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The Mission Bell - Delirious?

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Genre: Easy Listening / Artist: Delirious? / Enhanced / Audio CD released 2005-11-07 at Absolute

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      06.05.2009 12:20
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      Delirious?ly good

      == Overview ==
      Formed in the early 1990s, Delirious? are a christian rock band hailing from Littlehampton in West Sussex, comprising Jon, Martin, Stew, Stu G and Tim. Despite having had top 40 singles and top 20 albums both in the UK and US, they remain relatively unknown to their fellow countrymen, even though they have sold more records in the US than most "mainstream" British artists!


      == Tracklisting ==
      ***1. Stronger ***
      Starting with a Beatles-esque orchestra crecendo (think A Day in The Life), the tune suddenly mellows with a gentle vocal over a single guitar before working in drums and eventually strings. The lyrics talk of a man's relationship with God getting stronger (hence the title) and closer on a day by day basis. Mellow and thoughtful, Stronger is a decptive introduction to what follows - not a traditional sing-a-long track, but catchy nonetheless and the choir at the end sounds brilliant.

      Best lyric: 'Everything's beautiful with You,
      Everything's beautiful, when You invade my life.
      And I'm living just to say that 'I love You'.


      *** 2. Now is the Time ***
      A steady thrumming of rhythm guitar joined by bass and a pounding uptempo drumbeat introduce one of my favourite tracks on this album, which is unashamed pop at it's best. A great chorus which is guaranteed to have you singing along after a few listens is the definite highlight of this tune in addition to it's devotional lyrics. The song is about the impact that following Jesus has on the individual and the ensuing impact said individual can then have on the world around them.

      Best lyric: 'Now is the time for us to shine,
      Shine with the face of Christ divine.
      No compromise, for all heaven cries,
      Now is the time.'


      *** 3. Solid Rock ***
      An even more thumping bassline/drum introduce this slow-moving track and continue throughout it's entire length, leading into a pounding chorus. Using the biblical imagery of Jesus being an immovable rock in a changing world, Solid Rock talks of the band's faith in God being their ultimate truth which will last them a lifetime and give them the God-centered grounding they need in all situations. This track also features a guest vocal section by christian superstar Toby Mac (of dc Talk fame). This is another classic track with a toe-tapping beat and upbeat chorus. Excellent.

      Best lyric: 'On Christ the solid rock we will stand,
      All other ground is sinking sand.
      On Christ the solid rock we will stand,
      We'll climb on your back, take us to higher ground.'


      *** 4. All this Time ***
      A quiter track than the previous two, All this Time is a careful biographical meditation of the dangers that fame poses to the band, by distracting them from God and causing them to be prideful. A cry from the heart for God to remain with them and remind them that the band exists for His glory. A much gentler tune, although still a toe-tapper.

      Best lyric: 'If I sow the seed of arrogance then it's loneliness I'll reap'


      *** 5. Miracle Maker ***
      Starting with a very, very quiet vocal and some simple piano chords, Miracle Maker is about the changes Jesus brings to a christian's life and an outright expression of heartfelt praise. The track builds very slowly from vocals plus piano, to vocals, piano and guitar and onwards, gradually adding layers and layers of instruments and vocals as the song builds and bursts forth. This is my highlight of the album as it sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it; truly outstanding despite the rest of the album being very good. (And it's even better live if you get the chance to see them!)

      Best lyric: 'Saviour, healer,
      I'm staring in the face of the miracle maker.'


      *** 6. Here I am, Send Me ***
      Despite the huge audio crescendo of the previous track, it remains quite quiet and contemplative in "feel", so this track jolts the listener with it's poppy guitar strumming and uptempo drumbeat. Another example of unashamed pop, Here I am, Send Me is a toe-tapper complimented by it's monotone verses and soaring chorus which is also very easy to sing along with. Here I am, Send Me uses many biblical references relating to Old Testament prophets as it is a plea to God that the singer may be used by Him to carry out His works on Earth.

      Best lyric: 'Breathe life into these lungs of mine,
      So I can scream and shout of your love divine.'


      *** 7. Fires Burn ***
      Quite a short track, a cry from the church asking Jesus to return soon. Another heavy drum beat seems to drive the track along with a U2-esque guitar through the slow-moving verses into the more upbeat chorus. On it's own, this is a good track but when surrounded by such quality on the rest of the album this one seems to get lost.

      Best lyric: 'Jesus, come and take us soon.
      Your home is where my heart is.'


      *** 8. Our God Reigns ***
      A song of conscience (like those U2 were once famous for), each verse of Our God Reigns talks of the injustices the Western World carries out on it's own inhabitants in addition to the oppression of the third world. The chorus then goes on to talk of the omnipotence of God over all things and a plea for the forgiveness of mankind for these dreadful sins. Some of the views in this song are bound to upset some people, but it is a truly thought-provoking track. Because the words are the focus of the song, the instruments remain very unobtrusive until the final third perfectly complimenting Martin Smith's voice as he cries out in repentance. This is another outstanding track especially as the choir joins in the final rendition of the chorus.

      Best lyric: '100 million faces, staring at the sky,
      Wondering if this HIV will ever pass us by.
      The devil stole the rain and hope trickles down the plug,
      But still my Chinese take away could pay for someone's drugs.'


      *** 9. Love is a Miracle ***
      Thumping bass pushes this meandering track through each verse until it reaches it's gospel choir inspired chorus. After the melancholy of the previous track, Love is a Miracle remains fairly downbeat sounding through each chorus, but soars heavenward once more at each chorus. Essentially this song is about the saving love of God and the radical transformation it brings to each life it touches. Also features a short section of a sermon by Martin Luther King Jr. This track is possibly one of the weakest on the album, but that is not to say it isn't good!

      Best lyric: 'Your mercy catches me when I fall,
      Love is such a miracle.'


      *** 10. Paint the Town Red ***
      The single released from The Mission Bell, Paint the Town Red is another supremely upbeat pop album with it's own singalong chorus and steadily thrumming guitar throughout. The lyrics refer to the envangelistic responsibility of each christian as per the Great Commission of Jesus. A feel good classic.

      Best lyric: 'We're gonna paint this big old town red
      With the blood of Jesus!'


      *** 11. Take Off My Shoes ***
      Following the breakneck speed of Paint the Town Red, Take Off My Shoes is another slower contemplation with ethereal echoing guitar work, a steady tub-thumping drum beat and a tink-tink piano carefully constructed to keep the focus on the lyrics of each verse. This song sounds like a prayer asking God to continue His metamorphic work on the heart of a believer who is devoting their life to Him. Some great lyrics make this a great track even though it is unlikely to be one you catch yourself singing in the car.

      Best lyric: 'Why did you call, why did you wait,
      For someone so guilty, someone so fake?'


      *** 12. I See You When I Get There ***
      A song of faith describing the feelings of a person who has reached Heaven and is seeing God face-to-face. The solo voice joined by an acoustic guitar remind you that this is the end of the album and provide a relaxing conclusion to the highs and lows of the previous 11 tracks. Unfortunately this is probably one of the weaker tracks on the whole album, but maybe that's just because you instinctively know that it's nearly over!

      Best lyric: 'Born to rest in your fathers arms,
      Your joy has dried the tears.'


      == Conclusion ==
      This is without doubt my favourite Delirious? album as it combines huge soaring tracks and stadium-rock style choruses with tunes of dramatic simplicity and lyrics of thought-provoking, tear-inducing depth. The band wear their hearts on their sleeves and it is clear that this album is religious, and not only religious but christian to the core.

      That said, as accomplished musicians there is much for the atheist, agnostic or other religious adherent to enjoy on this album. As John Aizlewood adroitly quipped in Q magazine 'without God they could be massive' before giving The Mission Bell a well deserved 3 stars out of 5.

      If you were looking to enter the world of Delirious? this is definitely the album I would recommend.


      == Links ==
      Delirious? homepage: www.delirious.co.uk


      © ben-lloyd 2009. This review appears on other websites under the same user name.

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    • Product Details

      Disc #1 Tracklisting
      1 Stronger
      2 Now Is The Time
      3 Solid Rock
      4 All This Time
      5 Miracle Maker
      6 Here I Am
      7 Fires Burn
      8 Our God Reigns
      9 Love Is A Miracle
      10 Paint The Town Red
      11 Take Off My Shoes
      12 I See You