White Heart loomed large on the CCM scene throughout the ’80s, and with good reason. Freedom has often been considered a standard in the genre, an exceptionally performed record that proved Christians could not only make good music, but music that rivalled anything on the other side of the industry.
White Heart pumped out an incredible 13 albums during its time, marked by numerous personnel changes – which included a roadie who became lead singer. Huh? Yup, Rick Florian went from off stage to centre stage for the group. His vocal debut was on Don’t Wait for the Movie, White Heart’s 1986 release that some critics have dubbed as “gimmicky.” Whatever. It’s still quite entertaining.
Sure, the lyrics for the title track Read The Book (Don’t Wait for Movie) are kind of corny. But the song is good. Gordon Kennedy’s guitar is super heavy, with the edge taken off by various keyboard sounds, but it still rocks – and Florian proves his vocal worth with the band from the get-go.
That same ultra-heavy distortion provides a nastiness (in a good way) to Let the Children Play, an instrumental track in which the guitar stomps around as part of a great musical arrangement. On King George, Gary Lunn lays down a superb bass line, while Kennedy’s guitar snarls and screams in places. Heck, listeners even get a taste of that talkbox sound used in Bon Jovi’s classic hard-luck song Livin’ On A Prayer, which also hit record stores in ’86. The Beat of a Different Drum appropriately features a big drum sound, carried along by the strength of the rhythm section. (Lunn, who was with the band from 1982-86, was a solid bass player. And there was no drop-off with his replacement, Tommy Simms, who would eventually tour with Bruce Springsteen – which is not real surprising. His bass line on White Heart’s Let the Kingdom Come, off Freedom, is unbelievably good).
One of the strongest tracks on Don’t Wait for the Movie has to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Christian, which begins with a catchy guitar riff and features both keyboard and guitar solos – perfect for any concert setting. The album also spawned a couple of rock ballads Fly Eagle Fly and How Many Times (Seventy Times Seven) that put the band in good stead with the CCM crowd.
In retrospect, Don’t Wait for the Movie was a solid album from a band that was among the top CCM acts of its time, in the same radio-friendly vein as Toto or Journey. While there are some heavy guitar sounds in there, Don’t Wait for the Movie plays it close to the chest and relies on the sum of its parts: players that know their instruments and songwriters that could write memorable melodies. For that, White Heart remains one of the best Christian rock groups to come out of the ’80s, right up there alongside Petra and Degarmo & Key.
- Read the Book (Don’t Wait for the Movie)
- Holy Ground
- Beat of a Different Drum
- Fly Eagle Fly
- Let the Children Play
- King George
- No Apology
- Maybe Today
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Christian
- How Many Times (Seventy Times Seven)