Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Michael Knott joined The LIfesavors, an early Christian pogo punk/new wave band when he was sixteen or seventeen.  Their debut full length album was 1981’s US KIDS.  Early on, the group was banned from playing Calvary Chapels because Knott would dance on stage.  In 1986 under the new name Lifesavers, they put out the alternative album KISS OF LIFE.  1995’s HUNTINGTON BEACH was their heaviest album.  Fast forward to 2013 when the group released the Kickstarter supported HEAVEN HIGH (Blonde Vinyl Records).  The front cover painting is ‘Detail of St. Clare’ (1312-20) by Simone Martini  For this record Lifesavers are: Michael Knott (vocals), Joshua Lory (bass, guitar), Masaki Liu (guitar, synth, keys, programming), and Nick White (drums).  The album runs only 27 minutes and 53 seconds.

The title track ‘Heaven High’ is up first.  It is a peppy pop/rock number that includes these lyrics: “One sees the future through the hurting eyes of old/One finds redemption in a newborn child’s soul/One never sleeps at night, another never wakes/One gives it all away to make up for my mistakes/I don’t mind gettin’ heaven high (2X)/Goodbye lonely days goodbye (2X)”.  ‘All Fall Down’ is a fun sounding pop/rock song lyrically and musically: “She’s a devil, she’s an angel, she’s a dancer on the table/And she’s all fall down...She’s a saucy little brat/And she’s all fall down”.

‘Bark Bite’ is a very contemporary and relevant sounding rock song with playful lyrics: “All bark and no bite/All wrong and no right/All dark and no light/All bark and no bite...All right and all right/You’re all bark and no bite/You’re all wrong and not nice”.  ‘Offed my Head’ is a heavy rocker with distorted vocals that reminds me of One Bad Pig.  Here are some of the words: “Let her lovely, lovely eyes never ever let you go/...Let her longing arms do with you what she wants to.../Give her all your time/It’s not your time anymore/Let her calling be forever opening your door/Hear the strength of her compassion and forgiving ways”.

‘I Love it When’ seems addressed to God: “How can You take the whole world and rip it out of Your hands?/When You turn a fallen human back to stand/I love it when I see somethin’ different in the picture...How do You mix the colors and make ‘em shine like they do?/When it’s the darkest hour/What is the deepest blue?”  ‘Dog Days of an Indian Summer’ is a surf rock instrumental.

‘Oh Baby’ finds Chris Dugan on drums.  It sounds like a heavier Beach Boys song musically.  It is a love song: “Wanna hang with the local crazies/Wanna be with you, oh baby...We’re  havin’ way too much fun lately as long as I’m with you, oh baby...Havin’ fun in sunshine saves me as long as it’s with you/Every morning when the sun comes up/We do everything we do and love/And every night when the sun goes down/Everything we do and love/Love, oh baby”.  ‘Stereo Radio’ is a strong melodic pop song about becoming whole: “How do I get well this time?/I’m running out of life and mind/And numbness doesn’t pay the price/And hatred doesn’t pay the price/Put your hands on the stereo/Put your mind on the river road/Put your heart in the confessional and be healed/Put your hands on the radio/Put your life in the river road/Put your time in the confessional and be healed”.

‘Ocean View Lane’ is a short song about being happy: “It’s a sunny day on the Ocean View Lane/It’s a funny thing when ya feel the same way...And I’m down on my knees beggin’ for peace”.  ‘Last Spring’, a quiet, serious song, closes out the album.  Mr. Knott plays guitar and Rick McDonough the lap steel.  Here are some of the words: “There is always a way in/There is monetary wins/Don’t be fooled by wishing wells/Try to save our souls from hells...I have nothing new to say/I have nothing’ new to pray”.

For the most part, HEAVEN HIGH is a fun, infectious pop/rock effort.  Michael Knott and crew have put together an album that is solid both musically and vocally.  This is not really overt message music, but it will please your ears.  I recommend it to fans of Dakoda Motor Co. and am rating it 86%.  For more info visit:,, or connect with Michael Gerard Knott on Facebook.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Lifesavers Underground formed circa 1986.  Their debut album SHADED PAIN came out in 1987.  THIS IS THE HEALING dropped in 1991.  The group released their first album under the name L. S. Underground in 1992 (THE GRAPE PROPHET).  In 2012 they made a comeback with PTSD (Legacy Edition-Retroactive Records/Blonde Vinyl Records).  On this release Michael Knott (lead vocals, guitars) is joined by seven other musicians including Brian Doidge, Jim Chaffin, Joshua Lory and Rick McDonough.  The liner notes fill us in on the purpose of the album: “It has been in Knott’s heart to create an album that would bring awareness to the overwhelming difficulties that U.S. and allied troops encounter upon returning from combat especially Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  PTSD, the leading cause for homelessness as well as alcohol and drug abuse among veterans, is a psychological and neurological disorder.  This is heavy subject matter that needs to be brought to the surface in order to honor and help those who have served our country”. 

The album begins with ‘Acclimation’ which includes these tongue-in-cheek words: “Welcome back to the land of milk and honey/Thank you for your service, sonny/Acclimate to society/Give it some time (2X)”.  ‘Souls are so Low’ has more of a poppier sound musically and asks a good question in regards to soldiers: “How shall we move these souls?/Souls are all so low (2X)”.

‘The Hallows’ is an energetic rocker that speaks of the alienation soldiers feel when returning from war: “I can’t get over the hallows...No one knows me”.  ‘My Redemption’ is stripped down musically and relates the thoughts of a soldier which include both despair and hope: “Gonna get my truck/Gonna get my car/I’m gonna scream right now/Don’t give a...bout what you think/Gonna turn it up, turn it up real loud/I been through too much/To get over all that now/Gonna get real mad/I’m gonna feel real down.../Sometimes I feel I see heaven/Risin’ up through the smokey skies/Sometimes I feel I’m forgiven”.

‘Child’s Prayer’ finds a child praying for his or her Dad: “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus/Help my Dad”.  The song is intense and passionate.  ‘Miss America’ addresses the difficult memories of a medic on the front lines. Knott’s vocals are delivered with great emotion as is the electric guitar part.

Long-time Michael Knott fans will appreciate ‘A Shade of Pain’, a ballad with lovely, poetic lyrics: “First we find the answer, then we take the blame/We put on all the masks, then we play the game/Shaded pain/We throw off all the shackles and then we wear the chains/We find out who we are, then we lose our name/Shaded pain (2X).../How can we be forgiven if we don’t live our lives?”  ‘Light’s Out’ is a blistering rocker that captures the emptiness and despair of a female soldier: “She’s got her books and all her pictures in a row/All her emails and the candles are burning low/All her loved ones don’t love her anymore/Lights out (3X)/Lights out in Baghdad”.

‘Never Gonna Come Back’ continues in the rock vein and includes the lyric: “Look what you’ve done to me”.  ‘Forever’ is a song of great despondency: “How will I get to tomorrow?/Beg, borrow, and steal/How does this get out of my head?/Guns and blood.../Now I’m dead.../Gonna lose myself forever”.  The last song ‘What is Love Fighting For’ has a punk influence.  Lyrically it is akin to Bob Dylan’s ‘With God on Our Side’.  Religion should never be used as a justification for war: “If God is love/What is love fighting for?/All the little children holding hands believe in love”.

This record offers a very realistic, angst driven look at an important issue many in our day and age deal with-PTSD.  War ruins many people’s lives forever, no matter how just the cause.  PTSD is a wonderful, well executed and produced, moving, alternative rock album.  Fans of Tool, Skillet, Jane’s Addiction, and the 77’s should check this one out.  I’m rating it 93%.  For more info visit: or connect with Michael Gerard Knott on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014


Gary Chapman was born on August 19, 1957 in Waurika, Oklahoma, but grew up in Texas.  Early on he played guitar for The Rambos.  In 1979 Amy Grant, whom he would later marry, used his song ‘My Father’s Eyes’ as the title track for her second album.  Gary released his first solo album SINCERELY YOURS in 1981.  In 1982 his song ‘Finally’ was recorded by T.G. Sheppard and hit No 1 on the country music charts.  Gary won a Dove Award for Male Vocalist of the Year in 1996.  Also, he hosted ‘Prime Time Country’ on TNT for four years.

Amy Grant divorced Gary in 1999 after about 17 years of marriage.  He remarried in 2000 and divorced in 2007.  He would go on to meet Cassie Piersol while his production company was shooting a making of a Hooters calendar in the Bahamas.  They married in December 2008.  She is 23 years his junior.  They launched ‘A Hymn a Week’ in 2010 and began posting videos of them on the internet.  They have also adopted a little girl, Eva Rose.  Gary’s latest and long anticipated album is THE TRUTH (2013, Merf Music Group).  Gary shares: “I have no delusions of grandeur at this point in my life and I am pleasantly embracing a place where it doesn’t really matter a whole lot to me what anybody thinks, and I say that with zero arrogance or perceived distance”.

I appreciate the honesty of the first song ‘Freedom’ and its lyrics: “This road that I am travelin’/Is steep and it is rough/And I wonder every mornin’/If I’ll have strength enough/To believe what I’ve been promised/And trust that You are here/To know that Your sweet love/Will drive away the fear with/Freedom, freedom”.  ‘Where You’re Going’ is an optimistic adult contemporary song: “When you know where you’re going/You can travel light/And you’re unafraid of narrow roads at midnight/The shadows will give way to dawn/You’ll bless the ground you’re walkin’ on/And stop and thank God for the day/For every step along the way”.

‘If God Had a Front Porch’ is a country ballad featuring the one and only Alison Krauss.  It begins with these down-to-earth words: “If God had a front porch/There probably wouldn’t be a front door/Just a welcome mat that said ‘Come on In’/There’d be music in the background/Everybody just hanging out and laughing/Like a bunch of old friends/If God had a front porch”.  ‘Ain’t Got a Prayer (Without Jesus)’ is a pleasant, melodic song that exposes the foolishness of materialism: “Everyone I know is doing/Everything they can to have enough/We’re all chasing after dollars when/The dollar says it’s God that we should trust/Wealth cannot be held in houses/Riches quickly flow through empty seeking hands/But there’s comfort in believing we’re all part/Of a much bigger, sweeter plan”.

‘How Great a God’ is a splendid worship song that offers these words of testimony: “I hurt You, You healed me/I left You, You stayed with me/I forgot You, You remembered me/I failed You, You forgave me/And I can’t help but sing/How great a God do we serve/That we don’t get what we deserve/How You take what we give and give love in return/How great a God do we serve”.  Gary co-wrote ‘Safe from the Wind’ with Tim Akers.  The song admits that life can be quite tough at times: “When the winds of change are blowin’/And the waves are crashin’ in/And I can feel the sand beneath my feet/Start changin’ shape again/When I see the darkness falling/And the night comes stormin’ in/In Your arms I will find shelter/Safe from the wind/That tries to break my heart/Into a million pieces/But in Your care/I spread my wings and fly”.

‘Widow of the South’ is a mellow story song: “She knows he’ll come back some day/And keep the promise that he made/They’re gonna have a baby/Raise him right/And love each other day and night/And start to live again/And slowly become new, old friends/Until then she’ll roam this empty house/Another long forgotten widow of the south”.  ‘Put it in His Hands’ features Gary’s daughter, Sarah Chapman.  This song reminds us that God wants to carry our burdens: “And if I stumble, remind me/The truth I just told you/To put it in His hands/There ain’t nothing you oughta hold on to/Put it in His hands/He can take care of that for you/Try to understand/When you think that there is nothing you can do/You can/Put it in His hands”.

‘All About a Baby’ is a strong seasonal song featuring the competent vocals of Gary’s wife, Cassie Chapman: “I see our newborn fast asleep and so at peace and it reminds me/It’s all about a cold night/That star shining so bright/Angels singing good news/It’s all about a stable/And a make-shift cradle/Tiny hands reaching out for me and you/I’ve been forgetting it lately/It’s all about a baby”.  The lyrics to the inspirational song ‘The Wisdom of Age’ have great depth: “The wisdom of age has moved every mountain/And stretched out over every plain/From page to page/It flows like a fountain/To the sea and comes back as rain/He’s in every breath/He’s in every touch/When we receive the Lord’s saving grace/We walk the road to glory in the wisdom of age/We tell the old, old story in the wisdom of age”.

‘Everything I Know’ was penned by Gary Chapman and Aaron Barker.  It is a soft country song that includes these conversational lyrics: “You could fill a million books/With the stuff that I know now but didn’t then/And with all the times I’ve failed/But then turned right ‘round and did the same again/But the good Lord stood beside me/Never once did he forget He loves me so/He’s used every stupid thing so far/To teach me nearly/Everything I know”.  ‘When I Say’ features Rebecca Lynn Howard.  This memorable song has a humble spirit about it: “When I say ‘I am a Christian’/I’m not bragging of success/I’m admitting that I’ve failed/And can never pay my debt/When I say ‘I am a Christian’/I still feel the sting of pain/I still have my share of heartache/This is why I seek His Name/When I say ‘I am a Christian’/I do not wish to judge/God alone can judge a heart/I just know that I am loved”.

Kenny West and Billy Henderson wrote ‘I Didn’t Find Jesus’.  This wonderful song makes it clear that salvation does not come through the church: “I didn’t find Jesus under a steeple/Sittin’ on a pew with all the redeemed souls/I guess you can see I’m one of those people/Living just outside the stained glass window/I stumbled on to the back door of heaven/When the whiskey drove me to my knees/I didn’t find Jesus, He found me”.  ‘That’s God’ is a cool country rock song that speaks of God’s tender care for us: “It’s that check in the mail that you weren’t expectin’/That song that saves you when your heart is breakin’/When that loved one you lost is with you in the room/When your biggest hero says ‘I believe in you’/It’s forgiveness when you don’t deserve it/It’s a warm embrace when you don’t feel like you’re worth it/That’s God for ‘I’m with you’/That’s God for ‘I miss you’/Don’t give up, there’s nothing He won’t do/To say ‘I love you’/That’s God”.

Gary’s wife Cassie co-wrote ‘Twenty Bucks Away’ with him.  The song tells of a good deed: “Downtown where the homeless lonely pass/And always stop to ask/He says ‘Brother, I been way down on my luck’/I reach in and pull out twenty bucks/He was twenty bucks away from havin’ enough/Twenty bucks away from knowin’ at the time/He’d be fine/It didn’t take a lot to make him smile/One Andrew Jackson would keep him for a while/And just today/He was twenty bucks away”.  The album ends with ‘The Rough Crowd’ featuring Tanya Tucker and John Rich, which is impressive!  Here are some of the words: “I’ve cussed and I’ve raised hell and I’ve drank/I’ve stumbled but I know Someone was with me all the way.../The ramblers and the rogues and rakes/You’d think would push Him away/But He was always somewhere to be found/Thank God, Jesus runs with the rough crowd/I thank God, Jesus runs with the rough crowd”.

THE TRUTH runs 61 minutes and 31 seconds long.  It was produced by Gary Chapman and Ray and Bobby Hamilton.  This is faith based country music mixed with adult contemporary influences.  Instruments employed include: accordion, steel guitars, mandolin, and mandocello.  The majority of the songs are on the slower, introspective side of things.  These are songs born out of life experience.  Fans of The Lost Dogs and Steven Curtis Chapman should buy this album that is more oriented towards adults than youth.  This is a good album to relax to.  Gary’s voice has a distinct maturity to it.  I’m rating THE TRUTH 87%.  For more info visit: and

Saturday, July 05, 2014


Carman Domenic Licciardello was born on January 19, 1956 in Trenton, New Jersey.  He became a Christian at an Andrae Crouch concert and in 1980 released his debut album GOD’S NOT FINISHED WITH ME.  Carman’s bio says he “is an enigma in Christian music, often described as part evangelist, part Vegas showman”.  Some of his best songs over the years have been: ‘Lazarus Come Forth’, ‘The Champion’, ‘Revival in the Land’, ‘Satan, Bite the Dust’, and ‘America Again’.  NO PLAN B (2014, Norway Avenue Records) is his latest and 22nd album!  It was produced by Carman, Tedd T, and Tre’ Corely.  In the liner notes Carman writes: “This project is dedicated to all those incredible and generous people who gave to the Kickstarter campaign.  You took a man with a terminal diagnosis of cancer, a dormant music ministry and gave him not only the funds to launch a new CD and tour, but most importantly helped him find a renewed reason to fight to see what life holds in Part 2”.  “Today I stand here healthy and ready to serve”.

The album’s title track ‘No Plan B’ is up first.  It is in the pop/rock vein musically and is a bold declaration: “I walked away from Krishna, Kabbalah had me bored/Buddha’s not my cup of tea/Muhammad’s not my Lord/There is no other option, the Holy Bible say/Jesus is the Son of God and still the only way/He’s what we’ve all been wanting/He’s what the public craves/He’s the King of everything/He’s the One who saves.../He’s been my plan A/So everyone can see/I’m living for the Lord and there’s no plan B”.  Musically ‘Time 2 P.T.L.’ is a soulful song.  It shares the Gospel and advises one proper response to it: “It’s time to praise Him/Lift up His holy Name/Let everyone proclaim/That He alone is King of Kings and Lord of Lords/Praise Him for everything He’s done/For sending His only Son/Who lived and died, was crucified and rose again”.

‘I’m Coming Home’ is a ballad of willful spiritual surrender: “Lord, I’m coming home (2X)/Lord, I’m coming home to stay/Lord, I know I need to be whole and clean/Lord, I’m coming home today/Jesus take my heart/Jesus take my hand/Jesus take all of me, everything I am/Lord take everything I am/I’m coming home”.  ‘God Made Man’ includes a cameo by Jim Labriola.  This catchy story song is about spiritual transformation and utilizes street lingo to get its message across: “So I ratted out the devil/Now I’m a witness in protection/With a whole new direction/I want to shout it/I got a new life and a new route/A new name and a new suit/So did he offer me a good deal?/Ay, Forgettaboutit!/I got good news for all you crooks/You get a little sit-down/He’ll open the books/Ya takin’ the oath/And then you be/A blood bought member of the family”.

A duet with Hope Loftis entitled ‘Peace of the Lord’ follows.  It is a song of testimony: “Like the force of the thunder or the roar of the beast/Fear is drawing me under and it gives no release/But my worries are taken by the Word in my soul/And my faith is awakened with my God in control/The peace of the Lord is keeping my soul/God’s Word will forever hold my mind together”.  ‘Jesus Heal Me’ uses piano, B3, and orchestrations.  It is a deeply personal song given Carman’s battle with cancer, and includes these spoken words: “Lord Jesus, I believe that You are touching me right now/For the Scripture says that You not only forgive all my sins/But You heal all my diseases/For I believe that as the Bible says we will lay hands on the sick and they shall recover/So now I give You praise for providing everything I need to recover and walk in complete wholeness/I thank You for satisfying me with long life/For I shall live and not die”.

‘It’s All in His Hands’ has a black gospel meets rock ‘n’ roll feel to it and places total confidence in God: “I know Satan is a liar/It’s all in His hands/He belongs in the lake of fire/It’s all in His hands/I can feel God’s holy heat/It’s all in His hands/He’s on my side and I can’t be beat/It’s all in His hands.../My life, it’s all in His hands/My health, it’s all in His hands/My future, it’s all in His hands, my world.../Everything’s gonna be alright/Everything’s gonna be ok”.  ‘Another Day’ has a Caribbean atmosphere about it.  This song encourages us to be a patient people of prayer: “Cuz I know not now don’t mean never/So I’ll just do what I must do and trust You forever/An answer soon will come my way, but it may come another day/The wind will blow the clouds away, but it may blow another day/God’s promises are always true/A rainbow somewhere waits there too/But until then, You’ll see me through another day”.

‘Yes, Yes’ has a Latin music flavour to it.  It incorporates several of Carman’s past song titles into a strong statement of faith: “No way, I’m not ashamed/I love to say His Name/I’ll always be addicted to Jesus/I’m not timid like a mouse/I know Who’s in the house/I say it as I rock the microphone/The God in whom I trust makes Satan bite the dust/He’s still the one and only Champion/Yes, yes, yes, yes, I know Him/Yes, I’m born again/He’s my Lord, He’s my Savior/Yes, yes/He’s my Friend”.  ‘I Did my Best’ is an intimate conversation with the Father: “Lord I did my best/In spite of all my faults/You know I tried/Whether I was right or wrong You saw inside/And knew that You had all of me/Lord I did my best/Though often times mistakes would be there too/I just did what I believed You wanted me to do/When I’m finally laid to rest/I can say/I faced the test/And pressing toward the mark/I did my best”.

‘That’s My King/Radically Saved’ is a particularly rousing track that draws from Carman’s back catalogue.  It finds Carman very confident of what he believes: “Jesus Christ is Lord and God’s still on the throne/There’s power in the blood and I’m saved to the bone/The devil comes against me/He gonna feel some pain/I can bind him, bruise him, cast him out/By the power of Jesus’ Name.../I believe on the third day Jesus rose from the grave/The world thinks I’m crazy/I am just radically saved”.  The last track is ‘The Flag’ which is very patriotic: “Red stands for courage, white stands for truth/Blue for perseverance to a call/This flag sends a message to friend and foe alike/That America’s still the greatest land of all.../I pledge allegiance to the flag/Of the United States of America/And to the republic for which it stands/One nation under God/Indivisible/With liberty and justice for all”.

This album will no doubt please long time fans such as myself who grew up listening to Carman.  On NO PLAN B Carman in no way cloaks the Gospel message, but eagerly shares it with one and all.  He, true to character, experiments with a wide variety of musical genres.  He makes good use of a choir and many backing vocalists including long time Petra vocalist Greg Volz.  I’m rating NO PLAN B 87%.  For more info visit: