Darrell Mansfield

REVIEW: Darrell Mansfield – “Thunder and Lightning” (1985)

DARRELL MANSFIELD – “Thunder and Lightning” (1985 Broken Records, from Revelation)

Back in old ’86, Bob Schipper taped a bunch of Christian rock bands from a co-worker at the local Harvey’s.  He recorded five songs by two artists:  REZ and Darrell Mansfield.  I, in turn, recorded them from him.  Those artists, Rez and Mansfield, were hard to find at retail.  We’d never even heard of them before.  As time went on, 12 years at the Record Store, I never saw them.  You had to go to a speciality Christian record store.  (Or, in the 2000s, just look online.)

The one Darrell Mansfield track that I really liked from that tape was called “Thunder and Lightning”.  We both loved it.  Didn’t know anything about the guy.  Couldn’t find his albums.  The tape eventually became unplayable.  What to do?

The easiest thing was just to download the song off iTunes.  Eager to hear it again, and unsure if I wanted a whole Mansfield album, that’s exactly what I did.

From his 1985 disc Revelation, which boasts cover artwork that I liken to God meets Judas Priest, “Thunder and Lightning” is the opening track.  Appropriately it commences with some rip-roarin’ guitar soloin’.

So here’s the thing about Christian rock.  You either dig it or not.  There is plenty of guitar and vocal howls n’ shrieks to entertain the masses.  Mansfield’s lyrics are not heavy handed; they can be ignored.  It’s pretty obvious what they’re about if you pay attention, but only if you pay attention.

“The wind is blowing like a rolling stone, all the believers will be goin’ home.  Don’t be caught in the fallin’ rain.  Don’t need to suffer, don’t need the pain.”  The only clue to Darrell’s true message here is the word “believers”.

“Come on, don’t lose control.  Come on, don’t lose your soul.  Come on, put your feet on a rock, come on get your neighbours and rock!”  Anyone familiar with Christianity knows that one of several meanings of the word “rock” is a metaphor for faith.  Subtle enough.  One of the more blatant lines is “We wanna meet you in the Heavenly cloud, don’t be reluctant don’t be too proud.”  Still easy enough to miss.

“Thunder and Lightning” seems to be about one of those end-of-the-world scenarios.  Disaster looms, but the faithful are saved.  Mansfield refers to the “Storm-catcher” without naming Jesus.  It’s actually better done than a lot of Stryper lyrics.

There’s a smoking 40-second guitar intro,and the another 40 seconds of blazing mid-song.  That’s a pretty generous amount of guitar for a 4:48 song.  (Apparently future Mr. Big guitarist Paul Gilbert played on some of the other album tracks.)  What sells it though is not just the insane-o guitar playing, but also Mansfield’s powerhouse voice.  When the guy makes his voice crack, Tyler-esque, on certain words, it just hits the spot!

This is a brilliant track that, whether you’re a believer or just a rock n’ roller, deserves to be heard again.

5/5 stars

 

 

Part 195 / REVIEW: REZ – Between Heaven ‘N Hell (1985)

 RECORD STORE TALES Part 195:  REZ – Between Heaven ‘N Hell

March, 1986.

“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…

REZ CD

March, 1998.

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.

March, 2008.

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)

3/5 stars

REZ BACK

NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…

It’s Mother’s Day, again!