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Articles Home » 1984 Articles » Front, The - 1984 The Front
Front, The - 1984 The Front

ARTIST: Front, The
ALBUM: The Front
LABEL: Refuge, Benson
YEAR: 1984


LINEUP: Tommy Funderburk - vocals * Dann Huff- guitar * Dennis Bellfield - bass * Bob Wilson - drums * Larry Williams - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: 01 It's Hard To Take * 02 Holy Light * 03 All Under Him * 04 King Of Glory * 05 The Promise * 06 Silent Night * 07 Tonight * 08 How Long

Here's an album I've been sitting on for the last 7 years and the whole time incorrectly assumed had been reviewed here for some reason. Maybe it's due to the obvious stature of the members of the band, which as you probably guessed reads like an AOR powerhouse. This is surely one of the premier CCM releases of the period, of which there were an overload. The group was formed by ex-Seawind drummer Bob Wilson, who enlisted fellow Seawind alumni Larry Williams and the glorious likes of Funderburk, Huff and Bellfield, all of whom were already well established as AOR session luminaries. I read that Mike Landau was associated with the band, but he isn't listed on the credits and it's nowhere to be found on his never-ending list of career appearances. Information isn't exactly abundant on The Front, but as a one off project this was something special, an AOR album very much of its time, spruced up hi-tech material with the religious themes very strong. In fact the album itself states on the back cover that 'this album is dedicated to the 4000 children aborted in the United States - EVERY DAY.'

The Songs
With only eight tracks this is a short, but very satisfying excursion in melodic genius. 'It's Hard To Take' opens to very noticeable drum synths and a ton of keyboard effects firmly rooted in the 1984 timeframe. The whole track is rather dramatic, with Funderburk's vocals remarkably high and complimented by Huff's astounding guitar work. 'Holy Light' is more hard rock inclined but an AOR classic, with a victorious chorus so common of this once great genre. This is on a different level to their fellow CCR contemporaries and overall isn't too dissimilar to The Imperials during the AOR era. 'All Under Him' throws some agreeable West Coast into the fray and if you enjoy Brent Lamb then you'll devour this restrained piece of soft rock. 'King Of Glory' opens in identical fashion to Michael Jackson's 'Beat It' but quickly enters pomp areas so overblown and brilliant it's hard to keep up. Check out the vocal lines in the chorus, it's almost unfathomable how high the register is. Essential. 'The Promise' features some pumping bass lines and overdone drum programming, giving it a soundtrack feel overall. 'Silent Night' isn't a reworking of the Christmas favourite thankfully, but even so it's a lesser track, by the numbers AOR which could use more guitar, especially with someone like Huff at their disposal. 'Tonight' is the only real ballad on the album, somewhat surprising but with only eight songs a wise move. It's certainly a tearjerker and Huff's solo is the kind that dreams are made of for AOR stalwarts. The best is saved for last however, 'How Long' being one of the best AOR tracks I've ever heard and I don't say that lightly. Finally Huff is allowed to come alight and blazes his way through this display of genius, with a soaring chorus which surely pushes the barriers of anything this genre has ever produced. The vocals of Funderburk help propel it further and if you've never heard this before then head to You Tube immediately.

In Summary
This album seems to be most notable for being the first CCM album released on CD, but the music is on another level and it's a shame nothing else was heard from The Front, a one-off masterpiece which is a worthy addition to any collection. With the talent involved it lives up to the billing and doesn't disappoint in any area with 'How Long' deserving of a place in the AOR hall of fame.

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#1 | gdazegod on June 20 2015 02:05:20
This was first released in 1983 by Refuge (according to RYM), then by Benson in 1985 on CD.
#2 | gdazegod on June 20 2015 02:08:22
The Front - 1984/1985 How Long
YouTube Video:
#3 | gerard on June 20 2015 23:13:08
Great, great album! Classic!
#4 | code4 on October 22 2015 22:56:36
Musically this is definitely a pretty great almost sci-fi sounding golden era hi-tech aor and i've never had much a problem with christian lyrics despite being a lifelong agnostic. I don't find lyrics too explicitly christian in all songs either (though i suppose it's there in most if you pay attention and of course strongly in things like 'All under Him' and a few others).. 'Holy Light' or at least particularly 'King of Glory' for example which both sound rather like early era White Heart (i suppose D.huff was the main guitarist here after all). Greatest moments for me are 'The Promise' for their break section and then the closing two or three songs if i remember right. Interestingly 1987's 'What If' s/t LP (which some see as the unofficial follow up to The Front) keeps the christian lyrics even more subdued, so much so that the album probably will be no problem even for staunch atheists. And yeh, that album dedication on this Front cd was shocking
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