Some years back, alt rock cult favorite Wilco released a song titled “The Late Greats.” It paid homage to a set of fictitious artists, all creators of tremendous albeit unknown musical achievements. The 77s did a cover version of the song that is vastly superior to the original:

There are many real life bands and artists whose career bore, or bears, the hallmark of near anonymity in a world slavishly devoted to commercial garbage. They should be heralded music royalty (for example, The 77s). Instead, it requires an archeological expedition to find out they ever existed or continue to press on. It is of one such band from the past we speak of today: Barnabas.

Unless you are a devotee of ‘80s Christian metal, it’s a real life ripe dead certainty you’ve never heard of, let alone heard, Barnabas. It did little touring; its albums were not smashing sales successes. But it persevered far longer than most would have, or did, under the circumstances, releasing five albums during its nine year run that ended in 1986.

Barnabas first came to public attention beyond whoever attended one of its L.A. club shows following its 1977 inception when in 1980 Hear The Light was released on the well-intentioned and utterly incompetent, hence short-lived Tunesmith label. Band founder, guitarist, and leader Monte Cooley, accompanied by the husband and wife team of Nancyjo Mann on vocals and Gary Mann on bass and later keyboards, along with Kris Klingensmith on drums, put together an effort rewarded with the only negative record review in CCM Magazine’s history. In retrospect, although it would be utterly eclipsed by subsequent albums Hear The Light’s raw mix of punk and metal wasn’t that bad:

The band moved from L.A. to the Midwest, following which Cooley called it a day and quit. The three remaining members decided to carry on, recruiting guitarists Mick Donner and Kris Brauninger while Klingensmith assumed lyric writing duties. Although this lineup was short-lived, it did release 1981’s Find Your Heart A Home, a huge step up from Hear The Light in color and scope. Klingensmith’s lyrics were sophisticated and occasionally brusque. For example:

The conflict of desire sucks the spirit dry
Inside, madness haunts us; outside, eyes are dry
Hungry little baby cries throughout the night
But mother’s breasts are busy because the price is right

For some unfathomable reason, this didn’t get much airplay on Christian radio. Neither did “Southern Woman,” which if there was a shred of fairness in the music business would have been a smash hit on regular as well as Christian radio:

Brauninger left the band after Find Your Heart A Home was released. Donner stayed on, with Brian Belew joining the band as first an additional, and then its only, guitarist as Donner bowed out at the end of 1981. Belew was a dive bombing fret-shredding metal player of the highest order, his addition bringing Barnabas to a place where it could accomplish most anything it wished. And oh, did it wish.

1983 saw Barnabas signed to the Light label and recording music that was anything but light. Approaching Light Speed was manna from heaven for metal fans. It blended straight ahead crunchers with prog metal, sometimes rolling both into one song as was the case with the epic “Subterfuge:”

1984 brought Feel The Fire, further exploring the multiple facets of Barnabas’ metallic diamond. Somewhat oddly, the album’s standout track was “Hearts,” a relatively gentle keyboard outing that, as was the case with “Southern Woman,” should have been a smash hit on both Christian and regular radio:

Sadly, the lack of deserved success finally broke the band apart in 1986. However, it still owed Light one more record. The band vented its full fury on Little Foxes, setting most all of its quieter and prog notions aside in favor of a blistering assault in tracks such as “China White:”

And that was that. Everyone went their separate ways, including the Mann’s whose marriage disintegrated. All indicators pointed toward Barnabas being forever nothing more than a fond memory for those who still cherished its LPs and cassettes.

A funny thing happened on the way to the “whatever happened to” file, however. A fan put up a web page, Klingensmith came across it, and for several years a thriving online community site reminisced and rejoiced. Presently, Klingensmith and Nancyjo Mann are active on Facebook. (WARNING: Brief moment of shameless promotion ahead.) Yours truly interviewed Klingensmith, Nancyjo Mann, and Donner for my book on the early days of Christian alternative rock as Barnabas, while metal, were definitely pioneers. No, Stryper didn’t invent anything.

It’s sadly fitting that for the most part, bringing Barnabas’ recorded output into the digital age has been for the most part a complete botch. First there was a compilation of Approaching Light Speed and Feel The Fire that left out “Lights” and even more egregiously replaced Klingensmith’s powerhouse drumming with a puny drum machine. Next, the now thankfully defunct Millennium 8 (or M8) did its usual hack job, releasing discs with atrocious sound quality and such little attention to anything that one of the songs from Little Foxes, mastered from vinyl as the original tapes have long since gone missing, had three painfully audible skips on the record from which the CD was made that no one noticed or cared enough to correct once those who bought the CD pointed it out. It was not until this year that all five albums were done right on CD by the Retroactive label, yet even there with a catch: the number of discs made was small, and are already becoming difficult to find save on the secondary market.

Chances for any kind of so much as a one-off concert reunion are as close to guaranteed never as it gets due to lack of interest by, and strained relationships between, assorted members. Yet this, and until late last year the near impossibility of finding the band’s recorded work in listenable condition, have not dimmed Barnabas’ light. It was the band that should have, but was never allowed to. Its music has aged well, still fresh and vital some thirty plus years after the fact. Barnabas was a brilliant metal band, arguably the best such band that sadly very few knew existed. It truly is the greatest lost metal band of all time. If you have any affection for the hard stuff, go find them. You will be glad you did.

I haven’t been the biggest fan of Steve Bannon’s since I started seeing his true colors a couple of years ago. It’s not his ideology; I agree with him more often than not, though his alt-right leanings have been a concern. I didn’t care for the way he goes about getting his agenda done. It’s as important for him to win his way as it is for him to win at all. One needs at least a little narcissism to be successful in politics, but Bannon tends to take it to the extreme. It’s been his greatest strength, yet ultimately it will be the thing that will take him down.

Has that already happened? Has he been “taken down” by recent revelations that he threw out insults about the President’s son and accusations at the President himself?

If anyone else close to President Trump said the things that Bannon, said, there would be no way for them to bounce back. With Bannon, it’s too early to tell if he’s done. Just as he did during the campaign and attempted to do in the early days of the administration, Bannon masterfully uses bad news to act as a springboard from which to bounce back up higher than he was before. This is why he has so much affection for leaks to the media. He used them during the campaign to distract the press from other issues. For example, every time buzz ramped up about candidate Trump needing to release his tax returns, some other more interesting controversy sprung up. Attacks on Ted Cruz’s father, releasing the “John Barron” tapes, and leaking lewd photos of Melania Trump all happened when cries were at their loudest for Trump to release his tax returns. As a result of all three moves, the tax question faded from discussion.

He attempted to do the same thing while with the administration, but with little apparent success. This is almost certainly why he was fired. White House leaks slowed down dramatically after he left.

I’m not suggesting he intended the quotes in Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, to create the stir that it has caused. When he made the remarks, he was in a much better position to weather the repercussions, so he let his ego take his mouth too far. Nevertheless, he DID intend for his words to go public and demonstrate his boldness. Now, he has to backtrack. Here’s why:

His agenda through Trump… for now

Steve Bannon wants to be something bigger than he is. Whether that means President of the United States or a force behind the scenes is unknown, but his ambition is not to lead Breitbart. He wants to be the king, the kingmaker, and/or the king’s puppet-master.

For now, the path to achieve his goals is to support President Trump. Despite the President declaring yesterday that Bannon had “lost his mind,” don’t expect his former chief strategist to hit back in any way against the President. Bannon’s plan has always been to isolate the President from everyone else, even those in his family. He feels (or at least felt at one point) he can put a wedge between the President and those closest to him by playing to Trump’s ego. It’s worked from time to time, but Bannon underestimated the President’s attachment to other advisers, particularly those in his family.

What’s the point of it all? Does he just love and admire the President so much he wants him all to himself? No. The President has been and always will be nothing but a tool for Bannon. He has an agenda he wants pushed forward and the best person to open the doors the widest for Bannon to ram his agenda through is Donald Trump.

Getting him into the White House wasn’t the end game. It was the first major move.

Getting evicted from the White House didn’t derail Bannon. It made him change his strategy, but that strategy still includes President Trump. If the rift that was created by the book continues much longer, we may see Bannon referencing Trump’s agenda rather than the President himself, but for now he’s going to continue supporting the President and the President alone. He will paint him as a man who shares Bannon’s vision. Over time, he will claim more and more ownership of that agenda until a triggering event happens.

What’s the trigger?

At some point in the near future, President Trump will do something that allegedly goes against the “Make America Great Again” agenda. I suspected it would be signing DACA amnesty into law, but blowback from his quotes in the book may force Bannon to delay until the next anti-agenda move the President makes.

Bannon’s plan comes in three stages. First, he has to support the President which he is doing now. Then, he has to support the agenda and start distancing himself from the President, claiming the President’s advisers are pushing him in the wrong direction. The last stage will be a complete reversal and all out war. He will say he made a mistake with President Trump, that he wasn’t the man he thought he was, and that the agenda needs a new leader. He will be that leader.

Will it work?

Had the Roy Moore allegations never come out, I would say that Bannon’s plan was likely to work. He had a narrative built perfectly around the notion that he was the true champion for making America great again. This is why he said what he did for Wolff’s book. At the time of the interview, he was looking to be in much better position than he is now.

Does that mean he’s done? No, but he has a lot more maneuvering to do before he can truly start claiming the power he believes he deserves.

Steve Bannon will either go down in history as a master strategist who pulled a series of trick plays that won him the game, or he won’t go down in history at all. His trajectory is currently pointed towards the latter, but it’s still going to be important to watch him. Whether he rises or falls, he’s going to take a lot of people with him.

Well we’ve done our top posts of last year, and my Lemon’s of last year, now I’m going to spread the wealth and remind you of some posts by my magnificent seven writers that for some reason didn’t draw Magnificent numbers

Some great posts by the Magnificent Seven that Deserve a 2nd Look too

I wasn’t the only person who wrote some good post’s that you didn’t bother to check out

There was this from Chris Harper On Medicare

Medicare: An Invasion of Privacy July 25th

The Annual Wellness Visit, a provision of Obamacare, is one of the most significant invasions of personal privacy you’ve probably never heard of.

There are some surprises in this post but you can’t get those surprises unless you actually read it.

There was this spectacular example of shoe leather reporting in Detroit by John Ruberry:

I walked its streets: The tragedy of Detroit July 12th

Outside of the world’s largest abandoned factory, the Packard plant, a man pulled up in his old Pontiac Grand Am and told me, “I hope you’re a publicist. Because the world needs to know how bad it is in Detroit beyond Packard. All the schools in this neighborhood are closed.”

This post was awesome, How this post didn’t draw a ton is beyond me.

This Essay on Reagan by JD Rucker was pretty solid (Feb 12th)
Embracing Reagan’s notion of small-government Federalism

Today, we need Reagan’s concepts of Federalism even more than we did in the 80s. Things have gotten worse. DC is a swamp, and while President Donald Trump is trying to drain it as quickly as possible, he can’t get it all done. In fact, his focus on reducing bureaucracy is righteous but is only one small part of the overall formula.

Too bad so few bothered to read it

Pat Austin pieces on the removal of Confederate Monuments had some oomph with one exception
Report from Louisiana: The Cost of Removing History (June 12th)

I feel certain at some point the Democrats are going to attempt to put Landrieu’s name out there for the next presidential election and it’s incumbent on all of us to know what you’re getting with that.

Meanwhile, New Orleans continues with daily shootings and murders, potholes go unfixed, the city’s infrastructure declines, tourism declines and problems amass. The city is more racially divided than ever – a city that was once known for its acceptance of diversity and tolerance.

I see nothing in this post that was any less excellent than all the others that drew fine, maybe people were just monumented out.

Finally the lack of interest from this Fausta Post on DACA & Hurricanes was a tad of a shock:
Much ado about DACA, but my mind is elsewhere (Sept 9th)

Immigration is a very important issue, but my mind is on other things. I bought a house and have spent the last month unpacking (less than 10 boxes to go!) in Central Florida. Now Irma‘s turning up in the map:

It was a good pair of topics but for some reason nobody wanted to read them.

Well that ends our three posts on 2017, I hope you enjoyed the look back, now it’s on to today!