From the moment that DC Talk member/former-Audio-Adrenaline-frontman/ever-evolving-solo-artist/poet/writer Kevin Max leaked the demo for his cover of Larry Norman’s “Righteous Rocker” on his Soundcloud page, my interest and enthusiasm for the upcoming cover project SERVE SOMEBODY skyrocketed! With fuzzy bass, thick, crunchy guitar, and production assistance in the able hands of Nashville rock music star handyman John Mark Painter, the track breaths and grooves with heavy classic rock strides that grabbed me immediately from the first listen and haven’t let go.
Max then leaked another demo version through Soundcloud that fully affirmed and solidified the high level of anticipation sparked by “Righteous Rocker.” The second being a cover of Bob Dylan’s 1979 classic, “Gotta Serve Somebody,” again flaunting a spot-on classic blues rock vibe that fits the song like a well-worn, but, form-fitting leather biker’s boot. “Gotta Serve Somebody,” also features soulful, textured layers background vocals provided by Painter’s wife and longtime musical partner, Fleming McWilliams.
The first impression of this yet-to-be-released covers project, based on these two unfinished songs, is resoundingly positive and I expect that the other tracks that will be included on the EP will not fail to satisfy, either.
The EP is scheduled for release on July 7 from Gotee Records.
Kevin Max’s newest project, BROKEN TEMPLES, will officially be released on March 10. I’ll be counting down the remaining days to the release of the album on this page with a post each day exploring and celebrating some of his prior creative ventures.
[8:15PM UPDATE] In light of the announcement of Kanye West’s new album title, I present this clip of Kevin Max with dcTalk performing “Help!” and “So Help Me God” from WELCOME TO THE FREAK SHOW
THE IMPOSTER was released in 2005 and remains my favorite Kevin Max album because of the strength of the album as a whole, the lyrical theme running throughout (inspired by the concept of the imposter, as written about by Brennan Manning in ABBA’S CHILD), and the role that the album played in tuning my spiritual life in. But, the track featured for today’s countdown entry is included because it is one of Max’s most impressive vocal performances and, in my opinion, is one of the best covers ever recorded. It is Max’s take on a song from Bob Dylan’s 1979 album SLOW TRAIN COMING and I dare say that Max’s vocal, in combination with the pure and reverant piano arrangement, fleshes out the song in a manner that Dylan himself would have to be pleased with. While more characteristic Max-styled tracks like “The Imposter,” “Platform,” and “Your Beautiful Mind” stand firmly on their own merit, this cover is a performance to behold.
Any friends or family of mine know that I am a what might be called a Christmas music enthusiast. My library of Christmas music grows by leaps and bounds each year and it’s already large enough to take several days to get through without listening to the same track twice. In this post I’d like to feature a couple of albums that have risen to the top in my Christmas rotation so far this season. I think both are worthy of your consideration if you’re looking for a couple of decent albums to provide the score to your holiday season.
Bob Dylan’s CHRISTMAS IN THE HEART, in the past couple of years, has become a staple Christmas album for me. Those not familiar with him usually, at least, raise an eyebrow at the first sound of voice as it drops on top of the lush, warm background arrangement. But, it doesn’t take long to find the groove and begin enjoying the album which comes across as a nostalgic remembrance of classic Christmas music of years ago. From “Here Comes Santa Claus,” to “Silver Bells,” and “O’ Little Town of Bethlehem,” the album is, indeed, a heartwarming collection.
Jim Cole’s UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN is brand new in my collection this season and, while it is a different direction than Dylan’s Christmas album, it also treats the holiday season and the notion of a Christmas album with an intentional respect that comes through clearly in each song. While Dylan’s album focused on popular Christmas songs, both sacred and secular, Cole’s album focuses on the sacred center of Christmas with traditional favorites such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman,” and “What Child Is This?,” in addition to other tracks such as “In Bethlehem Tonight,” that, while lesser known, are just as carefully crafted and performed. The folk music tone of the album is reflective and quiet and Cole’s masterful guitar work provides a common thread throughout the duration of UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN. It isn’t as widely circulated as Dylan’s Christmas offering, but, certainly, just as worthy of your ear during the holiday season.