Steve Taylor Squint: Movies from the Soundtrack Warner Alliance Video

CCM Magazine
May 1994 Volume 16 Number 11
© 1994 CCM Publications, Inc.
Pages 93, 95, 97

If there ever was a guy born to be in front of the camera (as well as behind it), it's Steve Taylor. Not only does Taylor seem to think visually when he writes, he uses his vivid imagination when designing concepts for his clips. And you couldn't ask for a more expressive actor to fill up your frame. Whether the lanky Taylor is twisting and bending his body like a life-size Gumby, or standing stock still forcing you to focus on his music, he's both a comedic and compelling actor (and an impressive director).

And leave it to Steve to come up with a concept both brilliant and frightening--"Why don't we take a small film crew to some really interesting places around the world, and see what happens?" What could have been a 32,000 mile disaster turned out to be everything that many videos (especially long-form packages) are not: funny, moving, thought-provoking and intelligent. In a typically perverse Taylor move, he opens the seven-song package with a clip for "Smug," before rolling any credits or explanation of what is to follow. Like all but one of the videos, "Smug" is not a concept clip as generally defined; it's simply Steve, mugging, dancing, preening and making use of whatever props are on hand in one of the 57 exotic locations--in "Smug," for instance, the simple gesture of staring into a hand-held mirror and sticking his hand into the camera lens to fend off the "paparazzi" (as stars are wont to do), tells you more about the song than smoke machines, Vari-lites or fancy sets would do. The touching "Jesus is for Losers" finds Taylor using more obvious visual effects, such as a barren tree and a gentle waterfall to accentuate the lyrics, while "Bannerman" shows Steve jamming with a lounge band in Bangkok, as the Bannerman himself pops up everywhere from London to Hong Kong.

And Taylor never lets you catch your breath. After dangling from a bridge in the Himalayas to the tune of "Sock Heaven," he moves to an Irish church cemetery, where he, in mock reverence, deadpans that "the Irish Spring guy and the guy who did the voice of the Lucky Charms elf are buried here." "Cash Cow," which is filmed in stop-action style with claymation-type figures, offers the most literal interpretation of Taylor's music; in this case, highlighting the song which is based on a modern version of the Old Testament story of the Golden Calf. The final clip, "The Finish Line," contrasts Taylor's dramatic tale of struggle with scenes of everyday folks going about their normal chores, as if to say just surviving is a heroic act.

Much credit goes to photographer Ben Pearson for keeping Taylor in his sights through more than a dozen countries. Still, the stunning footage would mean nothing without Taylor's brilliant songs. Chances are it'll be quite a while before you see anything this daring in the Christian market again.

Bruce A. Brown