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THIRD DAY (1996)
Third Day - Click to view! A mere year separates this band from a decade of stardom. No matter how many times they may sing "I wanna be a rockstar / but I ain't got what it takes" on the album Wire, this band has entered the rock-star section of the Christian rock canon. Yet I don't focus on the modern-day success. When I think of these boys from Georgia, I think of this self-titled debut distributed through a now-defunct Gray Dot Records. I think of this bare-rock release where no song lasts longer than four and a half minutes. I think of a low-key concert in a local theme park, where lead singer Mac Powell helped sell his own merchandise and hung around until 1 am talking with a small group of fans. And I think of the album's basic Christian themes: a need for and acceptance of Christ's love, and the command to live it out on earth.

This is the rough debut that revealed "Love Song," "Thief," and "Consuming Fire," classics the band still play in concert. I suppose if one has never heard this album, they would prefer the live renditions more so than the studio productions, but I'm still drawn to the soft, melodic rock and Powell's young voice. There's purity to these versions, perhaps because they precede the notoriety. You can hear where David Carr needs to improve on drums, Tai Anderson on bass, and Mark Lee and Brad Avery on guitars, but this is before the countless hours of touring. This is before Conspiracy No. 5, an album that kicked the notches of production and produced a sound the band has abandoned ever since. This is before Offerings, the worship CD that launched them into the world of the Dove awards. Instead, these five men create songs of praise, where Powell sings things like "You saved me / Thank You Jesus" in his soft southern intonation ("Forever"). That isn't enough? Then how about, "You can feel a new revival / Ask Jesus in your heart / And you'll feel so free" ("Holy Spirit"). You could always turn to the downright country "Livin' For Jesus," where the chorus reads, "Done made up my mind / That I'm livin' for Jesus." Better yet, listen to Rich Mullins' talents on the hammered dulcimer in "Praise Song," a tune that reads more like a hymn than the last track of a rock record. Perhaps the most unappreciated song, "Blackbird," contains the strengths of this band: gritty southern rock, a vocal melody that makes it Third Day property, and lyrical imagery that still makes me smile: "Blackbird, why you wearing that frown / Don't you know Jesus loves you and me / And the preacher on T.V. you're putting down?"

The five faces that stare at me on the back jacket cover couldn't have imagined where their faces and music would appear. If you have any opinion of this band—positive or negative—this album is a necessary text for the study of Third Day's roots. Take it from me; Third Day was the first band this former 16-year-old girl followed with a die-hard-fan passion. You know what that means? I saw something in these guys way before the Gospel Music Association ever did.
- Hollie Stewart
January 2005

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