400. Great Lengths – PFR
GREAT LENGTHS (1994)
Before Jars of Clay took the mantle at the kings of Christian pop/alternative there was PFR. Originally called Pray for rain the band was forced to change their name after a band with the same name sent one of those pesky “cease and desist” letters. The album in question is their third and best album, featuring two of the biggest hits the band ever had.
Musical styles were divers and every time I listen to the band, especially this album, I hear touches of Bourgeois Tagg, Phil Keaggy, Extreme and even Terry Scott Taylor. But here the band is making a transition from the poppier, feel good Beatlesque sound to a more 90’s rock and alternative feel. The album perfectly balances the new direction without leaving the past completely behind.
The ballad, “The Love I Know” was a monster hit. I mean MONSTER. You could not escape the song for about two years on the radio. But the perfectly orchestrated string mixed with the bands harmonies and Joel Hanson’s vocals stretched just enough to feel the emotion of the song.
The title track also owned Christian radio on the CHR and rock formats. The song is more reminiscent of the previous releases and has a distinctly “Phil Keaggy and Sunday’s Child sound. The lyrics try to make sense of man’s decisions to always please oneself rather than the Lord. “It’s You Jesus” has kind of a U2 Zooropa feel in it’s intro and verse structure.
The band would later add a more aggressive rock feel to their repertoire in later releases, but the roots of that sound are found scattered throughout this great project. One other song of note is a great rock cover of Keith Green’s “Trials to Turn to Gold.”