking Heads and The Clash, finding their albums inspiring despite all the condemnation that their fellow Christians were heaping upon punk rock and the New Wave.

During this time (c. 1978), Daniel Amos started recording their third album, Horrendous Disc. Their second album, Shotgun Angel (1977), had been out for about a year on Calvary Chapel’s Maranatha! Records. Shotgun Angel had already shown some departures and a willingness to delve into unknown territory, but Horrendous Disc knocked the country rock Daniel Amos in the head and reintroduced Daniel Amos as an intelligent, Sgt. Peppers-meets-Pet Sounds rock band. Songs on that album included a hard rock love song (“I Love You #19”), a miniature black comedy about a girl who drowns in a tidal wave because she doesn’t see it in time (“[near sighted girl approaching] Tidal Wave”), and a ghastly ballad of horror about a man who is being exposed for verbally abusing his wife, which ends in a creepy, wordless Wagnerian mantra (“Horrendous Disc”).

Even though it would not be released for another three years, Horrendous Disc was already causing a tidal wave of controversy in the Christian music world. For starters, an advance ad was placed in Contemporary Christian Music, at that time Christian music’s leading publication, that looked like a lobby card for a 50’s B-horror flick. Strike 1. They began touring for the upcoming album, playing their new rock material and abandoning their old country material despite the fact that that everyone was there to hear them play country. Strike 2.

A nervous Maranatha! Music passed the album on to Larry Norman’s Solid Rock Records, where the completely recorded Horrendous Disc stayed in limbo for obscure reasons. So word was getting around that Daniel Amos was getting weird, but no one had heard this “weird” new album. But this did not stop the band from moving on to even newer material. With their interest in the New Wave sparked, they began working on a new album with a skinny, quirky, all-treble-no-bass sound that a friend said sounded like an alarm clock going off at three o’clock in the morning. It was entitled Alarma! and was promised to be the first in a four-part series of albums called The Alarma! Chronicles, whose theme would be the struggle of Christian to walk amongst a degenerate Church and a degenerate World towards the reality that lies beyond this life.

Alarma! was the first New Wave album ever released on a Christian label, and as fate would have it, the new album and the already controversial Horrendous Disc came out the very same week in the spring of 1981. This was a death-knell Strike 3 that completely destroyed the band’s old following and left them almost completely without audience. However, the controversy that whirled around the band drew the interests of what would gradually become a new following, smaller in size but much more intellectual and devoted than the band’s old following.

Twice in the Alarma! Chronicles Book Set liner notes, Brian Eno’s famous quote about the Velvet Underground, that they originally sold very few albums but everyone who bought their albums started a band, is mentioned and then attributed to Daniel Amos. And it’s true; because of Daniel Amos’ “rebellion”, today we have “alternative Christian music”, which is its own musical world and contains pretty much all the bands we’ve discussed so far in its roster. Their influence has become so profound that it has actually touched the pop charts in the form of Sixpence None the Richer and the indie rock world in the form of Pedro the Lion. They have inspired snowballing number of Christians to enter and work competently in the music world at large. They were also the beginning a tremendous increase in the artistic quality of Christian music in general, a movement that even inspired big mainstream Christian acts bands like DC Talk an Audio Adrenaline to abandon their bubblegum ways and produce better-quality albums. Even the world-famous Collective Soul attribute Daniel Amos as an important influence on their music, although they are currently the only well-known non-Christian act to do so. Daniel Amos’ influence continues with this writer and this series of articles. I believe the greatest effects of their influence have yet to be felt, but will be felt in a noticeable way in the music world at large within the next ten to twenty years. How? Only time will tell.

ALARMA! (1981): The Wake-Up Call is Sounded

As volume one of the Alarma! Chronicles, Alarma! set the tone of the rest of the epic by successfully proving that one can think big and be unpretentious at the same time. The music on Alarma! consisted of fifteen three-minute pop songs (plus one short reprise performed on a pipe organ) that sounded like they were recorded live in the studio with little or no post-production. But together these songs became a concept album accompanied with liner notes that tied all the songs together through a story about a man who was experiencing a series of strange phenommena (each subsequent edition of the Chronicles would contain a chapter of this ongoing story). The original album had a gatefold cover, with the inside being a mural which contained visual representations of all th songs. But the mural did not look like a classical painting or a Roger Dean landscape. Rather it was alarge photo in which the members of the band are sitting, standing and walking amongst a minimalistic setting consisting of a paperboard church building, a pop art window, a TV, and a few other props. As unpretentious as it looked, the photo mural would come alive as you listened to the album. Daniel Amos were New Wave and Art Rock all at once, and maneuvered about as if there was no difference between the two.

Alarma! sounded its shrill wake-up call to the American church, exhorting it to grow up, to get out of its safe little shell, and to become aware of the world around it, both here in the West and abroad in the Third World. We begin in space where the planets and stars are singin praises to the all-powerful King of Creation, whose wealth and magnificence fills all of outer space. Zoom in to earth; what are the affairs of the princes of God in the terrestrial sphere? Let’s pick a city in the USA. Firsst we can’t find any of theseDivine ambassadors in the city at all. Then we find a little suburb of the city whose sign outside says, “Welcome to Zion, USA, hom of The Light of the World”. The city looks vacant, but then we see someone scurry past us like a cockroach toward a little bungalow a couple blocks away. The door slams behind him and a light goes on in the window. A few hours later, the light goes out and the man scurries out the door and down the road to a gigantic church. The poor sucker left the door unlocked, so we go in and investigate. It is the residence of an obvious recluse; all the hangings and props inside seem to suggest that this is one of God’s people.

Oh. There’s a whole city out there, but the princes of God stay cooped up in little shacks like this? Then we go to the church. It is filled with children in adult clothes, all under the spell of a man behind a pulpit raving like a little Hitler. Some of his words are from the Scriptures but some of them are weird statements and proposed rules that sound ludicrous to our ears. Apparently they’re not ludicrous to the people in the building, because they are listening intently and look like they are ready to do everything that the man behind the pulpit is telling them to do. Meanwhile we notice a rapping at the window. It is a scrawny child who obviously hasn’t had anything to eat in days. The child keeps rapping at the window and won’t go away. Then we notice a woman in the crowd crack the window open and reach in her purse. Maybe she’s got an apple in there to give to the child? No, she pulls out a pen and paper, writes “Jesus Loves You” on the paper, and then slips the note through the window, after which she closes it and starts listening to the man in the pulpit again. What’s wrong with this picture?

Alarma! received little radio airplay to speak of, but the fervent title track would become a concert favorite and the melancholy “Walls of Doubt” would be covered by at least two other alternative Christian bands, so these would probably have been the two radio singles. The original album was released on an otherwise tame (and now defunct) record label called NewPax Records (kinda like Kiss on Casablanca Records). It was followed with a promo-only Alarma! Radio Special, which contained an excellent interview with the band, the text of which is included in the pages of the Alarma Chronicles Book Set.

DOPPELGANGER (1982): Ghosts, Shadows and Televangelists

Doppelganger, part two of the Alarma! Chronicles, is by far the darkest of the series. It is also the first complete album of dark themes to be released on a Christian label. It was released to almost no controversy or resistance, probably because of the huge controversy that had erupted the prior year with the simultaneous release of Horrendous Disc and Alarma!. Having already been condemned by the Christian music elite ironically freed them to do whatever they wanted to musically, and they used that new freedom as liberally as they could and then some. Doppelganger explores the concept of man having two sides, a good side and an evil side, in the same body. In addition, it wages a bloody war of satire against the televangelist world and its now legendary hypocrisy. The band included no photographs of themselves in the artwork (which was unusual in Christian music at the time), but instead used the artwork to visually express the ideas presented in the music. The cover depicts a smiling plaster mannequin with a mask in his hand; when you explore the artwork further, you find the mask is a real human face. Atop this the mannequin is in a darkened, shadowy room, floating through a Venetian blind like a ghost.

Doppelganger begins and ends with two extremely creepy compositions, called “Hollow Man” and “Hollow Man (Reprise)”, that are based on “Ghost of the Heart”, the last track on Alarma!, played backwards. They are an excellent example of music’s ability to provoke the emotion of horror. In between these terrifying bookends are thirteen twisted, disturbing songs in a musical classification of their own, one that has never in the history of modern music, Christian, Satanist, or otherwise, been duplicated or repeated.

A doppelganger is a reflection of a human being that comes to life on its own, much like a clone. In legend, the doppelganger often becomes an evil twin, committing heinous acts while posing as the original human and even attempting to kill its originator. The Doppelganger album’s musical and visual calling cards—split personalities, sculptures or mannequins that come to life, shadows, and chiaroscuro (which in film and theatre is a sharp light/dark contrast that evokes an aura of ghostliness)—were all favorite subjects of the German expressionist films of the 1920’s. This period of German films (e.g. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari [1919], Nosferatu [1922], and Metropolis [1927]) are important because of the tremendous influence the have had on Hollywood films; many of the trappings of modern science fiction, mystery, and horror films can be traced back to the innovations in these German films. The doppelganger in particular is explored in depth in the pioneering 1913 German film, The Student of Prague ; it was remade in 1926 and both versions were tremendously popular in their day. The concept of statues and mannequins coming to life is the theme of The Golem (1920), which was a forerunner of Frankenstein, and of Waxworks (1924), in which three wax images of historical figures with evil reputations come alive and tell their stories. Shadows and chiaroscuro are used liberally in nearly all of the aforementioned films, and were even the theme of a 1923 film called Warning Shadows. Daniel Amos were completely aware of the German nature of Doppelganger’s chosen theme, which the chanting of “ein, zwei, ein” in “The Double” attests to.

Outside of the legendary German band Kraftwerk, Doppelganger is the closest rock music has ever come to adequately expressing the themes and emotions explored in 1920’s German expressionist cinema in song (as opposed to soundtrack) form. But unlike the robotic, deadpan electronics of Kraftwerk, the music of Doppelganger is that of an organic, guitar-based rock band who balance horror and chiaroscuro with personality and humor Doppelganger is more produced, more challenging, and more artsy than Alarma! The bass is louder, the keyboards are more integral to the music, and the number of moods expressed are greater, although the entire album is shrouded by a thick veil of chiaroscuro. The overall atmosphere is looser, which allows for more personality to shine through, especially in the case of guitarist Jerry Chamberlain. In fact, Chamberlain is the unmistakable musical hero of this album, slinging his gutsy, scratchy guitar method filled with chord bends all over the place; his unrestrained performances even elicit a “Rrrrock on, Jerry . . . Watch out for Jerry!” from frontman Terry Taylor in the song “New Car!”

In the liner notes we read, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; it is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” Oh, the guts this band had to take on the TV evangelists and the shallow, deceptive ideas they were propagating! This was in a day when no Christian dared to question TV preachers, a full four years prior to the eruption of the famous Swaggart/Bakker/Tilton scandals! “New Car!” lampoons the “Name It, Claim It” prosperity doctrine, a hot seller for the televangelists, so painfully well it should leave even the doctrine’s most fervent subscribers red from embarrassment. “I Didn’t Build It For Me” is about a real-life TV preacher who built a huge ministry headquarters with his followers’ money, complete with tennis courts; the preacher contests that he was divinely instructed to build it and that it really belongs to the people. “Autographs for the Sick” is a veiled parody of the charismatic practice of prophesying in tongues followed with an interpretation, also done frequently on Christian TV. Four different “foreign correspondents” speak in faux German, French, and Spanish, after which an interpreter with a British accent translates the message (“She’s warning all her children of the horrors of rock and roll; you’re a bonfire lover counting dollars in the afterglow”) over an unsettling background composed of tinny 50’s rock and roll, buzzing radio static, and a death row chorus. And “Do Big Boys Cry?” wonders if these high profile ministers would ever be willing to admit to their hypocrisies (although the band tempers this with a self-directed warning that they, too, are not above falling into hypocrisy).

Daniel Amos released Doppelganger on their own label, Alarma! Records and Tapes (A.R.T.), and supported the album with a multimedia tour, described by the book set’s liner notes as “A mammoth . . . event, ambitious by any standards, complete with costumes, elaborate stage props, big-screen video and even 3-D glasses.” How the label and multimedia tour were financed, especially with little to no radio promotion, remains a mystery.

VOX HUMANA (1984): Fighting Plastic With Plastic

Vox Humana , part three of the Chronicles, found the band starting an upswing in popularity. The controversy was over, and their new ideas were starting to become at least somewhat accepted. Steve Taylor (see Part Three of this series for more on him) was having success in the Christian market with his satirical new wave in the obviously Doppelganger -influenced albums I Want to Be a Clone (1983) and Meltdown (1984). But once again, Daniel Amos were moving on. Guitarist Jerry Chamberlain left the group to be replaced by keyboardist Rob Watson, so likewise the band became more electronic and synthetic in sound for Vox Humana. With Vox Humana, the theme shifts from the problems of the Western church to the problems of the Western world, namely the dissolution of humanity in a world increasingly ruled by machines, the media and disposable fashions, collectively symbolized by a gigantic machine foot that is about to squash every human in its path. (In the artwork the humans about to be trampled are Daniel Amos themselves.)

With Vox Humana, Daniel Amos returned to the trebly, lighter side of the new wave sphere they began with in Alarma! , only with keyboards taking the lead instead of guitars. These were the days when the synthetic dance pop of groups like Heaven 17, The Human League, The Thompson Twins, and Men Without Hats were all the rage. Daniel Amos incorporated the celebrated disposability and fun atmosphere of this sound into their music to communicate the sadness of the current state of pop culture. Call it “Fighting plastic with plastic”, if you will, much like U2’s “Popmart” concept but with much more of a bite.

The album is set up in a problem/solution manner, and this is the scenario: It could be said that fashion is a counterfeit of progress. Progress is where we change by building new ideas and innovations, remembering the past and striving for a better future. Fashion changes too, but endlessly and pointlessly; it is a merry-go-round parade, a carnival of vanity that cares only about what it can get for itself this moment, trumpeting its disdain for the past and acting as if the future doesn’t exist. If you look around you, it seems that fashion and its selfish, indulgent ideology have the upper hand in the World. This ideology seems inescapable, it is everywhere you go, in everything you see, hear and read, and everyone believes it, everyone talks about it, everyone is doing it, so it must be right. Maybe something inside says it’s not right and after all you don’t really like it, but hey, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? After all, the people indulging in it sure look like they’re having fun. The influence is so constant and overwhelming that you find yourself, like Lot in Sodom, thinking like it even though you do not want to, simply because you are around it all the time.

So how does one avoid being swept away by this cold, black tidal wave of lies? The answer lies in the Voice of the Human, the album’s namesake. The Voice of the Human who looks past fashion and the “pure pop for the now people”, embracing progress instead of fashion, Truth instead of feel-good denial, depth instead of shallowness, reason instead of whim, art instead of propaganda. It is the voice of one who learns and applies the lessons of history, so he may not repeat history’s mistakes. Essentially he changes his sphere of influence, setting his sights on better and more permanent things. Though the Human feels the coldness of the wave as the media monster and the society that believes its lies dowses him with its disapproval, the Human will stand because he has put himself in line with immortal Truth and with Natural Law. It is a change of the mind that anchors the Voice of the Human from the erosion of the mechanical tide.

Daniel Amos make this philosophy statement with poetic finesse but hide it in comparably light-hearted synth pop ditties like “Travelog”, “(It’s the Eighties, So Where’s our) Rocket Packs”, “It’s Sick”, “Home Permanent”, “Incredible Shrinking Man”, and “Dance Stop”. These “plastic” songs present the plastic, problem side of the album. “Travelog”, which has a stronger band feel than most of the other above-mentioned songs, goes into the mind of a sedentary couch potato watching TV, describing how the television transforms itself into this jungle adventure for him. “Home Permanent” talks about how Christians start thinking superficially and fashion-oriented without realizing it. “Rocket Packs” expresses a disappointment that so many of the space-age contraptions predicted for the eighties by 50’s/60’s science fiction did not materialize, as well as the fact that many societal ills have not been fixed. “Dance Stop” has to be the most unpretentious song in this entire epic. Ever heard “Pop Muzik” by M? “Dance Stop” epitomizes the white man’s dance music of the time as much as “Pop Muzik” does the synthetic pop music of the time. It even comes with instructions, which read: You may dance any dance you desire, but in the course of the song when the word STOP! Is shouted and the music stops you must FREEZE in whatever position you are in at that moment. In the song you will hear the crowd voices escalating. Resume dancing again when you hear the word DANCE shouted and the music resumes. Have fun!! And fun it definitely is.

In contrast, the album’s ballads tend to show the sensitive, deep, human side of the album — the Voice of the Human, the solution. These ballads would include “William Blake”, “Worlds Collide”, “She’s All Heart” and “Sanctuary”. “Worlds Collide” is an intergalactic love song between God and man; “She’s All Heart” has an “opposites attract” theme about how a husband and wife manage to overcome their different ways of thinking and adjust to one another. Over the years, Daniel Amos have left most of the apparently myriad influences that make up their music a mystery, although we do know that many of their ideas are not derived from other music, but from literature. They liberally give one literary influence away in “William Blake”, whose lyrics are a potpourri of imagery from the great poet/philosopher’s writings. This is their ode to the much-needed sense of history and art they advocate as part of the solution for a return to progress and Truth.

And then there’s the album’s closing track, “Sanctuary”. “Sanctuary” not only sums up the Vox Humana album, it sums up the entire Alarma! Chronicles epic. It’s a moody, haunting sound poem with disconnected and often echo-laden vocals, emoting keyboards, jangling rhythm guitars, and lead guitars singing somberly like cellos, all subtly orchestrated together so that each sings in turn without one realizing they are singing in turn. “Sanctuary” stands out sharply from all the other pieces, being a darker song that was written at the end of the Doppelganger era. It is easily one of the best pop songs of the 80’s, and hopefully will eventuallybe recognized as such.

Vox Humana was released on Refuge Records, a company that released a good number of high-quality albums but managed to make a bad name for itself by habitually ripping off its artists. Daniel Amos continued their multimedia concerts for the Vox Humana tour, which ran off and on from late 1984 through late 1985.

FEARFUL SYMMETRY (1986): A Near-Death Experience

It is always easier to set a scenario in a story than it is to bring that story to conclusion. Many a book or movie suffers from a poor ending, but this is not the case with the Alarma! Chronicles. By the time Daniel Amos had reached Fearful Symmetry, the fourth album of the Chronicles, their musical trek had left an indelible mark on their lives. Somehow, they had successfully created parts one through three of their promised Alarma! Chronicles against the most unfavorable of odds, odds that not even the band members themselves thought they would surmount. But, here they were, and before them lay the task of creating a summation of this vast, controversial statement about the church and the world that they had been creating over a period of five years.

The time period surrounding the release of Fearful Symmetry was one steeped in personal tragedy for DA frontman Terry Taylor. It was during this time he first lost his grandfather, and then his grandmother, both of whom he was very close to. Taylor’s wife had lost an infant child to miscarriage during this time as well. Terry had been thinking a lot about death at the time, so much so that he was creating two solo albums, Knowledge and Innocence (1986) and A Briefing for the Ascent (1987), that were completely dedicated to this theme. We know from Ascent that Terry’s last conversation with his dying grandmother was one that had him thinking about the passage of the soul from this life into the next. This provided Taylor with a conclusion—that the “traveler” who witnessed the events of the first three albums was now waking from these temporal “dreams”, seeing them in the grand scheme of things, and awakening, via death, into a greater reality.

Fearful Symmetry is the most challenging of the Chronicles to get into because it is a concept album with no linear structure. You see, we in Western culture are used to thinking according to a linear, compartmentalized, A+B=C fashion that was developed and embraced by the ancient Greeks. The ancient Hebrews embraced a completely separate form of thinking that we might call a “wholistic mindset”, one where ideas are not categorized and classified but understood as they are, and seemingly conflicting concepts are allowed to coexist, whereas the Greek mindset would say, “Which is it? It can only be one or the other.” Fearful Symmetry is an exercise in thinking Hebrew, as it requires one to understand and accept the imagery it presents as a whole without organizing it into compartments or onto a linear or chronological scale. (In “The Pool”, you are even asked to forget the difference between down and up!)

When a clinically dead person comes back to life and tells us stories of floating over his body and then walking through a field or going through a tunnel, we call it a “near-death experience”. Fearful Symmetry is a musical interpretation of a near-death experience. Listening to it you feel as though you are about to fall off the edge of the earth. Vague memories, some important, some trivial, flash before you as you are silently escorted through a Divinely picturesque and mystical ice world, upon which you awake to find yourself in the loving arms of your Creator—suddenly God is the only remaining reality.

Yet even a record as intensely sobering as this could not go out without carrying some of Terry’s trademark humor. Old social hygiene films shown to 60’s elementary students are parodied in “Sound Instruction Through Film”. The opening of “Neverland Ballroom” is made to sound like the music on a Nintendo game (strangely prophetic because Taylor would go on to score some video game soundtracks, most notably the Sega game The Neverhood). And the funniest humor snippet of all is the first twenty seconds of “Sudden Heaven”, where a crackly vinyl LP slowly speeds up before suddenly dumping you into a campfire hoedown with five crazed Terry Taylors yelling in unison.

The best point of entry into Fearful Symmetry is the swirling, gothic space rock piece “Shadow Catcher”, after which we recommend “The Pool” and “When Moonlight Sleeps (On The Frosted Hill)”. The album was released on an adventurous fledgling label named Frontline Records, who at the time were barely a year old but have since become one of the heavyweight record companies in the Christian music industry.

So ends the Alarma! Chronicles. But this was not the end of Daniel Amos or of Terry Taylor. The next year, Daniel Amos would reveal an unofficial fifth volume of the Alarma! Chronicles, Darn Floor Big Bite (1987). Darn Floor Big Bite was probably, along with Devo’s Total Devo (1988), the last great album of the New Wave era, as the rest of the Wave had hit the rocks a couple of years prior. A dissonant, arty record with a noir -ish feel, Darn Floor worked as a companion record to Fearful Symmetry but differed in that it was not nearly as dark or heavy handed. A year later in 1988, the band would spawn a not-so-serious spitten image called The Swirling Eddies, and these two incarnations of the band, along with the formation of the supergroup The Lost Dogs, production work for other artists, soundtrack work, and occasional solo albums, would make Taylor such a prolific and hard-to-keep-up-with artist that he would be nicknamed “The Frank Zappa of Christian music”. The legend continues and you can research it further at the official Daniel Amos website, www.danielamos.com. (Copies of the Alarma! Chronicles Book Set can be purchased from www.radrockers.com; they also appear on eBay from time to time.)

I would like to thank my friend James Guinn for working with me as a two-man committee to select and sequence the albums that went into this list; his expertise and wisdom has been a huge factor in making this article series a credible and successful undertaking. And I would like to thank you, the DALLASMUSIC.COM reader, for your interest and surprisingly positive feedback on the series.