50. Strength – The Violet Burning

STRENGTH

The Violet Burning

The sophomore release from Southern California’s “The Violet Burning” became an instant classic. Penetrating vocals, eerie and haunting melodies, and some of the most amazing, insightful and poignant lyrics. While at the same time the record appears to be, in a sense, a worship album.

Released in 1992, Strength took a young worship leader, rock singer and poet Mark Prtizl and introduced him to a much larger audience than the Violet Burning’s debut, Chosen. If ever a record was about creating an atmosphere it was Strength. In the opening track over one minute of instrumental driven by U2ish guitar sound leads to the psalmist claiming “I am nothing/I have no where else to turn” with an angst that is both authentic and heart wrenching. Pritzl’s vocals increase with intensity and remorse as the song builds. Finally the psalmist proclaims over and over “There is no one like You!” Modern worship may be more memorable, have catchier choruses and work better in a corporate setting, but none have reached the depths of sheer passion and truth as this opening track.

For some reason I recall this album having some controversy attached to it, but looking back it’s really hard to understand why. Lyrics throughout are passionate and distinct. True there are stories of love lost and an amazing cover of the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby,” but, for the most part, the album maintains a very strong sense of the divine and man’s relationship with God. Even what immediately may appear to be a simple song of loss, once the layers have been removed the listener realizes a Scriptural depth to its content.

I will sing
Cause I love, my love
And my tears will fall
Down upon your feet

Let me smother them
With kisses
Let me dry them
With my hair

If I could be
Anyone at all
If I could be
Anyone at all
Let me be
The whore at your feet

The Song of the Harlot” by The Violet Burning

I would be remiss if i did not talk at all about some of the most amazing guitar work to be heard on an alternative release. Previously I noted some similarity to early U2 but even that is unfair as there is more a passion and guttural feel to the playing of Shawn Tubbs. Tubbs would also play with another unsung band, My Brother’s Mother. The playing comes from the back of the speakers and then completely surrounds the listener and works as a vocals of sorts as it plays such an integral part in communicating the message Pritzl seeks to deliver.

Also it should be noted that there are real strings on this album and it adds to the warmth and passion that cannot be duplicated with synthesizers. The strings weave in and out nearly every song and join the rock band setting to create something nearly otherworldly.

Strength has been in and out print so many times that I honestly can’t tell the reader whether one can get it on line or not, but I do believe it is well worth the effort. If one is a fan the Cure, the Verve, The 77’s, U2 or any of the best music 1990’s you cannot avoid having this project in your collection.

Ultimately Strength is about the overwhelming majesty and grace of God…

There is just one thing
That remains
You, always you

If I descend into the depths of hell
You will find me
And if I climb above the stars
You are there

Through my tears I know
One thing remains
You, always you

“Through My Tears” by The Violet Burning

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5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by drivebymedia on February 7, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    this is one the the violet burning’s most under-rated releases. limited distribution and the “interesting” art work didn’t help matters.

    Reply

  2. Posted by notmanbig on February 8, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this album. I admit that I am not familiar with The Violet Burning. When this was released, my tastes were mainly more mainstream. A few years later when my tastes shifted a bit, I went into the past and listened to the alt-rock of the 80s and didn’t pay much attention to the current stuff. Your review has made me want to check it out!

    Reply

  3. sold mine on ebay…. Not really my cup of tea….

    Reply

  4. I liked their self-titled third album a whole ton better. They gave the best concert I ever saw at C-Stone ’92 though.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Alex on March 13, 2010 at 8:42 am

    The S/T (aka Lipstrick and Dynamite Wonder) and Demonstrates Plastic and Elastic are in my top 5 albums of all time…but no song of Pritzl’s has moved me as much as Strength’s version of The Song of the Harlot. It is so powerful and Pritzl’s ability to sound strong yet vulnerable is one of the best things about TVB.

    Reply

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