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GOING PUBLIC (1994)
Going Public - Click to view! You always remember the first CD you buy. My first purchase came at fourteen. I found this CD in my local Christian bookstore, and the cover of tent-revival faces captured by attention. Then I recognized the name of the band. So off I went, handing over my hard-earned allowance money. I still distinctly remember sitting in my parent's den pouring over the lyrics while the CD blared in the stereo.

The tent-revival faces show wear and tear from all those teenage afternoons, but I still think this cover is one of the Newsboys' best. In fact, I'm amazed at how well these songs have stood the test of time. Yes, they sometimes feel dated, dancing awkwardly in that strange gray area when the alternative movement kidnapped rock for better or for worse.

But promise still glows in the songs. Going Public was just that for these Aussies; this sophomore release turned the boys away from mediocre pop into a genuinely creative movement. Of course, how long they continued in this movement remains on the table for debate. In '94, this band was up-and-coming, and Going Public provided enough material to keep these musicians from being dropped from the contract.

To say the music sounds dated doesn't mean it sounds horrible. Little musical gems rest in each tune. "Going Public" serves as a center, launching with electronic keys reminiscent of blasting into space. "Let It Rain" contains delicate guitar and bass solos along with a drumbeat to keep the listener interested in the modern paean. In fact, Jody Davis' guitar skills shine quite strong throughout the album. Only now that he's gone do I notice his heavy influence in the classic Newsboys sound. As an adolescent, who was I to notice the guitar work? I spent my energies singing along with John James (who at last hearing serves as a youth pastor in down-under land) and Peter Furler (then the inconsequential drummer who would never dream of being the front man).

I'm pleasantly surprised at the songs' themes. This band wrestled with issues often politically incorrect for the church at large. "Truth and Consequences" addresses romantic unions, describing how naïve, single Christian girls are drawn into destructive relationships. Today, statistics show that there are as many sexual predators inside the church as there are in the "secular" world. Who knew that over a decade ago this band was confronting such crucial social matters?

"Lights Out" contains frantic metal-rock guitars and drums with a pulsing damnation directed toward Christians who lock themselves inside their homes to be neither "in" nor "of" the world. John James asks, "Why do you wanna hide in a separate class? / Why do you buy the lie of a faith under glass?" Yes, it's not a new theme; the temptation to hide away from the polluting world has existed for centuries. But the Newsboys take time to poke Christians off of their "blessed assurances" to be the salt and light this world needs.

The last song, "Elle G.," is both musically and lyrically poignant. I can't imagine today's Newsboys albums ending with a song about suicide. Steve Taylor (the mastermind behind the lyrics) wrote, "Maybe this world is a barren place / For a soul prone to get lost / But heaven still hounds from the smallest sounds / To the cries of the storm-tossed." Questions exist without answers; only God's sovereignty offers hope in an otherwise hopeless situation. The instrumentation reflects the despair through a heavy bass beat and ominous pedal effects. Here Peter Furler's vocals fit the moment perfectly, perhaps showcasing what this future lead-singer could accomplish.

Going Public contains a depth I previously didn't see-a depth that is somewhat lacking in more recent compilations. Sure, I could be biased due to my positive past with the record. But as I study Going Public with aged eyes, I detect an undercurrent of creative energy. This is a brilliant product from the Newsboy's musical career.
- Hollie Stewart
August 2005
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