Holy Rock 'n' Rollers

Choose Life (Ardent Records)

Big Tent Revival

By Robert Gruber

Make no mistake about it, Big Tent Revival is a Christian rock band. No mincing words, no subtle message, no "crossover" crap-ola, to quote Keith Green, no compromise. The message is first and foremost with BTR, but that don't make the music secondary, no sir! The band has flirted with lots of different styles over the past four albums (their biggest hit was the waltzy folk anthem, "Two Sets of Joneses'"), but they always fall back on solid rock 'n' roll, as evidenced on their smash '97 disc, Amplifier. For Choose Life' BTR offers up a more modern rock approach, with just a very slight touch of techno - just a pinch, really (mostly in the area of rhythm).

The pop-rock vibe of bands like Third Eye Blind and Matchbox 20 makes a frequent appearance, especially on "Livin' Off Your Love" and "Fill Me With Your Spirit." The title track, though, bears the mellow stamp of adult-contemporary - think "Tears in Heaven"-style Clapton. This will be the big hit it deserves to be, based on the message alone. Indeed, this whole album is about the message of Jesus, as evidenced in songs like "This is the Word of God,""Now is the Right Time" and "I Worship You. There's even a funky little Christmas tune, "That's What I Want For Christmas" (which just makes this a natural at gift-giving time, don'tcha think?!).

Though it's not quite the ragged masterpiece that Amplifier is, Choose Life features Big Tent Revival at their best - proclaiming the message of Christ, without cleverness or compromise.