Dec 27, 2016

I’d Buy a 25th Anniversary Reissue of The Violet Burning’s Strength in a Heartbeat

It’d be a shame to overlook the anniversary of one of Christian music’s true masterpieces.

Strength - The Violet Burning

Back in 2015, I tweeted about my desire for a 25th anniversary edition of The Violet Burning’s seminal Christian alternative/worship album, Strength.

Michael J. Pritzl and the rest of the Violets are busy guys. They recently released Divine, the latest in a long line of Christmas-themed releases. They have at least two new albums planned for 2017, including one of psalms and prayers that Pritzl has described as similar to Strength. On top of all that, the band members themselves are spread out around the nation, with Pritzl having recently moved to Boston — which certainly makes collaboration more difficult.

All that being said, we’re on the cusp of 2017 and the 25th anniversary of Strength’s release — and it’d be a shame for that to go somehow unnoticed. Originally released in 1992, Strength took deeply personal, even intimate worship and confessional lyrics and mixed them with a dark, atmospheric rock sound that owed a lot to The Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, and Unforgettable Fire-era U2. It was unlike anything else in the Christian market at the time and still stands as a high-water mark for Christian music.

To give you a sense of the album’s tone, here’s a video of The Violet Burning performing “There is No One Like You” at the 1992 Cornerstone festival.

As the CCM’s 500 Best Albums of All Time blog — where Strength is listed at #54 — puts it, “[m]odern worship may be more memorable, have catchier choruses and work better in a corporate setting, but none have reached the depths of sheer passion and truth” as the music found on Strength. The blog even goes so far as to claim that “no other album by an alternative artist in CCM history [has] content written so much in the vein of the Psalms.”

That’s high praise, indeed, and quite apropos. Strength is a true Christian indie/alternative masterpiece, right up there with The Choir’s Circle Slide, The 77’s self-titled album, and LSU’s Shaded Pain.

I realize it’s arrogant to suggest what a band ought to do concerning their own back catalog. But if any of the Violets happen to be reading this, then just know that if you do decide to release an official Strength reissue (one that maybe, just maybe, contains some bonus material), then you know of at least one person who’ll gladly buy it.

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