Saturday, November 14, 2009

SWEET COMFORT BAND







Sweet Comfort Band performed their last shows in 1984. I was privileged to see them on that tour. It was probably my 3rd or 4th concert ever. They played at Great America amusement park if front of maybe 1000 people. I remember being amazed even then (I was what… 16 maybe??) at their musicianship. I remember seeing a young Brian Duncan and Randy Thomas exchange pitches on their respective instruments, guitar and voice. The vocalist won that duel.

At that time I was listening to primarily Heavy Metal, yet Sweet Comfort Band was a different. It was loud and so was the guitar but they weren't hard rock. Hearing those albums back then they didn’t have the energy of their live performance, at least to a 16 year old. Well I’m 41 now and hearing these releases is simply mesmerizing.

The melodies soar and the performances are top notch. Bryan Duncan really shows he can rock, he also shows why he continued into a long solo career. A top notch singer/songwriter. Randy Thomas also shows why he continued on into Allies and made them the strong rock/pop band they were.

Retroactive Records has re-released 5 Sweet Comfort Band albums, ‘Perfect Timing (1984),’ ‘Cutting Edge (1982),’ ‘Hearts of Fire (1981),’ ‘Hold on Tight (1979),’ ‘Breakin’ The Ice (1978).’ And a good job they’ve done with them. To hear them without all the vinyl noise (don’t get me wrong I like vinyl, but after 25 years the advantages of the compact disc shine bright. A clean and warm sound that allows the original performances to shine in a way they couldn’t before.

“Cutting Edge” enjoys a fresh sound that has depth and feel. “Perfect Timing” sounds the most produced for the time. Perhaps it’s because of the production of Dino Elefante but ‘Timing’ has the strongest guitar and drum sound. “Hearts of Fire” has bright guitars with a clean vocal sound that really is enhanced by the mastering at Steinhaus. The songs ‘Isabel,’ ‘Contender’ and ‘Now or Never’ are some great rock ’n’ roll. A heartfelt solo by Randy Thomas on ‘Never’…. At times these discs remind me of Toto or perhaps aspects of Kansas as far as musical aptitude and style.

The pop leanings of ‘Hold on Tight’ glean some new life with a great remastering job. It’s not until this albums last song ‘Find Your Way’ is a hint given as to what was to come. ‘Breaking the Ice’ has some nice moments as well. Both of those albums are pure 70’s rock with a feel not unlike Steely Dan or Billy Joel.

One of the charms of Sweet Comfort Band was that lyrically they avoided the clich├ęs. They made no bones about their faith, but you won’t find a lot of simple answers and Jesus loves me lyrics here. Real life and the difficulties that come along with it are topics often explored.

Fans of Sweet Comfort Band will want to pick these up, so they may save their vinyl releases. Music lovers who want some Jesus music that is not overtly polished, but played by musicians will want to obtain these releases ASAP. Myself I’d start with ‘Perfect Timing’ and go from there.
7 axes
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