== Background ==
Unlike my other album reviews, this one will be shorter, highlighting the standout tracks and what I think of them. Despite being consistently good, I'm not sure everyone wants to knows the in and outs of all 19 tracks from this CD realeased in 2000!
Back in 2001, shortly after becoming a christian I started casting around for "christian" materials, mainly books and music, and in doing so discovered a whole counter-culture running hidden from view in churches around the world. During this search I came across dc Talk: a band who challenged and changed my concept of church music forever and who successfully demonstrate that christian music did not start and end with the Wesleys!
== So who are they? ==
Formed in 1988 in Lynchburg, Virginia dc Talk comprise Kevin "tobyMac" McKeehan, Michael Tait and Kevin "Kevin Max" Smith. dc Talk is these days officially recognised as being a shortened form of "decent Christian talk". Initially dc Talk's sound was distinctly rap and hip hop but during the course of the groups lifespan, their musical styles changed and matured ending with predominantly pop rock output.
In the course of releasing five multi-platinum studio albums, dc Talk have garnered four Grammy Awards and eighteen GMA Dove awards. dc Talk also hold records for mainstream chart success with singles breaking through into the upper echelons of the Billboard Top 200 charts in the States; a feat previously unheard of for a christian band, as was airtime for some of their videos on MTV and VH1.
dc Talk have never officially split, but have been on an indefinite hiatus since 2000 with each of the members still working successfully as solo acts.
== Tracklisting ==
1. Say the Words
2. Colored People
3. Jesus is Just Alright
4. Between You and Me
5. Mind's Eye
6. Consume Me
7. My Will
8. In the Light
9. Mr Morgan (Act 1)(Interlude)
10. Socially Acceptable
11. Luv is a Verb
13. Jesus Freak
14. The Hardway
15. What If I Stumble
16. I Wish We'd All Been Ready
18. SugarCoat It
19. Mrs Morgan (Act II)(Interlude/conclusion to album)
== Stand out tracks ==
~~~ Luv is a Verb ~~~
Luv is a Verb shows where dc Talk started, being as it is pure hip hop. Opening with a James Stewart sample the song quickly moves on to sounds not unlike any of the mainstream hip hop acts of the 90s (think De La Soul, Tribe Called Quest etc). The track is about love being an active process which requires us each to take steps to demonstrate it. 3/5
"Simple and plain, L-O-V-E
Ain't all that junk that ya see on TV"
~~~ Jesus is Just Alright ~~~
A cover of a track first popularised by the Doobie Brothers in 1972, this song opens the same as the original with an acapella "Do Do Do Doop Doop" before breaking into classic 90's hip hop territory, replete with samples from Madonna's "Vogue" and "The Power" by Snap! The verses of the song are replaced by rap (again about being an unashamed christian) whilst the chorus is virtually unchanged from the original. Catchy and upbeat, this song also won a Dove award in 1994; it's parent album spent 34 weeks at the top of the CCM charts and won a Grammy. 3.5/5
"To the ones that think they heard
I did use the "J" word
Cause I ain't too soft to say it
Even if DJ's don't play it"
~~~ Jesus Freak ~~~
Not only the first track I ever heard from dc Talk, but the first to open a whole understanding that "Christian" music did not have to involve choirs, organs or wishy-washy guitars. Starting with the expected wishy-washy guitar, after 10 seconds this erupts into a crashing rock track with pounding drums, thrashing guitar and even a Doors-esque keyboard in the background. Michael Tait provides vocals for the verses, Toby Mac raps and all three leap in for the chorus. A call to an uncompromising lifestyle, this track has been a favourite in my house for years, as well reaching #16 on the Billboard 200, going double platinum, winning 2 GMA Dove Awards and a Grammy. For those who love trivia, it is reputed that "Jesus Freak" is the first track to fuse grunge and rapcore. 5/5
"What will people think
When they hear that I'm a Jesus freak?"
~~~ Supernatural ~~~
Title track from the Supernatural album, this song marked a departure from dc Talk's hip hop heritage and is firmly pop/rock in style. Heavy on guitars, Tait, McKeehan and Smith take a verse each before the tune mellows into a dreamlike movement which is then replaced by a return to the refrain. Unashamedly christian in lyrics and imagery (the existence of a supernatural realm, parallel to the physical, both of which are ruled by an infinite God) it is almost unbelievable that this album debuted at #4 on the Billboard charts in the States. Another great rock track. 4.5/5
"This world's a tortured place to be
So many things to torment me,
And as I stumble down this road it takes a toll"
~~~ What if I Stumble? ~~~
Much mellower than many of the other tracks , What If I Stumble? raises the question of how to remain true to our faith when the temptations to compromise come against us. Opening with a provocative soundbyte, the tune opens with an acoustic guitar supporting Kevin Smith's delicate vocals. Again each member of the group takes a verse and it is obvious from the pitch of their voices that the lyrical content is of genuine concern to them all. A great song which causes me to stop and think every time I hear it. 4.5/5
"The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today
is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips
The walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle.
That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable."
== Conclusion ==
I am not a huge fan of hip hop and so I would not enjoy most of dc Talk's early material. Intermission on the other hand is an excellent intermediary acting as a greatest hits album, offering the best of their early material along with their pop-rock tracks of later years. Anyone unfamiliar with dc Talk would be well advised to check out this album because it provides an introduction to the band's wide spectrum of musical abilities and there is something for everyone hereupon. As stated at the start of my review, I have only picked a handful of tracks to review; I have only covered 5 of the 19 on the disc for brevity, although there are many more above-average songs on the album.
dc Talk changed the christian music scene beyond recognition and paved the way for most contemporary christian artists working today. dc Talk's success in the mainstream Billboard charts have also opened the doors to wider success for groups like Anberlin, Owl City and The Fray
I too owe dc Talk a massive debt of gratitude as they broadened my musical horizons leading me to discover a world of great Christian rock and internet radio stations of which I had been previously ignorant.
Would I recommend this album? Most definitely. 4.5 out of 5!
== Links ==
dc Talky official website: www.dctalk.com
Music Samples: http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/artists/dc_Talk/6502/
© ben-lloyd 2009. This review may appear on other websites under the same user name.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Say the Words
2 Colored People
3 Jesus Is Just Alright
4 Between You and Me
5 Mind's Eye
6 Consume Me
7 My Will
8 In the Light
9 Mr. Morgan (Act I)
10 Socially Acceptable
11 Luv Is a Verb
13 Jesus Freak
14 Hardway [Remix]
15 What If I Stumble
16 I Wish We'd All Been Ready
18 Sugarcoat It
19 Mrs. Morgan (Act II)