Leap Of Faith

Sometimes, To Find Religion, You Need To Get Lost.

What amazes me about religion is that it retains its world wide popularity without the embracement of technology. It seems that the various heads of the different religions have figured out that scientific, communication and design advancements would inevitably dwindle the number of the faithful. Some funding along with some creative thinking could bring faith into the 21st century. Using the same principles behind developing paranormal detection instruments, we couldn't be too far away from the introduction of a "Pious Meter" that would be used to ascertain the actual level of one's spirituality. A very handy item for the workplace to be used on employees asking for time off for religious commitments. With one pass of the "ipious"(The truth shall set you free) or "Pious Pole" (Tell the truth or you don't have a prayer) your boss could tell the difference between the person of true faith and the chooch who wants the day off to wave a John 3:16 banner at the roller derby playoff.

Time off from work for spiritual reasons is accepted universally as the payment for rolling into your house of worship on a semi-weekly basis. Leaving your job all together over religion frightens people because it makes them wonder what kind of heavy shit you are really into. When Dez Dickerson stepped down as Prince's lead guitarist for The Revolution after the "1999" tour, he said it was for religious reasons, but you have to wonder if he left for the church or because Prince thought he was god. Dickerson actually became a born again christian a few years before and the songs often charged with ferocious sexual themes began to trouble him as well as speculated non-credit for the writing, or partial writing of songs (Dez was rumored to be involved with the writing of "When You Were Mine" from 1980's "Dirty Mind" and covered the song after he left the Prince camp). Dickerson channeled this internal paradox through his guitar and emitted a very deft and precise soulfulness that was able find credibility with both funk and rock audiences. Dickerson left Prince's band but stayed within his sphere of influence which provided Dickerson and his new unsigned band "The Modernaires" an appearance in the movie "Purple Rain".  The song "Moderaire" carried the bouncy march embodied by all of the songs from the movie, however, live footage of the band was limited to under 30 seconds in the film and the song was a last minute deletion from the soundtrack in favor of Prince's 11th hour compositions (It was his movie after all). "Modernaire'" is a nimble intertwining of sytnh and guitar as the beat moves you across the room with your shoulder blades and footsteps in syncopation until you realize its charm is also its curse-it sounds too much like the rest of the songs on "Purple Rain" to honestly allow Dickerson to escape from Prince's shadow. For years the only way to find this song was to count off 17 paces from the big rock with an eyepatch and dig, but that curse is in this case its charm... not having it crammed down our throats allow you to appreciate the song for what it is: a cool lost track that has finally been released from a ground breaking soundtrack.

Listen To "Modernaire"

Buy Dez Dickerson's "Modernaire"

The band Riot had looked like they put the right pieces together when they released "Fire Down Under" in 1981. After some changes from the original lineup and a solid showing as an effective touring undercard for several platinum selling hard rock acts they were receiving solid rock radio airplay and broke into the Billboard top 100 albums. On the verge of wider success the band had a divine "interruption" when vocalist Guy Speranza opted to leave Riot due to his religious convictions clashing with his duties as singer in a metal band. Upon his departure Guy settled in Florida to work as an exterminator, leaving me to ask what religion does not allow the debauchery filled nights in a band yet allows the daily killing required in the pest control field? 

Riot's songs were regulated to the PM portions of the FM radio programming schedule providing the sound that fueled the citizens of the American night whose perception ability rose as the sun set. Even though Riot was based in NYC, they received some juice when they were grouped in with The New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, scoring enough advance money to promote themselves to the point that their label picked them back up after dropping the band.  "Swords and Tequila" was the first single and led the album off with a guitar riff that hacked at you with a seemingly drunken fury that intensified with Speranza's smokey and powerful singing. The litmus test for a badass rock song to me, is changing the title of the song during the chorus to any other words with the same amount of syllables and see if it is still effective (as of this writing "Stab Whoopi Goldberg" is my favorite). The truth is, I don't care what he is singing, for when the song reaches the guitar break, I am charged up enough to take to the street and cold cock the ice cream man. The violent theme of the song is a happy accident, for rock music, at its finest is like a street fight: It starts in a flash, its over in a few short minutes and when all is finished everyone is looking around to figure out what happened.

Listen To "Swords and Tequila"

Purchase Riot Music
Riot - Fire Down Under

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