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Music / Horrendous Disc

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And the record plays...

Attention Earthlings: Allow hi-fi needle to orbit grooved musical saucer at maximum decibel level.

Horrendous Disc is Daniel Amos’ third studio album, recorded in late 1977 and early 1978. It wound up being a surprising lightning rod for controversy and record label shenanigans.

On their first two albums, DA had played Eagles-esque country/soft-rock, earning themselves a significant fanbase among the Jesus Music scene. Those prior albums also had some stylistic experiments that hinted at what was to come, if any fans had been paying attention. Because, for album number three, DA decided to abandon country altogether and record a bunch of rock songs. They drew influence primarily from The Beatles and The Beach Boys, and also made forays into Hard Rock, funk, and pop-prog in the vein of Electric Light Orchestra. Though musically tame by modern standards, it was a risky style for DA to play in the late ’70s, when much of their (white conservative Christian) audience still didn't quite trust any music that rocked too much.

Mismanagement by their label—Larry Norman’s Solid Rock Records—certainly didn’t help things. In spite of being completely finished in 1978, Horrendous Disc wasn’t released for three years. The album still got promotion via Christian radio and print ads (one ad stirred up controversy for looking like a horror movie poster), and DA still focused on their new material at live shows (much to the irritation of old fans who wanted to hear them play country)—but for fans who couldn’t actually buy the album, the hype was just confusing and annoying. DA got so frustrated with the delay that they eventually gave up on the album, switched to a new record label, and started working on a followup album.

So when Horrendous Disc finally hit the shelves in 1981, it was largely overshadowed by DA’s next album, ¡Alarma!—which was released mere weeks later and featured an even more radical departure from the old style. Nevertheless, to those in the alternative Christian rock scene, Horrendous Disc has been Vindicated by History. It’s highly regarded by those DA fans who didn’t jump ship when the band stopped playing country, and AllMusic gave it a five-star rating.


Daniel Amos is:

  • Terry Scott Taylor: Guitars, Lead and Background Vocals
  • Jerry Chamberlain: Guitars, Background Vocals, Lead Vocals on “Man in the Moon” and “Horrendous Disc”
  • Marty Dieckmeyer: Bass Guitar, Background Vocals
  • Mark Cook: Keyboards, Background Vocals, Lead Vocals on “Never Leave You”
  • Ed McTaggart: Drums, Percussion, Background Vocals
  • Alex MacDougal: Percussion

Additional Musicians:

  • Sharon McLaughlin: Vocals on “Horrendous Disc”
  • Janet McTaggart: Vocals on “Sky King” and “Horrendous Disc”
  • Kim Hutchcroft: Saxophone on “On the Line”
  • “Alex and Jerry ‘Gonzales’ y Los Romanticos”: mariachi guitars and vocals on “Tidal Wave”


US Version:
Side 1:

  1. I Love You #19 (3:33)
  2. Hound of Heaven (4:06)
  3. (Near Sighted Girl with Approaching) Tidal Wave (3:05)
  4. Sky King (Out Across the Sky) (4:05)

Side 2:

  1. On the Line (5:20)
  2. I Believe in You (3:45)
  3. Man in the Moon (4:00)
  4. Never Leave You (3:08)
  5. Horrendous Disc (5:20)

    Other versions 
Canadian version: Same as the US version, but omits “Never Leave You.”

UK version:
Side 1:

  1. I Love You #19
  2. Hound of Heaven
  3. I Believe in You
  4. Sky King (Out Across the Sky)

Side 2:

  1. On the Line
  2. Never Leave You
  3. After All These Years
  4. Horrendous Disc

2000 CD reissue: Uses the US tracklist, with the following bonus tracks:

  1. Hound of Heaven (covered by Larry Norman)
  2. Hound of Heaven (covered again by Larry Norman)

2007 CD-R reissue: Uses the US tracklist, with the following bonus tracks:

  1. Fairy Tale
  2. After All These Years
  3. That Girl Likes To Talk (Yak, Yak, Yak)
  4. Twilight Love
  5. Noelle
  6. Hello Aloha

Provides examples of:

  • Accidental Public Confession: The title track, where a musician's abusive relationship with his wife keeps somehow getting projected for the entire world to see.
  • Big Rock Ending: "I Love You #19" has a short one.
  • Charm Person: Why you shouldn’t trust the “Man in the Moon”:
    I saw Mr. Moon last night, you know he's on the rise
    There's something in his eyes I've never seen before
    There's some kind of magic here, he's so full of surprises
    He'll hypnotize like the lull of a lullaby
  • Covers Always Lie: The Canadian version of the album had one less song than the US version... but some pressings claimed to still have that missing song, because the printers decided to just reuse the US cover, including the tracklist.
  • Cover Version: One CD version of the album tacks Larry Norman's cover version of "Hound of Heaven" on the end. Or rather, two different cover versions, both by Larry Norman. DA fans aren't sure why Larry thought this was a good idea.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: The protagonists of “Hound of Heaven”, who pursue “Hollywood flash, cash, mansions, and cars ... And for heaven’s sake, take this aching away.”
  • Determinator: God is the “Hound of Heaven”, pursuing individuals relentlessly.
    You can’t run
    You can’t hide
    From the Hound of Heaven
    You’re free to choose
    Can you refuse
    The seeker of souls?
  • Domestic Abuse: In “Horrendous Disc”, the husband is verbally abusive to his wife.
    He's killed his wife with words, confident it's private rage
  • Downer Ending: The album ends with the song “Horrendous Disc”. The lyrics are a paranoid, dream-like story about one’s hidden wrongdoings getting exposed. The music is minor-key, ending with a dirge-like coda.
  • Failed a Spot Check:
    • In “(Near Sighted Girl with Approaching) Tidal Wave”, the girl in the title sleeps through the warning signs of the coming wave, while everyone around her flees the beach.
    • “On the Line” points out how the listener is constantly missing messages from God.
  • Fluffy Cloud Heaven: “Sky King” invokes this with its description of God moving:
    This is not a dream, you've taken flight, far above the world
    You walk on clouds, you ride the light, far above my head
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: In “Tidal Wave”.
    It's a tidal wave
    It's a watery grave
    She really tried to swim
    She couldn't in the end.
  • God-Is-Love Songs: “I Love You #19” is a meta version, pondering both the difficulty of convincing your romantic interest that your feelings are sincere, and the difficulty of convincing other people that Jesus loves them.
  • In Mysterious Ways: “On the Line” is about how God constantly communicates with mankind, as much through the physical world as through Scriptures.
    And when you draw back the curtain
    He'll paint a pretty picture for you
    And if a billion stars don't convince you, baby
    He sent some letters signed His name with love, too
  • Love Makes You Dumb: In “I Love You #19”:
    Now if I said it real pretty in a pretty rhyme
    Does your mind get cloudy that's a dirty crime
  • Lyrical Dissonance: “(Near Sighted Girl with Approaching) Tidal Wave” is an upbeat, Beach Boys-esque pop tune—with lyrics ending in a watery grave.
  • New Sound Album: Goodbye, Daniel Amos the country band. Hello, Daniel Amos the pop-rock band. And this would be just the first of many abrupt style changes.
  • Non-Appearing Title: “Horrendous Disc”.
  • Ominous Chanting: The song “Horrendous Disc” ends with about a minute of wordless chanting.
  • Robinsonade: The surreal “Man in the Moon” has a verse about being stranded on the moon, as a metaphor for being out-of-place in this world.
    Man in the moon, I was shooting for a star much higher
    Man in the moon, there's no life nowhere near
    I'm dying to get out of here
    Lord don't leave me high and dry, let me fly
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In “Horrendous Disc”, after the musician’s sins are exposed, he tries to run away from the problem, but that doesn’t help. He just runs into a billboard advertising all his wrongdoings.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Guitarist Jerry Chamberlain sings lead on "Man in the Moon" and "Horrendous Disc". Keyboardist Mark Cook sings lead on "Never Leave You".