RECORD STORE TALES Part 195: REZ – Between Heaven ‘N Hell
“I got some cool new bands,” said Bob one day after school. He had been working at the nearby Harvey’s restaurant and had been exposed to some unfamiliar music from his co-workers.
“Have you ever heard of Christian rock?” he asked me.
“Yeah,” I answered. “Stryper are Christian rock. I like Stryper.”
“Well,” Bob explained, “I taped all the best songs by two awesome bands: REZ and Darrell Mansfield. REZ is short for Resurrection Band. Darrell has this awesome song called ‘Thunder and Lightning’. You have to hear it! It is so cool.” Bob then sang the chorus to me. Sounded good.
The songs he, and soon I, were enthralled with were as follows:
Darrell Mansfield: “Thunder and Lightning”, “After the Storm”.
REZ: “Zuid Afrikan”, “2,000”, and “Shadows”.
Bob taped them from a guy at Harvey’s, and then I taped them from him. I had a third generation tape, which I played over and over. We played the hell out of those three REZ songs. They were absolutely incredible songs, and the lyrics were cool too. They didn’t come across as “overtly” Christian, but all had positive messages. Bob particularly loved “Shadows”, and a brilliant song it was. He loved the lyrics, as Bob and I were both very anti-drug:
In the words of his mama, ‘He was my only son.’
In the words of his sister, ‘He was on the run.’
In the words of his girl, ‘How could it end this way?’
In the words of his daddy, ‘Well he never had much to say.’
The lyrics mentioned “angel dust and tortured dreams”, and we knew what had happened to the subject character of the song. It focuses on the friends and family left to carry on. But before too long, an uplifting chorus:
Lord You, You took the shadows,
All my fears and doubts, and brought me out of the night,
Lord You, You take the shadows,
Give me hope and love, turn my darkness to light.
For a little while, we had a new favourite song.
We didn’t know the name of the singer (Glenn Kaiser), but his gravelly voice was a cross between Bob Seger and Rod Stewart. He was our new vocal hero that spring. Now, if only we could hear more by REZ…
By this time, my old cassette tape with the REZ songs was unlistenable. Because of this I hadn’t heard anything by the band in many years. I had been working at the store for four years, but never saw any listing for this band. But T-Rev had a tendency to check out-of-the-way places for CDs. Downtown Kitchener one Sunday afternoon, we were checking out a new local pawn shop. In their $1.99 CD bin, I found an interesting title: I believe it was called Inspirational Rock. It struck my eye immediately because one of the included tracks was “Shadows”, by REZ. It was an automatic purchase.
I closed the door and hit play. A single haunting, acoustic guitar played a dark melody.
You, you chase the shadows,
Because your hopes and dreams have been lost in the night.
Once again, I had a new favourite song.
I learned that Between Heaven ‘N Hell, by REZ, was finally issued on CD, 23 years after its initial release! Amazon.com had it for a reasonable price, and of course I had to have it. For the first time in almost two decades, I had the chance to hear “2,000” and the anti-apartheid track “Zuid Afrikan” once again. And they were just as good as the first time I heard them. I found other standout tracks as well, such as the scorching “I Think You Know”.
I was surprised to find that the band had a second lead vocalist, Wendy Kaiser. In fact she’s on the front cover! Her songs tend to be more new wave oriented, but she does rock out on some, like “Save Me From Myself” and “Nervous World”. Unfortunately, her voice is not to my taste, so I tend to gravitate solely to the Glenn Kaiser songs.
The final song on the album is “2,000”, one that Bob and I used to rock out to all those years ago, in the parking lot of Stanley Park Sr. Public School on Hickson Ave. in Kitchener We’d pop like 14 D-cells or something like that into a ghetto blaster, grab a basketball, and shoot some hoops while listening to “2,000”. We loved the futuristic, echo-y vocal. This was an anti-nuclear weapons song, much like Ozzy was doing around the same time on his Ultimate Sin album.
Shame this one wasn’t a scorcher all the way through. Still, it has enough positive rock power, gritty but powerful choruses, and memorable songs to earn a passing grade.
REZ – Between Heaven ‘N Hell (1985 Grrr Records)
NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…
It’s Mother’s Day, again!