337. World of Sand – Servant

WORLD OF SAND (1982)

Servant

Born out of the Jesus Movement of the early 70’s and dedicated for a time to communal living, Servant was a touring evangelistic crusade with one of the best live shows CCM ever saw. Lights, smoke, lasers and choreographed on stage performances. And throughout it all they were able to create several very strong album that will be highlighted throughout this list.

World of Sand was easily the most ambitious, if not even, project. The good songs are very, very good. the weaker songs have more to do with the novelty effect and the “rock opera” arrangements. The album originally only had 8 songs and came with a bonus single with two more songs. One of the bonus songs is a great instrumental (Treeplanter Stomp) that would wonderfully behind NFL highlight reels and the other (Cog in the Wheel) features guitarist Bruce Wright’s fine playing.

As for the main project, the 8 songs continue Servant’s holy lifestyle and social justice themes that have permeated every project the band ever did. “Two Masters” deals with the problems with money and the Church while “New Revolution” continues the theme with a call to pick up your cross and leave the world behind. Wright shines here with a great, though much too short, solo.

On World of Sand the band really honed and defined their sound as a band with strong, fun rockers and emotive and powerful ballads in the vein of Meatloaf. This will be explored further near the end of the release.  “Long Hard Fight” is a futile attempt to be Christian radio friendly. The song is not futile, but CCM radio was not going to play a song encouraging Christians to fight the system and enact social justice.

“Jungle Music” must have sounded really good on paper. The rock and roll apologetic was great for the first few listens and was a favorite during concerts, but has not worn well these many years later. The main problem is the odd vocal arrangements and “safari” sound effects. Lyrically the song is really strong, and the guitar work fantastic.

When taken within the framework of the time at which the album was release the 38 Special and Cars (seriously) influenced “Cheap Talk” is one of the best songs in Servants catalog and an extended version of the song was ahuge favorite live and deservedly so.

It is here the album takes a HUGE turn and, ultimately, what the album is remembered for. The community from which the band came suffered a major loss with the death of some members in a tragic car crash, including a young member. The event is recreated and results explored in the mini-musical and progressive rock titan, “Sudden Death.” The song then flows directly into the album finale and “altar call” song “Come Jesus Come.”

Sudden Death starts with a very boppy, early 70’s type “Up With People” feel melody telling the story of the events leading up to the accident. Two minutes in the song drastically changes and with sound effects added, the story turns. The music becomes much darker and heavier. This was very progressive for the band as it sounded more like Kansas here than the normal pop rock they known for. Sandy Brock’s voice takes over and with an intensity and pain previously never displayed as she plays the role of the grieving mother.

Another musical change with just a classical piano supporting a more melodic Brock challenging herself with whether  her faith was a real faith. Each movement of revelation is interspersed with Wright’s guitar work and Matt Spransy’s fine piano. The song’s resolution end with the final two minutes being filled with remarks from the Scriptures of hope and begin a nearly worshipful section to close the song. The ultimate point is the hope of the Resurrection (1 Cor 15) and quotes “O death, where is thy sting.”

“Come, Jesus, Come” was lifted from the classic Jesus people musical, Lonesome Stone, which also featured a handful of Servant band members and associates. It remains the finest ballad vocal of Brock’s career and a fitting close to the album.

Thirty years later I still well up listening to these final songs. Because of it’s intensity it really is difficult to listen to over and over, but the ambitious nature of the song and album makes it a worthy consideration.

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  1. Brian
    October 29, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    I first heard this on the Free the People radio show in Lakeland,Fl
    Cog in the Wheel, Long Hard Fight and Come JESUS Come are favorites
    Jungle Music was novel and fun while Tree Planters stomp was a jam

    Good music

  2. Greenchili
    March 8, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Agreed on Jungle Music. I’ve always loved Sandy Brock’s voice.

  3. Jon
    March 10, 2011 at 5:11 am

    I saw the band live when they toured this album, it was an incredible show for a kid who had only been a believer for a short time, and for being the first CCM concert I had ever been to. This is my favorite Servant album, by a wide margin. I’m not sure if it’s because of the time in my life when it came out, or because I simply think it’s better than Light Maneuvers. Regardless, I still listen to this one fairly regularly.

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