What’s The Rockbrat Listening To Today? ANTHEM (The Band) – Cuttin’ Thru LP (Canada 1981)

I must confess to having a penchant for digging up old and obscure rock/metal albums from bands that are long forgotten. Today I’ve been listening to a Canadian band from 1981 called Anthem (not to be confused by the premier Japanese metal band of the same name). Apparently these guys were a great live outfit, yet when they went into the studio to record this, there one and only platter – they were disappointed with it as it failed to capture the energy that they displayed live. Upon first listen, I notice the lyrics are evangelical classic rock songs – with lyrics about the devil and demons and God the saviour. CCR – Christian classic rock. CCCR – Canadian Christian Classic rock. That’s OK – I saw Stryper, White Cross, Rosanna’s Raiders . “Eleven long haired Friends of Jesus In a Chartreuse microbus.” 30 years after its release, it sounds dated. Which is not to say that it’s without merit – for the album does have some strong songs – but they just sound dated. The other thing, is that there is no really strong, ultra catchy, melodic, standout tunes – which meant that the song writing cupboard looked a little empty. The band’s sound is also hard to nail down – which would have made it difficult for the record company to push to radio/media. The sounds is classic rock, with some good 70’s riffs but also heavy on the keyboards at times and has elements of the early 80’s new wave sound. Aside from the Christian lyrics, the obvious standout is the great, Aretha like vocal of Mary Pinkley. Sheesh. You’d swear this girl was black. She belts out the vocals with a stack of soul. The album opens with an instrumental, complete with 2001 A space odyssey style vocal effect and some nice riffing, unoriginal, but points for opening an album with an instrumental. The title track is up next, ‘Cuttin Thru’. It’s a good, melodic rock tune, with lyrics about running in the darkness, break the chains that bind you etc. Bit too funky in the middle for my liking though. Everybody knows – Cowboy Col don’t like reggae – or funk. ‘Word’ is up next, driven by a solid bass back beat and jazz style guitar intro that eventually breaks into some nice riffing. Again, I could have done without the keyboard pomp. ‘Cheap Thrill’ is likeable, but had me thinking of Laura Brannigan or Melissa Manchester. I will pass on the jazz/funk fusion of ‘Free You’, despite its occasional hard rock riff. This is a good example of how eclectic this bands style is. Too many styles in each song. There’s even a horn solo on ‘Free You’. Complete filler. The eclectic styles continue on ‘Winners’ which opens with some Frampton like voice box. With its funk groove and ‘the devil is a liar’ lyric, let’s go to the next tune – and it’s a good one, finally. Someone else penned a tune called ‘On Your Knees’ other than Blackie – but this tune is lyrically pure, though still rocks hard. It’s a got a nice, original riff, and a clever time change. This is the FIRST tune on this album that’s really grabbed me. This is a great classic rock tune, and the vocals are almost Ann Wilson (in her prime like). What a shame the band couldn’t pen an entire album of tunes this strong. Guess that’s the way it goes. ‘Doctor’ starts off nicely, nicely highlighting Mary’s strong vocals, but then is again lost in far too much funk fusion for my liking. I’m not too sure what to make of the preachy ‘Don’t be Deceived’ with its overblown prog rockisms, before ‘Morning Star’ ends proceedings – and the band breaks out a flute! Sheesh – a flute! This tune sounds like a left over from some 1971 LP of self indulgent prog prosthelytizing. Like Fraternity or something. Flutes! What did I say about eclectic? The musicianship is not notch, but the styles are far too many for one album – it’s too confusing for the record reviewer and subsequent buyer. Out of 10 tunes, only one GREAT one. Listen to the tune, ‘On Your Knees’ here. This album was reissued on CD in 1999 though I doubt a remix could have saved it. Even Jesus couldn’t have saved this album from its sales bin fate.

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