Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Grand Halls 53

RESURRECTION BAND – “Colours” 1980 (Light, US) – Oh, I was a real know-it-all back then, thought I was so smart and such a bad-ass. I knew what was “heavy” alright, knew what was cool and what was lame. I had my copies of “Stained Class,” “Taken By Force” and “Hemispheres” at the ready in the ol’ ’70 Impala, ready to impress every woman I met with my great and exhaustive metal knowledge. Of course, how many women were actually interested in what this brazen 23 yr old self-appointed expert had to say remains at question, lost in the mists of time. It’s also a little sketchy how much I really knew, especially brought into focus by the day my buddy Doug called me with some…ahem…inside info.

“Hey Ray, you busy this afternoon?” he nearly whispered, with all the shrewd hushed tones of a street dealer.
“Not really,” I hedged warily, fully aware of some of Doug’s previous “great ideas.”
“Was just talking to Ed,” he continued conspiratorially, “You know how he’s into all that religious stuff, right? Well, he says there’s this little bible book store over in the Parkville Shopping Center. Anyway, he says they’ve got a rock record section and some of the stuff looks like it could be heavy. Just think you oughta check it out.”
“Why don’t you go?” I asked, not keen on spending the little left of my paycheck on what would turn out to be some wimpy Amy Grant record with a pseudo-rock backing band.
“You’ve got the car,” he reasoned.
And, it was with that logic that I finished lunch and drove the couple miles to the Parkville Shopping Center.

All the curious anticipation that had built up since I left home, parked and walked across the lot fizzled to a barely palpable ebb when I walked into the tiny religious bookstore. Now, don’t get me wrong. I may have distanced myself from my strictly Catholic upbringing but I still believe in a higher power. It’s just that, walking in that day and casting my eye on the rows of Crucifixes, the rosaries and the ultra-conservative-looking middle-aged woman behind the counter, my hopes of finding anything remotely heavy within these walls crumbled to dust. I have to admit that I actually felt awkward when the lady offered politely “Can I help you, son?” I was about to turn on my heel and pack it in when I saw the records, with a section labeled “Rock and Roll” about halfway through. I decided to hunker down and give it at least a cursory glance. I have to say that very few times in trolling through record bins have I ever felt so out of my element! From the “Various A’s” on, there wasn’t a single platter I recognized. As I’d suspected, a lot of the jackets were inhabited by pictures of fresh-faced youths who’s countenances bespoke looks that implied rapture more than butt-kicking, nice hair-cuts more than ragged long locks and somewhat inert acoustic guitars as opposed to Gibsons. The odd thing, and what kept me going, was that every so often I’d spot something that looked a little “too” interesting for it’s surroundings: guys with longer hair, pictures that included amps (the horror!) and songs that ranged beyond the 4 minute mark. Still, with all that, I hadn’t seen anything that caught me enough to make me want to plunk down cash. I was beginning to tire of the whole seemingly futile operation as I entered the “R’s” and was about to bolt for the heavier pastures of Record & Tape Traders when I was suddenly faced with an album entitled “Awaiting Your Reply” by RESURRECTION BAND. Now, this was definitely something that looked more native to the Planet Ray. Bunch of guys with long (not just long-ER) hair & beards, 2 guitar players, song titles not involving the word “Jesus” and a generally aggressive look. What’s more, they had 2 other records, all of which had the same vibe. In fact, the only thing that gave this young metal moron even the slightest pause was the fact that there was a girl in the band on vocals but then again, I reminded myself, what about Girlschool, The Runaways, etc.? All the records were priced $ 7.99 and with a $10 in my pocket, I had to make a decision so I went with the current year’s (1980) “Colours.” Almost sheepishly, I carried it to the counter where the smiling woman pleasantly rung up my purchase. Riding home, I couldn’t help feeling like I’d just thrown a ten spot in the trash. Little did I know I was about to have my musical world turned upside down.

It’s without the slightest hesitation that I label RESURRECTION BAND’s “Colours” as one of my Top 10 favourite albums of all time. This is the kind of greatness that makes every crappy album I took a misguided chance on worth the wasted buckage. Within about 5 seconds of the opening track, “Autograph,” I knew I’d found a diamond. Rush-like rhythms explode in a crystal-clear production job that cuts like a switchblade. First your sliced by the Lifeson-like 6-string razor of Glenn Kaiser and then his wife Wendi’s vocals take center-stage a la Geddy Lee. The rhythm in the latter part of this number is, like early Rush turn-on-dime-catchy and Stu Heiss explodes on lead axe, for the first of many times on the record. Showing their diversity, REZ (as they’d later come to be known) lay down a mega-catchy groove on the title song. Again the production is simply awesome here, vibrant and yet lethal, much in the way “Stained Class” was recorded. “N.Y.C.” absolutely kicks ass, nothing more needs to be said (but I will!). The part where Glenn (who splits lead vox duties with Wendi) intones “No twinkle, twinkle little star, no one to wonder who you are” is just massive and Stu Heiss’ soloing is ridiculous! Piercing, succinct and nasty as the dickens. It’s as if Angus Young & Glenn Tipton had a summit at the local ministry! It’s also probably a good time to at least briefly address the lyrical content of “Colours.” While over-zealous Bible-beating lyrics are something that always had me wary of so-called Christian rock before this discovery, RESURRECTION BAND show an insightful way to deliver a real-life message that’s powerful for just that reason. The topics they discuss indicate a religious way of life by discussing the world, it’s problems and a positive response to them…something we all can take to heart without feeling like we’re being preached to. “Hidden Man” & “Amazing” finish up Side One with a one-two punch that makes you realize you’ve really discovered something special. The energy level, not to mention the songwriting and…man, the guitars (!) are simply top shelf!.

Side Two’s can be a double-edged sword. Some bands tend to lose steam when it comes to the 2nd half of an album. Then again, the very best often even up the ante and you know that’s happening when “American Dream” blasts out of the speakers. This one takes the ass-busting quotient of “N.Y.C.” and fires an extra adrenalin shot into even that. The section that starts around 1:18 is just massive, recalling some of the best Downing/Tipton and Iommi riffery. “Benny & Sue” displays another mega-vocal performance by Wendy, lyrically highlights the trials and tribulations of a young couple and features a wicked double lead by Stu & Glenn, not to mention a great Uli Roth-type harmony line by the former. “City Streets” marries a riff Mr. Young coulda penned back in the “Let There Be Rock” days to a message roared by Glenn about the dangers of life on the streets while “Beggar In The Alleyway” allows for some more Rush-like experimentation. It also sports a climatic closing with a Stu Heiss guitar solo that raises the goose bumps. In great style, the band saves my favourite for last, “The Struggle.” Beginning hauntingly with ominous chord-strumming and cool cymbal work from drummer John Herrin, the song is quickly propelled into a godly “Stained Class”-like chug accompanying Glenn’s lyric, “I’m tired of this lingering winter.” Stu’s guitar solo here is as lyrical and gorgeous as any Glenn Tipton ever authored and it’s a perfect way to end “Colours.”

The truth of the matter is, RESURRECTION BAND would continue making albums up until 1997 and while some were excellent, none would equal “Colours.” I suppose that’s not really any surprise. Did Judas Priest ever equal “Stained Class?” Did Rush ever match “Hemispheres?” Not in my opinion. Most bands have their magnum opus and a handful produce something that can be considered iconic when they do so. This is one of those cases, and it’s one that’s buried perhaps even below the underground releases you’ve heard mentioned on metal sites ‘round the net. But don’t let being a teenage smart-ass keep you from checking it out! Godly Ray Dorsey

NOTE: “Colours” is available now on CD from the band’s label, Grrrr Records as well as many of their others. All of REZ’s albums up to 1982’s “DMZ” come recommended if you like this one. From that point on, the band did take a more “accessible/commercial” approach and their albums are not as heavy. However, ‘95’s “Lament” saw a dramatic return to form, with a disc that I like almost as much as “Colours” and one that, interestingly features a guest appearance from King’s X’s Ty Tabor who also produced it. It is a concept album that is just fantastic and will be the subject of a future Grand Halls piece on Raysrealm! Additionally well-worth it’s salt is the acoustic album with one of the most clever titles ever, “Ampendectomy” (1997).


Anonymous said...

Hi Ray, I always check your site and I always be surprised with your passion and good taste. I`m from Brazil and we had few options in heavy music before the internet. It was really tuff to get something different and very expensive too. So when I read your posts and discovered new old bands completely dark to me I become a teenager again. Tks for that. About the REZ Band, they gave me chills (good ones). Looks like Billy Gibbons, Malcolm Young, Larry Corywell and Axel Foley tried to rape Joan Jet with Dave Hill singing Demon`s songs on the background, where Kenny Loggins is learning riffs while shave his pectoral. Best Wishes from Brazil. Leo

dissident said...

hey Ray, great review of a great band .. thanks for introducing me to them

keep up the good work

The Ripple Effect said...

nice one. I gotta check this out.

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great review of a great band

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Sam Mix said...

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