Take Me To Your Leader
Star Song Records, 1996
REVIEW BY: Daniel Camp
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/13/2008
While many CCM groups take the approach that God’s power and majesty should be worshipped, or that they must sing of his unfailing love and grace, the Newsboys have always taken a slightly different approach: if you’re going to Heaven, why aren’t you happier about it? With a poppy, alternative style and insidiously clever (if sometimes a little strange) lyrics, the boys from Australia hit a grand slam with Take Me To Your Leader, combining all that makes the group entertaining in the album that came to define them.
The alien theme of the album perfectly fits a group that’s always strayed on the odd side, and it helps make for a great album cover. The title track’s fiendishly witty lyrics (‘Isabelle is a belly dancer with a kleptomaniac’s restraint’) help tell the tale of a cast of characters awed by the spirituality of their close friends, who seek to learn more about God based on the example shown to them by these friends. At the end of the song, it’s clear that the Newsboys have done their job perfectly: I’ve grasped their message and I can’t stop smiling and humming the tune.
Tracks like “Cup O’ Tea” and “Miracle Child” display the group’s instrumental genius best, creating an almost grunge-like sound that seems totally different from the pop of the title track or “Reality,” a tale about trusting and obeying through the eyes of a kid that ran away to the circus, yet they still match the other songs perfectly.
As with most Newsboys albums, Take Me To Your Leader also contains a worship track, “Breathe.” Though not one of my favorite songs by the group, it remains a popular concert song, and it is built on a solid scriptural base. Sung almost as a prayer, here the group seem to abandon their bravado just for a few minutes, long enough to worship their God and get back to the utter silliness of songs like “Breakfast,” a fan favorite that seeks to convert the listener by praising the beauty of Cheerios and toast in the morning and reminding him or her that “they don’t serve breakfast in Hell.”
My favorite track, combining the silliness, catchiness, and message, is at the very beginning of the album in the semi-autobiographical “God Is Not A Secret.” The song puts the group in an office with a record producer who reminds them that they could make more money selling secular music, if they’d “drop the God and emphasize the beat.” The group’s response, delightfully delivered by vocalist John James, is that “if the cross offends you, find another voice. I am not runnin’ for office here; I won’t keep it purposely vague.”
Though groups like Relient K and Switchfoot, who seek to deliver their message through secular avenues, number among my favorite musical groups, I cannot help but admire the conviction of the Newsboys, who remain true to their purpose and refuse to water down their message. This, more than any bit of random silliness, defines the group, and this album as well. An all-star effort throughout, and a cornerstone of the CCM genre.