Mixing Evangelism, Entertainment

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO)
May 11th, 1984
© Rocky Mountain News
Page 40-W
Thanks to Rob Marshall

By Justin Mitchell
Rocky Mountain News Staff Writer

Evangelist or entertainer? Christian rock musician Steve Taylor sees no contradiction with those roles.

"I don't look at music as a propaganda tool, but at the same time if I didn't have anything to say I wouldn't be in music. Everyone involved in the arts is trying to communicate some point of view."

Taylor, who will appear Saturday at the Rainbow Music Hall, is a seeming bundle of contradictions who has drawn as much flak from Christians as he has from the secular press. A musician inspired by the likes of Elvis Costello and the Clash, Taylor's parents wouldn't allow him to listen to popular music until he was 16. And he is a professional singer who was once recommended for expulsion from the University of Colorado school of music on the grounds that he had little talent.

Taylor's second album, "Meltdown," is a percolating collection of songs as furiously danceable as they are plainly furious. The title cut, "Meltdown (At Madame Tussaud's)," sticks it to the idea of earthly fame as embodied in the historical figures and celebrities enshrined in the world famous wax museum.

"I was at Madame Tussaud's in Amsterdam, and had been to the one in London, and people were staring at history's great figures and I wondered what would happen if you turned up the heat," said Taylor, a Denver native who is living in Los Angeles.

The approximate result is depicted in a sly and satirical video, shot in the cheesy confines of the Hollywood Wax Museum. Taylor plays a malicious janitor turning up the thermostat as grotesque representations of Queen Victoria, Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Ronald Reagan, among others, dissolved into greasy puddles.

Other songs on the album rage against the whites-only admission policies of fundamentalist Christian colleges ("We Don't Need No Colour Code"); the idea of "born again Yellow Pages" listing only Christian businesses ("Guilty By Association"); Russian intervention in Poland ("Over My Dead Body"); the American mass media ("Meat The Press") and the legal and social forces that allowed Baby Jane Doe to die.

"I couldn't write a whole album's worth of love songs. Christianity gave me something to write about, to me this is the radical edge."

Because of his fervent opposition to abortion, expressed most strongly on his first album "I Want to Be A Clone," Taylor has been labeled a right-wing Moral Majority type. He rejects that, pointing out that his initial attempts to market his music were rejected by Christian record producers who said his music was either "too faddish or the lyrics were too hard hitting."

"I think the majority of people get their idea of Christianity from TV evangelists, things like the Christian Yellow Pages or from those people who stand outside McNichols Arena preaching at concertgoers. They need a strong dose of medicine to counter that."