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33. Scenic Routes – Lost Dogs

SCENIC ROUTES (1992)

Lost Dogs

Terry Taylor (Daniel Amos, Swirling Eddies), Mike Roe (77′s) Derri Daugherty (The Choir) and the late Gene Eugene (Adam) are four of the most important and influential artist in Christian Music history. Their musical legacy dates back decades for all of them and no artist in Christian alternative music would experience the acceptance and success they achieve without these four men and their ground breaking accomplishments. Here is one time when the total is equal to the parts.

The Lost Dogs were formed in 1991 and got together to do a “one off” release. It was meant to be a fun, one time experience as each had been friends for a very long time and the thought of working together on a single project appeared gratifying. 20 years later they are still making music and touring, though now without the late Gene Eugene Andrusco who passed away in 2000 in his famous studio, The Green Room. Gene has been replaced by fellow The Choir member, Steve Hindalong on drums.

Each of the dogs are spectacular musicians in their own right and are easily the top songwriters within their genre. Taylor’s songwriting credits date back over 30 years alone while the rest of the group has been making music within a band or solo for over 25 years. That is a great deal of quality experience and it shows on every release. But it was the debut release with 17 wonderful tunes that makes the countdown here.

The music is a delicious and accessible collection of acoustic rock, folk, country (& western) and blues that never sound forced or out of character. Fans of early Daniel Amos are reminded of some of the more creative offerings from Shotgun Angel and the self titles debut. Each member takes turns on the lead vocals or occasionally there are multiple lead vocals. But in all songs the four harmonize with perfection and deliver a most memorable project. On a sie note the drums were provided by Burleigh Drummond of Ambrosia fame.

The album kicks off the the Taylor/Daugherty  penned title track. Vocals are handled by Derri and here Taylor shows his incredible wit,wisdom and undeniable poetic expertise.

Paint the common things with mystery
and renovate our history
when we take the scenic routes
the cloud enfolded Trinity
unpacks the ancient tapestry
when we take the scenic routes

Mike Roe follows with a reworking of the traditional blues classic, “You Gotta Move.” The mood and arrangement is a perfect marriage to Roe’s bluesy and nasally vocal.

“Built for Glory, Made to Last” sounds the most like anything Daniel Amos did in the 1970′s. Adding Taylor’s vocals to the Eagles-tinged melody is the perfect fit to the first verse. But what is even more wonderful is to hear Eugene take the second verse from the point of view of the longing old man that is the subject of the song. Roe’s Dylanesque tone fits better here than just about anywhere else on the album. Daugherty finishes the fourth verse as a wonderful slide guitar accompanies Taylor’s lyric.

I was built for glory
I was made to last
God formed these feet to walk golden streets
when this hard life is past
Say “he’s doin’ well on the
other side” If anybody asks
say I was built for glory
I was made to las
t

The four combine to sing the final chorus for a fitting end.

“Bullet Train” follows with a killer blues edge featuring Taylor lamenting the loss of a child who discovered a hand gun in his parents room…

He bought her a gun for protection
She kept it on a closet shelf
Their little child found it one fateful day
No, he never meant to kill himself

Now he’s been long gone
Too long gone
It’s a crying shame
Now he’s riding on the bullet train

“The Fortunate Sons” features Eugene and his wonderful penchant for expressing the aching and longing like no one else. You feel the pain in every strained note.

“The New Physics” is a Mike Roe penned and sung tune that sounds the most like the mellower edge of the 77′s. Ethereal, swirling, floating electric guitar accompanies a bright and simple acoustic melody. Roe shows why is may be the most underrated guitar player in Christian alternative music. This is simply a beautiful and captivating tune.

The traditional “I Am a Pilgrim” and the glorious Bob Dylan penned “Lord, Protect My Child” are perfectly placed back to back. Roe’s vocals to start the latter is spot and Taylor’s best and most passionate vocals follow. The reworking of the Dylan tune is both original and respectful of the original.

While “Breathe Deep” will continue to grab the headlines for this album, it is “Amber waves Goodbye” that will always stick with me. Beautiful and haunting, Taylor can twist a phrase and use it to his advantage like few others can. It is also another song where all four take turns on the lead and that is always a real treat on Dog projects.

The quirky humor and style of the Dogs shines through on “Bush League” that sounds like something left off a Swirling eddies project. Quirky, odd and pure fun. The Dogs get away with this music because they are sold out to it and you never believe they don’t completely respect and love it.

The long and slow blues riff that drives “Old and Lonesome” is the perfect match for Roe’s dirty and drawling vocals…one can almost smell the moonshine.

“I Can’t Say Goodbye”once again features Eugene’s achingly painful expressions. I really cannot find anyone that mustaches Eugene’s ability to not only convey the emotion, but actually feel it.

Not only does “Why Is the devil read” contain great songwriting and wonderful vocals, it also shows what amazing musicians these four are/were. The guitar work is spot on perfect and the arrangement is engrossing and palpable.

“Smokescreen” actually has very limited vocals and is more about creating a mood and presence than conveying a message in word. You feel the song as much as hear it.

“The Last Temptation of Angus Shane” has such a sense of longing that it is almost depressing. The imagery and emotion created for the genre has only been duplicated on Bruce Springsteen’s “Nebraska” album. One can feel the sun, dust and beat up gravel road. The song makes you thirsty.

The treasure that is the traditional “Hard Times Come Again No More” shows that these rockers have a better sense of traditional and harmony than many Southern Gospel giants. The arrangement is nothing short of perfect.

The album continues back and forth between ballads and rockers with not a real miss among the 17 tunes. But nothing quite touches the majesty of the concluding song that has gone on to be the definitive Lost Dogs song. “Breathe Deep” is a worship song of sorts, but with verses that break the mold. The song is call to the fact that everyone needs the Gospel no matter where they reside and no matter their condition. The chorus is beyond memorable and stays etched in the mind long after the song ends. In fact, it really is one of those songs that once it is done you want to click replay.

Each of the four “dogs” take a verse in which stereotypes and labels of individuals are quickly displayed in a rhyming/sing song sort of way. At the end of each verse the listener is reminded that each of the previously mentioned labels are actually real people that God loves and that need to “Breathe deep the breath of God.”

Politicians, morticians, Philistines, homophobes
Skinheads, Dead heads, tax evaders, street kids
Alcoholics, workaholics, wise guys, dim wits Blue collars, white collars, war mongers, peace nicks

Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God
Breathe deep
Breathe deep the Breath of God…

Gays and lesbians, demagogues and thesbians
The disabled, preachers, doctors and teachers
Meat eaters, wife beaters, judges and jurys
Long hair, no hair, everybody everywhere!

Breathe deep the Breath of God…

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  1. Shawn McLaughlin
    October 14, 2011 at 12:50 am

    This seems about right to me. Of course, you already listed Little Red Riding Hood and I would have that about 15 spots higher than this………

  2. harvey_d
    October 14, 2011 at 1:07 am

    I think my favourite is actually The Green Room Serenade, Part 1. Maybe because it’s a bit more modern. It seems shorter to me, where the first two albums tend to drag on a bit for me.

  3. Brett C
    October 15, 2011 at 4:21 am

    Your comment “Here is one time when the total is equal to the parts” is very apt. Each of the guys are great on their own and with their own respective bands. Together they are unbeatable, one of the few Supergroups (either Christian or Secular) that rise to and sometimes surpass their respective individual (and other band) efforts (no mean feat).
    I have a hard time picking which Lost Dogs album is my favourite as they are all great.

  4. October 16, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Thumbs up to Brett’s comment. Well said!

  5. October 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    I will say, that if David returns to this countdown in ten years or so, Old Angel could make a very high appearance as well. That is a brilliant record. My favorite of 2010.

  6. October 17, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    I agree Shawn, next to “Little Red Riding Hood” I would say “Old Angel” probably does rank as my favorite Lost Dogs album, followed then by this one, “Scenic Routes”

  7. Don
    October 21, 2011 at 2:03 am

    I think this album is the best one, but I haven’t heard the last two releases. Thanks for the tips on “Old Angel.”

  8. Bill B
    October 27, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I won’t say that I have never heard of Lost Dogs as I remeber seeing there music in the store, but I confess that I am completely ‘unfamiliar’ with them and their music. Because of your blog (and let me say that all you effort, work, and scholorship is MUCH appreciated!) I have gotten aquainted with this band and album. I CAN’T BELIEVE I HAVEN’T BEEN LISTENING TO THIS FOR YEARS. Though my musical tastes tend to differ, Scenic Routes is a fabulous album. Just goes to show that Old Dogs can become Lost Dogs. 🙂

  9. shawnuel
    November 6, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    …and in your case, Bill…old Dogs can learn new (old) tricks!

  10. Greenchili
    January 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    Lost Dogs are awesome and not completely lost in the history of CCM!

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