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20 Years Later - Newsboys, 'Going Public'

Friday, March 21, 2014

20 Years Later - Newsboys, 'Going Public'

When I had the idea for the "10 Years Later..." blog series, I figured it was a neat way to either reevaluate albums we've reviewed or just to see how an album has held up in the span of a decade. The other idea that I thought would be neat would be to compare the album the artist released 10 years ago with their latest, 10 years later. Sadly, I soon realized how rare it is for an artist to not only still be around after 10 years (usually bands break up in that case), but to put out an album exactly 10 years later. So, clearly, adjusting the scope of the project had to happen.

But, recently, I've realized how relevant something truly extraordinary actually is... "20 Years Later!"

With the recent release of Peter Furler Band's Sun and Shield album, it had many of us remembering Furler's former band, Newsboys, and their 1994 album Going Public. And that's when it hit me -- that was TWENTY years ago!

So for our first ever "20 Years Later..." blog, I'd love to bring up Newsboys' Going Public and Peter Furler Band's Sun and Shield, while also touching on where "Newsboys" are at twenty years from that album release.

Going Public followed the success of Newsboys' breakout album, Not Ashamed, which saw the band first teaming up with singer/songwriter/director and producer Steve Taylor who helped co-write and produce that album. It's a partnership that continued on with Going Public and a few Newsboys albums following it. While not every current Newsboys fan will know which album Going Public was just by hearing its title, they'll certainly know the hit song from that album... "Shine." Yup, that quirky song made its debut on this album and it's still sometimes sung live by Furler or his former band.

Going Public certainly feels dated in 2014, but it's a worthwhile and beautiful album to listen to still. I remember picking it up and listening to it as my first Newsboys album shortly after it came out, but I also remember being a bit disappointed by how it felt slower than expected. (In retrospect, it really doesn't seem that slow.) The production is modest and almost mutes the energy at times--something that was perfectly remedied on the raw rock sound of 1996's Take Me To Your Leader. But Going Public still has many highlights. From the worshipful "Let It Rain," inspired by the apostle Peter, to the sarcastic and edgy "Truth and Consequences" that pokes fun at believers who are ultimately wolves in sheep's clothing in the dating world and even to the thought-provoking "When You Called My Name." The end times rocker "Lights Out" is another gem, and the closer, "Elle G" is a haunting song about someone who committed suicide. The album bears a strong early 90s sound, but it also represents a time when Christian music spoke into the Christian lifestyle more than just focusing on worship choruses.

Twenty years later and Peter Furler has since departed from Newsboys. His new album Sun and Shield with his newly formed "Peter Furler Band" feels more like a Newsboys album than Newsboys' 2013 recording Restart does, and even his new songs like "Yeshua" and "It's Alright" have a bit of that "Let It Rain" and "Be Still" sound from Going Public. However, the current band called "Newsboys" may still contain members Jody Davis, Duncan Phillips and Jeff Frankenstein -- all of which were part of the band during the Going Public era twenty years ago -- but it feels like it's plucked from an alternate reality where DC Talk member Michael Tait serves as frontman for the formerly Aussie band. Their latest album, Restart, is an electronic dance pop record that is delectable from a pop music standpoint, but feels lightyears removed from what we once knew to be "Newsboys." There is some fast, electronic flavored music on Going Public, but Furler and Taylor's fingerprints are sorely missed in the current "Newsboys."

If you're not opposed to the 90s alt pop rock sound, Newsboys' Going Public is still a great album and one well worth checking out. In a time where everyone's looking for the next new thing, it doesn't hurt to look back and experience--or re-experience--some of the musical highlights from a couple decades ago. And if you've been missing that classic Newsboys sound and long for something new, look no further than Peter Furler Band's Sun and Shield.

-- John DiBiase Editor/Writer/Founder

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1. Jeremiah said...

when this came out i was a teenager in high school with barely a care in the world, now I am a married with 3 children police officer but i still like to listen to all the old school Christian tunes (Newsboys, dc talk, Audio A, Petra etc)

2. kevin+harro said...

The 1st adult CD that I remember and loved was WOW 1996. Shine was my favorite song for the better part of a decade! That led me to Going Public, which has always been my favorite music pre1995. Along with a couple others, this album surely shaped my younger brothers and I by giving us reason to believe in Christian music. Real Good Thing - very catchy, funny, deep message, the 1st of many genius lyrics on the album.
Spirit Thing - difficult concept to masterfully explain in song
Going Public - tough whispered lyrics, inspirational rock, memorable intro and ending
Lights Out - awesome predecessor to Christian heavy metal, relentless energy
Elle G - powerfully sad melodic and contemplative
Be Still, When You Called My Name, Let It Rain, - emotional and beautiful
Truth and Consequences - skillful witty warning about couple relationships
Most of Going Public is still on my iPod though 1100/1400 of its songs are metal.

3. Jason Fancher said...

Going Public was probably the first Christian album I had ever heard. Twenty years later I still consider it a top twenty Christian album. It has great, challenging lyrics and just flat-out fun music with an energy that's often more than infectious. I'll still be listening to it time-to-time 20 more years from now.

4. Gabriel Jones said...

Love this album. Going Public is one of the greatest albums in CCM history. I can remember watching the music video of Shine over and over and never getting tired of it. Pete Furler's new record definitely brought me back to that sound.

And it wasn't just Shine. Real Good Thing, Truth and Consequences, Spirit Thing... All were great tracks. Elle G still gives me goosebumps to this day. When You Called My Name has got me through a lot of rough nights of ministry (we all have those).

As far as the (new) Newsboys are concerned, I'm not one to nitpick. The band itself (Duncan, Jody, Jeff) has been the same since the Going Public days (except for a sabbatical of Jody Davis for a few years for family related issues). The end of the John James era (Take Me To Your Leader) sounded so much different than the beginning of the John James era (Read All About It). Same thing applies with the Peter Furler era. And I'm not one to ever complain with anything Michael Tait is involved with.

Also as a sidenote: John, this year is the 25th anniversary of dc Talk's debut record...

5. John DiBiase said...

@Gabriel Jones - I don't think dc Talk's debut is much to write home about. It already didn't hold up well YEARS ago. Ha... "Going Public," on the other hand, still sounds great.

6. Andrew Rodriguez said...

Going Public still pretty much ties with Not Ashamed as my favorite Newsboys albums (Go is a close 3rd). And it's not even just nostalgia. It had a distinct sound that set them apart. And Going Public contains Elle G, my all-time favorite song. Not many songs about suicide out there, and this one does the topic justice.

7. Paul P said...

I can't believe 20 years has passed since the release of Going Public. I had the privilege of going to their "Going Public Spring Tour" in 1995 with my older brother. I was only 14 years of age, so I was more than super stoked for it. My mother took us both to the Family Christian Stores in Independence because the band was there several hours before showtime to sign autographs. Both Jeff Frankenstein and Phil Urry had literally just joined the band two or three months prior to that event, so you can imagine my shock to have discovered that Kevin Mills (RIP) had already parted ways with the band.

The concert that evening was amazing. My brother and I were treated to performances from both Tony Vincent and Audio Adrenaline, and then came the Newsboys. Furler's drum solo, and John James showing up in a gold suit during the band's encore were the highlights of the evening. I would go on to see the band live again three years later at Acquire the Fire after Peter Furler had taken over as the new frontman, and it was also a great show. They did two encores that evening.

8. Ricky+Simpson said...

Nice memories. I can't think of too many bands who had a 3 album run like the Newsboys did with "Going Public", Take Me to Your Leader", and "Step Up to the Microphone". I know they really emerged with "Not Ashamed", and that's when I first became a fan, but those other three albums are still some of my favorites from any group from any time period.

9. JulieCC said...

My husband and I saw the debut of "Going Public" at the Sonshine Music Festival in Wilmar, MN in 1994. We even purchased a pre-release copy that we still have. It was only a CD - no liner anything. It was so much fun to see the Newsboys live at that festival having had all their music up to that point.

Our son is now 16 and a Newsboys fan. Well, a pre-Michael Tait fan. He doesn't like the way they've gone mostly pop and lost the Aussie edge.

I myself truly miss the Steve Taylor co-writing and producing days. It's so exciting that Taylor and Furler have been pairing up again for their respective bands!

Yep, I'm OLD!

10. JulieCC said...

Paul P - we saw that same concert at our alma mater! It was so much fun! We'd seen Newsboys before (see my first post) and also Audio A at the same festival, so it was fun to see them at an indoor venue. Tony Vincent was an artist we loved, too!

11. Mike P. said...

Talk about a golden era for CCM. Newsboys, dc Talk, Audio A all in, or going into, their prime; Jars of Clay hitting the scene; SCC, MWS, Crystal Lewis selling out arenas; and all those great vocal groups like 4Him and Point of Grace tearing up radio. There's still some good stuff out today, but nothing like the 90's.

Listening to the title track of Going Public, I'm convinced that Muse's "Uprising" is a ripoff of that song.

12. JesusFreak99 said...

"Going Public" is the first Newsboys album I ever listened to and I listened to it for the first time in 1999. The song "Shine" is the song that helped me come to Christ. That song and the "Going Public" album for that reason will always be special to me.

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