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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
to a Revolution
Artist: The Insyderz
Label: Floodgate Records
Times: 10 tracks/31:51 minutes
One of my favorite concerts I've attended is SkaMania '98, with the O.C. Supertones, Five Iron Frenzy, and the Insyderz. It's important to keep these bands in mind when approaching the Insyderz' Soundtrack to a Revolution because these guys are still hard-hitting with ska, with an attitude--a positive type of attitude (making "revolution" a theme for this disc)--which sounds like it derives straight from the 1998 project Skalleluia! The only problem with this sound is this: is ska an anachronism?
Two of my favorite releases from the Insyderz are the before-mentioned praise project and the national debut Motor City Ska (1997), with the Insyderz performing praise music before the praise and worship genre became the norm. To answer the question from my last paragraph, the Supertones moved away from the ska sound to rock-with-horns in 1999 with Chase the Sun, and Five Iron Frenzy (with The End is Here) is no more. Still hungry for ska (specifically, skanking to Christian praise and worship a la Five Iron Frenzy or classic O.C. Supertones)? Go get a copy of _Soundtrack to a Revolution._ It's very probable that new audiences of contemporary Christian praise and worship are at least beginning to ask why praise and worship music is set to a ska beat.
The Insyderz did a terrific job with Skalleluia! but many tips of the hat must be given to that project's co-producer, the late Gene Eugene (plus executive producer Steve Taylor), and by the time Skalleluia Too! rolled around a little more than a year later, the sound seemed slightly unglued, without as much focus as Motor City Ska. The excellent news is that the Insyderz have that keen focus back, centering around these elements: solid ska, solid praise and worship lyrics, and strong production values, making for a pleasing effort.
Still, not unlike the Supertones' Chase the Sun, the Insyderz flirt with reggae ("Better Half") and rock ("The Shootout" and "Shame on Me"). I feel like I'm listening to Chase the Sun and want to tell the Insyderz' "you're moving to rock-with-horns! Get on with it!" The slow music change in the band's arrangements doesn't really bother me since I've been aching for ska since Five Iron Frenzy called it quits. Also a very important ingredient to what's pleasing about Soundtrack to a Revolution, lead vocalist Joe Yerke composed almost all the excellent lyrics, focusing on praise--and that "attitude." The Insyderz focus on The Great Commission (the title track, "Call to Arms," and "Shame on Me" are standouts) with a sharp-sounding edge that Yerke delivers vocally and lyrically with that "revolution" theme, and I like that. A lot.
One huge drawback to this project is that it only runs just under 32 minutes. With no hidden track. The fun seems to be over as soon as it begins.
The listener who is a fan of the Insyderz and/or ska should buy a copy of Soundtrack to a Revolution; however, for those new to the ska sound, approach with care. Even Joe Yerke has joked that ska is dead, although audiences are warming up to _Soundtrack to a Revolution_ and Insyderz concerts. What's left to say, then? Ska is dead! Long live ska!
Olin Jenkins August 22, 2004