It could be said that the roots of Daniel Amos began to grow out of Jubal’s Last Band, an acoustic quartet consisting of Taylor, Kenny Paxton, Chuck Starnes and Steve Baxter, who spent their time performing for Bible study groups and at coffee shops throughout Southern California. In 1974, JLB recorded a demo tape together and eventually lost Starnes and Paxton. Bassist Marty Dieckmeyer and guitarist Jerry Chamberlain were brought in to fill the empty spots. Sometime in the middle of 1975, Jubal’s Last Band (minus Baxter) auditioned for Maranatha! Music and Calvary Chapel in hopes of signing a recording and performance contract. Another band at the meeting, led by Darrell Mansfield, had a similar name - Jubal. The two bands decided to change their names to avoid confusion. Mansfield renamed his band Gentle Faith (taken from the name of co-band member Henry Cutrona’s earlier band), and Jubal’s Last Band became Daniel Amos.
Daniel Amos succeeded in landing a recording and performance contract, and quickly recorded their first song for the label in 1975, Taylor’s Ain’t Gonna Fight It. A full album, produced by Al Perkins, followed. The band released their first, eponymous album in 1976 (produced by Al Perkins) and enlisted Ed McTaggart on drums. Previously, McTaggart had been the drummer for Bill Sprouse Jr.’s The Road Home.
By 1977, the band had begun to shed their country sound, with the album Shotgun Angel, which took some fans by surprise. Shotgun Angel was half country and half rock-opera. The ‘Side 2’ of the LP featured lush orchestrations and a string of rock songs linked together in a way that was reminiscent of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. The band even made a number of concert performances at this time with a full orchestra backing them.
By 1978 the band had recorded their first entirely rock effort, Horrendous Disc, with help from newly added percussionist, Alex MacDougall, and keyboardist Mark Cook. MacDougall is a well respected percussionist that has toured with Loggins and Messina, Leon Russell and The Beach Boys, among others. Cook had been the keyboardist for the Warner Brothers band Spring Canyon. Also around this time, the band began to tour with singer/songwriter Randy Stonehill. DA would perform their own set and serve as Stonehill’s backing band on the tour. That tour, known as the “Amos n’ Randy Tour,” became legendary for DA and Stonehill fans.
Although Horrendous Disc was recorded for Maranatha! Music, the label ended up dropping it because of a major change in the focus of the label. The label decided to stop releasing albums by rock and roll acts and wanted to focus on praise music. The band shopped the new record around to several labels, including Warner Brothers, but settled on Larry Norman’s Solid Rock Records. Solid Rock ended up delaying the release for nearly three years and the album was not seen on record store shelves until a week before the release of the band’s newly recorded fourth album ¡Alarma! in 1981. ¡Alarma! was the first of a four part series of albums entitled The ¡Alarma! Chronicles, which also included the albums Doppelgänger, Vox Humana, and Fearful Symmetry. The band raised eyebrows on the tour that followed each release, by presenting a full multimedia event complete with video screens sychronized to the music, something that was unusual in the early 1980s for any band. By the end of the series, new band members Tim Chandler and Greg Flesch joined the band to fill vacant positions previously held by Dieckmeyer and Chamberlain. Keyboardist Rob Watson would also occasionally join the band in the studio or on the road.
The band released Darn Floor - Big Bite in 1987, which to this day many fans consider to be one of their best albums. They began a followup in 1988 but abandoned it in favor of a chance to do something different. Many of the band members became The Swirling Eddies for a string of releases through the early 1990s. In 1990, D.A. would form their own independent record label, Stunt Records, with help from friend Tom Gulotta. One of the first albums released by Stunt was the half comedy, half rarities and best of compilation from Dr. Edward Daniel Taylor, The Prickly Heat Telethon of Love. Over the years that followed, Stunt became the primary source for new DA material, including the live albums, Live Bootleg ‘82 and Preachers From Outer Space!. Jason and Eric Townsend, producers of When Worlds Collide: A Tribute to Daniel Amos, would join the Stunt Records organization in 1999 to help with promotion and production work.
In addition to recording several albums by The Swirling Eddies, the members of DA returned in 1991 with Kalhöun. 1993’s MotorCycle followed, which also marked the return of Chamberlain, who would hang around long enough for two additional DA releases in the 1990s, Bibleland in 1994 and Songs of the Heart in 1995. Songs of the Heart was a concept album that followed the fictional couple, Bud & Irma Ackendorf, on a trip down the historic Route 66. The concept was explored in greater detail in the 2002 3 CD “book set” entitled When Everyone Wore Hats. That collection not only included the entire 1995 album, but also the entire album reworked as an acoustic band, three new songs, an interview of Taylor by Starflyer59’s Jason Martin, photos, expanded liner notes and a newly written short story by Taylor.
In 1999, the band released all four parts of The ¡Alarma! Chronicles on CD packaged together in a 200 page hardcover book which featured color photos, interviews and the entire ¡Alarma! Chronicles story. The book collection, which is certainly an unusual release in the music world, received a lot of praise from music critics.
In 2001, DA released what many critics called their best album to date, Mr. Buechner’s Dream, named after author Frederick Buechner. The album also pays tribute to Walker Percy, T. S. Eliot, G. K. Chesterton, Flannery O’Connor, Lewis Carroll, Dorothy L. Sayers, and other authors that have inspired DA’s lyrics for years. The album was released on Stunt Records, with distribution by longtime friend Dan Michaels’ label Galaxy21 Music.
In early 2004, Stunt Records began the long and difficult task of digging through the vast DA archives and remastering most of the back catalog for rerelease. The first release in the series, a 30th Anniversary Deluxe edition of the band’s first album, Daniel Amos, was released in June 2006. The 2 disc special edition included an expanded booklet of never before seen photos, additional liner notes and an entire extra disc of bonus material including early demos and live recordings from the pre-DA years. Work began on the next reissue in the series immediately following its release.
Edited by pmaassen on 5 Jun 2008, 13:11
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