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As one of the pioneers of the modern Christian music genre, The Daniel Band’s appeal to a varied listening audience has not diminished with time. The band always showcased searing vocals and screaming guitar arrangements that never ceased to impact our sonic environment with unattenuated conviction.
Originally released in 1983, STRAIGHT AHEAD, while adhering to well earned rock formulas, takes bold, expansive moves. From the haunting melody of “In My Mind” to the visceral attack of “Lustful Illusions” and the "in-your-face" “Reality,” this collection of songs is an excursion to fresh musical avenues that never stray too far from the band’s signature offering of high energy riffs and to-the-point lyrics.
KEY SELLING POINTS
**Limited Edition release
**Two bonus tracks from the never before released 1980 demo recorded at Sound Design studios
**A classic Daniel Band release now sells for exorbitant amounts in collectible markets like Ebay
**Digitally remastered for enhanced audio clarity
**Band history in liner notes
**For fans of AC/DC, Rez, Barnabas, Jerusalem, Ted Nugent, Triumph, and fans of quality arena rock.
**Daniel Band has consistently been Retroactive Records’ best selling artist!
Straight Ahead, the 1983 sophomore release from Canada’s Daniel Band, proves aptly named in that, for a lack of better words, it moves in a “straight ahead” and no frills hard rock direction. A much heavier effort when compared to the bands 1982 debut On Rock, Straight Ahead might lack some of the polish of its predecessor but stands out as the stronger and more well rounded project from a musical standpoint. This is clearly reflected in the growth demonstrated by the band in terms of its songwriting skills in that the album delivers not only a greater degree of consistency but versatility as well: Straight Ahead, of course, features its share of energetic hard rockers (“Power Of Love” and “Reality”) but also a semi-ballad (“Here I Am”), a groove flavored number (“T’ank You”) and even an acoustic based ballad (“In My Mind”).
Give Daniel Band, at the same time, a great deal of credit for maintaining the same high level of performance it displayed on On Rock. Bassist Dan McCabe continues to bring his refined, classic tenor lead vocal style and combines with talented newcomer Matt Del Duca on drums to form quite the tight sounding rhythm section. Guitarist Tony Rossi, who lends his raspy vocal delivery to three of the albums tracks, furnishes a more than adequate amount of gritty lead guitar work. Bill Findlay rounds out the mix on rhythm guitar.
While Straight Ahead might not showcase the same polished feel to its production values as On Rock, it features the better mix in that all the instrumentation, particularly the bass and drums, stands out in the cleaner and crisper sounding manner.
Please note that when Straight Ahead was released in 1983 it came out only in the cassette and vinyl formats. It did not make its way onto CD until 2003 when Retroactive Records re-issued it onto one disc with the bands follow up effort Run From The Darkness. When the 2003 re-issue went out of print, Retroactive released it again on CD but with two bonus tracks - “Free From Sin” and “I’m Sorry” - from Daniel Band’s 1980 demo tape.
Opening the album to a hard hitting guitar riff, “Power Of Love” is carried forward at an upbeat tempo by a crunchy rhythm guitar until it culminates for a strong, melodic flavored chorus. After the song slows as McCabe delivers a worshipful message:
I see the morning and Your glory’s there
Into the evening I know You care
I see the wonder when You’re my aim
I see the night stars, they spell Your name
Rossi steps to the plate with several seconds of sharp sounding lead guitar work.
“You’re All I Need” fades in before moving forward to a quietly played guitar line as the rhythm guitar bounces in and out of the mix. Once the rhythm guitar establishes itself hard and heavy, the song attains a solid, hook filled chorus shored up by a punchy bass line. “You’re All I Need” is a song of faith:
When all I have to give is what I am
So many times I’ve failed You
So many times I’ve given in
And yet You gave for me the Spotless Lamb
The albums first-rate title track is a no-nonsense and in your face hard rocker. Rossi lends his vocal talents to a song moving at a guitar driven mid-tempo pace, a raucous environment established as “Straight Ahead” advances on a sweeping chorus backed by a touch of vocal harmonies. A fluid guitar solo that is allowed to flow between the left and right channel tops off one of the albums stronger tracks.
The semi-ballad “Here I Am” gradually fades in before a quietly played guitar line slowly pushes it forward. Picking up in pace halfway through its first verse, “Here I Am” peaks upon reaching an emotionally charged chorus accentuated by a forward but complementary mix of keyboards. Rossi contributes a bluesy guitar solo to a song coming across in the form of a prayer:
Here I am
I have tried to all that I can
Tried to be a respectable man
But what You see is not quite what You planned
Oh I know, there is so much of me that should grow
But I find it so hard letting go
Oh Lord give me the strength that I need
The wonderful “T’ank You” stands out as one of the albums more creative compositions. The song reflects a groove-laden if not a funk or even reggae vibe as a near perfect mix of acoustic guitar, bass and percussion carries it ahead to a catchy chorus with a worshipful feel:
Hallelujah, praise the Lord
It’s time we listened to God’s word
It’s time we live in one accord
So, come on, make a joyful noise
Rossi really stands out here on lead vocals. While a bit out of place in a mostly hard rock environment, “T’ank You” proves nothing less than a great deal of fun to listen to.
Straight Ahead, unfortunately, loses a bit of focus during its second half.
Things begin to go downhill, for example, with “Lustful Illusions”, a driving hard rocker with a melody on the repetitive side. The song takes off with a ton of upfront guitar driven momentum but hits a wall upon attaining a chorus with a hook not quite strong enough to allow it to hold up under repeated play. As its title implies, “Lustful Illusions” exposes the pornography and sex industry:
They’re glossy and shiny magazines
Designed to help you find your dreams
TVs, videos and movie screens
Larger than life – it’s a vile scene
Lustful illusions – that’s what you see
Tempting dreams – not reality
And Satan is at the very core
A deadly disease, an open sore
The punchy “Reality” begins to several seconds of tastefully done lead guitar work before an aggressively delivered riff shores up its first and second verse hard and heavy. After Rossi adds several seconds of razor sharp lead guitar work, the song closes out its third and final verse in the same catchy but hard hitting fashion. “Reality” delivers the salvation message in no uncertain terms:
Salvation’s day is here at last
Discard your sin, throw off your past
Reach out and answer to His call
Without the blood of Jesus
There is no hope for us at all
The quietly played guitar line at the start of “Come Into My Life” gives way to a crisp sounding rhythm guitar. Slowing as keyboards move to the front of the mix upon reaching its first verse, “Come Into My Life” transitions to a fleeting but energetic chorus with an overriding repetitious feel. While certainly conveying a strong message, I tend to pass on this one.
Likewise, the driving hard rocker “Comin’ Home” can come across a bit overbearing. The song advances through its first verse at a faster and more upbeat tempo only to slow upon reaching a blues flavored chorus held back by the heavy handed manner in which it is delivered. More often than not I end up hitting the skip button here.
The album ends strongly with “In My Mind”, an acoustic based ballad giving rise to a compelling melody and a very fine vocal performance from Rossi.
The two tracks from Daniel Band’s demo sound a bit rough around the edges but serve to showcase the bands potential. “Free From Sin” features a more prominently placed bass line when compared to the On Rock version, while the excellent ballad “I’m Sorry” – which also appeared on On Rock – comes across with a slightly heavier and more aggressive feel.
All around, Straight Ahead proves a stronger effort when compared to On Rock. While the album fails to deliver any huge tracks that might rank with “I’m Sorry” and “Never Again”, it does feature its share of quality hard rockers (“Power Of Love”, You’re All I Need” and “Reality”) in addition to a very fine semi-ballad (“Here I Am”) and a good groove influenced number (“T’ank You”). In the end, Daniel Band exhibits the talent here which led it to record its groundbreaking follow up effort Run From The Darkness.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Power Of Love” (3:27), “You’re All I Need” (4:21), “Straight Ahead” (3:38), “Here I Am” (3:03), “T’ank You” (5:04), “Lustful Illusions” (4:27), “Reality” (3:08), “Come Into My Life” (3:52), “Comin’ Home” (4:03), “In My Mind” (4:07), “Free From Sin” (4:07), “I’m Sorry” (4:31)
Dan McCabe – Lead Vocals & Bass
Toni Rossi – Guitars & Lead Vocals
Bill Findlay – Guitars & Keyboards
Matt Del Duca – Drums & Percussion
Also Reviewed: Daniel Band – On Rock, Daniel Band – Run From The Darkness