Prodigal – Electric Eye – 1984

In 1982 I was a Junior in High School and had a subscription to Campus Life Magazine. One day I saw an ad for a brand new band called Prodigal that sported a very cool cover, which was a take off on Escher’s famous painting. But what was even better was that there was a pull out single for the band attached to the center of the magazine. These were all the rage during the 1970’s and often found included inside cereal boxes or even attached to the cardboard of those same cereal boxes. You had to take the very flimsy plastic disc, place it on top of a solid LP and then you could play the single. That was the first of three Prodigal releases, and all three made this list. That band was that damned good. probably better than we even realize. Prodigal is easily the most overlooked and unsung band in CCM history…PERIOD! The type of innovation already noted was what fans could expect from the band Prodigal during their short-lived three record existence. Their innovations also included being the first recipient of the Dove Award for “Video of the Year.” They were one of the few bands that continued to invest in the fledgling video marketing promotional support creating several videos per release. And even for the album in question there was what is called a “stop groove” at the end of the side 2 and a “hidden bonus track” of sorts which contained a computer code for the old Commodore 64 computer. Using a cassette drive a person could get bonus information about the album along with photos and lyrics. This may have become common with the invent of compact discs, but this was totally revolutionary in 1984. All three of their album covers were spectacular. But it was the content, both musically and lyrically, that set Prodigal above their peers for the time. Where other artist bemoaned the struggles, pain and realities of life on this spinning globe, Prodigal placed themselves within that reality and expressed those struggles from one who is intimately aware and experienced with those struggles. Where the first album stayed along the musical lines of Steely Dan and the Eagles, it was with “Electric Eye” the band became very current, and dare I say, cutting edge. Guitar driven rock and new wave synth pop merged to create a sound that was uniquely Prodigal while immediately familiar and memorable. Driving keyboard and bass that for some reason reminds me of the music from the “St. Elmo’s Fire” soundtrack. Also another unique feature is the use of three different lead singers with duties distributed according to musical style. The content on “Electric Eye” is beautifully portrayed on the album cover shown above. We have surrounded ourselves with so much to entertain us and consume our time that the difference between reality and artificial are not just blurred but rather the artificial begins to be more “real.” Note how the actual lightning through the window is faded and bland while the same lightning shown on the television set is vibrant and exiting. This is expressed in different ways on the album along with a host of other topics that are both poignant and eternal. Even the recording process was experimental. The album was recorded in an abandoned Catholic Girls school in Cincinnati using a mobile recording system built into a motor home. Band members would move from room to room to create a different acoustic sound to discover the best fit for a particular song. Lead vocalist and band leader Loyd Boldman told me that at the time the band (especially himself) was listening a lot to Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and “The River” as well as Daniel Amos and Michael Omartian. These influences shade and nuance much of what makes this record so amazing. With the knowledge guitar parts, vocal styles and overall production results make sense. The goal was to create a larger, less polished and precise studio album that the debut was. In that area the band succeeded with flying colors.

Contributor David Lowman – https://ccms500bestalbums.wordpress.com/

Tracklist
1 – Scene Of The Crime – 4:44
2 – Fast Forward – 4:43
3 – Masks – 4:05
4 – Just What I Need – 3:08
5 – Emerald City – 3:23
6 – Electric Eye – 5:00
7 – Bobby – 3:18
8 – Shout It Out – 3:25
9 – Neon – 5:15
10 – Boxes – 3:35

Credits
Arranged By – Prodigal
Artwork [Additional] – A.I.R. Studio
Bass – Mike Wilson
Design [Cover] – Dave Workman, Loyd Boldman
Design Concept [Cover] – Loyd Boldman
Drums, Vocals – Dave Workman
Effects [Special Sound FX] – Gary (Platinum) Platt
Engineer [Assistants] – Brad Kuenning, Paul Thompson, Rytt Hershberg
Graphics [Additional] – The Malone Group
Guitar, Vocals – Rick Fields
Keyboards, Vocals – Loyd Boldman
Mastered By – Mike Fuller
Mixed By [Additional Overdubs, Final Mixdown] – Gary Platt
Photography By [Back Cover] – Luther Blue
Photography By [Cover] – Gary Kessler
Producer – Jon Phelps
Recorded By – Greg McNeily
Sounds, Engineer [Concert Sound] – Paul Thompson
Written-By – Workman (tracks: A4, B5), Boldman (tracks: A1 to A3, A5 to B4)

Companies, etc.
Recorded By – The Full Sail Dream Machine
Mixed At – The Full Sail Dream Machine
Engineered At – Moonlight Sound
Mastered At – Criteria Recording Studios
Pressed By – Electrosound Group Midwest, Inc.
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Published By – Between The Lines Music
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Heartland Records Company
Copyright (c) – Heartland Records Company

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Author: David Lowman

Owner and writer at CCM's 500 Best Albums Of All Time. https://ccms500bestalbums.wordpress.com/

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