The Champion

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The Champion was a major commercial success for Carman. The title song, an inflated exercise in dramatic storytelling set to music that re-cast the Passion story as a Rocky-esque boxing match, became an instant classic in evangelical circles. The album received an additional boost from the burgeoning slew of Christian music video television programs, since Carman's dramatic flair and his Tony Danza-gets-religion persona made him a perfect fit for the new medium. But for all its popularity, The Champion is actually a scattered and disjointed effort with very little stylistic or thematic glue to hold it together. The flamboyant "Prepare to Die" follows the same Masterpiece Theater Rocks! approach used for "The Champion," but the other songs couldn't be more disparate in their sound. "Revive Us, Oh Lord" is a standard CCM inspirational power ballad in the vein of Steve Green or Bill Gaither. "It Happened to Me," "Fear Not My Child," and "Love Can" are Wayne Newton-style easy listening tunes that seem directed at either blue-haired retirees or dental chair detainees. "A Little Bit More Conviction" is an aggressive pop/rock song that seems to aim for a much younger demographic. "Abundance of Rain" is a catchy Manhattan Transfer-sounding ditty and "The Destination Is There" sounds like a refugee from the rock opera Chess. Just about all of them are polished and skillful imitations of their various source genres, but the overall effect is unsettlingly fragmented.

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