Youth Choir released their first album in 1985 on Broken Records, and they would later change their name on their next full-length release to the name we all know them as - The Choir. This review also combines their 1986 EP release, Shades of Gray, since these albums were both made available on one disc in 2000. The Choir consisted of Derri Daugherty on vocals and guitars, Steve Hindalong on drums and vocals, and Mike Sauerbrey on bass. Most have probably seen Steve Hindalong's name associated with several projects as a producer (The Prayer Chain, The Waiting, Common Children, Morella's Forrest, City On A Hill, among others) and he co-wrote the song "God of Wonders" which received a Dove Award for Song of the Year. Similarly, Derri Daugherty has produced for acts such as Twila Paris and currently owns a recording studio, Neverland, in Tennessee. The Choir is one of the many talented bands out there that never received the acclaim they deserved. After a dozen albums released by numerous labels and having garnered many award nominations (including a Gramy nomination), many people are still not aware of this band's existence. CCM Magazine even once stated that The Choir was "the best rock band in Christian music."
The band was not fully pleased with their debut album Voices in the Shadows due to the drums being provided by a drum machine, which was a trademark sound found in the 80s; in fact, the only song on this album that features a real drum sound is "15 Doors." The two-album collection begins clashing away with the very upbeat "Someone's Calling." Some of the songs seem to drag on too much with a chorus that doesn't ease the anticipation of a recovery such as "Another World," "Dreams," and "Why Are All The Children Crying." At the same time, however, the record also contains some truly classic tunes that you will want to play again and again. "Here in the Night" is probably one of my favorite Choir songs of all time. The song refers to someone struggling with having to make a compromise to live a life they don't want, "Running from the images I try to hide/ Living in the darkened place I live my life/ Looking out through windows to a brighter day/ Even though I want to leave, I have to stay." "A Million Years" is a great, timeless ballad that was later used as the opening song for their first collection compilation, Love Songs and Prayers.
The next portion of the disc is the EP, Shades of Gray, which was a limited release in 1986 on Shadow Records. I remember special ordering the LP from a store a year later because I had never known that it even existed. The album opens with "Fade Into You," which is very upbeat and emotional, and it remains another distinguished song from The Choir. The album moves to a favorite that bears a U2 sound, "15 Doors." The song was inspired by a man in a hardware store who claimed that he knocked on 15 doors before finding someone who would let him use their phone, according to Hindalong. "More Than Words" is a very atmospheric, dreamy track that doesn't have a memorable chorus, while the Police-esque "Tears Don't Fall" is a great song that talks about compassion in life. The album closes with "All Night Long," which has a very catchy rhythm that will recall the listener of Glass Tiger or Yes.
It's nice to hear these two albums all over again. Both of them share a style that is purely 80s. They may sound dated at times or make the listener flashback to such movies as The Breakfast Club or Some Kind of Wonderful, but the music is fun, timeless, energetic, and great for U2 or Police fans.