DAshotgun90Stepping out of Dodge City and into the Neverland Ballroom, the re-issue of DA's Shotgun Angel documents the genesis of an important turning point for the band while giving us some really fine music!

Shotgun Angel – Collector's Edition
Artist: Daniel Amos
URL: www.danielamos.com
Label: Stunt / Born Twice Records
Disc 1:13 tracks 41 minutes Disc 2: 26 tracks 76 minutes

They must've been the good guys because Ed McTaggart wore a white hat ...well, off-white, really. Maybe that's why they were sort-of suspect even back in '77, when this seminal 'Christian rock' album was first released. There was a definite cowboy vibe left over from the previous self-titled project, but the boys seemed to be weaning themselves off the prairie by the time they got half-way through the 'end-times' medley that finishes what we used to call side two of the album. "Better," from that mini rock-opera, has as much Beatles-influence as the title track has country-pop (actually, "Shot Gun Angel" is the only song without writing credits by any band members). By the time the next album would be finished (Horrendous Disc and/or Alarma) Daniel Amos would be closer to Talking Heads than cowboy hats.

One thing that jumps out on revisiting this album is the phenomenal sound quality and Jonathan David Brown's clean, polished pop production. Jim Stipech's stunning orchestrations – especially on "Father's Arms" - still stand as tasteful and fully integrated into the music. Although the core of the band was still Terry Taylor, Jerry Chamberlain, Ed McTaggart, Marty Dieckmeyer and Mark Cook, Brown's production and Stipech's string arrangements unified the project and gave it a sound that lifted it head and shoulders above contemporary releases. Along with some California Country-pop 'n praise songs, there was emerging evidence of Taylor's trademark humor ("Black Gold Fever" and "Meal") as well as lyrical brilliance.

Along with an illustrated booklet, there's a wonderful bonus disc included that offers a treasure-trove of demos and alternate mixes that will thrill long-time fans of the band. As perfect as the orchestration is on "Father's Arms," for example, imagine hearing the band perform it – in studio – stripped down to the five-piece band alone! Essentially, taking another cue from The Beatles re-issue of an unadorned Let It Be, here you get Shotgun Angel and Shotgun Angel – Naked in one fantastic package.

Shotgun Angel – Collector's Edition is essential listening for anyone that's followed the development of 'Christian' rock music through the years – but more than that, it's just a really good album. Great listening. These are solid songs with enough stylistic variety to satisfy the musical cravings of any rock/pop aficionado.

Quite a meal.


Bert Saraco