17. David Edwards – David Edwards

DAVID EDWARDS

David Edwards

From the outset it should be duly noted that this is my all time favorite album…ever!

And now that the disclaimer has been provided let’s get on with the review.

Before DA sounded the Alarma. Before Taylor built a Clone. Before the Choir, Lifesavers, Altar Boys or Undercover. There always has to be a first. And most often, the first is either soon forgotten or remains unknown for decades. This happens more often in Christian music because an artist is not only breaking down musical barriers, but spiritual and self-righteous one as well.

If there was a Top 50 “Albums You Should Own, But Probably Don’t” this one would top the list.

David Edwards’ self titles debut topped Campus Life Magazine as one of the best releases of the year at a time when Christian music was dominated by Amy Grant, Evie and the Sweet Comfort Band. Then along comes this little album on Myrrh Records with a pink rising sun backdrop and a guy wearing a loosened thin tie, looking either quite tired or possibly stoned.

I was a Freshman in High school when the album came out and it was life changing. I wasn’t familiar with David Edwards’ history in Christian music at the time as I later discovered he played bass for J.C. Power Outlet and was friends with Keith Green, Larry Norman and Randy Stonehill. All i knew was that he looked pretty cool on the cover and campus life Magazine compared him to Elvis Costello.

I bought the album as soon as I found a Christian Bookstore that was willing to carry it. I ended working at that same store a couple of years later. After listening to the first song i lifted the needle of the record and put in a tape to record it as I knew right away I would want to listen to this album everywhere I went.

Three years later after the release of his follow-up album, “Get the Picture” I wrote a letter to him and told what an impact his first album had on me and that his lyrics had encouraged me to start publishing my poems and i sent a few of them along in the letter. Not only did he respond but began an occasional correspondence that continued for some  time.

Later that same year he performed at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa during one of their famous Saturday Night Concerts. I went up afterward and introduced myself and he in turned introduced me to the rest of his band who he had mentioned my letters to. I was overwhelmed. My wife and I even went to visit him in upper state New York several years ago on his farm and introduced me to a great recipe for scrambled eggs that remains a favorite in our household.

While the self titled debut project was fueled by short, fast paced pop punk/new wave that would influence the likes of Sheila Walsh and Steve Taylor, the follow-up album was more Billy Joel and less Elvis Costello. It was a little darker thematically as it deals with the internal struggle for true and lasting love and the positive and sometimes quite negative results. The single, “Someone to Trust” was actually used by wife and I in our wedding. But most of that album dealt with the deception and moral failings of those seeking love in all the wrong places. This included songs about rejection (Girls Like You), abortion (Break the Big One), moral failings (Get the Picture), self-destructive infatuation (Anything But Love) and the destroying a good relationship (How Could You throw It All Away).

Musically the album was much more accessible than the first one with a more Billy Joel piano drive pop style, but Christian radio was not responsive to themes with a limited “Jesus quotient” and Myrrh simply struggled trying to find a marketing plan that would work.

The two years later Edwards released the “kiss of death” album entitles “Dreams, Tales and Lullabies” with a corresponding book of fairy tales and short stories of the same name. The project was a tribute to the wonderful writing of George MacDonald and C.S. Lewis. The album is filled with beautiful, classically arranged ballad and lullabies with stunning orchestration provided by the late Tom Howard. Again here, Edwards created a wonderful piece of art with no known way to properly market and support.

Edwards has since recorded a very good Christmas album and has reissued the first two records on a double CD with several unreleased tracks included. All is available at

http://www.studioedwards.com

But the focus here is on the classic and tremendous debut project. Part late 70’s new wave ala Elvis Costello and part 60’s influenced pop with jangly guitars including a fantastic cover of Paul Revere and the Raiders’, “Kicks.” David Edwards was quirky, rocking, fun and unforgettable to those fortunate enough to discover this amazing project. Like the follow up project, this album also was low of the “Jesus per note” equation but the Biblical themes are blatant and creatively presented.

The album kicks off with the Elvis Costello influenced “Best Friend,” a high energy two minutes about a true loving relationship.

Many things I’ve doubted and oh I’ve tried
But now I know it with all of my soul
No one ever believed in someone more
I’m giving it all
I never thought I’d take my life
And give it to another
Giving everything I know
And now I’ll be with you forever

So love me if I fail you
’cause I will be true in the end
Never found a way to tell you
I always wanna be your best friend…

Complete with the keyboard, guitars and drums a blazing this was the perfect way to kick off the album and set the tone musically for the majority of the release.

“Rather By Wrong” addresses where ones priorities should be and just who it is we need to make sure we are right with at all times. Whether addressing the Devil or someone who is demanding compromise in a relationship the message still rings true.

I’d rather be wrong, with someone who loves me
Than be the victor in your game ’cause I’ll only lose

Musically the album is clearly locked into the 80’s new wave sound and production, but one stand out that seems to have stood the test of time the best is the ode to Bob Dylan, “Commercial Suicide.” Driven by a Dylanesque keyboard and blues, jazz styling Edwards decried the two-faced world of radio and media when a person can proclaim a belief of faith in anything, except Christ.

He was the prophet of a generation
They watched his every cryptic verb
People everywhere in every nation
Would bow and worship every word

He gave them songs and made them wild with passion
They would leave his name is history
Then he sang a little out of fashion
And so he gave them one more mystery

And then they cried – Commercial suicide…
Watch how you say it
We’ll never play it

Clocking in at over 4 minutes this song is nearly epic by the albums standards and includes some great guitar work. The end of the second verse though hits the nail on the head.

The loved a moral battle til they fought one
Guess they loved the game but not the rules
They loved a better cause until he brought one
‘Cuase singing jesus songs is not so cool

And then they cried commercial suicide…

Returning to the more Cars or Devo like new wave, “Nagging Optimism” could have been a radio hit in mainstream radio markets. The theme is about how the Lord provides an optimistic approach that is clearly inexplicable.

What should be nothing but the dead of night
Looks more like something bad gone right
I have no mind for giving up
I just can’t shake it
Cause I can’t get away from you…

“Hollywood High” addresses explores the fascination with popularity and fleeting fame’s downside while “The Getaway” deals with the need to flee evil. the latter having one of the best musical experiences on the album combining 60’s beach flavored rock with late 70’s new wave sensibilities. it also contains Edwards’ best vocals.

The cover of “Kicks” addresses the dangerous influence of drugs while “Disposable Love” looks at love that simply tossed away when the “feelings” just aren’t what they were before, even within the walls of the Church. The song is a firm attack against the unBiblical approach to love and relationships that permeates modern Christendom.

Your fun is all gone
And you’re walking out the door
Her love just doesn’t give you pleasure anymore
You’re saying to me that it wasn’t in the stars
If she could give you more then you’d stay
The stars won’t tell you what you’re paying
Don’t you know this could have been from heaven

…and you can’t get enough disposable love

On “The Tongue is a Fire” Edwards deals with the danger of words. This song taken from the book of James hints at the more commercial feel that “Get the Picture” would feature complete with saxophone solo and big backing vocals and a ‘wall of sound” production . It also shows of Edwards’ vocal range more than anything else on the album.

“Don’t Ever say” deals with the concept that no one is without excuse and that every great movement and idea is meaningless without a God centered view of the world.

“Not Going to Fall Away” should have been a HUGE hit! Plain and simple. And unfortunately it was, but that would be several years later as a duet by Steve Taylor and Sheila Walsh. I prefer the version here. This is the most uplifting song on the album and is a simple declaration of a faith that will not fade or fall away.

The album finishes with the acoustic ballad, “Song of Wholeness” that I remember being nicknamed, “the Pinocchio Song.”

Make me a real live boy
I want to be everything real a boy should be
Oh Jesus
Make me a real live boy
I want to feel everything real a boy should feel

I don’t want to be a part of some machine
And I’ve gotta break away from this routine
You can turn me into something that’s alive

An album that starts with driving keyboards and guitars closes with a simple expression of faith that leaves the audience wanting more. it is simply a crime that the audience was not large enough to begin with. I will lay odds that those who loved this album will come out of the woodwork to comment on this album because for those familiar with it, it was a life changer. It made Christian music cool. VERY, VERY COOL!

Advertisements

31 responses to this post.

  1. My biggest problem with David Edwards was with where he went (meaning ‘away’) – Even if Get The Picture is more pedestrian, in his given field he looked even more like a rock star, and “A Fool’s Condition” is downright disturbing. Chew on that one, lukewarm Christian teens trying to slide into third base!

    Supposedly he contributed a track to a DA tribute album, but it was deemed too controversial, a tag that probably painted it more dangerous than it really was. Since I’ve never heard the song, and have no idea how it relates to DA, it’ll remain enshrouded in mystery. Even so, those years after Get The Picture were lean times. I was too short-sighted to get the Lullabies album, although I probably would have an immense appreciation for it now.

    Still, David Edwards! We needed yer rock ‘n roll, man (and still do, actually!)

    Reply

  2. I never encountered this gem in all my 2500+ titles since starting to collect in 1985. I immediately ordered a copy so thank you for the heads-up. I mentioned you upon ordering.

    Reply

  3. Posted by aarjayaitch on February 23, 2010 at 2:33 am

    I never heard the debut, but LOVED the follow-up album… after I was able to wrap my head around it!

    Reply

  4. In the fall of 1982, I went into my first Christian bookstore, lined with blonde-haired, toothy Boones and Pattis…and Evie and so forth… I picked out Dion’s ONLY JESUS album (I liked 50s-60s rock…and Dion also had the merit of being Italian-American), but the red-curly-haired kid at the counter (no less than Dave Lowman himself) insisted that I listen to this punkish album that mentioned the “J-word” only once. I liked it. I figured that if Dave Edwards knew about “Kicks,” he couldn’t be all bad. And besides, I liked the Knack, and they wore thin ties too. I played “Tongue is a Fire” to death on my college radio station. I liked DE’s rock, I lost him with the more ballad-like stuff…not because it wasn’t good, but because I would always (then and now) favor “You May Be Right” to “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant.” Different strokes, etc.

    My other favorites from the album…Hollywood High and Commercial Suicide. I reckon I tended towards the more produced stuff…and perhaps less cryptic.

    Reply

    • Posted by low5point on February 23, 2010 at 4:43 pm

      The Knack is a great reference point…I may need to go back and re-edit the post. Of course I will take all the credit for that brilliant observation.

      Reply

  5. Posted by Myron on August 27, 2010 at 5:35 am

    I remember the day I purchased this album. It was late spring of ’81, I had summer job in contruction and it was a Friday payday. I was hungry to purchase a new album that night and was teetering on getting the David Edwards album, since I was more inclined towards the rock of Resurrection Band, DeGarmo & Key Band and Larry Norman. But I decided to give “new wave” a try and wasn’t dissappointed. I wouldn’t have been as well prepared for purchasing “Alarma!’ later that summer had I not purchased David’s debut.

    Reply

  6. Posted by paul on October 22, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    We saw Dave Edwards at a Amos and Randy show and as I recall he put on a great show. This album is my favorite of the two.

    Reply

  7. Posted by Charles Beach on January 9, 2011 at 3:03 am

    In reference to “A Fool’s Condition,” which a previous poster found “downright disturbing”—that song quotes abundantly from George MacDonald’s Phantastes, in an early portion of that fantasy novel (the first modern fantasy novel, by the way, which was published in 1858 and the book which CS Lewis said “baptized his imagination”) where the young male narrator succumbs to the temptations of a false woman figure, who is hollow and dead inside. In context of the album’s message, especially in response to the preceding song, “A Fool’s Condition” sounds a warning against the kind of sensuality that was prevalent in 1980s pop culture. (And remains prevalent in our world today.) The song is only really disturbing if one mistakenly believes Edwards was advocating that which he clearly argues is “A Fool’s Condition.”

    Reply

  8. As curator of the studioedwards.com web site (it’s complicated), I want to say ‘thanks’ to all who appreciate David’s music and have purchased the “Collected Archives” CD. We’re still trying to recoup the expenses of pressing those CDs, but what the heck, it was fun to be a ‘producer’ once in my life.

    Having read MacDonald before hearing the “Get the Picture” album, I found “A Fool’s Condition” to be absolutely stunning in its brilliance, the perfect summation of the theme of warning in the album. (That is: ‘Charles Beach’ got it right.)

    But here’s a bit of trivia for you: David HATES that song! From what he told me, it was sort of concocted at the last minute and he considers it overly melodramatic. I think he’s too close to it to see the greatness of it.

    As for the DA tribute album contribution: I think the truth is that the song wasn’t accepted because it isn’t actually a cover of a DA tune, as are all the rest on that disc. The title of the song is “Watch the Checks Roll In” and it’s more of a “DA style” satire about musicians that produce Christian music strictly for the money. Maybe somebody thought he was aiming his critique at T.T. and that’s how the ‘controversial’ label got applied. David’s sense of humor is best described as sardonic, and sometimes I’m not quite sure where the joke ends.

    Reply

  9. Correction: the title of that ‘DA Tribute’ song is actually “Watching the Checks Roll In”
    (Note to self: proofread before posting!)

    Reply

  10. For all you that posted here and all those who have never heard of David Edwards….I personally met David Edwards as an aspiring musician and college student at UCSB in 1982. Not only was he grateful enough to take a meeting with me, he invited me to a Thanksgiving meal with him and his wife and patiently listened to my tunes after diner as i strummed them on my acoustic guitar. This meant alot to me, as it was my first Thanksgiving away from home.

    David is the real deal. A stand up guy. Whether or not you consider him a Christian or not, I saw him as a stand-up guy and a very generous human being.

    So, before you begin to judge him please read my above comments as they 100% true.

    Reply

    • Posted by Dick Waljaard on July 12, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      What is a Christian…certainly the ones that don’t judge 🙂 the man has influenced só many in a good way…found him, looking all around, again!

      Reply

  11. Posted by Hank on August 14, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Recently bought the album based on your review. Wow. How did I ever miss this?

    Reply

  12. Posted by Mark on August 19, 2011 at 1:43 am

    where can i get this cd? I had it on vinyl a long time ago …and loved it!!!!

    Reply

  13. Posted by Clay on March 4, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Where is he now?

    Reply

  14. Posted by Clay on March 4, 2012 at 3:37 am

    And what is he doing?

    Reply

  15. David’s living in upstate New York, and is involved in various artistic endeavors, none of which have make him rich. You can see what he’s been doing at dnedwards.com.

    And you can still buy the first two albums on CD at studioedwards.com.

    Reply

  16. Posted by juliorey on August 13, 2012 at 4:04 am

    Got it when it came out and it was mind-blowing. Finally, non-hippie Christian rock. And intelligent lyrics to boot. It was a big time inspiration and catalyst for my feeble attempts later that decade….

    Reply

  17. Posted by juliorey on August 13, 2012 at 11:54 am

    Definite influence and inspiration to me.

    Reply

  18. Posted by Dean Coonradt on December 11, 2012 at 5:13 am

    I am a huge fan. 25 years ago I wrote to David and ask if there was a way to get the music for Someone To Trust, which I wanted sung at my wedding. He printed out the music and sent it to me and it was done. On the compilation album even the outtakes are outstanding–especially the ones connected to Get the Picture. Had the privilege of performing (playing, while someone else sang) The Son and the Angels from Dreams, Tales and Lullabies album at a Christian convention. No one’s music resonates with me like his.

    Reply

    • Posted by Dick Waljaard on July 12, 2013 at 10:29 pm

      Dean, do you still have the music and/or lyrics? This song, Someone to Trust touched me deeply back then and I longed to hear, sing it ever since. Thank God for internet…found the song, can’t stop listening…:-) Lyrics (perhaps)music would make the hot even greater. The Album was awesome!!

      Reply

  19. I was raised in th UK the son of an Elim Pentecostal church minister and my upbringing was to put it lightly very strict indeed! I was forbidden the choice of listening to pop music or anything other than Christian music. I was the second youngest of three brother siblings and most certainly rebelled against my upbringing. My father identified this rebellious streak and of course saw it as his duty to quash it. I was serious about creating my own music from an early age and do began to teach myself guitar around the age of 8yrs. I learnt by playing along to records by Cliff Richard, Larry Norman etc.
    we used to get those flexi floppy discs that promoted new Christian artists…..this is how I first stumbled across the sounds of Al Green and David Edwards. I was seriously affected by both. I got my hands on David’s album as soon as I possibly could and played it to death. I can’t describe what it meant to me to find an artist in that cool genre who was stretching the boundaries of the run of the mill Christian stuff out there.

    David. If you read this I want to thank you for the profound effect your music and songs had on me. I’ve played in bands and had minor success from time to time but that first self titled album of yours is still one of my favs. I rate it up there with Blondie, The Knack and even some Billy Idol stuff (white wedding, eyes without a face era).

    Thanks!!!!

    A fan

    Reply

  20. Posted by Al Coe on February 18, 2013 at 1:37 am

    The links to David Edwards are apparently now inactive. If there is any more currant news about his whereabouts; or knowledge of the availability of his printed music album, “Dreams, Tales, and Lullabies”; I’d be most grateful.

    I’ve been singing “Songs of Relationship” for more than 30 years. And at age 84, I am still sharing one of his pieces in that book: “When He Comes”; which both laments over a frozen world and anticipates the return of C. S. Lewis’s “Aslan”.

    Reply

  21. Al Coe: A Google search yielded this: http://studioedwards.autsys.com/

    Hope it helps!

    Reply

  22. Posted by Dick on July 10, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Found David Edwards again on Internet! Só cool…tracks from ‘Get the picture’ have been with me all of my years, they were so deep, soulfully and musically written and refreshing. Missed him after that but now enjoying even more these wonderful gems….

    Reply

  23. Posted by Dick on July 10, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    God is Creator of all He’s First in all, let alone music…we should be like Him specifically in expressing ourselves which He does best too! David Edwards was a fine exemple of what still lies ahead…it touched me deeply

    Reply

  24. Posted by Dick on July 10, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    Hum…last but not least, does anyone know where to find the lyrics of his albums?

    Reply

  25. Posted by Judi Reynolds on July 7, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    I’ve been listening and singing David’s tune for forty years (gasp). His lyrics, melodies, and the timbre of his voice touch me like no other. Simply put, he is a genius, a true artist, with more depth and wisdom than most Christian artists put together. Glad to read of others appreciation of him.

    Reply

  26. I should have thought to post a note here before. Yes, somebody managed to get control of the http://studioedwards.com domain for a year, apparently thinking we’d pay big bucks to rescue it. Since there aren’t even ‘little bucks’ around here, we piggy-backed on another domain I own.
    But we’ve rescued http://studioedwards.com and restored it to its rightful place once again. We’ve also got the Dreams, Tales & Lullabies Songbook back in the store, as a PDF download and in printed (comb-bound for easy page turning!) form.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: