Archive | May, 2018

“Revelation Rocker” Review

22 May

Caspar McCloud’s “Revelation Rocker” Review

From Strawberry Studios to Streets of Gold

by Joshua Warren


Caspar McCloud is back!

Truth be told, he has never left us. Since 2014, Caspar has been busy both in the studio and outside of it, releasing four singles and four full albums of high-quality material, all this while preaching and performing live around the world with the likes of the legendary Phil Keaggy.

Yet it doesn’t even end there!

Somehow, somewhere in between all those impressive projects, he managed to carve out time to write some interesting books (namely, his autobiography “Nothing Is Impossible”, “Unmasking The Future”, “What Was I Thinking?” and “Spiritual Encounters With The Shroud”) and to continue to develop as an equestrian portrait painter with his work even being placed in the collection of Royalty.

However, music listeners unfamiliar with his work shouldn’t think that Caspar is new to the music industry. As recounted in his biography, “Nothing Is Impossible”, Caspar’s guitar virtuosity has not gone unnoticed. He was once handpicked to portray John Lennon in the Broadway production of “Beatlemania” back in 1977, but left before allowing it to cast too long a shadow over his career. Once back in the U.K., Caspar landed in 10cc’s Strawberry Studios Manchester where he recorded and released “Messin’ Around” on Rocksteady Records (“Caspar”, 1979), now a sought-after collector’s item.

Caspar continued working in the business with releases on Atlantic — “Self-Portrait” in 1978 and “Talk To Me” in 1983. Apart from his British / Beatle-esque pop vocals and masterful handling of the guitar, none of those previous releases gave any indication as to where Caspar would eventually end up on his musical or spiritual journey. (Details of the incredible events surrounding his conversion to being a born-again Christian are recounted in detail in his previously mentioned biography.)

Fast-forward to 2018.

Through the caring, capable hands and ears of producer and drummer Michael Angel, Caspar’s latest effort, “Revelation Rocker” brings listeners pristine McCloud. Both the music and the vocals are in-your-face from the first track to the last.

The first track, “Wheat and Tares”, wastes no time getting things started. After a quick drum fill, listeners are thrown right into the first verse and the track refuses to let up. The unorthodox drum pattern keeps things tight and interesting on the rhythm end. A short-but-delightful musical treat in the form of a gnarling guitar solo awaits listeners near the end.

As soon as you catch your breath, “Let Them See We are Christians” ramps up. This track has Caspar wearing his pastor’s hat (Did I mention he was a pastor too?), reminding Christian listeners that the world will know they are genuine followers of Jesus by how they treat each other. Listeners are compelled to love over and between some heavy guitar riffs and pounding drum and bass.

The next track, “Jesus Wins”, is the truly stand-out track of the lot. Yes, Christian rockers now have a new Gospel rock anthem. We are welcomed into this classic rock shindig via an intricate interplay between the drums and Caspar’s blaring guitar with a riff that sounds like one of the best lost riffs in rock music history. The lyrics are direct and without compromise, as are those of every track on the album: “The Devil loses and Jesus wins!”

Other noteworthy tracks include: “Pictures of Jesus” with its lush, beautiful chorus over a wonderful rock riff; “Push Back” with its heavy timbre wrapped around an unusual chord progression with a pounding, catchy chorus; two beautiful instrumentals, “Camelot Cliffs” and “Escape In Em”, that are like delightful rather than dystopian prog-rock tracks; a wonderful acoustic version of “Jesus Be Glorified” (first featured on “Dead Men Like Me are Just Happy to be Alive”); “Nimrod’s Head” acts as a musical overview of what some may consider “fringe topics” and their potential relationship to biblical prophecy; “Speak to the Mountains” works as a musical canvas to display a beautiful guitar solo; Caspar even goes acapella on “If I Had My Guitar”.

Every single Caspar McCloud album showcases the impeccable skill of this truly underrated guitarist. Even with that understanding, this album has brought an expanded, more full-bodied auditory lift to Caspar’s catalog. While his recent productions have been very fine (2014’s “Dead Men Like Me Are Just Happy to Be Alive” and “Communion” from 2016), this release brings us even more improved sonics and vocals and, I dare say, performances. We are treated throughout the album with thick harmonies, more wonderful, varied guitar tones, tight, highly-developed guitar riffs, and thumping bass (that’s Caspar on bass). The vocal performance on this release in particular is one of Caspar’s best to date.

“Revelation Rocker” works well to prove that Caspar’s virtuosity is more faithfully brought to us, the music listening public, when in the hands of fine producers like Michael Angel. There are layers and layers of music and vocals there for listeners to hear in repeated listenings.

To this point, I think neither Caspar McCloud’s skill nor body of work has yet to get the attention they both deserve. With its soaring, incredible guitars, its classic rock-tinged sound, and its tight harmonies sprinkled throughout, this album might very well reignite a Christian rock revival in the meantime. At the very least, it proves that Caspar McCloud is a Christian AND musical force to be reckoned with.

Full disclosure: I was given a copy of the album for review purposes. I tried as best I could to be as impartial and honest as possible.