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Scripture Memory Pop Symphonies
Artist: Rick Altizer
Label: Fuseic Music / independent
Time: 11 tracks/42:11
 
The album’s title might be unwieldy and about as un-cool as a Vacation Bible School tee-shirt, but don’t mistake Rick Altizer’s fine Scripture Memory Pop Symphonies for an artless scripture memorization device – nothing could be farther from the truth. 
 
If you grew up listening to The Beatles (as a group or as solo artists), Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson,  and the like, you should welcome this music with open ears. Altizer has done something quite amazing – he’s distilled the best stylistic elements of the aforementioned artists and created new music that manages to avoid simple imitation, even though you will find yourself almost ‘remembering’ musical passages like they were old friends. As with most of Altizer’s past work, this is essentially a solo project. Rick’s frequent musical collaborator, Adrian Belew, is missing this time, but not missed thanks to a little help from Rick’s friends: Mark Hauth on keyboard, Jim Frazier on mellotron, organ, and some horn arrangements, and CJ Kowal on bass (on two tracks) – everything else you hear is Altizer. The music has great energy and a wonderful pop sensibility that grabs the listener immediately and recalls The Beatles at their height. Altizer’s gotten everything right – from the guitar tones to the Ringo-esque drumming – a real pleasure to listen to. Add to this mix, lyrics that are straight scripture (sometimes incorporating the location of the verse) and you have some idea of what this project is all about.
 
At this point I have to say that I was skeptical until I heard the result – after all, ‘scripture songs’ have never been on the cutting edge of artistic endeavor, but Rick Altizer has always been an artist that can be trusted, and he has come through on this project accomplishing the near-impossible: making scripture songs both ‘cool’ and memorable. Altizer’s vocals are engaging and appropriate for the musical setting – using the straight forward approach of the ‘Beatle’ vocal style and adding harmonies as rich as any that Brian Wilson might have arranged. I’ve gone back to this CD multiple times – more than I normally do with a new CD – and have found that this hooky, infectious, well-played music accomplishes its purpose, which is to get these scriptures running through your head. Still sounds corny? Hey – you could do worse. 
 
The bottom line here is that the music has integrity, and the words ….well, are we going to critique the scriptures? I wouldn’t want to get on the bad side of the lyricist. There are those who will no-doubt dismiss this project without ever giving it a listen – and that would be a shame. It is, of course, the risk that Rick Altizer has been willing to take by putting out a blatantly scripture-filled project in a time when the album’s greatest potential audience often takes a ‘hipper than thou’ attitude toward unapologetically ‘Christian’ product. It would be their loss, in more ways than one.
 
By all means, go to Rick’s website (www.rickaltizer.com) to hear samples and for a free download of a complete song. Now, I’m assuming that you’ve already decided not to try this CD out if you hate The Beatles and that era of music, or if you only listen to Hip Hop or grind-core ….whatever! But, if you have an open mind, a love of the music that revolutionized rock and roll and maybe the idea that hearing scripture in a new and refreshing way could be good for you …check out Scripture Memory Pop Symphonies
 
By Bert Saraco 
www.myspace.com/expressimage  
expressimagephoto.tripod.com 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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