Christian punk rock received a credible shot in the arm when the Altar Boys burst onto the scene. Frontman Mike Stand and his band played it fast and loud, with songs that had plenty of hooks and a simple gospel message to boot. In fact, When You’re a Rebel was really a rallying cry for those who knew they were “in the world but not of it,” and those words certainly resonated with this Christian teenager. Along with Stand, Rick Alba (bass) and Jeff Crandall (drums) completed the trio, whose brand of punk was more pop than hardcore (more Coors Lite than Guinness if you can forgive the beer analogy).
That’s not to say that When You’re a Rebel doesn’t rock. There are times when the guitars are let loose, and that certainly is the case when the band hits its stride three songs in with Calling Out to Believers, which features a rousing guitar solo and Stand shouting. And how about that intro to the title track? It’s a brilliant mix of wailing guitar and Stand reciting Romans 12:2. Cool stuff. Likewise, there’s a can’t-miss guitar riff kicks that begins He Knows You Better, a great song that sets up the ballad-esque closer Does God’s Heart Cry?
The Clash always comes to mind when listening to the Altar Boys and coincidentally (or is it ironically?) Stand went on to form Clash of Cymbals after the Altar Boys called it quits. The Altar Boys may not have dabbled in funk and reggae, but they did flirt with ska (More of You) and rockabilly (When I’m With God). (By the way, Stand’s current project The Altar Billies a band of “Gut Level Hillbilly Rebels” is absolutely amazing!)
When You’re A Rebel is definitely a solid record, and the band cranked it up a notch for their following release, Gut Level Music, which is often considered a superior effort and one of the greatest CCM records ever – and I think critics have got a case. Of course to get there, the band had to tinker with its sound and When You’re A Rebel is definitely a worthwhile album in the midst of that process.
- Difference In Me (4:09)
- More of You (3:01)
- Calling Out to Believers (3:25)
- When I’m With God (2:35)
- I’m Into God (Reprise) (1:45)
- When You’re a Rebel (4:00)
- Jesus Is Number One (2:48)
- If You Let Him In (2:26)
- When I See You (3:08)
- He Knows You Better (3:02)
- Does God’s Heart Cry? (4:40)