Sunday, April 20, 2008

Exit shrapnel & the young, poor college student [4/13/08]

I remember being a poor student at a Christian liberal arts college. Houghton College. With a mixed blessing, I guess, thank God for student loans and grants, plus working for Big Al's dining service. Using some of the extra funds at my fingertips, I set off to build my record collection circa 1983.

We had a campus bookstore that had a listening cassette demo station. I discovered a number of artists and bands by hanging out after classes there. I soon discovered Exit Records.

Man, did I snatch up everything on the label that came out in 1983:
the 77's - All Fall Down
(and picked up Ping Pong Over The Abyss subsequently)
Vector - Mannequin Virtue
First Strike - Rock Of Offense
Thomas Goodlunas & Panacea - Take Me Away,
Charlie Peacock - Lie Down In The Grass

I really fell in love with the new wave and blues rock sound of the 77's. Vector's new wave/alt sound was impressive. The hard rock sound of First Strike was right up my alley. The orchestral vibe of Thomas Goodlunas was rich and had a Biblical thread to the lyrics. Charlie Peacock's sound was a blend of smart pop and alternative.

I want to focus on the 77's for a bit. We had this radio station on campus that reached no more than a five mile radius. 90.3 FM WHLD. I built a little rapport with the station manager, Walt Pickett, at the time. I still remember sitting in his office trying to sell him on the tremendous upside of "Christian" rock. Their rotation consisted of Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, etc... He had a copy of Resurrection Band's "Colours" on his shelf as an example of music you couldn't play because you couldn't hear the words...the rock music being too loud of coarse.

I asked him if I could play the song "Colours" for him. It was a praise and worship song, if he could think outside the box. I then played him "Another Nail" from the 77's "All Fall Down". I convinced him, by the lyrical content, and actually listening to the songs, that they deserved airplay. Funny thing was, he never actually heard the "Colours" album before that day.

I came out of that office getting a DJ slot to spin some records. The man trusted me and gave me a shot! It was all volunteer stuff anyway, but still cool nonetheless.

The 77's are still one of my fav all-time bands. I have seen them more than a dozen times. I have witnessed a Vector concert in 1995 at C-Stone. Incredible show that night with former members of the Canadian band, the Awakening, now One Hundred Days, supporting the band. Davia of Dakoda Motor Co. provided backing vocals to Steve Griffith's stellar tenor voice. Steve Griffith even hung out, with his family, and ate with us. Wish they were still around!

When Exit signed a deal with Island & A&M Records in 1986-87, I found the only two copies I knew of at the time at a local record store, Charlie Peacock and the 77's self-titled albums. It wasn't until the early 90's that I realized that Robert Vaughn & the Shadows released an album, "Love And War". I have searched for that album for years in vain, until a few years ago. E-bay of all places! I borrowed a friend's copy and converted it to mp3. I even used a couple of songs on one of the podcasts.

Speaking of Exit Shrapnel, I caught on to the Cornerstone Festival one year too late to have witnessed something incredible. Before JPUSA moved the festival down to Bushnell in 1991, there was an Exit Shrapnel concert at the 1990 event. Jim tells me it was incredible. I wish I had that on video. It must have been awesome with all those artists converging for one late night of what I heard lasted around three hours.

Exit Records, 1982-87, made an impression with this western New Yorker. It is amazing what impressions can be made on a young, poor college student.

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