Steve Taylor: Getting By On Acerbic Charm

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
October 6th, 1994
© 1994 Pulitzer Publishing Company
Page 9
Thanks to Norvin Coblentz

By Brian Q. Newcomb

Steve Taylor may be best known for his cartwheels, but there's more to it than that. In 1991, Steve Taylor's band was Chagall Guevara, whose impressive MCA Records self-titled debut earned 3 1/2 stars in a Rolling Stone magazine review that called the band a '90s rock version of the Kinks and the Stones. It seemed the sky was the limit for this Nashville-based quintet.

Then, after a successful tour of Europe opening for Squeeze, Taylor's band-mates decided it was time to get off the road and watch their record take off. When it never did, Chagall opted not to record a second time, and Taylor returned to what he knew best.

Beginning in the early '80s, Steve Taylor was making records for the contemporary Christian label, Sparrow, distinguishing himself as an artist with a wry, ironic sense of humor. More often afflicting the comforted (rather than vice versa), Taylor's songs challenged institutional Christianity, while rocking the youthful in the flock who were looking for an expression of faith that was intellectually honest.

"I Want to Be a Clone" challenged the lack of respect for individualism, and "(We Don't Need No) Colour Code" criticized ties between religion and racism, while "Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel a Lot Better" cocked a critical eye at the sophomoric appeal of doubt for doubt's sake. A thorn in the side of many, Taylor was a shining light in a genre more often defined by its lack of imagination and sense of humor.

Since the break-up of Chagall Guevara, Taylor has again gone solo on "Squint," for the Warner/Alliance label. The audio versions are accompanied by a long-form video shot in exotic locations around the world, called "Movies From the Soundtrack." "Squint" delivers again and adds to his reputation for acerbic charm.

Backed by a crack band, Taylor's bold, physical performances always entertain. Pop-metal L.A. band Guardian, and Canadian power-poppers Hokus Pick open. Watch out for those cartwheels. Steve Taylor: 7:30 p.m., Oct. 13, Westport Playhouse, I-270 and Page Blvd. $12.50. (291-7600).

Brian Q. Newcomb is a free-lance writer living in St. Louis.