Since announcing just a few months ago that 2005 would be their final year as a band, The O.C. Supertones have already released a greatest hits collection in January entitled Unite. But even before that project's release, plans for yet another collection were announced. Faith Of A Child, potentially the final release from the Orange County ska/rock band, is clearly a fan project, and a bittersweet one at that.
The Supertones have always been one of my favorite bands and my preferred pick of the ska band litter. The band got off to a firey start with the low budget but insanely infectious Adventures Of The O.C. Supertones nine years ago. From there it was a fun rollercoaster ride as they returned with the raucous Supertones Strikes Back, the reserved Chase The Sun, the playful Loud & Clear, the underrated Hi-Fi Revival, and finally the bold Revenge Of The Supertones. Unite was a decent compilation of most of the band's best offerings but still felt like it lacked something. The band has always seemed to pour everything they can into a release and for fans who recognize that, Faith Of A Child will be a surprise. Featuring a one-page CD jacket, a promo shot from the Revenge photo shoot as the album cover, and an overall bland design layout, the album has a very last-minute, thrown-together presentation. Fortunately, the track list fares better, with clearly more thought put into its arrangement.
Faith Of A Child opens with five previously unreleased tracks from a worship album the band had recorded in 2003 but decided to scrap when they didn't like the outcome. Given the bad buzz of the recordings, I was surprised to find they weren't bad at all. But the problem these songs possess is they really sound nothing remotely like the Supertones. Lead vocalist Matt Morginsky only sings lead on two of the tracks ("Come Thou Fount" and "Blessed Assurance") while trombone player Dan Spencer sings lead on the others. Spencer is a decent vocalist, but Morginsky has much more personality in his voice. As modern worship cuts, the songs are definitely above average, but they just don't feel anything like what we've come to know and expect from the Supertones. In fact, this feeling is only reinforced when "Shepherd Is The Lamb" from Revenge follows the quintet of previously rejected tracks. But as a whole, the tracks end up flowing surprisingly well. While no hint of ska exists in the beginning half of the record, most of the latter is classic Supertones. Even the rerecorded cuts "Louder Than The Mob" and "Hold On To Jesus," which are brilliantly reimagined, fit right in. However, "Hallelujah," the oldest recording on the project, which originally appeared on the 1999 release Chase The Sun, feels out of place, especially as the album's closer.
It's sad to think and realize that Faith Of A Child is most likely the finale in the Supertones catalog of musical greatness. While appropriately going out on a worshipful note, giving credit where credit is due and making a final statement of faith for the band, it's not exactly grand. With all having been said, Faith Of A Child is a fine modern worship album and indeed a must for fans of the Supertones, but somehow, I can't shake the feeling that the band's final outing could have been done better.Review date: 3/14/05, written by John DiBiase
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