This page features reviews and links of products from individuals and organizations related directly or indirectly with Stryper. They are lumped together because they do not have multiple releases and for easy access.
WEBSITES: STRYPER DOT COM
1340 Records (Stryper tribute CD)
The following review is of a video available from Stryper Expo dot com and Planet Rapture dot com (see above).
For many bands a reunion of any sort is often an attempt to relive the glory of their early days. For Kiss it meant putting the make-up and costumes back on and reconciling with Ace and Peter. But this Stryper reunion is different. They were, in fact, reluctant and hesitant about the whole thing. They didn’t bring back the spandex or the elaborate stage props. As a matter of fact, this is about the most unpolished, stripped down video they have ever done (c.f., “In the Beginning” and “Burning Flame”). And yet, there is something unmistakably familiar about it all. You see, the band is a decade older than they were when they broke up. They’ve been through periods of heavy criticism and self-doubt. Each of the members have pursued other avenues, other projects. Nothing has worked terribly well for any of them except maybe Michael Sweet’s solo albums. But when these four guys came back to play together in New Jersey in 2000 minus all the pomp and props that aided them in the 1980’s, their real talent shone through as bright as ever. Stryper was never a fluke. They were and still are an incredibly talented band who made it big for a time, charting a course that no subsequent Christian band has been able to equal. And after all these years, they still have it. This video is about how a guy named Rich Serpa (Planet Rapture Productions) coaxed them into coming to this Stryper Expo and playing for all their die hard fans.
The video begins with a collage of interviews with each of the members of Stryper, each of them speaking extemporaneously about their feelings and impressions of the Stryper Expo. It is easy for me to interpret a lot of what they say because I was such a huge Stryper fan growing up. Anyway, my impression is that they each were very apprehensive about doing this. But as the video progresses to the rehearsals, the in-store and radio appearances, and finally the concert, you see the guys warming up to the idea and each other. By the end of this video—and I remind you that it isn’t the slick production that Enigma was able to do for them—you find yourself cheering for the band. As the band performs they sound like they have a choir performing with them because the crowd is so into the performance. Naturally the crowd would know the songs, but rarely do you hear a concert recording where the crowd can be heard over the music and the singer. Speaking of the crowd, they flew in from all over the world for this event. That in itself is an indication of how significant this band is.
In the end there was one more thing that was a little different from the Stryper of old, instead of throwing Bibles into the audience (probably unnecessary with this crowd!) and doing a lot of “preaching”, Michael Sweet kept his comments to a bare minimum. Some of those comments actually turned out to be self-abasing humor; quite a surprise. At the conclusion of the show, the band put down their instruments and stood together at the front of the stage. It was here that Michael said succinctly but powerfully, that everything they’ve ever done was for the glory of God. I believe it was for that reason that they broke up; that is, they felt at that time like God wasn’t receiving the glory anymore. And here they are, a decade later, stripped of their 80’s glam metal image, but the message is still “Loud n’ Clear”. Amen.
The following is a book review:
If there was ever an 80’s band with a story worthy of VH1’s “Behind the Music” it is Stryper. But as it is, Stryper Loud n’ Clear may be as close as this worthy band ever gets to a comprehensive telling of their story. And it is very comprehensive in that it is based on twelve very long interviews with members of the band, family, crew, and record executives. As such it is an attempt to allow Stryper, in retrospect, to tell their story in their own words.
Did you know that one of the members of Poison actually auditioned once for Stryper? Did you know that Rob Halford once sang onstage with them? Did you know they were the first band in history to have two, then three videos on MTV’s Top Ten Countdown? I have been a fan of Stryper since I first heard about them in 1984. I bought every album as they came out and I even have the “Reason for the Season” picture disc. I followed their story as best I could. But there are a lot of things in this book that I did not know. There are a lot of facts and insights contained here that probably a lot of fans of the band also do not know. So that in itself makes the book a real prize. Stryper were, after all, criticized from every possible corner. Many who call themselves Christians called them “satanic”, and many who were big time heavy metal fans gawked at their message. And yet, their success remains unparalleled to this day. But few people know that before the guys in the band became serious in their commitment to serve God with their music, they had actually been very much like many of the other bands they were contemporary with (Motley Crue, Poison, etc.). And yet, in this biography, while there are stories of conflicts, mistakes, even failures, there are no dead bodies and no nervous breakdowns, just a phenomenal story of a band that committed itself to God and how he blessed them beyond their wildest dreams. You can get the whole scoop here.
While I am very appreciative of this book, as a teacher I feel like I should mention that the book is not without errors. First off, the authors have already discovered that there are some typographical errors. They promise that those will be fixed in the next printing. But there are a few grammatical and spelling errors too. I point this is out reluctantly because I don’t want to detract from the book, only prepare the reader. Finally, there is one glaring error. I’m not sure if it is Robert Sweet’s error, the writers’ error, or a combination of both. On page 18 they mention that execs at Enigma Records were celebrating Alistair Crowley’s birthday and they call him the author of the Satanic Bible. Well, his name is spelled Aleister Crowley and he is not the author of the Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey is. This is the sort of error that will embarrass the authors if they do not correct it. At least you know that I know the difference!
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The following review is of a CD available from 1340records.com and m8.com
Here’s a CD that seeks to right a wrong. The “wrong” is another CD by another label (now defunct) which was an insult to one of the greatest bands of all time (okay, there were a few good tracks—very few!). I did review that other CD. It was a very scathing review and I decided not to print it. I will, however, print this review for it is a real “tribute”. This CD, “Isaiah 53:5: A Tribute to Stryper” is a “right”. The songs covered here are done by competent musicians who don’t seek to parody Stryper but to honor them.
Some of the songs here are modern reinterpretations of Stryper classics. Examples are: “Lonely” by Fringe, an alterna-grungy tune which takes that song seriously, “The World of You and I” by Dinner Mint who also appeared on the other “tribute”. This version has a very 1960/70’s sound but sounds really good in this song, though it brings back memories of the Monkees and the Partridge Family. Another reinterpretation comes from Augenkristall which is one-half Nathan Morris of EnGrave/Nova Sphere, and one-half Warren Wheeler of Cradle->Grave in Australia. Their contribution is a darkwave version of “Abyss” which is really cool and should be used if Stryper ever does a reunion tour. Honeymooner does an unplugged sort of version of “Calling On You” similar to the songs on the original Browbeats album. Aimee Clark sounds like the singer from Sixpence None the Richer on “I Believe in You”, the music sounds like Lilith Fair material. Estes P@rc sounds like Luxury on “It’s Up to You”, the only song I don’t care for on this disc. Finally, Wonderboy PHD makes “Makes Me Wanna Sing” sound like modern alterna-rock like Rose Blossum Punch or Poor Old Lu. These are the songs that reinterpret Stryper into other forms of music. Now for the metal bands . . .
The other tracks on this CD can be described thus: they are Hard Rock/Heavy Metal renderings of Stryper songs which are clearly recognizable but bear the marks of the individual bands playing them. So, you have Disciple doing “More Than a Man” in their style, Blood N’ Fire play “Surrender” and assist Racing Elijah with “Loving You”. Nailed does a very impressive version of “To Hell With the Devil” as does Derron’s Tuba with “Soldiers Under Command”. One Bad Apple does a very Hardcore sounding “You Know What to Do”. And, “Free” is done by Antioch. One thing that must be said about these particular tracks is that each band is able to play the songs competently unlike many of the bands on the other “tribute”. Mark Fisher is to be complimented on his project and on his choice of bands.
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