GIDEON’S ARMY – Grace [Digitally Remastered Digipak] *0dayrox Exclusive*
San Francisco Bay Area based rockers GIDEON’S ARMY were one of the first bands from the CCM movement starting its activities in 1973. Their debut released in 1982, followed by the now cult classic Warriors Of Love in 1986 which created a huge impact among hard rock fans, but with no formal distribution many people never got their hands on the now high-dollar collectible original vinyl LP.
The band’s now iconic third album, ”Grace”, released in 1990 on the short-lived Pan Trax Records suffered the same problem. This was their first and only album to be released on CD, but the label broke-up soon after and the album become a collectible for decades.
As requested, here’s the Retroactive Records recent remastered reissue featuring a new cover artwork, a release which due the high demand is close to be sold out soon.
While GIDEON’S ARMY were known for their classic hard rock style, circa the end of the ’80s the band embraced the era’s polished melodic hard rock sound mixed with AOR melodies all over a pristine production.
Listening to good melodic rock is always refreshing, even that derivative from following the same repeat pattern of success often inherit to the genre, but ”Grace”, the 1990 third and final album from Christian rock veterans Gideon’s Army, stopped us in our tracks.
First two Gideon’s Army albums, Rock N’ Roll For Your Soul from 1982, and 1986 follow up effort Warriors Of Love, were solid examples of Eighties American brand of hard rock with radio friendly melodies.
”Grace” might pick up where Warriors Of Love leaves off with a similar Eighties influenced melodic rock basis but in the process takes things to the next level in terms of musicianship, production, songwriting and professionalism overall.
Whereas Warriors Of Love was a solid album from a group starting to get its feel wet and come into its own musically, ”Grace” proves the handiwork of a cohesive and well-oiled unit reflective of the maturity that only comes from determination, hard work and perseverance.
Fans of Petra, Idle Cure, Sweet Crystal and early Nineties Guardian will be certain to embrace opening cut “Knowing You”. The song brings all the classic ingredients one expects of the AOR genre: buoyant and upbeat tempo, perfect amalgamating of crisp guitars and keyboards, commercial hooks galore and soaring lead vocals.
Speaking of the latter, ”Grace” is the third album from Gideon’s Army to highlight the classic tenor and melodic based duel lead vocal approach of front men bassist Mark Greves and drummer Jerry Anderson. Doug Naruo also remains a holdover on keyboards.
New addition to the Gideon’s Army line up here is guitar player Darin Warren, who replaces the departed Dave Angles. Impression left by follow up track “Lonely Love” is that Warren represents one of the under heralded guitar heroes of his era. Listen to his soloing at the start of the song and decisive leads throughout and I am sure you will agree.
“Lonely Love” otherwise proves another essential upbeat melodic rocker that aligns a heavy-set disposition with the groups signatures accessible vocal melodies.
A classic AOR album would not be complete without at least one customary ballad and such is what we have in “Christina”. The song proves slow and moody from the get go, weaving its way to a big as it gets bass line and ethereal mentality that speaks of the graceful if not delicate. The wave the lighter in the air chorus demands for play on FM radio.
Album’s title track trends towards heartfelt mid-paced territory, grooving its distance to organ (keyboard work of Naruo shines as on previous Gideon’s Army releases) in complementary amounts and a distorted mix of rhythm guitar. My favorite aspect to this title track “Grace” is the extensive instrumental section in which said organ trades off with Warren’s skillful guitar work in abundance.
The poppy melodic rock direction to “Make Up Your Mind” delivers non-stop hooks galore. The song takes a lighter tone with its return to an upbeat heading, mirthful front to back with joyous verses and high-spirited refrain that reeks of the radio friendly. Occasional traces of acoustic guitar lend a lighter edge. Warren’s wonderful lead guitar bounces between the left and right channel.
“Open Arms” takes a calmer and more reserved heading. Steadfast and stately, the song maneuvers its length to prodigious bass and light layers of rhythm guitar in approaching straight up rock territory as opposed to hard rock. Larger than life backing vocals (one of the Gideon’s Army staples) step forward to adorn the lofty refrain.
“Tough Love” proves a raucous and steadfast rocker, one of the albums heaviest with its gritty and biting guitar emphasis and forthright rhythm section – drummer Jerry Anderson gets quite the workout accordingly. I do not know which of either Greves or Anderson handles vocals, but they are in a slighter lower register in comparison to others, an effect that proves flattering when considering the nature to the music at hand.
“With The One I Love” represents albums most varied piece. The song moves its distance transitioning between darker verses in which guitars crunch in and out of the mix over stalwart bass and a brighter chorus that finds the group’s trademark pop sensibilities make another decisive statement.
“Turn Up The Heat” does exactly that from its vibrant arena rock flair. With keyboards returning to play a forward role, the song smoothly propels to bountiful doses of up-tempo energy and the focused anthem-like milieu to match. The searing pull-out-all-the-stops soloing would do any guitar hero proud. Schlitt era Petra would be right at home doing something like this.
Album closes to the AOR based sounds to “Sending You”, a relaxed and easy going piece in which keyboards play a forthright role – guitars are somewhat diminished when placed alongside some here – and pleasing sing-along qualities lend an amiable feel. Upshot is the understated catchiness that defines a quality deep cut that makes an already very good album even better.
01 – Knowing You
02 – Lonely Lover
03 – Christina
04 – Grace
05 – Make Up Your Mind
06 – Open Arms
07 – Tough Love
08 – With The One I Love
09 – Turn Up The Heat
10 – Sending You
Mark Greeves – lead & backing vocals, bass
Jerry Anderson – lead & backing vocals, drums
Doug Naruo – keyboards, backing vocals
Darin Warren – guitar