115. Humanity Gangsters – Pat Terry
HUMANITY GANGSTER (1982)
After nearly a decade of writing, performing and touring with a group bearing his name, Pat Terry found himself working as o solo artist in the early 1980’s. While the Pat Terry Group was a Southern Rock/Country (with the emphasis on a mellower country feel). Pat Terry the solo artist sported an Americana rocker drive similar to Tom Petty and apparently positively influenced by producer Mark Heard.
There is an eerie similarity in Terry’s singing and writing to Mark Heard’s Domino and Victims era and that is not a complaint. Like Heard, there are also touched of Lindsey Buckingham present as well. While the tow later Heard produced albums (Film at Eleven and The Silence) feature longer, darker and more “difficult” songs, Humanity Gangsters is filled with hope, passion, doubt and a commercial bent that is both immediately likable and transcendent.
The Right Place welcomes the listener in with a hand of fellowship despite their current circumstances. Terry creates an air of acceptability for those longing for truth and acceptance. Too Many Voices sounds like a song lifted from Heard’s “Victims of the Age” thematically with the description of a man whose life is filled with too many voices clamoring for his attention and response.
The ballads are less sweet and radio friendly than one might expect from a Jesus Music pioneer, with “Sounds So Simple” being the perfect example. In an evangelical world where easy answers are offered on Church marquees Terry laments the lack of transparaent honesty offered by modern Christendom.
Personal favorite and album highlight is “Don’t Take It So Hard.” Expanding on the previous songs lamenting of easy answers, here the Springsteen like Terry explores how the world (radio, newspapers, TV) adds to the easy answer dilemma and how the pain of not having the personal contact with those around us makes sharing the real truth so difficult.
The two closers from each side would stand as the only real radio releases (though at the time radio was not ready for the content). In the vein of Stephen Bishop and James Taylor “Steal away” and “Nothing I Say” are beautiful ballads, simple, honest and poignant. The latter will remind listeners of Heard’s Appalachian melody.
This album was such a revelation of songwriting, musicianship and personal expression at the time. Even now as I listen again to write this review I am swept away into a wonderful work that deserved greater appreciation and response. It also amazing me how truly relevant it sounds, both musically and lyrically, some 30 years later.
Brilliant and utterly deserving of a CD release and an unqualified AYSO.