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Clint M

Steve Taylor

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: MWS c. 1990 would be the "i 2 Eye" record, yes?

Yes. That and Christmas, which is still MWS' second-best album.

: What was so great about i 2 (eye)?

Largely, the hypnotic Philip Glass-esque repetition of musical phrases -- the same type of thing Sufjan Stevens is doing today, but Smith didn't get the hipster credit for it the way Stevens is because Smith is, well, Michael Freakin' W. Freakin' Smith.

: IMHO MWS did exactly one decent recording: "The Big Picture."

I have no idea why the fuss over The Big Picture. Other than "Rocketown," it's...fine.

: It was the high-water mark of the '80s avant-garde movement in CCM.

What??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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???????????????????????????????????????????? Avant-garde??????????????

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????????????????????????????????????????????????? Other than "Tearin' Down the Wall," there's not an even marginally avant-garde moment in Smith's pre-i 2 (eye) career!!!! I cannot think of a sentence I've read in my year on this board that's made less sense to me!!!! I mean, I can't even imagine what you're considering avant-garde: The hemiola in "Rocketown," maybe?!? The voices in "Voices"?!? The unintelligible vocal interlude in "Wired for Sound"?!?!? I am truly, truly, truly, truly confused.

Dale

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??????????????????????????????????

Dale

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: Unless you consider Ms. Phillips' The Turning avant-garde.

Oh please no.

To be perfectly blunt, outside of the Danielson Famile and a bit of Daniel Amos, I can't think of any Christian albums I've listened to that I'd consider avant-garde. I'm sure there is more, but I'm even more sure I haven't heard it.

Dale

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Dale, we're talking about the CCM marketplace here, so please keep in mind that "avant garde" is a relative term. What is avant garde in CCM is merely au courant in secu -- ahem -- mainstream music. What I meant was that The Big Picture sounded like what the edgier hit radio stations were playing at the time, and MWS was the first big-money CCM artist who was allowed to sound that way. The album got a major promotion & airplay push in the CCM marketplace at a time when such attention was usually given only to softer, safer stuff. Sure, there were plenty of bands rocking harder than MWS, but they weren't in a position to command major chunks of the market the way he was. I had hopes that The Big Picture would provide a major lift for the Steve Taylors and Daniel Amoses and Choirs and 77s and Vectors and Mark Heards and Steve Scotts and Charlie Peacocks and The Calls and whatever else I was listening to at the time. Perhaps if MWS proved that such music was commercially viable in the CCM marketplace, those other artists could get some more exposure in a coattail sort of way, and maybe quit their day jobs. The other album that raised my hopes was Russ Taff's self-titled one, where he covered Peacock and The Call and sang about pain and doubt. But it didn't happen; RT and MWS slid back into warm blandness; Heard died; Charlie Peacock was co-opted by Nashville (he actually had a record produced by Brown Friggin' Bannister); DA can't afford to make a record unless the fans pay for it up front; ST is eternally pregnant with film projects; the other bands are at least partially if not completely retired.

Jeffrey no doubt recalls an infamously craven essay by one Scott Thunder that criticized The Big Picture for being too far out, and hailed Christian radio's return to the warm fuzzy sound. Exactly backwards from the way Jeffrey and I have thought about Christian music ever since.

I have to admit I've never heard i 2 (EYE) so I can't exactly start an argument about it. But I will say that I played Smith's Agnus Dei in church the other day, and it's obvious that he never met a hemiola he didn't like.

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: Dale, we're talking about the CCM marketplace here, so please keep in

: mind that "avant garde" is a relative term.

I understand what you're saying, but I don't care. Once we start using the "avant-garde" to describe The Big Picture, the phrase has no meaning, the terrorists will have won, etc. If you want to weasel around and say that MWS' album is "avant-gardish" or "has concepts in common with avant-garde music," fine. But using the whole-hog term and putting The Big Picture in the same box as Cage's "4'33"" or Bryars' "Jesus' Love Never Failed Me Yet" is madness to me, CCM or no CCM.

: But I will say that I played Smith's Agnus Dei in church the other

: day, and it's obvious that he never met a hemiola he didn't like.

In a perfect world, all music would be in 3-bar hemiola (specifically, 6/8 plus 6/8 plus 3/4, like most of Sufjan Stevens' "Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head!") or in 5/8 with bars that alternate accents (^--^- | ^-^--).

Dale

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I understand what you're saying, but I don't care.

I can't tell you how often I hear that...

But using the whole-hog term and putting The Big Picture in the same box as Cage's \"4'33\"\" or Bryars' \"Jesus' Love Never Failed Me Yet\" is madness to me, CCM or no CCM.

:crazy3: But I am mad, I tell you! Mad! Mad!

The conversation was clearly about "popular" music as opposed to "serious" music -- so I don't think you can make that charge stick. I wasn't trying to fit MWS in that box. If that's what you mean by "avant garde," then we should be talking about Part, Penderecki and Tavener (and some of Bryars) as the "Christian avant garde." My point was simply that you can pretty reliably tune in to Christian radio and hear what "secular" radio sounded like 10-15 years ago. The Big Picture could have changed all that, but it wasn't allowed to.

In a perfect world, all music would be in 3-bar hemiola (specifically, 6/8 plus 6/8 plus 3/4, like most of Sufjan Stevens' \"Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head!\") or in 5/8 with bars that alternate accents (^--^- | ^-^--).

Of course, if everyone were doing it, it wouldn't be avant garde. Have you ever checked out Scaterd-Few's Sin Disease album? :headbang:

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Jeffrey no doubt recalls an infamously craven essay by one Scott Thunder that criticized The Big Picture for being too far out, and hailed Christian radio's return to the warm fuzzy sound. Exactly backwards from the way Jeffrey and I have thought about Christian music ever since.  

I have to admit I've never heard i 2 (EYE) so I can't exactly start an argument about it

I am not going to insist on the term avant-garde, but what I remember is putting on The Big Picture (on vinyl, mind you) and being completely blown away. (What was I... sixteen?) Sheltered, imprisoned CCM listener that I was, I thought that this was a breakthrough in music, when really, it was instead a big breakthrough only for Christian music. Anyway, I couldn't listen to it loud enough... the sound was so spacious, busy, and big. My friend Todd and I were sure that this was the beginning of a new era of creativity and courage in Christian music.

Then came i 2 (eye). We rushed out, picked it up, brought it back to the house, put it on...

We sat through the first song and said, "Huh. Okay, he's... um... he's teasing us with one of the old style chorussy songs. No worries." Next song. "Huh. Kinda cheesy. Kinda easy pop. Okay, what next?"

And on and on. Slowly, our enthusiasm sagged. By the end of the album we were completely depressed. It was as if all of the ambition had drained out of Smitty. The creativity and courage had been replaced with "Let's just get a song on the radio that'll end up being sung in youth group gatherings for years to come." That's what happened. Since then, MWS has held no interest for me. Sure, he's chosen his niche... singing for the choir and composing instrumental stuff to be performed within the Christian circle, but the music never seemed good enough after that to "cross over" and catch the attention of people who knew good music.

I feel a little reluctant to be so harsh on him. But that's how we felt and that's when I ceased to be a fan.

Amy Grant at least stuck to her guns and kept putting out songs that were about more than just Jesus. Granted, Lead Me On was the musical peak... the one that felt like it was played by real musicians with soul and spirit instead of by pop-machines with a three-minute timer... After that he eased into cookie cutter pop, but at least it rose to the standard of mainstream pop radio. I still have some respect for the stuff she does, and even listened to her latest all the way through the other day, like visiting an old friend. I still owe Amy a lot for setting an example and playing a part that led me out of my defensiveness about Christian music and showed me that the larger world is full of things to praise God for.

Now, I'll stop before I mention Leslie Phillips, whose influence in my life dwarfs that of any other singer/songwriter but Bono.

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To resurrect this thread, I'd like to note that 4 of Steve Taylor's Out-Of-Print albums are now on ITunes.

I Want To Be A Clone EP

Meltdown (with the CD remixes)

On the Fritz - but does not include "On The Fritz"; "I Manipulate"; "Drive, He Said"

The Best We Could Find (+3 That Never Escaped) - does include "On The Fritz"

If you have the 2-disc box set Now The Truth Can Be Told, here is what you need for completist sake:

From the I Want To Be A Clone EP:

"Steeplechase"

"Written Guarantee"

From the Meltdown album:

"We Don't Need No Colour Code" (album version)

"Meat The Press"

"Over My Dead Body"

"Jenny"

The 3 remixes of "Meltdown"

From the On The Fritz album:

"It's a Personal Thing"

"You've Been Bought"

"You Don't Owe Me Nothing" (album version)

"I Manipulate" (which is currently MIA)

From the The Best We Could Find (+3 That Never Escaped) album:

"Down Under"

It would be around 13 dollars for all of these tracks.

In addition, you can get Chagall Guevara's cover of "Treasure of the Broken Land" from the Mark Heard tribute album.

All of his other albums are currently not available on iTunes and are OOP (to my knowledge).

Edited by Clint M

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Clint M wrote:

: On the Fritz - but does not include "On The Fritz"; "I Manipulate"; "Drive, He Said"

That's bizarre. Those are three of the better ones on there.

: All of his other albums are currently not available on iTunes and are OOP (to my knowledge).

Yep, and I'm currently selling one of them ...

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Hey Clint,

Thanks for all that research. It prompted me to take 1/2 hour or so and actually go into all my old CD boxes and track down as many Steve Taylor CDs as I could find -- some I'd even forgotten about (there is a single of some sorts with Bugs Bunny's face on it)... But all that you posted regardnig what one would need from ITunes if he has the Now The Truth Can Be Told recording applies to me.

I'm going to load it all up, something I've wanted to do for a while anyway. Then I am going to begin looking through my old cassettes. I wonder how my copy of "I Manipulate" still sounds. If it is any good, I'll master it here at home and load it up on my personal website that I rarely use anymore. I think my web guy (AHEM!) made a page where I can offer free downloads. I was using it for my Sunday morning musicians for a little while there.

Edited in later...

This is very cool. In that hunt I also found the first Cush recording, which I love, Chagall Guevara, Steve Taylor's Liver and a Charlie Peacock "Best of" of some type, which includes "My mind played a trick on me," "Big Man's Hat," "Experience," and "Lie Down in the Grass," a song that I am sure I once tried to pass off as my own to a desired female in high school. (It didn't work.)

-s.

Edited by stef

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Stef - I've got a cassette of the "Steve Taylor + Some Band" concert that's never (to my knowledge) been released on CD. I think I'm going to try and make a digital copy out of it.

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Stef - I've got a cassette of the "Steve Taylor + Some Band" concert that's never (to my knowledge) been released on CD. I think I'm going to try and make a digital copy out of it.

Limelight?

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stef wrote:

: Thanks for all that research. It prompted me to take 1/2 hour or so and actually go into all my old CD boxes

: and track down as many Steve Taylor CDs as I could find -- some I'd even forgotten about (there is a single

: of some sorts with Bugs Bunny's face on it)...

Whoa, that's worth a fair bit of money, isn't it?

Clint M, if you do make a digital version of Limelight, I'd be interested in a copy -- I've got the cassette and possibly even the vinyl (LP? EP?), but wouldn't know how to digitize 'em if I tried.

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Here's a link to a guy's webpage who has some Taylor albums and songs available to be downloaded. This was legitimatized by a statement by Taylor in the Cornerstone Press Tent interview where Steve said, "Personally, if you want to get them [my albums] off the Internet, I have no problem with that, go ahead. They are not available, have at it."

The albums now available on Itunes have been removed from the above link, but the Limelight album is available, as well as the leftover songs from On the Fritz not on Itunes, and the songs from Steve's live performance at Cornerstone 2003.

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Thanks for the link Crow! Unfortunatly, the page that had the bootleg performances are now gone. :(

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So....

Say I were to interview Steve Taylor later this week...

Anything you'd like me to ask him?

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So....

Say I were to interview Steve Taylor later this week...

Anything you'd like me to ask him?

The obvious question: "Are you ever going to do another album?"

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The obvious question: "Are you ever going to do another album?"

You mean the soundtrack for _The Second Chance_ doesn't count?

My question... after years of biting, scathing, humorous social commentary on songs like "I Want to Be a Clone" all the way to "Cash Cow", and then after employing his biting satire with groups like "The Newsboys" and "Guardian", it was a little shocking that a serious drama, "The Second Chance" emerged as his first feature film. Has the biting satire been squelched forever by earnestness?

Nick

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How about:

"Steve, over two decades have passed. It is time for you to go on record. Please be truthful...

Cornerstone 84 -- Did you jump or were you pushed?"

-s.

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Nick Alexander wrote:

: My question... after years of biting, scathing, humorous social commentary on songs like "I Want to

: Be a Clone" all the way to "Cash Cow", and then after employing his biting satire with groups like

: "The Newsboys" and "Guardian", it was a little shocking that a serious drama, "The Second Chance"

: emerged as his first feature film. Has the biting satire been squelched forever by earnestness?

FWIW, he kind of addressed this when I interviewed him a month ago.

Jeff, there is one question that didn't even occur to me to ask him until after our interview was over, and once it occurred to me, I really regretted not thinking of it sooner. Namely: WHEN WILL ALL YOUR VIDEOS BE RE-ISSUED ON DVD? Seriously, I think they could probably all fit on a single dual-layer disc -- there couldn't be much more than three hours of unique material there. With seamless branching, you could even fit in all the different kinds of interstitial material from the various video albums! (I'm guessing the fact that this music is spread out over three or four record labels would be one impediment here...)

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I'd be curious to hear what he thinks about having cast MWS as one of the lead characters (no acting experience but a celebrity within church circles) -- was that a good choice a) artistically, and B) economically.

And I'd really love to know what he thinks about the economics of the film business -- does the model he used work? For his next films, would he stay within the "christian" market, or would he aim for a general market?

And...why did this film not perform better in theaters?

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Tim, an e-pal of mine is wondering about the DVD sales of the film -- is there any reliable source for that sort of info? Box-office figures are tracked pretty rigorously, but I gather DVD sales figures rely a little more on whatever the distributors decide to announce.

Here's how he put it:

Maybe you could keep us posted of DVD sales of A Second Chance over the next 6 months. I figure, if there are 300 million U.S. residents, then evangelical Christians must make up _at least_ 20% of their population. If even 10% of the 20% buy the DVD, that's 10% of 60 million people = 6 million copies of the DVD. We're not talking pocket change.

Your thoughts? (Or should this be over in the thread for the film?)

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Nick Alexander wrote:

: My question... after years of biting, scathing, humorous social commentary on songs like "I Want to

: Be a Clone" all the way to "Cash Cow", and then after employing his biting satire with groups like

: "The Newsboys" and "Guardian", it was a little shocking that a serious drama, "The Second Chance"

: emerged as his first feature film. Has the biting satire been squelched forever by earnestness?

FWIW, he kind of addressed this when I interviewed him a month ago.

That was an excellent interview!! Thanks for sharing it...

Nick

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Some dude named Tim, via PTC:

Maybe you could keep us posted of DVD sales of A Second Chance over the next 6 months. I figure, if there are 300 million U.S. residents, then evangelical Christians must make up _at least_ 20% of their population. If even 10% of the 20% buy the DVD, that's 10% of 60 million people = 6 million copies of the DVD. We're not talking pocket change.

Um. Unless a family of four is going to buy four copies, that math is pretty spotty. Maybe, *maybe* every tenth evangelical family will buy a copy. (I sincerely doubt it.) But that gets you 2 million, tops.

Dale

Edited by M. Dale Prins

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Tim, an e-pal of mine is wondering about the DVD sales of the film -- is there any reliable source for that sort of info? Box-office figures are tracked pretty rigorously, but I gather DVD sales figures rely a little more on whatever the distributors decide to announce.

Sales figures are hard to get unless one subscribes to the Soundscan charts, which track scans at checkout counters (but miss some other sales, such as concert & catalog/website sales). Figures are sometimes reported, but, yes, often because the distributor is pleased with them.

Here's how he put it:

Maybe you could keep us posted of DVD sales of A Second Chance over the next 6 months. I figure, if there are 300 million U.S. residents, then evangelical Christians must make up _at least_ 20% of their population. If even 10% of the 20% buy the DVD, that's 10% of 60 million people = 6 million copies of the DVD. We're not talking pocket change.

Your thoughts? (Or should this be over in the thread for the film?)

::w00t::

Your friend has no idea just how hilarious that sentence is. 6-million units on DVD is very, very rare in any genre, and in the 'christian' genre, only The Passion of the Christ has done those numbers.

Finding Nemo did 8-million units in the first day of release in 2003. Disney sold 11-million units of Narnia in the first month of release (3 versions combined) -- the biggest release of 2006 to date. The Digital Entertainment Group reports total DVD shipments to retail in the first half of '06 were 740-million units.

The RIAA discloses industry sales (covering 84% of the recorded music market), and their DVD sales, covering music projects only, I believe, are reported to be 27-million units for 2005 -- that's all music DVDs combined.

The RIAA gives Platinum sales status to DVDs selling more than 100,000 units; Gold is 50,000. Sales stats for the Christian market are tough to get, but sales of more than 100-thousand are somewhat rare. The ever-popular Gaither music DVDs have 99 titles certified gold or platinum to date, including 45 platinum and 4 that have been certified multi-platinum. (Music sales are easier to find than movie stats, but it's a useful benchmark given the broad, sustained appeal of the Gaither videos in the Christian market.) In my experience, the top-selling DVD on the Christian Soundscan Chart (reporting sales in Christian stores) are usually in the range of 5,000-10,000 per week (for a strong title), and out of the top five or ten titles, sales are often less than 1,000 per week. Given that there are over 5,000 such stores, you can see how tough the home video market can be.

Apologies if this takes the thread off-track a bit...

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