Cool Hand Luke
Last month, the band Cool Hand Luke released their final album.
I should probably apologize for introducing you to this band if you've never heard of them before on account of the fact that they are both great and broken up. But, since they have always had a special place in my heart, and will soon be no longer, I felt the need to share them with you.
Cool Hand Luke formed in the late 90s with most of their success in the early 2000s. They were a show I didn't miss during my high school years. I was introduced to them by my older brother Luc who claimed they stole his band name idea. Though his band would have been called "Cool Hand Luc."
Their first couple eps and album had hardcore vibes (and hey the early 2000s are really when the hardcore underground scene thrived). It was when their album Wake Up, O Sleeper (2003) came out that they really started to come into their own.
Their style developed into a very melodic, at times mellow, rock sound. The drummer Mark Nicks doubled as the lead singer. They were often criticized for playing with their backs to the audience (they were not showy in the least) but at their shows you could tell everyone was engaged despite this fact. The music was good, well written, and the musicians were talented. They were also Christian. Christian music often gets scoffed at as being untalented and cheesy. But Cool Hand Luke is a band that can be appreciated regardless of your religious beliefs. Yet, they were blatantly Christian. Their shows consisted of a lot of long pauses where Mark poured out his heart and where he was in his walk with God. Their lyrics are deep and meaningful, and usually derived straight from scripture.
The album Fires of Life (2004) and the subsequent tour was probably their height. That album will always be my favorite. Those shows were probably their best attended, and I thought for sure they'd go on to great things from there.
After this tour however, they lost most of the members of the band. Mark Nicks has been the only steady member and really the lyrics and vision for Cool Hand Luke have always been his. But he lost a lot of the musical writing talent, and his tours struggled to gain numbers after this point. I still attended them, and while they'd never return to the height of the Fires of Life tour, there was still a depth there that is rare in concerts and shows. Cool Hand Luke released two more albums The Balancing Act (2007) and The Sleeping House (2008) that continued to have strong scriptural based lyrics that I got a whole lot out of.
And now, the last album is here. Of Man was just released March 23, 2011. Mark is considering it the capstone of Cool Hand Luke's 13 year career. All the proceeds are going to his next venture, which is attending seminary. And I have no doubt that he will thrive there.
I just ordered the album so I cannot give a personal review just yet. But here is how it is being described:
It's a collaboration. Some 30 friends of Marks are contributing to this album, including some well known members of other Christian bands such as Underoath, Elliott, Quiet Science, Aireline and the Kopecky Family Band. The theme of this album is the story of Jesus' final days from the perspective of the people in his life. Musically it aims to be a mixture of rock, classical and film score. I'm definitely anxious to get my hands on this album and see how it came together.
There are thousands of bands out there. Many of them amazing, a lot of them terrible and not all of them will see success or be remembered. But when you find a band that is truly talented and worth remembering, their music can last far beyond what they accomplished in their own careers. Underground bands with a lot of merit and well produced albums like Copeland or Cool Hand Luke, will forever remain favorites in my collection. I will pass their music along, my kids will listen to it, and undoubtedly I'll run into others who remember these wonderful bands.
Another side note is that their artwork is also particularly good. If you have the chance to get your hands on the physical albums with the artwork, count yourself lucky. These albums will become increasingly rare as only a limited number were printed and will probably never be printed again.
So I guess this is farewell to Cool Hand Luke. But they will play on in my house for years to come.