From The Group America to A Life With Jesus, Dan Peek's Music is Remembered; by Philip Mayaab
In the New Testament, James tells us But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror (James 1:22-23 NKJV). That scripture forms the base of the title of this week's featured offering on Vinyl Revival, which is Dan Peek's 1984 classic Doer Of The Word.
Dan Peek became a superstar in the world of mainstream classic rock in the early 70s as one third of the popular vocal group America. Along with bandmates Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley, America rose to prominence due to hits like A Horse With No Name, Ventura Highway and Sister Golden Hair. The group's album History - America's Greatest Hits has sold over 4,000,000 units to date, and their music is still heard consistently on radio stations around the world. However in 1977, Dan Peek became a born again Christian, and left Beckley and Bunnell to continue as a duo. Not wanting to leave the music industry completely, Dan began writing music to express his new found faith in Christ, and two years after leaving America, he signed with Pat Boone's Lamb & Lion Records. He then teamed up with super producer Chris Christian to record his debut Christian release, titled All Things Are Possible. The album was a huge success, and according to Dan's Wikipedia page, the title track reached the top ten on the Billboard Adult Contemporary Pop Singles chart*. The album was also nominated for a Grammy award in the CCM category, but lost out to The Imperials' iconic Heed The Call. One of the surprising things about All Things was that while most CCM artists were singing strictly about Jesus, Peek was actually recording Christian love songs, like Divine Lady. That set him apart from a lot of the established artists, and made for a very interesting slant on his debut album, and just for good measure, both of his former America bandmates actually provided background vocals on the album, giving it an authentic pop sound.
After the success of All Things Are Possible, Dan Peek took a five year break from music before he decided to jump back in to the business with his sophomore album Doer Of The Word in 1984. Some things had changed by then...Lamb & Lion Records was now defunct, leaving artists like Peek and DeGarmo & Key looking for new record labels to distribute their work. While D&K went to the Benson Company's PowerDisc label, Peek decided to call Chris Christian. Chris signed Dan to his Home Sweet Home label, and the two of them began working on our album of the week. Another thing that had changed was the majority of CCM artists were now featuring synthesizers more prominently on their albums, but Peek and Christian decided to keep the sound more organic, with a classic type feel to it. That played perfectly into the music that Dan came to the table with...he wrote or co-wrote seven of the album's ten songs, all of them in the familiar style he had perfected during his days with America.
The resulting work is an album that was a refreshing change of pace from the typical CCM album from 1984. The songs are easy on the ears, with Peek's signature vocals sitting nicely in place among the musical tracks. The album's title song, which starts the festivities, was one of the three songs not written by Dan, it was written by Jeremy Dalton, who was beginning to make quite the name for himself. This song did not hurt Dalton...it became a top three hit (#2) on the CCM charts, and featured backing vocals by America member Gerry Beckley. The vocals draw a lot of comparisons to You Can Do Magic which America had taken to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts two years earlier. The song featured the familiar do, do, do vocal line that America seemed to have a monopoly on in the 70s, but that hint of Peek's former group just added to the appeal of the song, which STILL sounds great when you hear it today (in my humble opinion). The album would issue three singles to radio, the other two being Holy Spirit (another great song) and Redeemer, though neither one would chart as well as the title track. As for the rest of the album, I won't give too much away, because I hope you will listen to and see for yourself, but there are some outstanding tracks here. The overall style of the album is vintage 80s adult contemporary, and Dan's voice is in top form, from start to finish. The lyrics on this album were more what you expect from a CCM artist in 1984, more centered on Jesus, unlike the pop lyrics of All Things Are Possible, which may be the only disappointing aspect of this album. While Peek seemed to be more of a renegade with the lyrics on his first album, this one was more in line with the CCM industry standards. That notwithstanding, this is still a very enjoyable piece of work. Superb musical work, great songs with hooks that could've held their own with anything else on Christian radio, and that easy going, familiar Dan Peek vocal signature make listening to this album almost like having a conversation with an old friend...it just makes you feel good. My standout picks from the album include the title song, Holy Spirit, Everything, Your Father Loves You, Brotherly Love, and Thank You Lord, although I want to say again, there really isn't a bad track on the album - it really was well done.
Sadly Dan Peek is no longer with us, he went home to be with the Lord on July 24, 2011, after spending the last 20 years of his life in semi-retirement. He is buried about 60 miles from where I live in Farmington, Missouri, and he was only 60 years old when he passed away. During his career in Christian music, he released five solo albums, one of which was a greatest hits LP, and each of them contained some great music. The Christian music was greatly enriched by the fact the Dan Peek used his talents and abilities to spread the Gospel of the Kingdom, and I am positive that you will hear that this week as we feature his album Doer Of The Word.
Side 1 -
1. Doer Of The Word (Jeremy Dalton)
2. Holy Spirit (Dan Peek)
3. Reach Out (Dan Peek)
4. Everything (Dan Peek, Chris Christian, Phil Naish)
5. Your Father Loves You (Chris Christian)
Side 2 -
1. Brotherly Love (Dan Peek & Chris Christian)
2. Redeemer (Dan Peek)
3. I Believe In Miracles (Dan Peek)
4. Thank You, Lord (Dan Peek)
5. Power And Glory (Tom Peek)
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