Chagall Guevara – Chagall Guevara
Like an artist making headway into your personal and social realms using guerilla tactics, this semi-celebrated semi-supergroup burned out before they faded. Or maybe they faded out into obscurity when their rabid fan base was ready to chew them down.
Chagall Guevara begins the album with a “Murder in the Big House”, a death knoll for, well, maybe pop Western society, maybe for the music industry these CCM vets just left for MCA, maybe for the status quo. It seems that Steve Taylor and Co. are serving notice to listeners with ears: This may be you. It’s an apocalyptic call worthy of Marley and the Clash, with shimmying and rollicking guitars riding over a thick-as-walls bass line put down by____. Recalling the last night of Babylonian rule recounted in Isaiah and Poe’s “Fall of the House of Uscher”
“Escher’s World” is a tour-de-force of mismatched lyrics decrying the insanity and inanity of the world we occupy and define, using a few lyrical and musical twists and turns inspired by the artist and his stairwells.
A host of swirling and crunching guitars supplied by guitarists and backing vocalists Lynn Nichols (who, among other things was an A&R rep and a producer for Phil Keaggy’s seminal Sunday’s Child, as well as a song-writer and guitarist in his own rights) and Dave Perkins (who helped to produce Taylor’s iconoclastic I Predict 1990 and was in the same label group as Mark Heard back in the mid-80’s that tried to break out of the Christian music ghetto) and a backbeat to beat the dead skins from your ears.
“Hey, don’t I know you
from some other life
you were wide-eyed and green
and a little bit taller
and you didn’t look away
when spoken to…
deaf from the din of your self-righteous babble…
I think you’ve been blinded
by your own light
And like a surgical cut in a back-alley, Taylor breathlessly asks, “Was it sudden / was it clean / were there a lot of shades in between” before he implores, begs and demands his subject to “step away… and looose yourself”.
Musically, “Play God” is the most intriguing, with a horn section arranged and played by Taylor, Nichols and Perkins to send chills down the spine of music geeks everywhere. The song is another sarcastic masterpiece, evocative of Dylan during his electric years. Taylor sneers, “And you still play God / how’d you get so good / so almighty / so mighty misunderstood.” “You ought to swim the Channel / you stroke so fine.” The horns twirl and flut away to a swirling oblivion.