You don’t often hear the theremin, least of all in rock and roll, and when the drums kick in I’m magically transported to the seventies, à la Deep Purple. Philadelphia do an excellent job of setting an ominous atmosphere, and I really like Brian Martini’s drum solo that propels us into the path of the speeding freight train called “Search & Destroy”. “Search & Destroy” first arrived in 1985, and will be re-released by Roxx Records on 25 January 2019. The limited edition vinyl run numbers only 500, and if you’re lucky you’ll be the owner of one of 150 gold vinyl LP’s. This cracker of an album was remastered by Rob Colwell of Bombworks Sound, and it screams to be turned loud.
Philadelphia paint a portrait of a kid down on his luck and in the streets in “Bobby’s Song”. They put a name to the face we so often ignore. It’s a pretty perfect ballad, and I’m crazy about that guitar tone! Brian Clark delivers an emotional performance in “Oh My Boy”, a song from father to son, and the instrumentation in the verse is suitably sparse. When the overdriven guitar finds the spotlight in the chorus, the father’s anguish is amplified tenfold. Phil Scholling’s melodic solo here is also my favourite on the album.
“Judgment Day” examines the plight of children from broken homes: “… Jesus loves the little children / And there will be hell to pay / Their wounded spirits crying for justice / And it comes at Judgment Day”. I recently listened to a talk Frank Abagnale delivered at Google, and it struck me what a great impact his parents’ divorce had on his life. Frank is the subject of the film, “Catch Me If You Can” (2002) directed by Steven Spielberg.
“Mirror Man” deals with man’s propensity for doing evil, especially when he only looks out for number one. It’s a cautionary tale, as the main character holds up a mirror to himself. I’m trying hard to put my finger on the drumbeat in this song – driven rhythmically like Blondie’s “Heart of Glass”, but also reminding of “Paradise City” by Guns N’ Roses (right at the start of that song). All the same, good rock and roll. “Fastrack” is quick out of the blocks and is all high energy. I’ve got visions of “Days of Thunder”! I love how this track builds and builds, and that guitar solo! You must experience it for yourself. What I like about Philadelphia is that this scorcher also has a sobering message: “You’re gonna tell me that Jesus loves me / I’ve got no time for God above me / Fastrack livin’ – now I can’t slow down.”
In “Showdown” the main character knows that there are no more “get out of jail free” cards. He is resigned to the consequence of his actions, but then there’s this striking realisation: “A rebel son with all I’ve done / But the Risen One, He holds out His hand to me…” As Christians we cannot forget that Jesus died for everyone’s sins! And so comes “Decision Time”: “Look into your heart and see His face.” The message of this behemoth is timeless, and how great that it issues its call from the rock and roll vault once more.
“Search & Destroy” scores 9/10.
Written by Karakul
1. Search & Destroy
2. Bobby’s Song
3. Oh My Boy
4. Judgment Day
5. Mirror Man
8. Decision Time
9. Losin’ Out (bonus track)
Brian Clark – vocals, bass
Phil Scholling – guitar
Brian Martini – drums
Record label: Philly Music Shreveport LA / Roxx Records
Release Date: January 25, 2019
“Tell The Truth” (full-length, 1984)
“Search & Destroy” (full-length, 1985)
“Warlord” (full-length, 2016)
“Search & Destroy” (reissue, 2019)
Video for ‘Search & Destroy’ (1985)