Sound — 9
It's my 2nd review of the Santa Cruz based band, sort of a supercharged U2 for the everyman, or a hardware store built Simple Minds. And of course, this is my favorite album of theirs.
"Scene Beyond Dreams" was the end for The Call's early days, after this album they were no longer with the same record label and went through some real crap concerning that. Also, this was the original bassist's last project, and Michael Been took over bass full time after this. IIRC, the original bassist is only on 4-5 songs, and then the producer and Michael Been were playing bass on everything else.
This album is interesting in that it takes the rawness of "Modern Romans" and crosses it with the high-tech sine in "Reconciled" and "Into the Woods" and puts that together sonically. This is a very synth heavy album. They put their own mark on everything from the anthemic title opening track, to "The Burden" which is practically early techno.
The Call really seems to have been faithful with their instrumentation. Been's fretless Ampeg is on here, so his he "Gretschcaster" guitar and Strat, Ferrier seems to use the Les Paul most of the time this go out (that seems to be his main guitar, a Black Les Paul Custom), and his distortion tones are very interesting. For basses, I can also hear some fretted bass on some tracks, which sounds like a Precision Bass in most cases. Goodwin of course is using a lot of analog synth magic, apparently some classic sounding stuff because he has that whole sawtooth thing going on most of the time.
Overall, the sound of this album is amazing, it's a bit more aggressive than their later work, for example, Been's screaming on "Delivered" (which tears through like a Japanese bullet train speed for a Call song) and crazy fretless bass runs, actually, possibly the hardest thing on this album is Been's emotive power in vocals, he's not usually this aggressive except maybe the self-titled debut. Mix that with a good mix of everything from techno, to anthems, ballads, synth rock, guitar rock, acoustic ditty, I got to give it a 9 for variety and the quality of the variety.
Lyrics — 9
This is one of the reasons I wanted to write this so much... the lyrics. This album really has some deep lyrics, and goes to show that Michael Been and co have a vocabulary BEYOND most rock bands even now. In "Delivered" (which I transcribed the lyrics for as there are no postings of them on the internet), he uses words for "embowers" (sort of a servant or slave) to a king, or "manufactures" of human pain (an old timey word for "factory").
Overall, the lyrics, as usual, are pretty deep, this ain't Poison were talking about here, this is The Call, not a party band but a band that focuses on the human condition.
It seems a lot of this album deals with themes of "having a weight on your shoulders" such as "The Burden" or "Heavy Hand," "Delivered" and its "Embowers to a King, who beats me to submission," "Apocalypse," a tiny acoustic ditty with an obvious subject (and possibly the most relaxed track on the album). Between the songwriting and the crazy instrumentalism (BTW, Scott Musick does some SICK drum fills on this album, check out the crazed snare fills on "Delivered" for example, it sounds like Scott is hammering the heck out of those suckers for all they are worth, I see lighting in my head every time he hits that huge snare roll filled with toms just as they kick into the last verse). This mix of energy, angst, and frequently speed almost feels like a metal album by a band that's not metal and not even playing metal. It kind of goes to prove how much power just "attitude" can provide.
As for Michael Been, he REALLY lays down the emotions and anger on this album. On the title track he knows exactly where to accent to get a huge effect, "Delivered" he really does deliver, building intensity up till the end's Genesis-like jam-session. The guy can literally go from soulful crooning to something that would give a guy like Kurt Cobain or James Hetfield more than a run for their money in aggressiveness.
Overall Impression — 9
This album is very interesting in that it fits right in with the 1984 time period it's from, but it does not sound like anyone else's stuff save for by a very abstract "this-sort-of-idea" sort of way. It's The Call being The Call of 1984.
Standout tracks, I can't find a single one I Don't like, the entire album is like a movie, much like "Into the Woods" I reviewed earlier. It starts off with the anthemic ballad title track, and ends with "Notified." In between there's the political angst of "The Burden," my personal favorite, "Delivered" with it's psycho drum fills and fast pace which deals with slavery, loneliness, and pain, and shows off Been's advanced vocabulary, "Heavy Hand," "Tremble," "Promise or Threat" - pretty much the whole album is great end to end.
I pretty much love everything about this album and it's one of a rare few albums I don't hit the skip button on very often. As for stolen or lost, I would buy again, even as much trouble as I had getting this one in. I'm actually looking for a vinyl copy for my record collection now to fit in with my other '80s vinyl. I'll give it a 9, I took a lot of influence from this one since I first heard the riffs for "Tremble" and "Delivered" on Amazon in '06 and decided to buy the CD.