John Tesh

Worship at Red Rocks

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It used to be that Christian pop music could pretty much all be characterized quite fairly as wimpy and vapid. No more. Now it's as stylistically varied as pop music generally -- tune in to a Christian radio station and you'll hear crunk, screamo, garage, folk-rock, R&B, and ska all rubbing shoulders happily with each other as they work to spread the gospel message. And if the lyrics do still tend to be a bit obvious and sometimes downright silly, well, that's hardly less true of those produced by the secular pop world. John Tesh, who made his name as a TV personality before striking out on his own as a new age pianist and composer, has joined the new Christian pop brigade and now leads a muscular rock & roll band. This live set opens with a big, powerful gospel number titled "You Are Good," complete with massed voices and a big fat guitar solo, before lapsing into a cloying banality on "Above All" ("You took the fall," "There's no way to measure what you're worth," etc.). Tesh mutters almost inaudibly to the audience between several tracks, and a few are downright boring. But others show a surprising level of musical complexity -- "Lord Have Mercy" slyly invokes the Kyrie section of the Latin mass; "Open the Eyes of My Heart" starts off sounding like an inversion of Van Halen's 1980s hit "Jump." Fans and fellow believers will want to check out the companion DVD as well. Not bad at all.

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