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CHRISTIANS (Buy CDs by this artist)
The Christians (UK Island) 1987 (Island) 1988
Colour (Island) 1990
ROGER CHRISTIAN
Checkmate (Island) 1989

Brothers Garry and Russell Christian (formerly an a cappella soul trio with Roger, another sibling) and ex-Yachts helmsman Henry Priestman (who left It's Immaterial to join them) comprise the core of this Liverpool group. (Roger Christian appeared on the group's earliest singles, but quit prior to the first Christians album and eventually surfaced as a solo act.)

Sonically, The Christians is a treat, with airy harmonies floating angelically above and around Priestman's crisp keyboards and percolating percussion, while Garry C. sings with restrained soul about life in a (depressed) Northern town. Unfortunately, the messages of songs like "Forgotten Town," "When the Fingers Point," "Hooverville" and "Ideal World" are almost undermined by the prettiness and pop sparkle of it all, as if they've muted the passion the songs require in an effort not to overstate the case. With a few more memorable melodies and a bit more punch, this record might have been something special. (As it was, the LP spent well over a year in the UK charts.)

Colour continues in the same vein as The Christians, and the same criticism applies. If anything, the sound is even prettier here, but the generally overlong songs lack the dynamics needed to keep them interesting. As well-intentioned as the Christians are — and to their credit, the group's sound is definitely distinctive — they seem locked into an MOR sheen that, despite moments of real beauty, inevitably turns tedious.

[Dave Schulps]