Record Reviews: Steve Taylor "Meltdown"

Rock Gospel Review
April 1984 Volume 1 Number 3
© 1984 Dan Kennedy
Page 2
Thanks to Dan Kennedy

STEVE TAYLOR. "Meltdown." Sparrow 1083. 1984. Exploding upon the Christian music scene like a cosmic cross between Devo and Steve Martin, Taylor has already established himself as a performer with a singular vision of the Gospel in the marketplace of everyday living. Songs from the "I Want to Be a Clone!" album (especially "Whatever Happened to Sin?," "Whatcha Gonna Do When Your Number's Up?" and "Bad Rap") gave him good airplay and last fall's tour with Rez Band brought his kinetic stage presence to the attention of astonished and awed thousands. Not afraid to take a stand or to slaughter sacred cows, Taylor employs satire to drive home his points; and he utilizes a lyrical style, not unlike that of early Dylan, with clever but not cute word choices.

The title tune of the new album uses the destruction of a famous wax museum as a symbol of the transitory nature of all human achievement; by implication, God's handiwork and our service in his name is never for nought, for it has the permanence of truth. "We Don't Need No Colour Code" chasties those (specifically Bob Jones University) who use the Bible to perpetuate a racial rule. "Meat the Press" calls to task a national media that gives prominent coverage to a Christian only when he commits a crime. "Am I in Sync?" depicts a desire to be accepted and in step with one' speers, to accomplish a deed worth of praise and to be immortal in the memory of history.

Taylor fine-tunes his sharp, pungent attacks on society (including the weak-willed Christian) in "Sin For a Season" ("God I'm only human, got no other reason.") and "Guilty By Association" ("I have found a new utensil in the devil's toolbox/and the heads are gonna roll if Jesus rocks/it's of a worldly design!/God's music should be divine!/try buying records like mine.") And lest you think Taylor speaks only of the person next to you, look more closely at the context of the words.

While the humor on the album is abundant, the most surprising element is the serious songs (don't misunderstand--all of what he does is serious, but we have a tendency to brush aside those tunes that make us laugh at the target of the satire, failing to see our own images glaring back at us). The heart of the album consists of three numbers that shun the humor in favor of more straight-forward social and religious commentary. "Over My Dead Body" underlines the reality of the enmity between Christianity and communism for the loyalty of man; the line "Over my dead body redemption draweth nigh" is both haunting and chilling as it echoes for days after hearing. "Hero" moves subtly from the narrow desire to serve self by being seen as a hero in the eyes of the world to the unselfish service to God ("I wanna be your hero"). Taylor pricks the conscience with "Baby Doe," plucked from newspaper headlines about a child born deformed, who is allowed to perish because the parents could not fathom life with a child less than physically perfect.

Listening to Steve Taylor hurts. A vertical view of Christianity is too easy and he forces us on horizontal--our fellow man and ourselves--and the knowledge that moral issues and decisions are never more than an on-off button or a headline away. If you can only purchase one record this month and want something to challenge your beliefs, then by all means buy "Meltdown." It will heat up your Christian principles.