Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#277 MOURNING INTO DANCING by 4-4-1 (1985)

MOURNING INTO DANCING by 4-4-1 (1985)
Blue Collar Records - BCR00ZA


Producers:
John & Dino Elefante


File Under: New Wave


Time Capsule-Worthy Track:
Mourning Into Dancing


Other Standout Tracks:
In the Night
Is It Enough
Say It Right



They were a garage band with an odd name and a unique sound. 

I use 'garage band' not as a term of derision, but because, well...they literally were a garage band. In the beginning, at least. 

The group was formed in 1983 in Glenn Holland's parents' garage in Arcadia, California. The other group members - John McNamara, and Steve and John Giali - were from Arcadia as well. 



L-R: John Giali, Steve Giali, John McNamara, Glenn Holland


In a book titled God's Not Dead (And Neither Are We) by Jerry Wilson, 4-4-1's John McNamara revealed that his parents were staunch Catholics. "My mom's maiden name was McNamee and my dad's mom was O'Brien. There was a very strong east coast traditional Irish Catholic commitment in my family. I went through all the steps of Confirmation and the sacraments. Then I met the Giali brothers who lived about three houses away from where I grew up. They had been brought up Catholic, but their dad had become a believer through a charismatic movement in the Catholic Church when they lived in Chicago. Eventually, they moved to southern California, so I had four Giali boys I could play with and I was over at their house every day. Their dad had a Bible study that he actually led through the Catholic catechism. I heard about Christ in Joe Giali's living room when I was about 14 years old. That's when I first truly understood the Gospel message, and I made a commitment to Christ in 1975."

The boys made a demo tape of four songs in Holland's garage and put it in the mail to area youth pastors. It just so happened that Randy Ziegler heard it and liked it. This was a good thing since Ziegler ran a popular concert series at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa at the time. A meeting was set up and 4-4-1 was soon on its way.  



4-4-1 playing at Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa


The group soon entered into talks with record labels and started opening concerts for the likes of Benny Hester, Undercover and others. "The scene was on fire," Glenn Holland said in God's Not Dead. "Very special, very vibrant. We certainly weren't the first band doing this kind of stuff. Undercover, Altar Boys, Lifesavers...there was a lot of excitement, a lot of big gigs." 



4-4-1 (self-titled)
1984

Their first recorded project was completed in 1984 at Doug Doyle's 3-D Studios; it was the first album for a label called Royal Commandment (later renamed Blue Collar Records). The band and the album were well-received, especially in Southern California. "The debut made an immediate impact," blogger David Lowman remembers. Lowman lived in Southern California and says he continually pestered the program director of the local Christian radio station to try new bands. He says, "I was often rebuffed because of the rocky and edgy music, but with 4-4-1 there was an instant appreciation." Lowman says 4-4-1's new wave/new romantic sound compared favorably to groups like Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet, providing radio programmers with plenty of polished, accessible pop. "As a result, the band's singles charted heavily and their popularity grew," he wrote.





Which brings us to our featured album, 1985's Mourning Into Dancing. Produced by brothers Dino and John Elefante, Mourning Into Dancing received critical acclaim and more airplay exposure when the title track rose to #2 on national Christian rock radio charts. The guys hit the road, playing concerts at churches, schools, music clubs and festivals.

Mourning Into Dancing has been described as a big leap forward for the band - deeper lyrics, better music, stronger production. Lyrical themes tackled heavier issues and struggles that young people typically faced in the mid-80s. David Lowman wrote that dark themes such as doubt, impurity, and poor self-image were wonderfully masked in unforgettable pop music. HM's Doug Van Pelt said that on this album, 4-4-1 "crystalized that dreamy male vocalist new wave sound to perfection, adding heartfelt joy and an innocent worshipfulness that was magic." 





I recently had a chance to catch up with three of the members of 4-4-1 to get their thoughts on this now-classic recording, which begins with the title track. 

"I have a clear memory during the making of our first album," said lead guitarist John Giali. "We came to the studio with two unfinished songs along with the ones we had been playing for quite a while. Glenn asked me which of those two new ones should we do now? I suggested the one called Fish On The Car simply because it was further along in its arrangement. And so that’s what we did. That other song, temporarily sidelined that day, turned out to be Mourning Into Dancing. In retrospect, we made a wise decision because Glenn, the writer of Mourning Into Dancing, took advantage of the borrowed time to tweak and re-tweak the arrangement to perfection by the beginning of those sessions."

Singer and guitarist John McNamara also gives Holland the lion's share of the credit for the album's opening track. "It is our best and most commercially successful song ever," McNamara said, "and Glenn came up with the chord progression, the melodies, and the verse from Psalm 30 that had the phrase 'mourning into dancing.' I was blessed to be a partner with him as a songwriter for all our albums and especially for the song Mourning Into Dancing. I wrote the words and a guitar part, but it was a small contribution compared to the original idea from Glenn that ended up catapulting us to a national stage for years to come. He deserves to get a spotlight and gratitude from the rest of us in 4-4-1 for the Mourning Into Dancing song and album." 

For his part, bassist and keyboardist Glenn Holland was in a charitable mood.

"Well, John's words are very kind," said Glenn, "but he had a lyrical and melodic skill that I didn't have, and I felt that we worked well together on writing and arranging."



4-4-1 with Darrell Mansfield


In the Night is a sobering, cautionary tale that gives guest guitarist John Gaudesi a chance to make his presence known with some really nice solo work.

The drum sounds on this record are dated in a wonderful way, and keyboards are fairly prominent throughout the album. "By the end of our debut album, I had delved into synthesizers rather heavily," Glenn Holland told me. "As a band, we bought our first synth just a few months before we started recording our debut album, 441. Being a gadget guy, I really dug the tools that were coming out then. You can hear the influence on songs like Fish On The Car, In His Presence and Show Me on 441. So when we started writing and arranging what would become Mourning Into Dancing, the keyboard had moved into a more prominent position in the sound. You can hear that influence (and of bands like Simple Minds, Depeche Mode and Duran Duran) in the title track, In The Night, Is it Enough, New Land and On The Run. Only the last two songs, Jordan and Say It Right lacked a distinct or thematic keyboard part."

"Imagine my joy," Glenn continued, "as we walked into Pakaderm studios to see John Elefante's keyboard kit. Kid, meet candy store. John Elefante ended up putting together some cool synth parts for the material, including the opening melody lines of In The Night and On The Run, with his talent and array of technical tools."



Glenn Holland


Glenn said that perhaps his most difficult part of the recording process was the song Is It Enough, a superb ballad written by John McNamara. "It was me, our producers John and Dino, and our engineer, Mike Mierau in the studio to record keyboards one day," Holland remembers. "John and Dino were great producers and musicians and ultimately made the record sound fantastic. Yet, on Is It Enough, we could not agree on how the piano part should be arranged. We came from different musical perspectives and their sensibilities led them to a much more produced and, dare I say flowery rendition. I felt like I had to stand up on behalf of my absent bandmates to stay true to our new wave, punk and progressive rock roots. So my part (which John Elefante played because he's a real piano player) isn't meant to be impressive or stand out. He did a fine job with it in the end, but he certainly wasn't happy with the outcome."

Is It Enough also contained a tasteful sax solo, turned in by Scott Martin.

In His Presence shines a spotlight on bass and percussion (played by Kurt Rasmussen), and wraps up side one of Mourning Into Dancing

The album was recorded at Pakaderm Studios and mastered at Capitol Records by Wally Trautgott. Backing vocals were provided by Bob Loux, Greg Velasco, John Stothers, Laura Hale, and Sylvia Bronson





I asked John McNamara about the cover art and found out there's quite a story behind it. "Yeah, that was actually done by a friend we hired who in turn ended up hiring a USC Film School student to do the black and white photos that ended up being the cover," McNamara recalled. "The location for the photo shoot was in downtown Los Angeles because we were there for a concert. We got a gig playing there in the summer of 1985 at a huge event called the 'LA Street Scene' that was an annual event where the city shut down several blocks in the center of LA. We were on an outdoor stage at the corner of Temple and Los Angeles Street. The city booked popular musical acts, including Stevie Wonder who was on a separate stage but playing at the same time as us, so we technically had a gig with him! There were also many punk and heavy metal bands there that ended up causing riots, so the mounted police were out in force. I remember walking through about 50 horse-mounted riot police to get from our stage to our cars after we ended our gig." 



"LA Street Scene" - 1985

"We drove a few blocks to the album shoot scene area and we were really tired, hungry and a little edgy due to the riot scene," McNamara continued. "The student photographer had set up in a remote area of LA in an alley near a very bad part of the town that was mostly abandoned at that time. Today it's gentrified into apartments for 20-somethings. But back then it was an area where you did not feel safe, so that added to the stress level. Also, he had set up a very loud generator that made it difficult to hear or think. I got a huge headache and I think we looked a bit beleaguered in the photos due to the stress. After the shoot was done we walked back to our cars and one car had the window smashed out and valuables were stolen. Neither the film shoot nor the actual artwork turned out the way we had hoped." 





McNamara just shook his head and added, "It was not an award-winning cover, to say the least. It was one of those life lessons that you never forget and I certainly will remember all the details of that day for a long time."





Side two features more of the same -- bright, edgy, energetic new wave with John McNamara's lead vocal, which was right in tune with what was happening in the underground music scene in the mid-80s. Blogger David Lowman said,"McNamara had a cool swing and swagger that worked with the sound." 





Mourning Into Dancing ends with a ballad called Say It Right. I asked John McNamara to give me some background on that particular track. "Say It Right is a love song and I wrote it about a girl I was dating at the time," McNamara revealed. "I wanted to put the words 'I Love You' or something like that in the chorus, but hesitated for several reasons. One reason was that the Christian music scene at that time didn’t have any songs with that type of theme, and I, frankly, was afraid to be the first one on a commercially successful Christian album to do it. There were songs about love written for weddings or from a husband to a wife (or vice versa) in the CCM scene, but there were no songs like Say It Right. So I wrote the title as Say It Right which was a wishy-washy approach that, in my opinion, makes the song not as good. I may re-write it and re-release it on Sound Cloud soon in order to make it right."

John Giali remembers pushing Say It Right across the finish line just in time. "Typically we spent a lot of time honing our songs before heading into the studio," Giali said, "so we knew what we wanted to do once the recording process began. But, similar to Fish On The Car being half-ready before starting the first album, the last song on side two of Mourning Into Dancing, Say It Right, a beautiful song of John McNamara’s was written mostly on the spot in the reception office of the studio. I’m still captivated by the background vocal harmonies on that song that came later, and the e-bow parts Dino I worked out during the overdubs. It was a very creative time for us as John and Glenn’s writing was maturing handsomely." 





When asked how the guys felt about the finished product, Glenn Holland said, "We were very excited how the album came together. We had really good success locally with our debut, which for all it represented, was still a rookie effort and sometimes sounds that way. But Mourning Into Dancing sounded like we had some very solid songs and the means to make them come alive in the studio. There's always things you'd do differently, but thirty-plus years later it still stands up pretty well."

4-4-1 would get caught up in the second Great Restructuring on the part of Calvary Chapel's involvement with contemporary Christian music. The first one took place in the late Seventies when rock-oriented acts like Sweet Comfort Band and Daniel Amos were cut loose in favor of praise albums and children's records. This time, Calvary Chapel decided to stop promoting the underground/punk/new wave scene. The guys in 4-4-1 say that once Calvary Chapel started pulling back, and their Ministry Resource Center went away, it became very difficult for bands like theirs to be successful. Airplay suffered, tour dates were more difficult to come by, and the guys in 4-4-1 developed a decidedly negative view of the record industry--yes, even the "Christian" record industry. 

Especially the "Christian" record industry. 



John McNamara

John McNamara has some pretty strong opinions on the topic. "When we started to meet these people and talk to them about what they offered for record deals and that kind of thing, reading the contracts, we realized it's not a very fun industry," McNamara said in the book God's Not Dead. "It is very cut-throat, with a lot of jealousy and not many reassurances for the artists about what they'll be doing and when. On balance, I would say it's messed up. In some cases, extremely messed up with unscrupulous people who were screwing people and who should be put in jail. Whether they were Christian or not, what they did was horrible. They hurt people, but that was an acceptable type of behavior in the industry and more normal than not. How can an industry survive that way? It's unbelievable." 



My Friend Stephanie.
Drue Bachmann:
 center, front

Well, some would say that it didn't survive. My brother Drue Bachmann, whose largest contributions to the Christian rock music industry came through his own band My Friend Stephanie and his involvement with other bands such as The Throes and Age of Faith, makes a very good case that the once vibrant Christian rock music scene is no more. "When I was growing up in the 80s, our church youth group would go to great concerts all throughout the year," Bachmann said. "They'd often be in the biggest auditoriums in the towns. Various styles, from R&B to hard rock/alternative and everything in-between. In the 90s, when I was a part of the industry, you had even more choices. Those were the years where every city had a Christian coffee house or club-type venue where you could see all your favorite bands playing live every weekend. All of that is dead and gone now. All kids have these days is 'Winter Jam' once a year, where the bands all have to play in a single evening, festival-type setting. Atlanta alone used to support two great Christian rock music festivals, AtlantaFest and I.S. Fest, and now there's nothing. The size and magnitude of the Dove Awards, that used to be staged on a level close to the Grammys, is nothing like it used to be." 





Bachmann continued: "Back in the 80s & 90s, you could get into a Christian music scene. If you were into hip hop/rap, metal, alt/rock, stadium rock, etc., you could subscribe to fanzines, nationally published magazines and newsletters that supported those scenes. CCM, 7Ball, HM Magazine, Notebored, Harvest Rock Syndicate, Visions of Gray, Cornerstone, True Tunes News & others. None of these publications are in print anymore. The industry is dead." 

Others point to the growth of commercial worship music (there's an oxymoron for you), and say that the Christian music industry is alive and well. 

We report, you decide. 





But I digress. Back to 4-4-1...

"Completing the Mourning Into Dancing album was also the start of strains that would ultimately cause us to stop playing," Glenn Holland revealed to me. "I had made the decision prior to the record that I wanted to build a career in music," he said,"but my three bandmates all had other careers they were pursuing and the band was effectively part-time for them. I could sense my direction was not totally shared with the rest. So, when Light/Lexicon failed to pay our label owner, and Blue Collar Records folded, it seemed the signs were there that 4-4-1's days were numbered." 

"But those days were an amazing time," added John McNamara.  "And I am still great friends with John, Steve and Glenn, who I regard as true brothers in Christ." 

Without John and Steve Giali, Holland and McNamara continued on with 4-4-1 just a while longer. By 1988 they had an acoustic sound that reminded some critics of groups like Crowded House and Simple Minds. They teamed up with "Ojo" Taylor and Gene Eugene's Broken Records to release an album called Sacrifice



SACRIFICE by 4-4-1 (1988)

Then life changed for all involved and music took a back seat. "We all started having kids, at which point in time your world shrinks," Glenn Holland said in God's Not Dead. "Careers get more demanding; that sort of thing. It's harder to get together in a band sort of way. But we kept in touch." John McNamara added, "When Glenn comes out (Holland now lives in Texas) and we can play together, it's fun. It's like what we did when were in junior high or high school. We like to get in the garage, turn the amps on, and play."







4-4-1 played together again in 2005 at the Broken Records Reunion Concert in Southern California with Undercover, The Choir, The Altar Boys and Crumbächer (pictured above and below). 





"4-4-1 was a band for their time," wrote blogger David Lowman. "Caught squarely in the 1980’s new wave sound, they were authentic for the time. They were not behind or ahead of the times, they were squarely rooted in the day. And within that framework, they created some wonderful music and one very fine record."






"We had an uncommon experience," Glenn Holland said. "And Mourning Into Dancing allowed us to play in front of a lot of people and go to some new places. I look back upon those times with great fondness for the gift we were given and the camaraderie of my brothers."





Sunday, September 10, 2017

#278 IN A NEW WORLD OF TIME by Adam Again (1986)

IN A NEW WORLD OF TIME by Adam Again (1986)
Blue Collar Records - BCR004A



Producers:
Gene Eugene, Wally Grant


File Under: Funk-Dance-Alternative Fusion


Time Capsule-Worthy Track:
In a New World of Time


Other Standout Tracks:
Life in the First Degree
You Can Fall in Love
Morning Song



Adam Again was an alternative rock band from Southern California with roots in Christian music. A group with a small but fiercely devoted following, Adam Again pioneered a sort of rock/funk/dance hybrid that would later earn massive popularity for groups like Spin Doctors and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Gene Andrusco (known to music fans as Gene Eugene) was said to be "the boss of the band." As the group's producer, lead singer and principle songwriter, Eugene was the driving creative force behind Adam Again. On March 20 of the year 2000, friends arrived at Eugene's beloved Green Room recording studio and found him dead on the floor. He had been complaining of fatigue and headaches. Tests later confirmed that he had suffered a brain hemorrhage. He was 39 years old.



Gene "Eugene" Andrusco
April 6, 1961 – March 20, 2000


Michele Bunch was a preacher's kid and grew up singing in her parents' Pentecostal church. As a kid, she listened mostly to southern gospel quartets and Andrae Crouch. During her high school years she met Gene Andrusco. And that's when her whole world exploded.

"I must have been around fifteen," she told a blogger in 2015. "I started dating him when I was around sixteen. It was a big problem, because he was five and a half years older, and my parents did not like him at all. I would skip school constantly and go to his house. But he worked his way into my parents’ hearts through his piano – he’d play piano for the offertory in church. And two guys that I grew up with in the church were his friends and band mates, so my parents knew of all the connections. So that was my in, and I finally got them to accept him. But when I met Gene, he was just such a representation of the outside world to me. He wasn’t a church kid. We got married when I was eighteen. I was still in high school."



This was a band called Martus, the forerunner to Adam AgainThe group featured Gene Eugene, Paul Valadez, Greg Lawless and Sim Wilson (who would leave to join Undercover). This photo was taken shortly after Gene Eugene and Riki Michele married.


I recently had an opportunity to speak to Greg Lawless, guitarist for Adam Again. We talked about In A New World of Time and about the band's early days. "Gene Eugene, Paul Valadez, Sim Wilson and I had been playing together in various bands since 1981," Lawless said. "We started calling ourselves Adam Again around 1984, shortly after Sim left to join Undercover." 

Riki Michele (as she was known) became a member of Adam Again. So did Dan Michaels, (although he was not listed as an official band member on the cover of In A New World Of Time). 

[This might be a good place to deal with the names. Gene Eugene's given name was Gene Andrusco. Riki Michele was originally Michele Bunch. After marrying Gene, she became Michele Bunch Andrusco, but for some reason went by the stage name Riki Michele. When asked about the name, she told an interviewer, "I really don't remember. I've told so many stories, I'm not sure about the truth any more." Today she either goes by Riki Michele or Michele Bunch Palmer, since she's now married to former record label rep Dave Palmer. Is that clear? Good.]

In a conversation with Phantom Tollbooth in 2002, Riki Michele described the alternative Christian music scene in California in the late 80s/early 90s: "It was a cool scene with Daniel Amos, Undercover, the Altar Boys, Adam Again. We really did no touring, but stayed close to home playing around the area at church gigs, youth groups and stuff." When asked about the debut Adam Again album, Michele said, "The guy who started Broken Records talked to Gene about making a record about the same time Gene began to write the songs for a record. So a deal was struck to make In A New World of Time." 





"This was our first time in the studio, on the clock, with a limited budget," Greg Lawless remembers. "It was a really exciting time for us and we had a lot of fun in the process, but we generally showed up and immediately got to work."

"Gene would come to rehearsal with a complete framework for the music and a good idea (though usually incomplete) of where the lyric was headed," Lawless revealed. "Gene generally wrote all of the bass and drum parts. Sometimes he would have specific parts he wanted me to play and sometimes he would ask me to come up with something."

I also spoke with Dan Michaels about the making of In a New World of Time

"I was working a regular day job when this album was being recorded," Michaels recalled, "so I was only around the studio a few times to record my parts. I just remember being thrilled to be a part of it and how much I liked Gene's producing style. He was extremely patient with me to find my voice in what to play in the parts he had open for me. He was also very open to experimenting with me, but that came more on later records. In a New World of Time was fairly straight forward as far as my parts. I think I played on 4 or 5 tracks - a few sax and a few lyricon."

In a New World of Time introduced Adam Again to the world in 1986. One thing that brought the album some attention was the cover illustration - a painting by pop art icon and Baptist preacher Howard Finster. "We were big Talking Heads fans," said Riki Michele, "and we had a few singles and record covers that Howard Finster had painted for them, and we loved them. So Gene found out that Howard Finster lived somewhere near Atlanta, Georgia and called information to get his phone number! And they talked like they were old friends, he even put his wife on the phone with Gene."

"Yeah, Gene got his phone number from the 411 directory and called him up," Lawless confirmed. "Still hard to believe it was that simple."



Howard Finster
Dec. 2, 1916 - Oct. 22, 2001 


"So then he painted the cover for us," Michele continued, "and gave us a great deal on it. At first we were a little disappointed that it looked so much like the cover he did for Talking Heads, but not for long. And not too disappointed. We loved the original painting, which is huge. About 3 feet by 3 feet. Years later we visited Mr. Finster's house and he had our cover hanging in his hall right between the covers he had done for Talking Heads and REM."

In a New World of Time was a far cry, musically and lyrically, from what Adam Again would become. But this was the beginning. For starters, the debut record utilized a drum machine. Another difference is a heavier emphasis on funk and dance rhythms. I asked Greg Lawless about the eventual change toward a heavier rock sound. "It was just a natural evolution," he explained. "We shared a broad range of influences that were continually shaping the music." 

Perhaps the most noticeable difference is that the lyrics on this debut album were more overtly “evangelical” than subsequent Adam Again recordings. Regarding that observation, Lawless would only say, "The lyrics on In A New World Of Time were sincere and earnest. Gene was still discovering his voice as a songwriter."





The album's first song, Life In The First Degree, strikes a positive, hopeful tone.

When I think of the things I do
I need nothing more from You
Just to be forgiven is enough for me

So I'll sing in the streets

And dance in the aisles
And celebrate what will be
You're my only hope, Your love everlasting
Life in the first degree

Dan Michaels explodes into this one with a gritty performance on his sax.

The next song, the post-new wave She's Run, tells the story of a teenage runaway, a prodigal daughter. Eugene resists the urge to resolve the tale with a happy ending, and instead just describes the despair and dysfunction and lets it lie there...but it still doesn't quite satisfy. "On a later album, the band would have tackled the subject differently, looking into the complexity of emotion rather than simply describing the emotions of the girl and her parents," wrote reviewer Mark Allender for AllMusic. "But it's a start." Marky Schrock of The Holidays turned in a memorable guitar solo on She's Run. But what was that weird instrumental thing that was happening at the end of the verses?





Musically, Your Line is Busy takes me back to the skating rink on a Saturday night. Lyrically, the idea here is that we're too busy to hear God's call. Eugene tries too hard to make the point by explaining it in the song's opening line: The line to your heart is just like a telephone. On later albums, he would never have started a song with such a point-blank explanation of the premise. In fact, by the time the group had recorded 4 or 5 albums, lyrics were not a priority at all. Gene would often focus on the music and just plug "stream of consciousness" lyrics into songs with little regard to the message.

But the Christian message was front and center on the record's next track, a song called You Can Fall In Love that clocks in at just under 6 minutes. It's a bit of a dichotomy - a message of faith and hope being delivered in Gene Eugene's brooding, mournful voice. Adam Again fans who are only familiar with the group's latter works will find it very difficult to believe that Gene Eugene wrote and sang these words with the fervor of a passionate evangelist:

They tried a tomb—it wouldn't hold Him
They tried a stone—it rolled away
They tried a rumor—we wouldn't believe it
They tried a lie—we knew the truth
That He was God, and nothing less
He came to fill your emptiness
His Love has stood the test of time
Now it can stand the test of your mind
Tears can be washed away
Believe—you can fall in love
Like you've always dreamed
You can fall in love—if you just believe

On the cross the Man of your dreams

Dies in shame, in love with us all
Willing to take the blame
Dying to give
Love ever true

The fact that such a clear picture of the Gospel was so very rare from this band is sad to me. It's interesting that Eugene was seemingly uncomfortable with sharing or even talking about his faith...uncomfortable with the Church in general...and yet he was intricately involved in improving and promoting Christian music. He became the go-to engineer for West-Coast Christian rock bands (and basically the house engineer for Tooth & Nail Records). "Pick up a Christian rock record from the 1990s, especially if it’s even the slightest bit left-of-center, and you’re likely to see Eugene’s name on it somewhere," blogger Michial Farmer wrote. He also said that Gene Eugene was "the man more responsible than any other for the sound of 1990s Christian alternative rock."  

"He was a Christian, but he wasn't evangelical," Brandon Ebel, president of Tooth and Nail told the Los Angeles Times. Eugene's friend and fellow Lost Dog Derri Daugherty (who's had his own difficulties with the Church) told CCM magazine that Eugene rarely spoke about his faith. But when Daugherty's former wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, Gene Eugene called to say he was praying for her. "We talked for a while, and we touched on things we never had before," said Daugherty.

The ever-present drum machine kicks off the album's most memorable track and closes out side one. In A New World Of Time is a danceable number that seems to end too soon. It gives Dan Michaels another chance to shine and serves as a nice vehicle for Eugene's voice. 





Crazy as it sounds, side two opens with what could be described as a funky altar call song. Walk Away was actually an invitation to surrender to Jesus as Savior and Lord...

Tonight is the night
You choose who to follow
That hole in your heart
Tonight can be filled
Think all you want
It won't change what is real
Forever—remember
This was the night for you

I see your tears, I hear your cry for help

Just one more step
But every time you turn around and walk away

Walk away, You always walk away

Walk away, Again you walk away

You know why you're here

The Father has called you
There's no guarantee
Tomorrow your heart might just stop

How many more chances do you think you'll have

Remember—forever
This was the night for you

Very poignant words, especially in light of Eugene's untimely passing.

The rest of the album continues in much the same vein - funky rhythms, Eugene singing without quite having found his voice, and unapologetically Christian lyrical content.

Consider these lines from Miracles:

Lazarus come forth, He said
Storms at sea are calmed by His word
He told them He'd rise from the dead
In three days, and He did it
What more can you need?
It's truer than history
That should be all you need

God took my heart, showed me His love

He gave it all to me
God's love filled me, changed me inside out
If that's not a miracle tell me what it is

...or these from Morning Song:

The risen Son I call His name
And when I look up I expect to see
The Morning Star above me
I try to find the words
I can't even speak except to say
Hallelujah

...or these from (God Can) Change Your World:

Talk is cheap,
Your life is expensive
The price was paid
By Jesus with His blood

I know God is real

I know God can change your world

Things take a bit of a moody turn on the album's final song. The musical feel is somber and remorseful, but the album ends with Eugene singing about God's love and forgiveness. 

Gene Eugene's vocals improved greatly on subsequent recordings. I mean, to the point that I looked forward to any solo he had on Lost Dogs albums. The upbeat, funky stuff was great, but it was the mournful, sorrowful quality...the "tear" in his voice...that gave such power to Eugene's singing on songs like Jimmy, River on Fire, If It Be Your Will, Don't Cry, Dig, Ain't No Sunshine, Hide Away and many others. "Like a true soul singer, Eugene is remarkably in touch with his melancholy," writes reviewer Stephen Baldwin. Eugene's voice has often been compared to Michael Stipe of REM. But to do that is a disservice to Eugene, who was supremely talented on his own. Any suggestion that Eugene was trying to imitate or pattern himself after Stipe is misguided. 





One reviewer said that In A New World of Time "established the band's love of chunky rhythms and sheer creativity." Blogger Michial Farmer said that it's "the sound of a band trying to find its sound and not quite succeeding," while admitting that "the record is not without its joys." He concludes that "there’s no mistaking In A New World of Time for anything but a dance record from 1986."



After In A New World Of Time, Adam Again toured sporadically. "At first we did more traveling than we did in the latter years," Riki Michele told the Phantom Tollbooth. "The more Gene became involved with producing and things like that, the less Adam Again would do. It got to a point where we'd do a little bit of traveling during the year, but with the last few records, because of life situations and him being involved in other things, we'd mainly just get together and do festivals or get together for another record. So we didn't play a whole lot."







The group recorded four more albums, each of them different, but all of them skillfully mingling soul, funk, rock, and acoustic elements. Jon Knox replaced the drum machine, and the band's songs were less and less about Jesus and more about anger, politics, divorce, and doubt. 










Riki Michele is said to have created a little controversy here and there with her dancing during their live shows. I think this may have been somewhat overblown, since there weren't that many live shows to begin with. Plus, I saw them live at a festival in Atlanta, Georgia, and I don't remember seeing anything that could be labeled scandalous. Maybe she was just having an off night. But Michele insists it was a big problem. "Yes! I got in trouble all the flipping time!" she revealed to a blogger in 2015. "You would think these people had never encountered a female form dancing before. I look back on it with a little bit of pride. When it came to my dancing, I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me what to do. I’d been dancing since I could walk. And when it came to the band, I couldn’t help myself. It is literally a part of who I am, and I was stubborn about it. For the most part, Adam Again fans were awesome. But I got letters from people saying that I had caused their husbands to stumble! Crazy stuff. And I wasn’t trying to 'incite sex,' but I felt sexy! I felt dancey, and I felt a deep connection to all of those feelings, and to the music, and that’s where I felt comfortable in my role in Adam Again. So nobody’s gonna tell me not to dance!" 

Alrighty, then! 






You know, I also had a strict, Pentecostal upbringing. Dancing, movies, bowling alleys, all of that stuff was frowned upon. And I have noticed during my 5+ decades on the earth that people usually respond to such a childhood in one of two ways. Either they appreciate the structure, the guidelines, and the attempts (misguided as they may at times be) to live a "set apart" life according to the Word of God...or they rebel. As I watch videos of Riki dancing while Adam Again plays live at the Cornerstone Festival (there are several of these on YouTube), I get the feeling that she was from the latter camp...that her dancing was a defiance of the way she was raised more than an involuntary response to music. I realize that I'm playing armchair psychiatrist here and I could be wrong. Maybe Riki Michele was a sexy dance machine and she just couldn't help herself. Whatever.  





Gene Eugene and Riki Michele pulled off a very rare feat. After years of struggle, with their personal dysfunction being publicly aired in Adam Again songs, the two divorced...and yet remained in Adam Again together. Only band in the history of CCM (that I know of) with divorced spouses standing on stage together in front of concert audiences. It was a unique relationship and a special arrangement. Not many could've pulled that off or would've even wanted to. Gene Eugene never remarried.



It's almost a cliche these days for so-called "Third Wave" CCM artists (those who experienced their most successful years in the 1990s and beyond) to engage in left-wing virtue signaling on social media. Riki Michele certainly fits the stereotype. Feminist cheer-leading, anti-Trump sentiment, profanity and alcohol, support for illegal immigration and all things gay...yep, the SJW greatest hits are all there. [I reached out to Michele to interview her for this blog post twice...she initially said she would participate but eventually declined.] Michele now says that her "faith life" was "based on shame and blame and guilt. Guilt and shame were what my whole faith life was driven by. And fear." She's explored other faiths and has contemplated no faith at all. "Sometimes I’m just hanging on to faith by a thread," she says. "I have more questions and doubts today than I ever have, and on any given day I could be like 'I’m done.' But then the very next day I feel something deep within me telling me, 'No, you’re not quite done.' I struggle with it all the time."


L-R: Greg Lawless, Michele Bunch Palmer, Dan Michaels

"In the last 2 years I’ve totally stepped outside of the comfort zone of mainstream Christianity," she revealed in 2015, "and I’ve been reading other spiritual leaders, and I’ve been opening my mind to different kinds of things. At the very base, I’m still a Jesus follower. But I am convinced now in my life that there are certainly other paths to listen to. And I’m still searching. I have so many more questions and eye-rolls about Scripture now than I ever have. Some days I’m like, 'I don’t think I believe this anymore,' and it scares me to say it out loud, you know? And so I just keep in contact with that spirit inside of me, and hope that that’s OK, and that that’s enough. I’m not an atheist. But I would say that I’m still on a journey. I’m still in daily prayer, and I’m still stumbling over my own feet."

As I read her comments, my mind goes back to the song Walk Away, the opener on side two of In A New World Of Time...

Think all you want
It won't change what is real

I see your tears, I hear your cry for help

But every time you turn around and walk away

Walk away, You always walk away






Gene at The Fabulous Green Room, Huntington Beach, CA

The Green Room in Huntington Beach, California is said to have been the hub of Gene Eugene's world. It was more than his studio; it was also his home. He had an open door policy. Musician friends often walked in, played on each other's projects, spent the night, or just hung out. Eugene rarely left the studio, unless it was to go see a Dodgers baseball game. It was in The Green Room that Gene Eugene breathed his last. Adam Again died with him. It's been said that the entire West Coast Christian alternative rock scene died with him as well.

After Eugene's passing, Mike Stand of the Altar Boys and Clash of Symbols said that he never heard Eugene say one unkind word about anybody or anything. "It's the truth!" Stand wrote in a post for Crosswalk.com. "I never heard a cynical word out of his mouth, only words of encouragement and understanding. We should all pray for such balance in our lives." 


Mike Stand

Like so many others, Stand was shocked and dumbfounded at the loss of his friend and colleague. "The Lord had His reasons for calling Gene home, obviously," Stand concluded. "The Bible continually reminds us that our presence on this earth is temporary. Still, death is so final. I know I'll see Gene again and when I do I like to think he'll invite me into his heavenly Green Room to record a new batch of tunes."

Stand added, "
My prayer is that through the death of Gene we'll all learn to come to terms with our own mortality and draw closer to God."







I asked Greg Lawless if he was pleased with In A New World Of Time as he looks back. "Yeah, when it was finished we were really happy with it," he said. "Looking back, its obvious we hadn’t discovered our voice yet. If I had to choose a favorite song from In A New World Of Time it would probably be Morning Song; it has a killer guitar solo from our good friend Mark Schrock. That one was fun to play live."

"I’m humbled knowing this recording means something to a few people," he said.