Daniel Amos is one of those bands that I unfortunately didn’t give much of a chance for the first decade or so of collecting Christian rock and metal. Being the young metal-head that I was, it was understandable. Also, they were fawned over by those who were more alternative in their music tastes, and boy did our ideologies clash. Being a bit older now (*cough*), and no longer feeling the need to prove myself and defend my primary musical tastes, I’m exploring some of the releases that I may have glossed over due to being young and stupid.
Horrendous Disc was the third release by Daniel Amos. The history behind the eventual release of this one is downright facinating, if not a bit frustrating if you were to put yourself into the band’s shoes. Having released their first two albums on the Maranatha! Music label, they were dropped by the label prior to releasing Horrendous Disc, more for wanting to focus more on children’s music and praise and worship, and not because the band more or less abandoned the country sound for more of a progressive rock style for this release. The album was picked up by Larry Norman’s Solid Rock Records…where it was shelved for three years for no apparent reason, until it was finally released as almost an afterthought a mere few weeks before Daniel Amos released their fourth album on Newpax Records.
My first exposure to any of the songs on Horrendous Disc was the cover of the title song by Deliverance on the Stay Of Execution release in 1992. After a couple of decades since then of searching for the sorce matterial in a managably sane price, the album that is considered almost a lost classic of the genre is a pretty good release. The first couple of songs leading off this release–“I Love You #19” and “Hound Of Heaven” are both straight-forward guitar-driven classic rock songs. Those are the two of the four songs that could be considered “normal” radio fodder, the other two being the Am Gold-style ballads “Sky King (Out Across The Sky)” and “I Believe In You”. Even then, admitedly, the word “normal” is kinda stretching things.
Regardless, it’s the rest of the tracks that really indicate what direction the band was going in. “(Near-Sighted Girl With Approaching) Tidal Wave”, “On The Line”, “Man In The Moon”, “Never Leave You” and the title song, “Horrendous Disc” all have a quirky, progressive stylings that would be their signiture sound on future releases. It’s rather evedent on here that the band gleened a lot of inspiration from The Beatles, Steely Dan and (one could argue) Yellow Brick Road-era Elton John. These songs are progressive, jazzy and multi-layered and complex, with harmonies that would bring a tear to the eye of any hard-bitten Beatles fan.
Overall, Horrendous Disc is a surprisingly good classic rock record that’s fairly solid throughout. Even the ballads are more than your standard CCM fodder. The lyrics are highly intelegent, and the musicianship is very tight and well done. I would wager, had it been given the proper release at the time of its recording, it would have stood its ground even the mainstream acts of the era. Unfortunately, there hasen’t even been a decent proper CD release, and its continued lack of one is baffeling. If any release needs one of those vinyl re-releases, it’s this one. I would love to hear what this sounds like on vinyl. But for now, it’s available as an MP3 download on Amazon. Do yourself a favor, and check out this underrated classic.