126. Ten Stories – Rick Elias
TEN STORIES (1991)
With Ten Stories Rick Elias is “Confession-less” and he stands alone with 10 brilliantly conceived, performed and recorded songs that should have made Elias a major name in CCM. But alas, it would be a few years later as a member of Rich Mullins’ Ragamuffin Band that Rick would garner what celebrity he has. But it is his first two releases that will be noted on this list with the debut being presented MUCH later.
Frontline Records held no expense in trying to break Rick Elias into the mainstream of CCM with a major marketing and promotional push. I remember selling the album to stores with a huge cardboard cutout display and securing end-caps for even more exposure. But Christian radio was not ready (ever ready?) for gritty, earthy, Americana rock and roll without the easy Christianeze answers to life’s bigger questions. Or maybe the fact that Elias would not limit his musical export to three minute ditties for CCM consumption also played a role.
The fact the album was a brilliant was not lost, though, on fans and critics alike. Despite never achieving the retail success the album deserved the critical and fan base response was huge. And for good reason. the album is filled with brilliance from the first power chord of “I Wouldn’t Need You Like I Do” to the last fading strain of “Leave One Light On.”
Elias continues many of the themes from the debut including some stunning and difficult stories of those struggling with their faith, lives and doubts. No easy believism allowed here. There are pictures of frustration, loss, anger and rejection painted here. John Doe discusses the struggles of a man beaten up by his father as a child and beaten up by life as an adult.
“Don’t Rain On Me” explores the one who refuses the love and grace of God. Despite looking at the gift, the subject refuses the basic common graces of God and refuses outright, through a heart of selfishness and doubt, the unique grace that comes through faith. Elias makes his characters so believable that it is hard not to imagine you or someone you know as the subjects.
“My Very Own Hero” would have been a mainstream radio success story if the name on the single was Springsteen, Petty or Mellencamp. Great groove, killer melody and impressively passionate performance. “When You Lose Someone You Love” has Elias accompanied by acoustic guitar and harmonica, possessing a melody from something akin to Springsteen’s “Nebraska.” Though beautiful and brilliant, the haunting lyrical content would never allow it to be heard on Christian radio.
The list of brilliant description could go throughout the entire project. Maybe it should!