The Miracle Faith Telethon of Love

Album Reviews

Harvest Rock Syndicate 1990

3 1/2 points out of 5
by Chris Well

In some ways, we could compare recording artist Terry Taylor with film maker Woody Allen, Just as the aliens in Stardust Memories, when asked about the meaning of life, tell the Allen character 'We love your movies, especially the earlier funny ones," I suspect that many fans of Terry S. Taylor/Da/Swirling Eddies feel the same way. The forces at work in that kind of situation, a serious artist cursed with a great sense of humor are very present in this solo retrospective, The Miracle Faith Telethon, featuring- the work of Terry Taylor culled from his days with his bands, as a solo artist and as a producer for the likes of Isaac Air Freight and Wild Blue Yonder.

There's always a problem when condensing years of material into less than an hour, especially when the focus is on such a diverse talent as Taylor, a veritable musical/comedic/literary genius, often sunounded by other great talents The resulting collection draws from four specific areas---We might call this disc The Four Faces of dr. Taylor, but we won't---and to give coherence to the material, the sections are divided up: the rock 'n' roller, the comedy, the subdued solo thinker, and the. classy producer. While the compartmentalized format is off-putting at first repeated listenings reveal to be a wise structural choice.

At this point, listeners will probably favor one of the two poles: the loud and/or funny stuff, or the quiet and/or more thoughtful material. I found myself gravitating toward the former on the first few listens, then started to lean toward the latter as the number of listens built up. The album is chock full of great moments all around: For the fast half of the tour, including some live-in-the-studio rock 'n'roll, we hear such heretofore unreleased tracks as the longtime DA concert classic "I'm On Your Team" and a great instrumental "Untitled," a leftover from early Eddies rehearsals.

And the-'actual telethon, the "Right Reverend-dr. Edward Daniel Taylor's Faith Prickly Heat Telethon of Love" is quite simply a hoot. As tiresome a comedic subject televangelists have become, Taylor and Co. have succeeded in discovering some clever new angles on it. And the elevator muzak versions of "Big Guns" and "What a World, What a World" are a scream---providing, of course, that you are familiar with the originals. Some of the jokes, though, are only funny once. The "undanceable dance mix" of "Don't Hate Yourself/Pulpit Masters" is a cute idea, but what do you do with it? The party remix of "Hide the Beer, the Pastor's Here," again, has novelty value, but I don't want to hear it all that often.

Remember the Woody Allen parallel? I bought Briefing for the Ascent in 1987 and, like the aliens, shelved it, because it wasn't loud or funny, But when three of that album's tracks appeared on Miracle Faith Telethon---"Beyond the Wall of Sleep," "Changeless," and that album's title track---I was forced to dig the whole album out of my closet I discovered it to be a gorgeous and haunting masterpiece. So, I dug out Taylor's first solo album, Knowlede & Innocence as well, and I've been listening to both of them almost non-stop now for days. Essentially, it took the lunacy of Right Rev... and his "Miracle Faith Telethon of Love" to help me understand the far superior artistry of Terry S. Taylor. And for that, Mr. Taylor, I must apologize.

In fact this collection forced me to dig the whole Da/Eddies/Taylor library out---and, with my new found artistic awareness, I find that I no longer just sit through the serious stuff waiting for something loud or funny. Now I just sit through the loud or funny stuff, waiting for .something serious.
dr. Edward Daniel Taylor's retrospective Miracle Faith Telethon ends, very appropriately, with one of each: the end-times epic 'Soon,' followed by "Pretentious Poetry Reading," two of the best moments on the album, the best serious music and the best of the Comedy, respectively. Miracle Faith Telethon will make a fine addition to any Da/Eddies/Taylor collection, and it might be a good starting point for newcomers, a reference Source for someone's journey into the WildWood of Terry S. Taylor's artistic world. Ultimately, I think a lot of people will buy the album for the loud and funny stuff, but will cherish it for the serious artist that Taylor can be when he sets his mind to it.

Notebored November/December 1990

by Paul Fiorilla

What makes Terry Taylor stand above other artists isn't his wicked satire or his wide-ranging musical talent - it's his productivity and consistency. Other Christian hartists have put out good recordings or have been part of the Christian music scene a long time, but nobody can match the continued excellence of Taylor's songs. In the '80's alone, Taylor's DA/Eddies efforts included seven records and more than 100 songs, the vast majority of which are nothing short of brilliant. Probably two of the best songs of the decade were "My Room" from the Alarma! album and "Hide the Beer, The Pastor's Here" from Outdoor Elvis. Both songs exemplify what Taylor does best - they put American Christianity under a microscope and magnify its oddities and hypocrisies.

Taylor does the same in his newest release, under the moniker Dr Edward Daniel Taylor, called The Miracle Faith Telethon. Not surprisingly for an artist who has made change part of his persona, it's somewhat different conceptually than anything Taylor has ever done.

Telethon is a mixed bag: nine recorded DA/Eddies songs, several previously unrecorded songs, a few parody songs, and The Miracle Faith Telethon of Love. The Telethon, several snippets of the Right Reverend Dr Taylor's woeful television ministry, is a direct swipe at TV preachers - who have been a frequent target of Taylor's barbed pen in the past. At one point in the Telethon, a "Fruit o' Ministry" tally is taken - 11 souls save and 153 million hearts "irrevocably hardened."

If all of this sounds a bit uneven, it is. ALthough one of the DA/Eddies' charms has always been the feeling that you're in on an inside joke and the musicians are enjoying themselves, some of these songs go a bit too far. For example, the muzak version of "Big Guns," orginally on the Eddie's Let's Spin!, may be hilarious to the band, but it's excruciating to listen to. Same for the mellow version of "What a World." There are several other cases where the re-recorded were better the first time around. And even though the Telethon is very funny, I doubt I'll want to listen to it more than a few times.

Not surprisingly, where the release shines is with Taylor's fresh material. "I'm On Your Team," a not-so-gentle reminder that you have to be close to someone in order to stab them in the back, the traditional "Riders in the Sky," and "Soon!" are the best, along with "Only One," a Taylor-made 50's throwback first recorded by Wild Blue Yonder. The updated version of the scintilating "The Pool" from the Fearful Symmetry record and "The Unattainable Earth" from the underrated Darn Floor Big Bite are top notch. And I doubt one could ever tire of "Hide the Beer," presented here in a "party version" sung by the whole group.

You don't have to be a DA/Eddies fan to appreciate the Telethon. Terry Taylor's intelligence, humor and deadly accuracy in assessing the Americanized version of Christianity mark him as a contemporary prophet, while his musical versatility makes the message easier to hear. And while I doubt that the Miracle Faith Telethon will make my top 10 list in the '90s, here's hoping that Taylor will be as prolific in this new decade as he was in the '80s.