CCM Classic Blog

Do You Believe in Giants? Soon You Will! By Philip Mayabb


Not all music fans have the same tastes, but most everybody has a list of artists that they feel are underrated or underappreciated.  You know the ones I'm talking about - artists that are fairly well known, but just never seem to have that breakthrough moment or album.  The band who helms this week's Vinyl Revival LP is one from my list of underappreciated artists in CCM, and they hail from the great state of Mississippi.  We are featuring the album "Inhabitants Of The Rock" by none other than David & The Giants.

For those who may not know the band's history, here it is in Reader's Digest form...from the town of Pineville, Mississippi guitarist David Huff (not the founding drummer of WhiteHeart, they aren't related) along with his twin brothers Clayborn and Rayborn formed the core of David & The Giants in 1963, and they began playing in the rough and tumble world of mainstream music.  In 1969, they added some celebrity status to the band when Keith Thibodeaux joined as their drummer.  Keith was widely known for playing Little Ricky on "I Love Lucy," and "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour," and a reoccurring role on "The Andy Griffith Show," but he also had a ton of talent, as he demonstrated by playing the drums on television many times.  Even with the classic lineup in place, David & The Giants were unable to break out onto the national scene, despite signing recording contracts with no less than four major mainstream record labels.  Instead, they continued to develop a regional following of fans, which kept them going all through the mid 70s.

It was during this era that Keith Thibodeaux experienced a life changing incident...a decision to give his life to Jesus, which  led to him leaving The Giants.  Keith's decision was not unnoticed by his former bandmates, and by 1977, the three Huff brothers had followed Keith's lead, accepting Jesus into their hearts as well.  It's the same old story - becoming a Christian doesn't always change your profession, and so David & The Giants soon changed gears into a Christian rock band.  In 1977, the newly rebooted band released their first full length album, called Song Of Songs.  With their metamorphosis complete, David & The Giants released two more albums, 1978's "This One's For You," and 79's "Step In My Shoes," and while touring for "Shoes," Keith Thibodeaux rejoined the band, reuniting  their classic lineup for the band's fourth LP, which was titled "Almost Midnight."  

The band's first five albums were custom LPs released for a record label called Song Of Songs Records,  however in 1982, the band signed with CBS Priority Records, joining artists such as Cynthia Clawson, Carman, BJ Thomas, and several others.  After releasing two albums for the label, that went nowhere commercially, Priority records folded, leaving their entire roster of artists without record deals.  Even though The Giants hadn't scored a hit single on Christian radio during their first six years as a Christian band, Myrrh Records, the biggest label in CCM, decided to take a chance on the guys from Mississippi, and signed them to a deal in 1983, following Priority's demise, and the band began to work on the first recording for their new label.  Those sessions would produce "Inhabitants Of The Rock," which was released in 1984.

Now that we're caught up on the history of David & The Giants, let get to our album..."Inhabitants" may not have been as flashy as some of the other recordings that Myrrh would release in 1984, but history has been rather kind to the album.  For starters, the band FINALLY managed to score their first hit on the Christian charts with the album's third track, called "I Can Depend On You."  Now for some reason that is unknown to your humble correspondent, the track couldn't get past #30 on the charts (my guess is poor promotion on the part of the record label...you'll find out as you listen this week that it is a really good song).  That notwithstanding, the band was now being heard all over the country, instead of just in the south and Midwest, so that was a good thing.  Another thing that impresses me about "Inhabitants" is that the band produced it themselves, which is surprising, because normally a record label would insist that a newly signed band work with a producer that had been handpicked by the record execs.  

The production ultimately did not hurt the finished product, which showcases several diverse styles of music.  The band utilized pop on the album's leadoff track "Are You Ready" to perfection, and with the keyboards leading the way, this song is in a perfect position on the album.  Other pop numbers on the record include the aforementioned single "I Can Depend On You," and "I Am Persuaded," which are both ballads, and well performed by the veteran band.  "Persuaded" should have been another radio hit, it is certainly radio friendly, and very easy on the ears.  "You're Gonna Be Somebody," the album's final track has a Chicago style horn arrangement on it, adding to the band's eclectic vision for the album, in fact the song reminds me of a Chicago song called "Run Away," which appeared on their 13th album in 1979.  Rockers are abundant on "Inhabitants Of The Rock" as well, such as the Foreigner-esque "Fire," as well as "I've Been Drinking," which sounds like it was styled after something that Lynyrd Skynyrd would have performed during their heyday in the 70s.  Florida rockers .38 Special are recalled with "Moving On Up," with David Huff putting his own special vocal spin on each track.  The commercial sound that was being heard on pop radio in 1984 can be heard in "Holy Rain," while "Higher" showcases the Giants edgy, rock sound to perfection.

This is one of those records that truly is a mystery to me - as I listen to it, I definitely get the feeling that "Inhabitants Of The Rock" was clearly designed, written, and performed with the full intention of breaking the band into the upper echelon of the emerging Christian Rock market, but in reality made little national noise for this very talented band.  It just doesn't add up to me, they had a good lead singer and guitarist in David Huff, a very talented keyboardist in Rayborn Huff, and a solid rhythm section with drummer Keith Thibodeaux and bassist Clayborn Huff.  These guys were way better than average musicians, they had some very good songs on this record, and yet made only a small dent in the national market.  Although I may never know the real reason why this music was largely ignored by Christian radio, I still have to wonder if someone at Myrrh Records dropped the ball on these guys.  The Giants would end up recording three albums for Myrrh, generating a total of only four hit singles total during their time with the biggest record label in the industry, reaching the top ten only once.  Once the band left Myrrh, they formed their own label, and their patience paid off.  They were able to handle their own record promotion, and they began to have more successful hits on the radio, scoring several top ten songs.  Once is all said and done, David & The Giants were able to achieve the success that eluded them for several years, but in my opinion, "Inhabitants Of The Rock" is a far better album than it was reputed to be at the time.  After a short hiatus in the early 2000s, David & The Giants are still out there, with the classic lineup back on the road, and they are still rocking and rolling along.  They still have a devoted core of fans, of which I am one, and if you don't know much about this band, I encourage you to listen to David & The Giants on CCM Classic's Vinyl Revival this week, as we play this underrated piece of musical work from 1984, and see for yourself how good these guys from Mississippi really were, and still are.  This week, we are all proud "Inhabitants Of The Rock."

TRACKLIST

Side 1 - 

1. Are You Ready?

2. Higher

3. I Can Depend On You (#30 Hit - CCM Magazine Adult Contemporary Chart)

4. Moving On Up

5. To Know Him Is To Love Him

Side 2 - 

1. Fire

2. I Am Persuaded

3. Holy Rain

4. I've Been Drinking

5. You're Gonna Be Somebody



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