Album Reviews

Ray Saunders, Cardiff:
"Thank you guys for your brilliant CD. Many is the night I've gone to bed with a tune or lyric from the CD
stuck in my head. "Sunday to Sunday" - what can I say? First time I heard it it blew me away.
This is testimony like you've never heard it before."

Bruce Tulloch, The Salvationist:
"SP&S are to be heartily congratulated on commissioning this groundbreaking album. Groundbreaking for SP&S, that is; the contemporary styles represented in Songs That No One Taught Us have really been mainstream for years. Styles, plural – because every track on this highly entertaining, amusing, thought-provoking, moving, clever collection of original songs brings something different to the musical table.

Go to the second track, ‘The Song That We Sing’ for the rationale: ‘That traditional/contemporary debate was always a poor one. Turns out we were singing the same song all along.’ So ‘We’ll sing in whatever style’s around but the song that we sing is the same.’ And that’s followed by the intensely moving ‘Come As You Are’, described as ‘Whosoever will may come’ with bells on.

Brothers Karl and Alvin Allison have been around the Salvation Army musical scene for a couple of decades now. Their outspoken rock evangelism in bands such as Blood and Fire, The Eden and The Big Picture wasn’t always appreciated, or perhaps understood, by traditionalists. Yet separately they committed their talents to work and worship in contemporary culture – Karl in alternative worship and youthwork, and Alvin in a wide range of musical roles as player, writer and arranger. Now it could be said  – and they do say – that they’ve come full circle, home at last.

Musically Alvin is the master here. From jazz pianist (think Jools Holland) to brass band arranger, from dance riffs and trance beats to cheeky samples, he pulls out surprises all the time. You’ll have to indulge in multiple listenings before you identify all the tricks and musical jokes that sit inside and alongside the sheer quality and range of his imagination. Then he will also provide the simplest and most sensitive accompaniment to a personal prayer song in ‘Good For You’.

Karl’s strength is his lyrics. Prolific and clever, sharply observational and deeply incisive, intelligent and provocative, born of genuine experience and underpinned by sincere, hard-won faith, they strike chords whether they’re listened to or read. He has the gift of words that can be everyday and exalted at the same time. They make you smile and they make you cry, and they always point you and others to Jesus.

What to add? Well, the brothers draft in support on some tracks from powerhouse brass including familiar Army names, from Darren Bartlett’s Salvacosta, and from other talented friends (the whole thing ends with Neville Raine’s guitar soaring impressively like Queen’s Brian May). There’s also a hefty chunk of William Booth.

I have listened as a reviewer to many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of contemporary Christian albums over 35 years. Almost all of them I have given away. This one I shall keep, and return to. Thanks, guys!"

Simon Barnett, Thetford Liberty Centre:
"This speaks. I have listened to & performed hundreds of concerts and pieces and occasionally you play or hear something that speaks for itself and moves you and this is just such music. The album has political comment, international comment, musical comment, it laughs & cries and I've enjoyed picking out Alvin's musical jokes/references. The recording is clear and it's stuffed full with sounds and techniques. I have a feeling this album is a keeper."

Ann Rowsell:
"The CD exceeded all my expectations. I played it in the car for weeks, finding something new again and again. Actually, first hearing of ‘Come as You Are’ literally had me pinned to my seat- not good when you’re already late - but I just had to hear it out: so powerful! I have played it to as many people as I can get to stay still for long enough. I don’t know if it has the same effect on all of them but I was/am totally convicted- just how happy are we to welcome everyone through our church doors without judgement or comment? It gets me each time I listen to it."