What's New: Steve Taylor I Predict 1990

CCM Magazine
January 1988 Volume 10 Number 7
© 1988 CCM Publications, Inc.
Pages 34, 37

Produced by Steve Taylor and Dave Perkins
Myrrh Records

The most effective albumr eview would probably read as follows: "Sound great. Buy it." Or "It stinks. Save your dough." And, for a lot of records out today, that would suffice. But not for Steve Taylor's Myrrh Records debut.

Producer Dave Perkins has mentioned "raising the ceiling of excellence," in reference to some of the Christian clients he's worked with, Taylor included. Steve's vocals throughout the album are gruffer and less coy than previous efforts, and Perkins' "Cinemascopc" production makes this Steve's finest-sounding effort.

I Predict 1990, while far from humorless, is indeed more serious than any of Taylor's past LPs. Steve's satirical wit and sometimes cynical world view are now woven into the lyrics, rather than dominating the words at the story's expense.

If there's an overall theme to the record, it's "the end don't justify the means anytime," something mentioned by one of the characters in the lead-off track, "I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good." Expressing moral outrage is one thing; punctuating it with plastic explosives is another. You've heard the expression "You can't take it with you?" Well, the protagonist of "What Is The Measure of Your Success?' intends to do just that... until he realizes, too late, that "you can't buy time or a good name." On the heels of Wall Street's woes this past fall, that tune couldn't be more timely. Or could "Since I Gave Up Hope, I Feel a Lot Better," which is chock-full o' yuks in the manner of past Taylor tunes.

You can just see Steve-o cocking his famous eyebrows toward Ollie North when he sings, "Good guys defect, 'I can't precisely recollect.'" "Jim Morrison's Grave" is a straight-ahead rocker with some tasty guitar and synth in the foreground. This plaintive tune, about the enormously talented leader of the Doors, questoins the myth of rock 'n' roll that some musicians erect, or allow to be erected around them.

The triumvirate of tracks that conclude the album's second side are among the most compassionate and unabashedly optimistic songs Taylor has ever written. "Innocence Lost" is a death-row allegory that details how we all allow our innocence to be chipped away, some reclaiming it at the eleventh hour, some not. After exposing an album's worth of the exploits of extremely un-principled men, Taylor asks, "Are you the one taking (up) your cross--are you 'A Principled Man?'"

An unusual musical setting--operatic background voice and chamber orhcestra--sets off the closer, "Harder to Believe Than Not To." The difficulty of living a Christian life in modern times is perfectly expressed with the phrase "you know by now why the chosen are few."

Producer Perkins has helped Taylor to stretch on I Predict without orchestrating a drastic turnaround that would alienate his audience. Taylor is, by no means, a great vocalist, but as with other gifted songwriters, such as Dylan and Costello, he knows how to tell a story. That's something money can't buy. But money can buy I Predict 1990. Do it!

Bruce A. Brown