Archives For Rock n’ Roll


[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”333″ identifier=”110190707X” locale=”US” src=”” tag=”douloschristo-20″ width=”221″]A Machine for Killing Complacency?
A Feature Review of 

Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music? Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock
Gregory Alan Thornbury

Hardback: Convergent, 2018
Buy Now: [ [easyazon_link identifier=”110190707X” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link] ] [ [easyazon_link identifier=”B01NBQ4NFP” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Kindle[/easyazon_link] ]

Reviewed by Aarik Danielsen


Growing up in the 1990s, I belonged to a bizarre record club.

No, it wasn’t one of those where you bought an album on the cheap, then received another slew of titles free—though I did take that deal a few times. The customs of this club, its members spread far and wide, included jettisoning all your secular music, only to chase after it like an indecisive lover. Plagued by alternating bouts of piety and spiritual paranoia, I threw away, gave away or sold my secular CDs on at least two occasions. These purges were meant to foster purity, to keep me spiritually tuned in; all they did was leave me with seller’s remorse.

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Bob Dylan’s Best Albums

Compiled by Madeline Cramer


“I hold a beast, an angel, and a madman in me,” said Dylan Thomas (the poet who inspired Robert Allen Zimmerman to legally change his last name at 19), and perhaps Bob Dylan’s poetry and music has achieved its legendary, timeless status by encompassing those three parts of the human experience so well.

*** For a limited time, the ebook 
   [easyazon_link identifier=”B005EZCO9Q” locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]The Gospel according to Bob Dylan[/easyazon_link]
   by Michael Gilmour is only $1.99 for Kindle!

(Albums arranged in the order they were released… )

[easyazon_link identifier=”B00026WU64″ locale=”US” tag=”douloschristo-20″]The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan[/easyazon_link] 

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Greil Marcus

Noted Rock critic Greil Marcus has just released a new book, [easyazon_link asin=”0300187378″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs[/easyazon_link] (Yale UP).

For your listening pleasure, we are delighted to feature here the 10 songs covered in this new book. For a complete explanation of why he chose these songs, you will have to [easyazon_link asin=”0300187378″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]buy the book[/easyazon_link]!

*** [easyazon_link cloaking=”default” keywords=”Greil Marcus” localization=”default” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” tag=”douloschristo-20″]Books by Greil Marcus[/easyazon_link] ***

Hope you enjoy these recordings!

#1 – Shake Some Action – The Flamin’ Groovies 
[ Buy MP3 – 99c ]

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“The most delightful toy in our possession

A Review of

Leave Your Sleep.
By Natalie Merchant

Reviewed by Brent Aldrich.

[ In this online issue, we bring you a change of pace:
reviews of two recent literary-themed albums.
This is one of them and
Bill Mallonee’s Ti Jean
is the other… ]

Natalie Merchant - Leave your sleepLeave Your Sleep.
Natalie Merchant.
2 Audio CD’s, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Let me put all my cards on the table before we begin: I own every Natalie Merchant (and 10,000 Maniacs) CD that there is; I could quote lines, sing along, or beat you in Name That Tune. Yes, I have a music crush, so this might not be the most fair or balanced reporting, though I will try to refrain from dealing in obscure references or geeky trivia, and instead describe why I’ve come to appreciate Merchant’s musicality so much.

That said, Leave Your Sleep, Merchant’s most recent release, is an impressive two-CD production in which she adapted 26 poems to music, and performed with over 100 musicians; the complexity of this project could cause a listener to reflect on a host of considerations – the translation of the written word into song, the contextualization Merchant gives each poem musically, as well as this album’s relationship to others by Merchant, such as 2003’s The House Carpenter’s Daughter, which is similar in that it gathers together a collection of folk and traditional songs.

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“Here’s a Life… A Poured Out Cup”

A Review of

Ti Jean: Hearts Crossing the Center Line.
By Bill Mallonee

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

[ In this online issue, we bring you a change of pace:
reviews of two recent literary-themed albums.
This is one of them and
Natalie Merchant’s Leave Your Sleep
is the other… ]

Ti Jean - Bill MalloneeTi Jean:
Hearts Crossing the Center Line.

Bill Mallonee.
Digital Album.
Support the artist,
Download the full album
for only $5.50
(also streaming on the same page
for your listening pleasure…)

I have been listening to the music of Bill Mallonee, and his early incarnations in the band The Vigilantes of Love, for almost twenty years now.  Following in the faith-haunted footsteps of the Southern Gothic writers like Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, Mallonee’s work has consistently mixed masterful storytelling with a deep, dark sense of our human brokenness and a glimmer of hope in the even deeper graces of God. For many years, he was – and probably still is – my favorite songwriter, but being in a state of life where I don’t listen to much music, and buy even less, I haven’t really kept up with his music for over five years.  (Of course, I suspect even the most ardent music fans would struggle to keep up with Mallonee’s prolific work, accelerated it seems by economic woes to a frenetic pace of releasing four or five albums a year for the last few years).  However, when I got wind that he had released an album of songs inspired by the life and work of Jack Kerouac earlier this year, I knew that this would be an album that I would need to own.

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“Keep on Rockin’ in the Christian World?”

A review of
Sects, Love and Rock & Roll

by Joel Heng Hartse.

Reviewed by Adam Newton.

Sects, Love and Rock & Roll
Joel Heng Hartse.

Paperback: Wipf and Stock, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Sects, Love and RocknRoll - Joel Heng HartseI worked in a Christian bookstore for six years, and for most of it, I did so quite happily. Like the vast majority of people who’ve chosen to work in such an environment, I did it because it brought me close to the things I loved – a combination of God, the Bible, books, and music (it helped that I received a decent discount that encouraged me to re-invest into the store). Those six years were spent providing customers with any and all available information on the newest Study Bible, the newest best-selling books (whether fiction or assorted “Christian Living” topics), and the hot new records (courtesy of whatever hit songs were being played on Houston, TX’s award-winning Christian radio station). I liked it, since I loved talking to people about the aforementioned God, Bible, and books, but my real claim to fame was the reputation I earned amongst the mallrat punk rock Christian kids as being “the guy” that could help them find the Christian alternative to the secular music their evangelical parents didn’t approve of.

So, I found myself laughing, groaning, and shaking my head knowingly with every turn of the page throughout Sects, Love, and Rock & Roll by Joel Heng Hartse, a regular contributor to publications like Paste, Geez, Christianity Today and Image (amongst others).  It would be easy to describe the book as Body Piercing Saved My Life written by a Christian, but this book is a definitely more personal and intimate in nature. It comes across as an open, honest memoir that chronicles one guy’s journey through the waters of both Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) and “secular” music, and how he’s still trying to make sense of that (often false) dichotomy.

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“Van Morrison Has a Lot of
The Holy Ghost in Him”

A Review of
When That Rough God Goes Riding:
Listening To Van Morrison

By Greil Marcus.

Reviewed by Ken Carter.

When That Rough God Goes Riding:
Listening To Van Morrison

Greil Marcus.

Hardback: Public Affairs, 2010.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

WHEN THAT ROUGH GOD... Greil MarcusThis is someone who can abandon himself,” Elvis Costello once observed;  “for a Protestant from East Belfast, Van Morrison has a lot of the Holy Ghost in him.”   Greil Marcus, one of our more astute and unconventional cultural critics, has written a reflection on Morrison’s abandonment to this art,   a journey that  has at times been astonishingly successful, and at others, Marcus insists,  utterly forgettable.  The title When That Rough God Goes Riding is taken from the first selection on Morrison’s The Healing Game (1997, and also based on a line from W. B. Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming.” Less a biography than a deeply personal guide to listening, or an extensive set of liner notes, a medium that matched the album but not the mp3,  Marcus  first succeeds by simply moving the reader to discover again the tapes, albums and compact discs that span thirty plus recorded works over forty years.

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A Brief Review of

Witnessing Suburbia:
Conservatives and Christian Youth Culture
Eileen Luhr.

Paperback: U of California Press, 2009.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Chris Smith.

“I’m rockin’ the suburbs
Just like Quiet Riot did
I’m rockin’ the suburbs
Except that they were talented
I’m rockin’ the suburbs…”
— Ben Folds

The story that Eileen Luhr tells in her new book Witnessing Suburbia: Conservatives and Christian Youth Culture is a familiar one for me, because it was in essence the story in which I grew up.  This story is described by Luhr in the book’s introduction:

This book is a history of the suburbanization of evangelicalism and the “Christianization” of popular culture – twin pillars of the conservative shift in national politics during the Reagan-Bush era … [It] contrasts the old Christian Right – with its dogmatic resistance to youth culture per se – and the new “rock” evangelicalism, which embraced cutting-edge cultural forms and media in order to institute moral reform and broaden the impact of its proselytizing efforts.  These processes, in turn, abetted a hegemonic conservative politics grounded in uniting possessive individualism with home-centered “traditional values” (5).

Although Witnessing Suburbia is intended largely for academic audiences, Luhr tells the basic narrative in a compelling and very readable fashion, and we would do well to read it carefully and reflect on it in light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  There are many disturbing themes that Luhr unmasks here, but in short we begin to see the many syncretisms of American evangelicalism in the eighties and nineties – inextricably mixing the Christian faith up with right-wing politics, individualistic consumerism and family-based traditionalism.

As mentioned at the beginning of this review, I grew up in this era (graduating high school in 1992) and to a large extent was a Christian swept up in the youth culture of the times.   For several years, the primary genre of music that I enjoyed was Christian Heavy Metal (incidentally the subject of one of the book’s finest chapters).  Although I was on the fringes of this movement, I never really got sucked into the mainstream of Christian youth culture, and indeed it was perhaps my familiarity with the broader youth culture (particularly punk music, and its frankness in revealing the powers that be) that help me resist such an assimilation.  I’m sure it helped too that I never exactly fit the economic mold of middle-class suburban culture.  Luhr’s work here is brilliant, illuminating the dark depths of a history that has gone largely unnoticed.  I hope that it will spur in Christian circles much reflection on the Gospel and culture.  Luhr’s narrative in Witnessing Suburbia reveals a lot of “being conformed to the pattern of the world” (Rom 12:2) in recent evangelicalism, and in illuminating this cultural domestication, it has the potential to nudge us in the direction of transformation and the renewal of our minds.