In conjunction with last weeks “Heaven” episode and as a sort of extension to a piece I did about a year ago on the band Bride, I thought we could look back at the band’s 1992 release Snakes In The Playground; their breakthrough album and 2nd in a series of 3 albums released on the christian major label Star Song. Former Prince And The Revolution guitarist Dez Dickerson was the Executive Producer on Snakes. Bride recorded the album in Nashville in 1991 and it features an appearance by Greg Martin of The Kentucky Headhunters as well as a handful of christian artists lending a hand.
Snakes In The Playground saw the band move to a more straightforward hard rock sound verses their slightly thrashy roots. The lineup at this time was founding brothers Dale Thompson on vocals and Troy Thompson on guitars. Troy being quite possibly one of the most underrated rhythm guitar players alive. On bass was Rik Foley and on drums was a popular local musician named Jerry McBroom who at one time was a student of Scorpions drummer James Kottak, also a Louisville native.
Musically, this album has a great “live” feel with hints of Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses. Vocal wise, frontman Dale Thompson incorporates those same hints and throws in a bit of Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler to his own unique style.
Snakes In The Playground opens with the sound of a street preacher exclaiming “Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart today.” just before the drum intro to ‘Rattlesnake’ sets in motion the driving guitars and in your face vocals which explain the album title: selling drugs to children. Aside from 2 ballads ‘I Miss The Rain’ and ‘Goodbye’, which aren’t bad songs by any means, Snakes is a non stop rock n’ roll train ride. Local legend has it that the song ‘Psychedelic Super Jesus’ is the bands response to another local Louisville bands opinion that Jesus was nothing more than a hippie guru. Whatever the case may be, Snakes In The Playground is one of rock ‘n roll’s lost treasures. Other standout tracks include ‘Would You Die For Me’, ‘Fallout’, and ‘Dust Through A Fan’.
I had the opportunity to see Bride many times during this era and they never disappointed. It was always a high energy show led by their very charismatic frontman Dale Thompson and 3 top notch players laying it down tightly and seamlessly. Much of that playing is represented on this album.
The band still tours and records, having released their most recent CD Incorruptible in 2013. Critics say its their best effort since the early mid 90’s era which included Snakes In The Playground. As I said in my piece a year ago, wherever you stand in your beliefs about God or the “R” word, if you’re a fan of great hard rock and heavy metal, you owe it to yourself to give Bride a listen.