Our Personal Favorite World Famous Hits
The Phantom Tollbooth June 1999
Insert your own pithy paragraph here about Terry Taylor's brilliance, genius or otherwise living legendary status. Chances are you either already know firsthand of his songwriting talents or you've read plenty on the esteemed subject. It's all true...at least the most impressive parts.
by Steven S. Baldwin
Having dispensed with that, let's get down to business. Our Personal Favorite World Famous Hits is the first-ever attempt to boil down twenty years of Daniel Amos recording history into one impressive greatest hits package. The results of this ambitious effort are decidedly mixed but ultimately honorable.
If nothing else, this compilation boldly attests to what a really wild ride the Daniel Amos experience has been. Terry Taylor's best known band began as a kind of Christianized cow-poke, country group back in the mid-seventies, then surprisingly transformed themselves into an eccentric new wave band in the early eighties. Having solidified themselves as one of the most unique bands on the planet (and certainly the most unique in the smaller world of CCM) by the end of that decade, DA even went on to experiment with new sounds ranging from sixties retro to nineties grunge before releasing perhaps their quirkiest albums ever in 1995's Songs of the Heart. And this greatest hits collection unapologetically offers a smattering of all those assorted sounds in one career-spanning musical montage. Albeit quite impressive and nostalgically satisfying, herein lies one of the album's difficulties. Although some effort has been made to smooth transitions from one style to another via the song order, the overwhelming diversity present in these songs means there are some unavoidably bumpy spots.
Daniel Amos's self-titled debut of simple and largely slap-happy sounding country tunes is entirely neglected, but their more respected sophomore release, 1977's Shotgun Angel, offers "Father's Arms." Along the same musical lines, the obscure track "Ain't Gonna Fight It" from 1975's Maranatha 5 release closes the album on a lush, worshipful note. Longtime fans will recognize that the two live tracks from Live Bootleg ‘82 are originally from Horrendous Disc, which Larry Norman has yet to release on CD, regrettably. A live, previously unreleased song, "Twilight Love," follows solidly but offers few surprises. The esteemed four album Alarma! Chronicles is reduced to five songs here, with the first album, Alarma, being the only one to grant two tracks. Daniel Amos's best album ever, 1987's Darn Floor, Big Bite, sadly offers only the title track--yet 1991's Kalhoun, the most underappreciated of their albums, also offers only one song, the arena rocker "If You Want To." Both 1994's Bibleland and 1993's highly regarded Motorcycle offer two tracks, but 1995's Songs of the Heart is represented solely by "When Everyone Wore Hats."
It is entirely impossible to summarize nearly twenty-five years of Daniel Amos's music with only eighteen songs, and most fans will be frustrated that their own personal favorite world famous hits are not among the mix. I can personally think of two albums worth of their material that I'd rather see collected on one disc. In some cases the songs selected here would have been my second, third...or even fourth choice from each album. On the flip side, they didn't include any embarrassing stinkers either. This confounding situation of not knowing which tracks to include to please the most people with one fell swoop may also account for what appears to be the album's intentionally tighter focus. Most of Daniel Amos's boldest, oddest adventures are avoided in favor of songs that are either just more straight-forward or among the beautiful, thoughtful, or sentimental variety. This would have worked well had KMG also released a companion disc of Daniel Amos's most upbeat anthems, outlandish experiments, and outright party hits, which are surprisingly and disappointingly missing here for the most part. (The deviously clever "Mall All Over the World" being the most notable exception.)
Regardless, the fact remains that this collection contains such strength of material that Taylor's songwriting genius--not to mention his cohorts impressive musical talents--are all granted some measure of appropriate homage. Most of the fun that could have injected this collection with gleeful rollicking abandon is undermined. But what remains is still a solid, considerable testimony, especially to the Author of Faith who sustained the band through all these years. At best, very nearly the best of Daniel Amos! At worst, some great songs to introduce a friend to the band. And we can all still hope "the band that won't go away" just plain won't.
4 Alarm Clocks out of 5
The Phantom Tollbooth June 1999
A career as long and varied as that of Daniel Amos would be impossible to compress onto a single disc. Nevertheless, KMG has made a valiant attempt at representing the band at various stages of their development. The songwriting skill and humour of Terry Scott Taylor shines through clearly, as does the talent of many of the movers and shakers of the Christian alternative music movement. A lot of this material, with the regular country stylings or New Wave cuts will be a culture shock for those raised on slick 90s pop. For those who want to familiarize themselves with one of the definitive left-of-center Christian bands or who simply haven't managed to locate some of their harder to find releases, this album will be a fine addition.
by James Stewart
Few bands, in any shape or form, can survive in the modern music landscape. The average lifespan for a group runs about three albums now, possibly with major personnel changes inbetween, and then it tends to die out, in its place another band that will suffer the same fate eventually. In Christian Rock, there seems to be even fewer 'lifers' out there.That's why it is so refreshing when a band not only lasts but becomes more vital over the years.
by DW Dunphy
Case In Point: From their first, all-country format in the mid 70's to their new wave sounds in the 80's to the stripped-down garage 90's Daniel Amos has not only survived the tests of time, they've surpassed them and lived another day. Whether the sound was gut-level raw or psychedelic-textured, the band's fans always felt assured that there was something good waiting for them sandwiched either between a cardboard sleeve or some plastic configuration, even if it took a little getting used to.
The most responsible party involved would be longtime lyricist/lead singer Terry Taylor, who's influence is felt all over the Alterna-Christian-Rock landscape and yet whose sound has never been absolutely duplicated. Few bands could pull off songs with lyrics flip-flopping literary influences like Blake and Buechner backed directly up against songs with tongues so firmly planted in cheek. Taylor's metaphors have the power to conjure images while his asides can make you laugh out loud or wince at something obvious we have all missed. His voice is a unique thing as well, able to blend in beautiful harmonies or to scrape paint from a wall. It is a tool in the hands of someone who knows how to use it, as opposed to someone only beginning to learn.
It is in a humble, self-depricating manner that the band has named their best-of collection, "Our Personal Favorite World Famous Hits", knowing full well that, aside from a loyal handful of devotees, Daniel Amos may just be 'some guy filed under the A section'. And don't be deceived that DA is solely Taylor's game. From Ed McTaggart's locomotive-precision drumming to Tim Chandler's walking bass, from Greg Flesch's art-rock synth and guitar leanings to Jerry Chamberlain's full-on Chuck Berry/Rick Nielsen rave-ups, Daniel Amos is one of the tightest, most professional rock bands on either side of the philosophical fence.
What you get on 'OPFWFH' (that's a mouthful!) is a retrospective illustrating all the faces and facets of the group, a well-conceived mix tape that will please the longtime fans and intrigue the uninitiated. As Time/Life would claim, "You get nothin' but the best", including live versions of songs from their untouchable and long unavailable 'Horrendous Disc' and a long-time vault dweller, 'Twilight Love'. You get the rowdy "If You Want To" from 'Kalhoun', the synthy-funky of 'Mall (All Over The World)' from 'Doppelganger' and the Brian Wilson-esque Revelations plea of 'Soon'. Also included is their most recent indelible classic, 'When Everyone Wore Hats' which I played to death when I originally got it on the 'Songs Of The Heart' album. Again, the lyrics are not fluffy. "When everyone wore hats/ in the land of immigrants and pilgrims/ the world came rolling off their backs/ and landed on their childrens'..."
So, you may ask, why would this cd be worth the cash if it is nothing more than a collection of songs you may already have in their original albums? The answer is simple. Most of this stuff is unavailable to new fans, under any circumstance, and what is available is now fetching the prettified sums of 'collectors prices'. If you're not a full-fledged Ed-Head yet, you deserve a chance to hear classic Christian Rock that won't make you shudder with embarrassment. And face it, if you are a fan, you're going to get this collection anyway. It sounds better than any of the mix tapes you've concocted over the years.
It may be the hardest thing to actually put into words, what the band means to its longtime supporters. When we were coming up thru the ranks, really honest, unsimplified music was hard to come by, especially when the leaders of the field were too busy 'writing down to our level'. DA never dumbed it down, even when they were shooting for laughs.
Now, when the local bookstores are flooded with flavor of the moment 'secular knockoffs', is the perfect time to discover them for yourself. There's no better way to start than with 'Our Personal Favorite World Famous Hits'.
Now, if they would get to work on a new album...
Daniel Amos have always been one of Christendom's cutting edge bands.
during their twenty five year history, they have approached recording with a creative abandon that has inspired them to record some of Christian music's most adventurous masterpieces. Under the guidance of maverick genius of writer/ producer/ singer Terry Taylor, the band have travelled from their Eagles influenced country rock beginnings through New Wave and beyond collecting influences along the way like musical magpies. This retrospective which is the first in a series of releases that celebrate the band's journey gathers together eighteen of their top tunes from their lengthy history. Packed with gems, if you're already a fan, there are enough rarities that have never made it onto CD to make you want to snap this up. If you're new to the band you need to check out one of THE seminal bands in Christian music just for the delight of hearing "Alarma", "Darn Floor/Big Bite" "Hound Of Heaven" or the quirky "Mall (All Over the World)".
Truly an original band!.