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Rhema Bio

Rhema band in 1984

1984 photo of Rhema (Marc Jackson, Greg Bond, Bobby Freeman, Pat Byrnes, Crag Jensen and Jeff Casey)

This bio of the band was written by Craig Jensen (NOPQR) and originally appeared on his now-defunct website. 

They started their recording career as a band in the dilapidated hole of a so called recording studio called Soundtech (or more commonly known as "Sound Yech" by most of the local studio musicians in Phoenix). For this they had to send lead vocalist, Greg Bond, down to this shack of a studio on West Osborn Road in Phoenix to kiss the ass of old Sarg What's Her Face. A plump old crab-puss of a "woman" who owns both the studio and it's head engineer (her son Jimmy) and who watches the local religious channel with a consistency that even those who own stock in the shameless soul scoring station would find a wee bit whacked out if not alarmingly psychotic.

To old Sarge's and Jimmy's credit however - the band recorded perhaps its best tune at Soundtech, a Marc Jackson ditty called Runnin'. Unfortunately we have yet to dig up even a poorly preserved board mix of this one. If anybody reading this knows where to secure a copy we will gladly pay up to five or maybe six dollars for it. An early Moses Hernandez tune entitled Truckin' (for My Jesus) was also recorded at Sarge's 16 track sort-of-a-studio in the late seventies during an earlier (more Christian Latino Smaltz-rock) incarnation of the band. This tune was not altogether un-listen-able but if you have a copy you needn't let us know about it. We've already heard it and don't need to hear it anymore (ever again - thanks).

With Runnin' under their belt as well as a few other frighteningly poor Genesis or Yes style imitations in the can, singer Greg convinced the now defunct Audio-Video Recorders that they should allow the soon to be rising stars to grace their studio with the presence of his band's smiling faces and choir like voices. A friend of guitarist Pat Byrnes (Dave Music) flew in from Atlanta to engineer a flock of new numbers the boys had been working on for several days. These songs were as quickly forgotten as they were recorded (thank god) but not before Greg made contact with some biker type guys who couldn't wait to dump thousands of dollars in  insurance settlement money into a trip to Gower Street Studios in LA. 

As fate would have it, at about the same time Dennis Alexander (of Pantheon Studios fame), had already convinced Mr. Bond that Pantheon was the only studio in town where a shclock-pop band with little hope of actually ever making it should jeopardize their domestic tranquility by spending endless evenings watching descending stars like Glen Campbell and Alan Zavod (keyboardist for Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa)  musically masturbate themselves to death while songsters (like Rhema...),  desperate for fame and fortune, watched on in agony and ire.

"I am the chicken and you boys are the egg - just waitin' round to be hatched. That's all there is to this whole business boys, that's it in a nutshell" Glen would quip as he sauntered into the lobby where the Rhema "boys" sat idly for hours on end waiting for Glen to finish up one more posterity jam with his road band. Actually there were times when Glen rendered performances in studio B that artistically surpass 99 if not 100% of anything I've ever heard by any musical artist - live or on record - anywhere or at anytime in my entire life, but that is another story altogether.

Like an insistent kernal of passed on corn on the erratic and oft times spastic tail of the 80's confused yet relentlessly evolving pop music Zeitgeist - Rhema feverishly attempted to emulate whatever band seemed to sell the most records in any given month. When they first slipped through the doors at Pantheon in their quest for higher quality "spec time" they were deeply imbued in what is now dismissively referred to as "corporate rock."  If they could only sound exactly like Journey or Kansas or REO Speedwagon or Toto... - then they would surely get noticed by some big shot A & R man at some needy major recording label just biting at the bit to hand out tens of thousands of dollars in sweet and spendable advance money. Yet when Thomas Dolby, Devo, the Tubes and the Cars hit the airwaves Rhema's eyes were opened. Techo-enlightenment sent the members in search of the cheapest price on Juno 60s, Simmons electronic drum kits and Oberheim drum machines. The age of New Wave Music had arrived and Rhema and their new producer (Dennis Alexander) started pounding out such potential hits as Get Out & Dance, Combine Man, That's Life and In the 21st Century. Well they all thought they were potential hits anyway. The sad fact is that by playing and recording 90% of the parts on a Roland Juno 60 reduced the chance of any of them ever even reaching a fleeting number 900 on the Billboard charts by about a hundred percent. 'Seems the somewhat deluded Mr. Alexander just figured if they sounded great to him as they pumped back at him and the band at a hundred and fifty plus decimals nobody would ever really notice how thoroughly cheesy they indeed sounded.

 Yet despite the cheap imitative cheesiness of the material - the old adage "it's not what you know but who you" landed the Rhema boys a better than average record deal with Curb/MCA after about a year of "perfecting" their new knack for absorbing and regurgitating every techo piece of shit song available to the common man. Actually - Dennis's girlfriend was a close friend and associate with Dick Whitehead, the president of Curb Records at the time. And Dick needed a techo-band for a movie he had his sights on supplying the soundtrack music for. Cheesy, sleazy, wheezy or not - Dick and Pia Zadora and Company flew their Lear Jets out to watch Rhema perform at a bar called the Phone Company in Scottsdale Az. Rhema then finally scored their first and only recording contract. They also found themselves flying to Atlanta for nine weeks to play bit parts as the Aliens in one of the worst movies ever made - Voyage of the Rock Aliens.

With Stardom in their eyes and years of rejection suddenly (or seemingly) behind them - the Rhema boys checked into a Marriot somewhere outside of Atlanta. The next two months would find them spending hours in makeup tents, uncomfortable Alien get-ups, drunk on their asses in various hair salons until all hours of the night, sitting around movie sets waiting for their next scene to commence and generally enjoying the ambiance of the movie making world.

 Forget the fact that the movie itself was doomed from the offset. The script was devoid of any integrity whatsoever. The director, James Fargo, had his hands tied with a budget that would make Chuck Norris wince and the only people with real acting ability were the sardonic Allison LaPlaca, the acting coach Peter Stelzer and the by then quite feeble Ruth Gordon.

 But acting was not the centerpiece of this production, nor was the script nor even the music provided by Pia, Jermaine Jackson, Jimmy and the Mustangs and the Rhema boys. Spoofing was the centerpiece of this flick and spoof it did. It spoofed and it poofed and it blew it's way straight into celluloid oblivion. 

 After returning to Phoenix several members returned to the nine to five grind of day gigs. Bobby Freeman, the band's bass player, who had been selectively and unfortunately left out of the movie deal was still manning the cash register at a local pawn shop and Marc and Jeff found gainful employment at Stone Records.

 Craig and Pat discovered the luxury of unemployment benefits and Greg Bond stretched his movie and advance money out as far as it would go. 

When it finally became all too apparent that the movie was not so much a springboard to fame and fortune as it was a flickering and frustrating disappointment - the band reorganized, leaving Mr. Bond the odd man out this time, and then finally disbanded out of a general indifference on the part of the band's most prominent songwriters - Craig and Marc.

And that just about sums up the history of a once upon a time pop-techno-corporate-schlock rock band called Rhema.