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Posts Tagged ‘Gene Eugene’


Back in 1991 a strange, beautiful thing happened.  Members of 4 of my favorite alternative Christian bands formed a side band called The Lost Dogs.  Terry Taylor (lead singer & songwriter for DA & the Swirling Eddies), Gene Eugene (singer & songwriter for Adam Again), Derri Daugherty (singer & guitarist for the Choir, which is releasing a new album in June) and Mike Roe (lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for the 77’s) decided to move from friends to musical partners.  What emerged was the band much like the Traveling Wilburys.  It was like nothing any of them had done before.

It was a blend of folk rock and blues rock.  The first album (Scenic Routes) contained moments both serious and silly (Why is the Devil Red?).  While I don’t much like the political statements (Bush League) I really enjoyed the combination of sadness and faith.  They did covers (You Gotta Move, Lord, Protect My Child), adapted songs (Old and Lonesome), wrote some songs together and some alone.  It was a great, vibrant mix that has held up well over time.

In 1993 they followed this up with the similar-sounding but equally good Little Red Riding Hood.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  The only covers this time was I’m a Loser by the Beatles and the traditional song Precious Memories.  There were silly songs (Bad Indigestion) and sad songs (Rocky Mountain Mines and Eleanor, It’s Raining Now).   There were also struggles (No Room for Us) and hope (You Satisfy).   The album had a slightly less folk and more rock feel to it.    Working together seemed to scratch an itch they all had in a way that we could all benefit from.

The Green Room Serenade (Part 1) was released in 1996 and continued the shift to a more popular style.  Terry Taylor was responsible for more of the songwriting.  The formula was still there.  They covered If It Be Your Will.  They had some fun on songs like Close But No Cigar and Hey, You Little Devil.  There was hope in songs like Love Takes Over the World.  It was probably their most upbeat and accessible album.  Things were looking good for their side gig.

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On a recent ride home from Tampa, I listened to this disc for the first time in awhile.  I was reminded why I enjoyed it so much for such a long time.

If I recall correctly, Drowning with Land in Sight was the 77’s first release on Word, a “major” label.  It remains one of their most accessible releases.  This is odd since Gene Eugene and Ojo Taylor, though innovative and interesting musicians in their own right, weren’t exactly mainstream.  The 77’s struggled to maintain artistic integrity and the demands of the “mainstream” Christian music industry.  Derek Webb is currently fighting a bigger, uglier fight with his label.  But enough of that…

The album starts off with a  cover of Nobody’s Fault But Mine, to set the pace for this series of songs lamenting our role in all that is wrong in our world.  They do a very good job with this old blues standard, dragging it into the 90’s (the album was released in 1994).  This hard rocking beginning continues through Snowblind and Snake.  Snake was a major concession, with Mike Roe commenting on not liking the song in some live gigs captured on CD (It’s For You– which is great, simple record of his solo tour).  The first is also something of a lament about how temptation blinds us.  The second is about one of the sources of temptation.  While I enjoy the music, Snake is not one of Mike’s better lyrical and vocal performances.

Indian Winter marks a shift in direction for the album.  The chorus is slower, and there seem to be glimmers of hope.  There is some very nice guitar work during the solo.  The songs that follow are not quite as full-bore hard rock, but have a bit more space and deal mostly with relationships, and how sin and selfishness destroy them.  Film at 11 contains some of my favorite lyrics by Mike.  They are filled with longing and disappointment.

Mezzo is a guitar-focused instrumental  that has hints of surf rock among the layers.  An enjoyable, sad-tinged song.  Cold, Cold Night adds a bit more distortion, biting guitar licks and relational despair.  Mike Roe hits his stride.  Dave’s Blues returns to the theme of our guilt, moral confusion, and hope in the Savior.  Doesn’t hurt that it has some very good guitar work.

Sounds o’ Autumn is drummer Aaron Smith’s time to shine.  It is a subtle solo piece rather than over the top and bombastic.  It provides a short breather before the last 3 songs.

The Jig is Up is one of my favorite songs, a lament about a troubled man who walks alone.  When this album came out, I could identify with this song as I slogged through a very lengthy, difficult time.  This sad song gave me opportunity to grieve.  Alone Together is another of those haunting songs Mike Roe writes so well.  It is about the end of a relationship set in contrast with the great beginning.  It is strange how little things can add up, destroying good things unexpectedly- the slow drift…

The album ends with For Crying Out Loud, about looking for hope and help in the One above.  It is also about being honest with God, finally.  So ends of my favorite albums- one filled with great guitar work, honest, painful at times lyrics, and emotional openness.  How did they get this released on Word?  I’m glad they did.

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Perfecta was the final release by Adam Again, if I remember correctly.  Similarly to the 77’s, I heard an early album (New World in Time) and was not very impressed.  In a store one day, a friend had me listen to some of their Dig album and I was sold.  As mentioned in an earlier post, I listened to it driving up to Orlando the other night.  Ah, the memories.

Gene Eugene liked metaphor, so many of his lyrics were not easy to interpret.  The average CCM band they were not.  Along with Daniel Amos, the 77’s, and the Choir, they led the alternative rock movement among Christian musicians.  It was no mistake that Gene would join with Terry Taylor, Mike Roe and Derry Daugherty from those respective bands to form The Lost Dogs.

Perfecta was not Adam Again’s best album but it was still a very good album.  I think this was following Gene’s divorce, and a fair amount of that sense of alienation comes through somehow.  It starts off with Stone, “and I try to forget the day I chased you away.”  The guitar has plenty of reverb, and it stays that way throughout the album.  There are plenty of songs with extended solos, or musical interludes.

Strobe is one of those songs where you just aren’t sure what Gene is trying to say.  The chorus is a bit repetitive, but it works for some reason.  All You Lucky People sounds like the complaint of a prisoner to me (“I’ve got nothing but time”).

Air is one of those songs short of lyrics, but long on musical interludes.  The first verse is about the electric company employee demanding he pay his bill.  He doesn’t have money, but he’s got friends coming over.  Dogjam is one of my favorite songs, which could be due to lines like “3-legged dog hobblin’ in the back yard/ I don’t mind at all/ 3-legged dog, cat chasing is hard/but I can’t forget that she paid for it all.”  Lots of good guitar going for it too.

Every Mother’s Way is the token slower, more gentle song.  Try Not to Try is almost as slow, and seems to be about the process of sanctification, but I could be wrong. 

But songs like Unfunny and Relapse have plenty of loud, alternative rock ‘n’ roll.

Like the rest of the Adam Again catalog, this is hard to find.  I’ve never been able to replace my stolen copy of 10 Songs, which I think is their best collection of songs.  This is unfortunate, because Gene and company sure could make some interesting music.

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