Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Stryper - Soldiers Under Command (1985)

* (of four)

I've always considered myself fairly well versed in the annals of Stryper videography. (Somewhere) I have my very own VHS copies of the Christian hair-metal concert extravaganza Stryper Live in Japan* and the hourlong pseudo-documentary and music video collection Stryper: In the Beginning. I was a Christian school kid, after all - in the days of Motley Crue, Poison and Metallica, I was allowed to listen only to music bearing God's stamp of approval. My favorite band, from the ages of 10 through 13 or so, was Stryper, with a Bible-believing bullet. I even saw them in concert last fall, at an all-night bar in East St. Louis called Pop's.

Imagine my surprise, then, to turn on VH1 Classic and stumble upon a rather primitive-looking video for "Soldiers Under Command," the title track to Stryper's second album. The entire affair is on autopilot from the beginning, with a mix of studio rehearsals, concert performances, roadies unloading yellow-and-black stage equipment**, a Sam Kinison-lookalike producer concentrating on the soundboard, and the entire band eating Chinese food backstage. The hair is huge, the costumes have to be seen to be believed, and the song itself is embarrassing. And instantly takes me back to fifth grade. VH1 Classic performs an odd public service, to be sure.

* = I think they're still popular over there.

** = Favorite Shot: The hoisting a hundred feet in the air of the giant "666" with the red circle and line through it. The devil is not welcome at a Stryper show.