Home > CCM, Christian Music, Christian Pop, Christian Rock, Greatest Albums, Jesus Music > 58. The Secrets of Time – Charlie Peacock

58. The Secrets of Time – Charlie Peacock

THE SECRET OF TIME (1990)

Charlie Peacock

While managing Maranatha Village I would receive a phone call the beginning of each month from Charlie Peacock asking me if I needed anymore of the cassettes of West Coast Diaries Vol 1. That helped strike up a friendship. But there was often several years in between conversations. In fact, the most recent conversation I recall was after a Sunday Morning service in Colorado Springs where Charlie had performed the offertory for the Church I was attending.

I obviously love a lot of different music and because of connections over the years with many, if not most, of the artist that fill up this countdown, I am not very starstruck. But when it comes to Charlie Peacock…I am a dumb fan! I just love what he does and will find buying albums that he produces even if I don’t care for the artist.

When Exit was just starting out I was invited by label head Mary Neely to a concert in Hollywood with Steve Taylor and this new band Exit was releasing called Vector. What I remembered the most about that evening was this bouncy keyboardist that seemed to play with one hand while dancing with the other in that classic 80′s swinging of the arms sort of way. Mary gave me a copy of their album advance that night and I immediately noticed the unique vocals on the songs sung be that keyboardist. They would become my favorites.

Not that much later Mary invited me out the LA one more time for a convert of Exit artists as they were looking to sign a mainstream distribution deal. The line-up included Robert Vaughan and the Shadows  (discussed previously), the 77′s, a new, revamped Vector and that keyboardist, Charlie Peacock. I left that evening with a blank tape advanced copy of a record called “Lie Down in the Grass.”

WOW!

It was several years between the release of “Lie Down” and the Sparrow release on which we will focus, “The Secret of Time.” In between was a self titled album on Island records that still has two of my favorite Charlie Peacock songs, “Message Boy” and “Down in the Lowlands.” The latter would be covered by Russ Taff on his wonderful Russ Taff project. The “Charlie Peacock” seemed to come and go without even a notice, but the mainstream Christian debut, “Th Secret of Time” would make Charlie Peacock a mainstay in Christian music, whether the artist ever intended things to be that way.

“The Secret of Time” combines reworking of several songs from the West Coast Diaries series along with new songs. It may end of being Peacocks most consistent project with jazz, funk and acoustic/alternative all performed with pop sensibilities and Charlie’s unforgettable, breathy vocals. Though the following album, Love Life, would contain Peacock’s biggest hit, “In the Light,” it was TSOT that contained his most memorable collection songs, though not his best overall effort (much later for that).

“Big Man’s Hat” kicks off the project with a funky, driving bass and a killer groove. The struggles of arrogance and pride and their detrimental results are the focus of the song, which showcases Peacock’s wonderful ability to twist a phrase.

I thought I had to talk like a fool
I thought I had to drink like a goldfish
I thought I had to lie like a dog, I was one sick cat
Was all this because I wore a big man’s hat?

This struggle with the flesh shows itself in the way in which we approach others, especially those we love. This is true to Peacock as he sings:

You got to have big man’s thoughts
To make a big man’s girl
And when I finally made that girl, she did not have a clue
That I would break her like a matchstick
That I could turn young love into the third world war
That I’d sit in the seat where the devil had sat
Was all of this because I wore a big man’s hat?

“The Way of Love” looks at real love, the kind described in 1 Corinthians 13. Set to a lighter, jazz influence groove with swirling keyboards and a constant driving acoustic guitar. The song also features some great vocals by the late Vince Ebo.

Love is patient, love is kind
That’s the kind of love that you give me all the time
I like a love that keeps no record of wrongs
Loves me when I’m good, loves me when I’m not
I know whether night or day
I’ll be waiting for the moment just to hear you say
This is the way of love, this is the way of love

The acts of selfless and sacrificial love are described in “One Thing,” and very radio friendly pop ballad with a breezy jazz groove.

I would lay down my life for YOU
Take YOUR pain and bear the weight of it
I would fight for you that you might live
I would think by now that it’s understood
I would die for you, oh, you know I would

A very nice sax solo leads the instrumental break before the final chorus where Peacock’s breathy, Simply Red type vocals take over as the song drives to a conclusion.

The song closest to the early Charlie Peacock sound is “Put the Love Back Into Love.”  The topic here is purity and fidelity and the consequences to individuals and a culture when purity is ignored.

Sometimes he tries to imagine
What it would have been like
To be pure in heart, to be innocent
On his wedding night
Looking back he had no idea
All that he gave away

But rather than simply bemoaning the loss of innocence and purity, Peacock sees the hope for future generation as he pleas for a more Biblical approach.

Maybe this will be the generation
That will set their minds on the things above
If they set their minds on these heavenly things
Then they’ve got a chance to
Put the love back into love

The story here is of a man who  through negligence or particular acts almost drives true love away. This may be the most personal song on the project as it gives a glimpse into the background and life the artist. There is a sense of hope even as the subject tries to justify their actions through self-delusion.

Through some clever thinking and a strong imagination
I could twist the truth into any configuration
And find myself doing things
That I never dreamed I could do

 

I’ve know the kind of pain
Where you can’t catch your breath
You sat if this is life
Then please bring me death
Thank God that that wish I made never ever came true

“Almost Threw It All Away” has been a long time favorite among Peacock fans. The mid tempo ballad with the most unforgettable chorus expresses the love someone else had in Peacock. Relationship, whether physical, emotional or spiritual, are in danger of collapse when they are not worked at. The vocal bridge performed by Ebo and Peacock is worth the price of admission as the song becomes a Gospel delight.

It is sometimes easy to forget amidst the brilliant musical performances and unparallelled songwriting, that Peacock’s unique voice is really stunning. This is never more evident than on this song.

The title track is the most musically unique and creative. It’s funky, groovy and in a constant flux. Few artists can combine funk, soul, world music and progressive jazz into a flawless and seamless melody. Peacock can.

“Dear Friend” ended up being one of the biggest hits from the project as it discusses the patience of God as He waits for all that are His to come to faith before His return.

Dear friends He is not slow in keeping His promises
As some understand slowness to be
Keep a watch out, don’t lose faith, He said He would come for you
He’s gonna come for you, you wait and see

One of Peacock’s prettiest songs follows with “Heaven Is a Real Place.” It does sound like something that would have worked on the Island album and possesses a great chorus that should have garnered more radio success. But like many songs on the album Peacock’s experimentation lent itself to 5 and 6 minute numbers, which are the death knell to radio success.

I have always argued that “Drowning Man” may be Peacock’s finest song. Not just musically, but lyrically here Peacock began to explore is future theological leanings with hope and reverence. The songs is simple in its performance and complex in its ideas. That juxtaposition makes it utterly unique.

The album concludes with the funk driven lesson in apologetics, “Experience.” Peacock discusses the struggle between knowing something as fact and knowing it as true. These are questions of faith, doubt, Scripture, philosophy and how the Lord works with these differing factors to draw men to Him. This appears to be an early clue to Peacock’s later Reformed theology leanings and deeper doctrinal understandings.

There is a difference, a qualitative difference
Between what I know as a fact, and what I know as truth
It stands as a great divide to separate by thinking
From when I’m thinking foolishly and when I’ve understood

The facts of theology can be altogether cold
Though true in every way they alone can’t change me
Truth is creative, transforming and alive
it’s truth that keeps me humble, saved and set free

We can only possess what we experience

Peacock for the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit to  infiltrate the soul of a man and provide the necessary faith to embrace the truths presented.

Straight up honesty, that’s my obligation
That’s the point when I obey the truth without hesitation
When faith gains consent of my stubborn will
And makes the irreversible commitment real
To the Jesus of my journey, to the Christ of crucifixion,
Resurrection and redemption, to the Father of mercy,
To the God of all comfort
Then and only then, then and only then,
Then and only then, truth begins its
Saving and illuminating work within the heart
And not a moment sooner, not one moment sooner

Artist, author, theologian, innovator, producer, songwriter. Charlie Peacock is all of this and more. The term artist is thrown around quite loosely, but he is one that truly deserves the title.

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  1. Don
    June 2, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    You are on a roll the past two days !

    I am not a big Peacock fan, but that doesn’t mean he is not great.

    Thanks, again

  2. Shawn McLaughlin
    June 4, 2011 at 7:03 am

    Charlie started work on his first new pop record in twelve years, just two days ago.

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