69. Alibi – Edin Adahl
Edin – Adahl
The debut album from two sets of brothers from Sweden (Bertil and Lasse Edin and Simon and Frank Adahl) was like a breath of fresh air sweeping across the Christian Music scene. Though they share the same home country as the rock band Jerusalem, the musical styles they employed could not be any more different. Where Jerusalem stayed with powerful, guitar driven hard rock, Edin-Adahl was all about pop, rock, world music and new wave with an emphasis on melody and harmony. They even scored a moderate mainstream hit with the song, Like the Wind, later in their career.
They were one of several European acts that the fledgling label, Refuge, tried to bring to the United States. Of all of those artist it was Edin-Adahl that had the greatest impact. But still it was not enough to bring them to the forefront of most CCM fans at the time.
Alibi employs greater diversity in musical styles and is truly a ground breaking release. Despite the constant criticism of the bands simplistic lyrical content (language barriers notwithstanding), when this album was released most of Christian music would never venture into New Wave, reggae tinged or synth driven rock this album brought to the industry. Alibi did this and more so, all without sounding disjointed or scattered. It also did so with a production quality that was vastly superior to anything in the industry at the time.
As mentioned above there has been a pretty heavy level of criticism leveled against the bands lyrical content as trivial and jingoistic, but when one considers the language barrier and the content of much of CCM at the time, it is not too far out-of-place. Rhyme structures suffered the most because of the translation issues. This hampered early Jerusalem releases as well. Later, when the band began writing songs in English, the issues were resolved. But the music and vocals are so strong that the lyrical issues are often ignored by fans.
The opening track, Wake Up, kicks off with a solid funky groove similar to Squeeze or Steely Dan. The vocal harmonies of the brothers keeps the song from sounding ordinary and the production quality was so superior to nearly everything else in the christian market at the time. Lyrically the entire album was better than what Jerusalem provided, but were not all that more pedestrian than most of Christian music, and at least they had the excuse of translation issues.
Themes from the album were common Christian music fare, but this album was all about the music and vocals. Driving power pop rock drives “On the Cutting Edge” into a very timely sounding hit. The Chicago wall of vocals in the chorus are just huge. The sibling quality shines through with great harmonies here and throughout the entire project.
A true stand out is the reggae driven title track with steel drums and old school organ laced keyboards and slow groovin’ vocal lines. The song also possesses some of the albums best lyrics. This was musically so authentic and out-of-place in CCM, the pop band was labeled a new wave band.
“Bring Back the Joy” starts out with a Genesis type progressive sound with a great keyboard instrumental intro before the drums and guitars add to a fuller, blues driven rock sound. It’s nearly 2 minutes before the vocals are introduced. The progressive verse structure switches to a Supertramp like melodic chorus before returning to the darker and heavier feel. All the while there are touches of world music rhythms throughout.
The rock/worship anthem “Let All the Earth Proclaim” driven by intense harmonies and surprisingly edgy and loud guitars. In fact, I was always surprised someone like Petra never bothered to cover this gem.This was a modern rock worship a decade before anyone else ever ventured into the genre. The vocals really shine here.
What would have been Side Two opens like side one with a Steely Dan type jazz influence pop rock hit song, “Saviour.” Again, Petra or White Heart could have rocked this number without any hesitation, except those bands wouldn’t have put the killer horn section into the chorus.
“For the Rain In Your Heart” sound more ska than reggae and preceded the Supertones by 20 years. Fun, energetic and a glimpse as to what the follow-up release, “X-Factor” would provide. Edin Adahl was always one of those bands I wanted to see in concert and this song is one of the reasons why.
After the “Rain In Your Heart,” there comes a “Storm in My Heart.” This returns the band to the Steely Dan cool jazz sound, especially in the chorus. In fact, the chorus is a full Steely Dan rip…but it works!
“Send Me” is a new wave keyboard driven song that sounds a lot like what would appear later on Simon Adahl’s solo work.The final chorus fade is such a hook that the verse structure can be forgiven. I even like the “spoken word” repeat as it fades.
The album closes with the great ballad (the only one on the album), “Your Heart is in His Hands.” Straight from the era this a simple power ballad Bryan Duncan would have thrilled to sing. Like the trend was at the time, a ballad must always finish an album and be released as the single. CCM radio never really touched anything from the album though KYMS was all over several of the songs making them local hits.
Edin-Adahl never received the recognition their quality works deserved and that is real shame. The first two releases deserved their day on CD, but as far as I have been able to ascertain they never made it. That is a true travesty especially when one considers the true high quality production.