Just for the time being, let's forget the fact that Eric Champion is about to make a comeback and the fact that we are unsure what his new record will sound like with the new band he recently formed. He began his musical career in 1990, creating an eclectic pop sound all his own with elements of techno and sometimes dance elements. His first four albums were pure examples of the genre he attempted to popularize. He gained massive street cred with his 1994 album Vertical Reality, which proved to be his last project of all eclectic pop. Fortunately, EC fans had something new to groove to when Mr. Champion opted for a more pop/rock affect on his edgy 1996 effort Transformation; which featured Dave Clo (now formerly of All Star United fame) on guitars, himself on drums, and a guest organ appearance by the legendary Charlie Peacock. The accompanying tour featured him travelling with an indie rock outfit by the name of Spin Cycle to back him up on the musical part of the shows.
That soon changed in 1998 Eric Champion hired a full 4 piece band to play on and tour in support of his next project, Natural. Like Transformation, the album featured a more aggressive rock approach while maintaining some electronic synth pop samples in the background. The album's title track has a very smooth, laid back rock vibe with plenty of Eric's vocals to complete the track, uttering words like 'It's so hard to force good when bad comes natural' (reminding us of the constant fights we have against our own sinful nature to remain holy and pure). The next track "God Only Knows" is basically telling the listener that only God knows what our future holds. Eric decides to take a humorous approach as in "Hacker's Prayer" where he uses somewhat of a computer language to describe a computer junkie's means of receiving salvation from God. Much of the second half of the album is a sonic whirlwind of chaotic pop/rock with a hint of alternative buzz to boot. Songs such as "Breakin the Room," "I Am Nothing," and "Just Me" are by far the hardest tracks on Natural and are done exceptionally well along with excellent arrangements.
An interesting factor is that a special message is inscribed on the credits page of the album insert: "No substance abuse (not counting sugar, caffeine, msg, fat grams, cholesterol, and La Hacienda) occured during the making of this record." This implies to the listener that the music is wild and highly energetic, but that's only because the people making the record got themselves on a high sugar and caffeine rush prior to recording; this adds a fine touch of humor to the album as well. In conclusion, although Eric Champion is releasing a new album, which he has not done since this 1998 record, his true fans should not forget Natural, a historic piece of rock music history during the 90's period of Contemporary Christian Music. Hopefully, his new project will inflict elements from his last project as well as Transformation, giving his fans another rock record worth adding to their collection.- Review date: 7/11/04, written by Paul Portell
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