The Phantom Tollbooth
September 1999 Pick of the Month
Worldwide Favourites - Selected Songs from the Adam Again Era
Artist: Adam Again
Label: KMG Records(US)/Word (UK)
Length: 16 tracks
Adam Again has been called one of the very best bands in the world. Whereas that is quite likely true, at the very least they are Christendom's tightest and funkiest outfits, as well as one of the most interesting. With only five albums from 1986 to 1995 to their credit, their overall output is hardly considerable, yet each of those albums is chock-ful of finely crafted songs ranging from outright rockers to brooding ballads. Worldwide Favourites offers an appropriately wide assortment of selections collected from each of their albums, plus one harder to find cut ("Sleepwalk") previously only available on a Brainstorm compilation.

The creative force behind the talented band is Gene Eugene who earns his reputation as much these days as a crack album producer for other bands than  he does as the front-man and principal songwriter for Adam Again. Like a true soul singer, Eugene is remarkably in touch with his melancholy. The emotional range of his songs is exemplary, whether he is bemoaning the dangerous state of his urban neighborhood or reflecting on personal disappointments, including marital woes with former wife and fellow band-member Riki Michele (contributor of lush harmonies and groovy dance-steps). Eugene is not so much the consummate tortured artist as he is one merely beset by enough burdens to positively affect his art. Consequently, the band's fans have found him to be an honest and lucid communicator of the harsh realities of life and a sign of hope that even a fragile faith can and does triumph in shadowy valleys. But mostly they just love his incredibly funky side.

Back in 1986 with the release of  In a New World of Time, Adam Again were part of a Southern California movement to make relevant Christian music in currently contemporary musical forms. Their debut album drew both favorable and unfavorable comparisons to quirky alt-pop bands like Talking Heads, but also established the band's love of chunky rhythms and sheer creativity. Ten Songs by Adam Again followed in 1988, garnering even more praise for its funkier mix and danceable tracks on racism, lying, and the blessed nature of Christ's sacrifice. Two years later, Homeboys showcased Adam Again's love of Seventies sounds in what Eugene has called "a theme record of sorts about living (as we all were) in a pretty rough area of Southern California." This album was also the first to feature Johnny Knox on the "high kick drum laying a groove so thick." With a real and talented drummer as an official band member, the Adam Again sound continues to grew even more organic and intense.

Adam Again hit pay dirt in a manner of speaking with 1992's Dig. Still their most celebrated album to date, Dig had a harder, more alternative edge which relied more on Greg Lawless's and Eugene's guitar work than the previous album's affections for synths and organs. The result was a brilliant batch of songs that not only redefined their sound, but drew greater critical and fan-base acclaim. Their reputation as a great live act had also been proven by this time, and was solidified by various festival appearances. Their follow-up, Perfecta wasn't released until 1995, and chronicled Eugene's darkest hours in a collection of sturdy jams and solid songs like the infectiously funky "Strobe." A rare glimpse into Eugene's very soul, Perfecta proved to be another highlight for fans. Rumors and reports of a yet another album (at one time tentatively titled Guadalupe) have been bandied about for years, but 1999 may find this highly anticipated album boldly breaking into the light of day.

Like the case with most beloved bands, diehard Adam Again afficionados are opinionated and vocal about their favorite tracks. Curiously, only a portion of those songs cited recently by the Gene Eugene email discussion list as their favorites actually made it onto this greatest hits collection. In particular, the absence of "Who Can Hold Us," which was listed as the fan's #1 choice for absolute favorite pick, is a bit like Led Zeppelin releasing a greatest hits album without "Stairway to Heaven." Despite such other seemingly obvious oversights as leaving off "No Regrets," "Tree House," and their cover of Bill Wither's "Ain't No Sunshine" which rivals the original, Worldwide Favourites still provides an excellent glimpse into some of the band's best material. Not all of the favorites are here, but enough of them to keep you busy boogieing and belting along.

Although there are no lyrics offered, the sleeve features a wonderful collection of band photos and other bits artfully displayed by long-time collaborator Anna Cardenas. The final page also features "Fascinating Song Notes from Gene" with little quips and insights into the selected song's themselves.

True confessions: I have been a diehard Adam Again fan since their first album. Writing a review of their greatest hits collection is a bit like asking a child to play in a toy store. I'm hardly what you would call an objective source when it comes to critiquing their music. However, as a fan I can think of no better way for you to become acquainted with Adam Again's music than to personally endorse this collection for your enjoyment and then urging you to pick up their other fine albums.

Steven S. Baldwin   8/20/99

Track listing with albums appearing in parenthesis:
    Worldwide (Dig)
    It's All Right (Perfecta)
    Hide Away (Homeboys)
    Bad News on the Radio (Homeboys)
    Strobe (Perfecta)
    Eyes Wide Open (10 Songs)
    Dig (Dig)
    Stone (Perfecta)
    Homeboys (Homeboys)
    The 10th Song  (10 Songs)
    Deep (Dig)
    You Can Fall in Love (In a New World of Time)
    All You Lucky People (Perfecta)
    Sleepwalk
    River on Fire (Dig)
    Relapse (Perfecta)

The Gene Eugene Discussion List's Rank of their Favorite Adam Again Songs:
(Those with the # symbol appear on Worldwide Favorites)
1.) Who Can Hold Us
2.) No Regrets
3.) Dig     #
4.) Stone #
5.) Relapse #
6.) Deep #
7.) Worldwide #
8.) Harsh
9.) Homeboys #
10.)    Ain't No Sunshine
11.)    River on Fire #
11.)    Strobe  #
13.)    Tree House
14.)    This Band is Our House
15.)    Don't Cry
15.)    Try Not to Try
17.)    Every Mother's Way
18.)    Hideaway #
19.)    Save Me
20.)    All You Lucky People #
20.)    Songwork

KMG's series of retrospectives for key artists in alternative Christian  music continues with this volume from Gene Eugene and company. No-one is ever quite satisfied with the selection of songs included in such a compilation as this, but while fans may be dismayed at the absence of one cut or another, this is a worthy showcase for one of the funkiest bands ever to combine organs and guitars.

 Adam Again's "sound" is a dark, funky blending of organs and guitars. The  band also exhibit a looseness which allows for an absorbing atmosphere.  Adam Again also have a fine line in tight acoustic compositions, such as  this album's opener, "Worldwide." Lyrically Eugene keeps his pen close to  his heart, dispensing observations of a sort that its often not clear whether he's commenting on what he sees around him or inside himself.

 Sometimes a little overbearing, this is nevertheless a much needed  introduction for a new generation to this fine band.

 James Stewart (8/21/99)

This album makes me wonder why I never really got into Adam Again's music. There is some really great stuff here, especially the funkier songs like "Strobe" and Eye Wide Open."  Worldwide Favourites should serve as an excellent introduction to a new generation of fans.

Shari Lloyd 8/23/99