The first time I saw the cover of I Predict 1990, I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t know it (apparently) resembled a tarot card, or that Steve seemed to be making (apparently) some sort of weird hand signal. I did find it kind of unsettling, though. ‘Man, what is with that creepy expression…’ But, c’mon, this was Steve Taylor. I loved his music, his lyrics, his clever, skewering humour. Loved it so much that as a teenager I insisted my mom listen to the entire On The Fritz album in one sitting, while I explained every song in detail. And, sure – Steve was controversial. Challenging. Slightly possibly maybe verging on inappropriate, once in a while. (“Lifeboat”, anyone?)
So, I put on the album. And the first track hits me with:
Now I don’t care if it’s a baby or a tissue blob
but if we run out of youngsters
I’ll be out of a job, and so I
I did my duty cleaning up the neighborhood
I blew up the clinic real good
Steve, what the heck.
But I hung in there. And then came the line: “The end don’t justify the means anytime”
Okay. Okay. Phew. Steve hadn’t lost it completely. I got it.
But certainly, with this third studio album Steve pushed the ‘acceptable topics for CCM artists’ envelope to a pretty big tipping point. Or at least the ‘acceptable treatment of topics’. Listeners had come to expect his biting, uncomfortable-making lyrics; but people all along the conservative/liberal spectrum of Christian thought weren’t sure what to, well, think. Many simply closed the book on him after this album – some not making it past the first song.
And that was (and is) a real shame. Steve’s music asks listeners to really hear what’s being said in the lyrics – and to seriously consider that those lyrics might be holding a mirror up to stuff we might want to examine in ourselves. His stuff isn’t for lazy listeners. But when we let ourselves get so bound to tightly-held and well-reasoned opinions, we can lose our cool over a ‘shocking’ song like “Clinic” and miss the chance to engage in critical thinking and respectful debate. Do I agree with everything Steve Taylor says? Nope. (Some day I’d love to talk with him about “Jung and the Restless”…)
And hey – there’s a LOT of good stuff on this album. Some of my favourites are…no, that’s too many to list. But here are a few comments…
– “What Is The Measure of Your Success” – If you get a chance, watch the video – it’s pretty powerful. He nails the mood of a regretful, bitter, dying businessman.
– “Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel A Lot Better” – Another delightfully satirical lyric, having the opposite effect of making you smile (hopefully).
– “Jim Morrison’s Grave” – Fantastic song. Poetry and rock.
– “Innocence Lost” – Emotional piece about a visit to death row. Gets me every time.
– “Harder To Believe Than Not To” – A beautiful song, haunting and moving. Taking its title from the writings of Flannery O’Connor, an American writer, the song argues against the idea that Christianity is a crutch.
1. I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good – 4:11
2. What is the Measure of Your Success? – 4:38
3. Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel A Lot Better – 3:25
4. Babylon – 4:48
5. Jim Morrison’s Grave – 4:29
6. Svengali – 4:28
7. Jung and the Restless – 4:32
8. Innocence Lost – 5:02
9. A Principled Man – 3:26
10 – Harder to Believe Than Not To – 4:31
Steve Taylor – vocals and backup percussion
Dave Thrush – saxophones
Jeff Stone – guitar
Glen Holmen – bass
Jack Kelly – drums
Steve Goomas – keyboards
Gym Nicholson – guitar
Dave Perkins – additional guitar on all songs except “Jim Morrison’s Grave” and “Harder to Believe”
Greg Husted – assorted keyboard tracks and accordion
Papa John Creach – fiddle
Ashley Cleveland – vocal stylings on “Jim Morrison’s Grave”, “Svengali”, and “Babylon”
Annie McCaig – backing vocals on “Success” and “A Principled Man”
Nathan East: bass on “Clinic”
Gary Lunn – bass on “Hope”
Lisa Cates – percussion
Mike Mead – more percussion
Mary Bates – operatic vocal on “Harder to Believe”
Jim Horn – tenor sax on “Clinic”
Ross Holmen – French horn
John Andrew Schreiner – synth bass on “Svengali”
Janet Croninger – “Jung” woman
Fred Travalena – “Jung” doctor
Del Newman – orchestration on “Harder to Believe Than Not To”
The Beaufort Twins (Dave Perkins and Steve Taylor) – producers and engineers
Dave Perkins – producer, engineer, mixing
Steve Taylor – producer, mixing
David Schober – engineer
Malcom Harper – engineer
Robert Wartinbee – assistant engineer
Michael Ross – engineer on “Harder To Believe”
Music Grinder, Los Angeles, California – recording location
Reelsound Bus, Nashville, Tennessee – recording location
Wayne Cook Studios, Los Angeles, California – recording location
CBS Studios, London – recording location
Reelsound truck, Austin, Texas (48 track) – mixing location
Bob Ludwig – mastering
Masterdisk, New York, New York – mastering location
Dave Perkins and Steve Taylor are listed as producers as “The Beaufort Twins.” A likely satire of the Mick Jagger & Keith Richards production/songwriting partnership billed as The Glimmer Twins