Originally released in 1985, I’m sure that this release raised some eyebrows back then. Tooth & Nail Records was still years away, and the Christian music scene was starting to realize that you could create music that could sound “secular” and yet still be “spiritual.” So I’m sure that Philadelphia raised the ire of some Christian parents, convinced that their good little youth group-attending kids were listening to the Devil’s music, a musical “wolf in sheep’s clothing” if you will.
Listening to the radio spots tagged onto the end of this “Limited Edition Series,” you can hear how hard the band was trying to reach two audiences; the first being the “headbangers” worshipping at the throne of all that was metal and the second being the Christian kids wanting so desperately to rock out but not at the expense of their souls.
“Christian” and “metal” are 2 words that, when put together, raise eyebrows, elicit groans, or bring out derision, based upon who you talk to. And Tell the Truth will definitely bring out one of those reactions. I’m sure that the majority of people who listen to the music this fine publication normally covers will just laugh at the guitar licks, the black and white morality of the lyrics, and the wailing vocals.
But I admit I was surprised by the punk attitude of “No Time For Honey” and the New Wave flourishes of the pro-life “The Life Inside” (a song I’m sure made many an ‘80s Church mom blush). And yes, I found myself playing the air guitar on a few occasions. But I also found myself groaning at the sheer overwhelming metal-ness of it all; the guitar solos, the over-emotional vocals, the lyrics that often reduced spirituality to a quick and easy rhyme.
If anything, I found this release interesting as a reminder of how far Christian music has come, with the likes of MxPx and POD getting serious coverage and acclaim from the non-Christian scene. It’s nothing I would ever have gone out of my way to buy, but Tell the Truth does have it’s moments where it “rocks” — if only in the “hot lick/power ballad” sort of way. If you’re the kind of person who orders those “Guitar Heroes” CDs, you’ll probably like this one. However, the sad thing is that the message Philadelphia was trying to say, the message they so obviously wanted to spread to people who needed to hear it, will probably get laughed at along with the music.