Steve Taylor - I Predict 1990

January/February 1988, Volume 1, Number 4
© 1987 Notebored Publications
Page 12
Thanks to Scott Welshans

Producer: Dave Perkins
Myrrh Records

In a year that was filled with long-awaited and delayed releases, it only seems fitting that Steve Taylor (the last of these releases) called his new album I Predict 1990.

After being the early 1980's greatest surprise for a lagging industry with I Want To Be A Clone, Taylor followed with the even more exciting Meltdown. But on the two that followed, On the Fritz and the live filler Limelight, the expectations were just not filled. But let me be the first (or 400th) to say that the time off (over two years since Fritz) did a whale of a job for Taylor.

Predict had plenty of problems, including going over budget, finding a producer, switching record companies and rumors of a too-serious- for-his-own-good attitude in the new songs. But when the problems were overcome and Predict was finally released, what we have is a wonderfully crafted album that is easily Taylor's best to date.

Production is powerful, relying more on live drums and guitars than the earlier gadgets and machines. But the biggest improvements are in the songwriting, arrangement and vocal performance. Gone are the boppy, bubblegum pop melodies and cliches that had a tendency to dominate his earlier releases. They are replaced with passionate, mature arrangements of Taylor's well-thought-out lyrics. His voice is more gutsy and the backing vocals of Ashley Cleveland nearly steal the show.

The rumors that things were much too serious are quickly dispelled with the lead cut "I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good." It is about an ice cream truck driver that goes around blowing up abortion clinics: "Now I don't care if it's a baby or a tissue blob / But if we run out of youngsters, I'll be out of a job / ...So I blew up the clinic real good." The over-played redneck has confused righteous anger with self-serving destruction. Taylor also pokes fun at psychiatry in "Jung and the Restless", humanism in "Since I Gave Up Hope, I Feel Much Better" and even yuppies in "What is the Measure of Your Success?" But when Taylor's poison pen points inward, the results are devastating and successful. "A Principled Man" is a call to follow the example of a man who was "bleeding and hushed / hung between thieves" and asks "are you the one / taking your cross? / Are you a principled man?"

The two other cuts that stand out are the anthem "Babylon" and the classical (no joke) "It's Harder to Believe Than Not To." The former is a powerful look at modern times and evil men do, while the latter is a beautiful, operatic (really) song of encouragement to the believer.

I Predict 1990 was surely worth the wait and is easily one of the best of the year. The improvement in a facets makes me hope it won't be 1990 before we hear something more from one of CCM's greatest surprises.

David Lowman