|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Tom Cameron & Rez|
|Record Label: Grrr||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 1991||Artist Website: Rez|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 42:32|
While Resurrection Band got its start in the late seventies with groundbreaking releases such as Awaiting Your Reply (1978) and Rainbow’s End (1979), it did not begin to hit its stride until the early to mid-eighties when it recorded Colours (1980), Mommy Don’t Love Daddy Anymore (1981), DMZ (1982), Hostage (1984) and Between Heaven And Hell (1985). By the time the late eighties rolled around, however, Resurrection Band – in addition to shortening its name to Rez Band and eventually just Rez – had reached its artistic and creative pinnacle with Silence Screams (1988) and Innocent Blood (1989). The 1991 follow up effort Civil Rites maintained the same high standards. Continuing to uphold the groups tradition of blending straightforward hard rock with socially conscience lyrics, Civil Rites moves in a bit more of a blues based direction when compared to Silence Screams and Innocent Blood. This is best found on bluesy hard rockers “Players” and “Footprints” in addition to the laid back blues rock of “Lincoln’s Train”. Rez, nevertheless, can still deliver a top of the line hard rocker, reflected in the driving sounds of “Love Speak”, “Mission Bells”, “Comatose”, “Death Machine” and “Pauper’s Grave”. The ballad “In My Room” combines elements of hard rock and the blues. Only“Hot Footin’” and “Little Jeanie”, two tracks trending towards the average side of things, fall short of the mark.
It must be noted that Civil Rites, an out of print and hard to find collectors item, was re-issued by the band in late 2007.
When the name Rez is mentioned one of the first things to come to mind is the husband and wife vocal team of Glenn and Wendi Kaiser. Glenn, of course, continues to bring his gravelly and blues soaked vocal style. The guy has not lost anything over the years; if in doubt then listen to the aggressive delivery he adds to “Mission Bells” or the more emotional flavorings he imbues “Lincoln’s Train” and “Footprints”. Wendi remains a force as well by contributing her gutsy and raw vocal delivery to five of the albums tracks. Glenn joins Stu Heiss to form as solid a guitar team as you will find. Stu handles the majority of the lead work. No, he might lack the all out speed of shredders like Yngwie or the flair of, lets say, Rex Carroll, but put him in a blues based environment – such as what we have here – and I dare anyone to match him. Heavy footed drummer John Herrin rounds out the rhythm section with bassist Roy Montroy.
Civil Rites showcases the same high production values as found on Silence Screams and Innocent Blood.
The album opens to four straight hard rockers, the first two featuring Glenn on lead vocals and the last two with Wendi.
Up-tempo would be the best way to describe “Love Speak”. The open air rhythm guitar at the start of the song gives way to a forwardly placed bass line. Maintaining the scorching initiative, “Love Speak” culminates as it obtains a brief but energetic hook filled chorus. Stu tears it up with a gritty stretch of lead guitar. I Corinthians 13:1-4 is the subject matter here:
You can speak it with blood
Speak it with sweat
Not so easily done
Much more easily said
Spoken by the living
Spoken by the dead
Got to speak it with your heart
As well as your head
“Mission Bells” slows the pace down a bit but proves every bit as notable. A drum solo opens the song before it grinds forward to a weighty rhythm guitar, the driving environs upheld on the way to a catchy chorus delivered with an abundance of steadfast momentum. I enjoy how a harmonica interweaves with a bluesy lead guitar throughout an extensive instrumental section.
Initiated by several seconds of guitar feedback, “Comatose” kicks in to a hammering guitar riff prior to racing through its first verse in spirited fashion. Torrid is the feel exuded throughout the rollicking chorus that follows. Again, Stu steps forward with more of his fiery soloing abilities. Great riff and hook on this one.
The driving “Death Machine” plods its way forward from the start, a bottom heavy feel established as the song slowly grinds over its first minute. After breaking for an instrumental section shored up by a fluidly played lead guitar, “Death Machine” tapers off even further for a portentous passage in which keyboards play a highlighting role.
Civil Rites takes on a bluesy tone for its next two tracks, “Players” and “Lincoln’s Train”.
“Players” slowly fades in to a distant rhythm guitar only to abruptly pick up in pace prior to the start of its first verse. Slowly trudging forward as the rhythm guitar bounces in and out of the mix, the song makes an even transition to an emotionally charged chorus built up by Glenn’s raspy vocal delivery. Stu proves masterful in decorating the full length of “Players” with his razor sharp riffs and chops. Love and lust are the topics dealt with by “Players”:
She left me strangely
Not lingering like before
Her face sad but sure
I stopped her at the door
Made some empty promises
She heard too many times
I tried a little sweet talk to cover loves crimes
And she said how do you love
When no one loves in return
If love is a teacher
Why’s it so hard to learn
Tell me is it better
To marry than to burn
Are we just players, playing in the game
“Lincoln’s Train” gives rise to the more pronounced blues based feel. This one proves a moderate piece in amalgamating a near perfect mix of acoustic and rhythm guitar – the song opens its first minute acoustically – with more of the bluesy lead work Rez is renown for. As a matter of fact, I always felt that Glenn and Stu are natural blues guitarist and a gritty number like this – not to mention “Players” – finds them in their natural form. “Lincoln’s Train” addresses the issues of freedom and race in the aftermath of the Civil War:
Passin’ through these ruins
Mr. Lincoln’s train goin’ by
Spilling smoke into these bloody fields
All the people stood and cried
Our tears are the same color
We can all hold hands and mourn
But me, I’m still askin’ myself
Why I’m not any freer than I was before
I got no home
They sold my family
I got no job
Aint got no vote
Them books they’re mysteries to me
Can’t read or write
I aint got no hope
Over the years Glenn and Wendi have performed duets on several tracks, with “Waves” (from Awaiting Your Reply) and “Midnight Son” (off Rainbow’s End) being two of the more noteworthy. On “Hot Footin’”, however, the trade off between the two does not quite work. Perhaps it is the “middling” feel to the song or a chorus on the trite side of things, but after repeated listen, I more often than not hit the skip button. That being said, this one proves quite the vibrant piece and makes effective use of harmonica, so I can see others might get into it.
“Little Jeanie”, a three minute romp with Wendi on lead vocals, is another track to fall short of the mark. Once more, the lack of a notable chorus hook and environs bordering on the predictable holds things back. What ends up missing is that extra ounce of inspiration and vitality other hard rocking tracks such as “Love Speak” and “Comatose” bring to the table. Next.
The blues based hard rock of “Footprints”, on the other hand, represents one of the albums better tracks. The song begins its first minute to a run of bluesy lead guitar before Glenn steps forward with his gritty vocal stylings. Drifting ahead at a moody mid-tempo clip, the song gains initiative as it procures a slowly moving chorus backed by a vestige of crisp rhythm guitar. The lyrics here perfectly fit the mood of the music:
Did I ever know you?
That’s the saddest thing of all
In my mind I’m holding you
Been a long time since the fall
I can’t embrace a memory
I couldn’t even say goodbye
Only left me with one question
An that’s why
“Paupers Grave” returns the album to its hard rocking ways. A short (2:37) but powerful piece, this one puts in place an energetic setting with its authoritative chorus and near abundance of guitar driven energy. If anything, “Paupers Grave” deserves comparison to other Rez classics like the hard charging “Babylon” (from DMZ), driving “Alienated” (off Mommy Don’t Love Daddy Anymore) or “Alter Of Pain” (a scorcher found on Innocent Blood).
“In My Room” starts to a quietly played guitar before moving through its verse portions in an even manner. After transitioning to a chorus on the taciturn side of things, the song transitions to an instrumental section sustained by a tastefully done acoustic guitar solo. Highlighting the song is a second instrumental portion carried by a searing run of lead guitar. As its title implies, “In My Room” talks about a child who uses his room as a shelter from family fights:
I heard cryin’ in the broken night
Felt tears tasted
Just like mine
Seems like all we ever do is fight
They call it a family
But I think They’re lyin’
In my room
With the curtains drawn
In my room
Til’ this night bleeds into day
Wendi handles lead vocals on the albums closing track, a rousing cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody To Love”- done Rez Band hard rocking style.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Love Speak” (3:29), “Mission Bells” (3:36), “Comatose” (3:14), “Death Machine” (2:57), “Players” (4:17), “Lincoln’s Train” (4:42), “Hot Footin’” (2:55), “Little Jeanie” (2:44), “Footprints” (4:29), “Paupers Grave” (2:37), “In My Room” (4:30), “Somebody To Love” (3:01)
Glenn Kaiser – Lead Vocals, Guitars & Harmonica
Wendi Kaiser – Lead Vocals
Stu Heiss – Guitars & Keyboards
Roy Montroy – Bass & Keyboards
John Herrin – Drums