Guardian was originally known as "Fusion". The band formed as a three piece with founding members; bassist David Bach; vocalist, Paul Cawley and drummer, Rikk Hart. Together with guitarist David Caro, the band played local gigs in LA throughout the early '80s before finally obtaining a record deal from the Enigma/Capitol label in 1988. After David Caro left for personal reasons, guitarist Tony Palacios was added and the band changed their name to Gardian and eventually Guardian. After their first album First Watch and extensive touring, including a tour of Japan, both Cawley and Hart left. The band forged ahead with new vocalist (ex-Tempest) Jamie (JR) Rowe and drummer Karl Ney. The new lineup released "Fire & Love" which eventually landed them a deal with Epic Records and had them on regular rotation of MTV's Headbanger's Ball. Unfortunately, after releasing only one more metal album the band switched modes and began to follow the new alternative trends that were taking over the U.S. I lost interest in the band after "Miracle Mile." The exception is the independently released Stryper tribute "The Yellow in Black Attack."
First Watch 20th Anniversary

Guardian - First Watch (Enigma/CD) 1989
Guardian - First Watch (Roadrunner/LP) 1989
Guardian - First Watch [20th Anniversary Edition] (Retroactive) 1989/2009

1. "I'll Never Leave You" (4:31)
2. "Mystery Man" (4:07)
3. "Livin' for the Promise" (4:08)
4. "Miracle" (4:55)
5. "Saints Battalion" (3:47)
6. "Kingdom of Rock" (3:25)
7. "Good Life" (4:41)
8. "One of a Kind" (3:33)
9. "World Without Love" (3:55)
10. "Rock in Victory" (3:49)
11. "Hyperdrive" (4:17)
12. "Marching On" (3:55)

13. Spiritual Warfare (4:08)
14. Marching On (3:29)

This is a great melodic metal album with tons of hooks and smooth as silk 1980's metal vocals. The original cd version contains two songs that were not on the vinyl or cassette version ("Hyperdrive" & "Marching On"). Both the additional tracks are superb, and in my opinion, even better than some of the album material. Of course with every 80's metal band, there was the obligatory ballads, but overall this disc just rocks. Produced by Oz Fox of Stryper. Bought this one as a new release.The original 1989 release came with two bonus tracks not available on the tape or record.

Grab your AquaNet, your spandex and wrap a bandanna around your leg, it’s time to rock! Guardian's long out-of-print "First Watch" has been given the remastering treatment and is available on CD once again. "First Watch" is a classic Christian metal platter, echoing back to the classic days of Sunset Strip heavy metal. The original 1989 CD was produced by Stryper’s Oz Fox and featured twelve superb, melodic heavy metal tracks, each possessing a ton of hook, smooth as silk vocals and some choice guitar solos. Musically they fall somewhere between Dokken and Stryper. However, despite the hair-metal references, "First Watch" is a bit more sophisticated and mature than the average glam band from that era. Guardian offer up plenty of hard ‘n heavy songs such as the "I'll Never Leave You", "Saint Batallions", "Hyperdrive" and anthems like "Kingdom of Rock"  and "Rock in Victory". As would be expected of an 80’s band, there is also the obligatory ballad. Here we get a heartfelt song about life changing faith in God in "Miracle". Though it may be nostalgia, this has always been on of my favorite ballads, and one of my favorite Guardian songs.

The re-mastering is handled by J. Powell (aka Cliffy Huntington), who has been bringing new life into many long forgotten classics through Retroactive Records. The newly mastered CD offers greater clarity, a bit more separation between the instruments and brings the levels up to modern standards without having them so high that the recording sounds like it’s breaking up your speakers.

The original LP and cassette releases from ‘89 only had ten tracks. "Hyperdrive" and "Marching On" were both CD only bonus tracks. Both are included here. As a bonus, the two Guardian tracks from the classic California Metal compilation are offered up as well. Of course, giving us two version of "Marching On", as well as the heavy rocker "Spiritual Warfare". The CD is wrapped by a standard digi-pack, which unfortunately is becoming the industry standard. Liner notes are by Guardian bassist David Bach who offers up some memories about recording this album.  

Fire & Love Guardian - Fire & Love (Pakederm) 1990

1. "Power of Love" (4:30)
2. "Send a Message" (3:58)
3. "Time Stands Still" (4:24)
4. "Forever and a Day" (5:09)
5. "Takin' on the World" (3:51)
6. "Fire and Love" (3:24)
7. "Turnaround" (4:16)
8. "Time and Time Again" (4:49)
9. "Rain" (5:28)
10. "Never Say Goodbye" (5:07)

Guardiana promo
"Fire & Love" promo photo

I absolutely love this album! It has been one of my favorites since the day it was released. I had already been a Guardian fan from their debut and was a bit worried about how they would sound with Jamie (J.R.) Rowe singing for them. Tempest was good, but I never considered them of the same calibur as Guardian. Well, Jamie proved he was a force to be reckoned with here! Perhaps a bit more on the pop-metal/Bon Jovi side of the spectrum than their debut, but the songs were just so darned infectious and really spoke to my spirit. From the opening note of "Power of Love" through the bluesy influences scattered throughout, I knew on the first listen back in 1990 that this was going to be a great metal album. Jamie Rowe's raspy voice fit the more melodic commercial vibe that the band had progressed into. Tony is a superb guitarist as well. Coupled together with a solid rhythm section and the pristene production of the Elefante brothers, "Fire and Love" wins me over. I still like the debut a bit more, but I can't give this CD any less than a perfect 5/5 rating. I saw Guardian on this tour and they were powerful. I think this album was eventually released on Epic Records.

Miracle Mile Guardian - Miracle Mile (Epic) 1993

1. "Dr. Jones & The Kings of Rhythm" (5:10)
2. "Shoeshine Johnny" (4:15)
3. "Long Way Home" (4:31)
4. "I Found Love" (5:24)
5. "Sweet Mystery" (3:57)
6. "Let It Roll" (4:10)
7. "Mr. Do Wrong" (5:02)
8. "Curiosity Killed the Cat" (4:27)
9. "Sister Wisdom" (4:12)
10. "Captain" (4:18)
11. "You & I" (4:03)
11. "Do You Know What Love Is" (7:26)

Tony Palacios
Tony Palacios
photo by Steve Craig

Sounding like a mix of Motley Crue and Guns n Roses with a bit of funk, "Miracle Mile" was one more step closer to me not liking this band. However, the hooks, the powerhouse vocals, and the incredible guitar playing cannot be denied. As commercial as this album was, I really dug it. I can honestly say that, despite the "Christian" label that is slapped on this album, this is one of the finest commercial metal albums on the early 90's.

Swing Swang Swung Guardian - Swing Swang Swung (Mhyrrh/Pakaderm) 1994

1. "The Way Home Back" (4:31)
2. "Endless Summer" (4:32)
3. "C'mon Everyone" (4:48)
4. "Like The Sun" (5:19)
5. "Rich Man Over The Line" (4:03)
6. "Your Love" (4:47)
7. "Don't Say That It's Over" (4:47)
8. "See You In Heaven" (4:39)
9. "Let The Whole World" (5:02)
10. "Preacher And The Bear" (3:15)
11. "Still On My Mind" (3:45)
12. "Why Don't We" (1:28)

I remember when this CD first came out back in 1994. Both Guardian and Pakederm were making claims that "this isn't the new Guardian" CD. I always thought it was rather amusing that this was being said of the band when in fact it was the new Guardian album. What they meant, of course, was that this was not the direction that Guardian were taking and that this was just an experimental album. I even remember reading how Pakederm studios had bought some new equipement and this was the album they used to break in that equipement. Regardless, this may not have been the direction the band were going to take, but it was an indication of a change in the band from the pop metal of "Fire & Love/Miracle Mile" to the modern rock of the follow-up to this CD. I actually saw the band a few times on thier acoustic tour and they were quite good. Jamie's voice works quite well with this blues based, acoustic rock 'n' roll. The same holds true of this CD. While I would have preferred another hard rockin' album, this album is a good listen from time to time. It has a worshipful quality to it. "Swing Swang Swung" even generated a CCM radio hit in "See You In Heaven", an emotional ballad. "Swing Swang Swung" is also the last Guardian album I really enjoyed up until the Stryper tribute they would do some years later.

Guardian - Buzz
(Myrrh) 1995

1. "This Old Man" (2:30)
2. "Lead The Way" (2:43)
3. "State Of Mine" (3:05)
4. "The Lions Den" (3:54)
5. "Are You Gonna Keep Your Word? " (3:35)
6. "One Thing Left To Do" (3:37)
7. "Hand Of The Father" (4:27)
8. "Psychedelic Runaway" (3:26)
9. "Even It Out" (3:55)
10. "Lift Me Up" (2:58)
11. "Shorty" (2:23)
12. "Lullaby" (2:57)
13. "Them Nails" (2:27)

Guardian fans will fight me to the death over this CD and "Bottle Rocket". Many feel it is the bands best CD. Others have tried to convince me that this album is the band's "heaviest." A few have accused me of being "closed minded" and have said I never "gave this CD a chance." Well, I absolutely loved Guardian's first three albums, and even appreciated the band's acoustic, experimental stuff on "Swing Swang Swung." I was a huge fan of the band, and bought every CD the day they were released after hearing them on the "California Metal" CD in 1987. However, this obvious swing towards radio trends in grunge and alternative on "Buzz" just isn't up my alley. I bought this CD the day it was released just like all their past discs. I gave it a few spins and was very disappointed. I have revisited the CD over the years and still it never grew on me. In my opinion this CD, as compared to their early albums, is utter rubbish. Gone are the upbeat, fun, metal of the past, instead replaced with a downtuned, depressing, dark alternative/grunge rock sound. Boring! Gone are the shredding guitar solos that Tony was so proficient at, instead replaced with a scattered few, minimalist, garage rock solos. Sad! Gone are the screaming vocals of Jamie Rowe instead replaced with a modern rock moan. Depressing! A few songs, like "State of Mine" and "One Thing Left to Do" have a slight Zeppelin vibe going on. "State of Mine" in particular has a sort of "Kashmire" sound. Also, the track "Lead the Way" is actually a pretty catchy, anthem like song. However, this is not enough to save this one from becoming a dust collector in my collection. As for this being the band's heaviest, I still don't agree. Perhaps it is darker, but not heavier. As for it being their best, well, that is a matter of opinion and in mine, this is one of Guardian's worst. However, the absolute worst will come with "Bottle Rocket".

One cool thing about this disc, is the cover. It folds out so that you can actually choose one of 4 pictures to be the main-cover, depending on how you fold it back. All four cover images attempt to illustrate the word "Buzz." Pretty cool. All four covers are pictured above. The funny thing about it, I remember when this CD came out, the covers were different and some people actually bought four copies. I am sure it was a bit embarrasing when they discovered that all the covers were exactly the same and just folded different.

Bottle Rocket Guardian - Bottle Rocket (Myrrh) 1997

  1. "Are We Feeling Comfortable Yet?" (3:16)
  2. "Bottle Rocket" (3:43)
  3. "Coffee Can" (3:45)
  4. "Revelation" (3:47)
  5. "What Does It Take?" (4:09)
  6. "Babble On" (4:26)
  7. "Blue Light Special" (2:44)
  8. "Break Me Down" (3:40)
  9. "The Water's Fine" (2:46)
  10. "My Queen Esther" (3:47)
  11. "Hell To Pay" (3:23)
  12. "Fear The Auctioneer" (2:57)
  13. "Harder Than It Seems" (4:16)
  14. "Salvation" (3:59)

I got yet ANOTHER free copy of Guardian's "Bottle Rocket" in the mail yesterday. People keep giving me this CD because it's missing on my Guardian page. This is my fourth copy and I gave it yet another listen. It still sucks! I am going to just list the dang thing on my site just so people will stop stressing over the fact that it's not there. Need a copy? Located in a cut out bin near you.

Yellow & Black Attack is Back! Guardian - The Yellow & Black Attack Is Back (G-Man) 1998

1. "Loud n Clear" (3:42)
2. "From Wrong to Right" (4:00)
3. "You Know What to Do" (4:54)
4. "Co'mon Rock" (3:49)
5. You Won't Be Lonely" (3:51)
6. "Loving You" (4:22)

Ah, now this is more like it. Guardian once again allows their talent to show through, creating the finest Stryper tribute record ever. I actually think that Guardian may have outdone the original with this one. With the exception of the guitar solos and the excellent production, the music is exactly the same as the original. Of course Jamie Rowe's vocals are way different than Michael Sweet's, but he still does a fine job! The opening scream is pretty funny. A brilliant release from Guardian put out on the band's own G-Man Records.

Gardian - Fusion & Voyager-The Early Recordings (M8) 2001

1. "Intro" [instrumental] (1:59)
2. "Voyager" (4:18)
3. "Across the Universe" (2:28)
4. "Run to the Light" (4:06)
5. "In a World without Love" (3:48)
6. "I am Here" (3:44)
7. "Prisoners Zone" (3:01)
8. "Look to the Future" (4:44)
9. "Hyperdrive" (3:54)
10. "When the Time is Right" (5:37)
11. "Marching On" (3:40)
12. "Spiritual Warfare" (4:44)
13. "Miracle of the Galaxy" (5:01)
14. "Living for the Promise" (4:07)
15. "Eclipse" (3:08)
16. "Rock in Victory" (4:16)
17. "Step to the Light" (4:25)
18. "Armored Defense" (3:58)
19. "Your Love Looks to the Future" (3:41)

This is a disc for die-hard Guardian fans or fans who enjoy their earlier material better than their later, of which I count myself. I was a bit apprehensive about getting this disc after the experience with the awful Deliverance/M8 experience on 'Back in the Day". While I think it is cool that all these old demos are made available to fans, it is also a shame that they don't spend more time mastering them better. The Guardian disc is quit a bit better than the Deliverance disc however. The production is much more listenable although I still can't say that I would spend a lot of time listening to this. It's a nice history lesson, though, for fans of the band. Note that the name of the band is spelled without the 'U'. Apparently the band, in the early days, omitted it from the name to keep the spelling at 7 letters in line with the playful Stryper numerology of the day. Some of these songs appeared on the band's Enigma / Capitol debut called "First Watch" in 1989 but most never saw the light of day. Most interesting, and somewhat out of character, is "I am here" featuring Tony Palacios on lead vocals. According to the liner notes. the incarnation of the band that recorded most of these demos and the "First Watch" disc toured so relentlessly worldwide that both Paul Cawley and Rikk Hart had to quit due to the rigors and harsh realities of road life. Cool! I always wondered why Paul Cawley left. He was a cool vocalist. Anyhow, some of the song names are a bit deceiving. For instance both "Run to the Light" and "Step to the Light" are early versions of "One of Kind Love." Several of the other tracks have been released on compilation cds like "California Metal" while others were re-recorded as bonus tracks for "First Watch." The inclusion of the liner notes by bassist David Bach was a nice addition but overall the packaging was cheap with little in the way of photos and no lyrics.

Cornerstone 2001 Guardian - Live at Cornerstone 2001 (M8) 2001

1." Lead the Way" (2:44)
2. "Psychedelic Runaway" (3:23)
3. "Shoeshine Johnny" (5:46)
4. "Curiosity Killed the Cat" (5:13)
5. "Bottle Rocket" (4:07)
6. "Salvation" (6:03)
7. "The Rain" (5:45)
8. "Power of Love" (9:24)
9. "Encore" (:28)
10. "This Old Man" (2:30)
11. "Never Say Good Bye" (7:46)

M8 Records put on an '80's Metal Retro Night' bringing in resurrected bands like Recon, Trytan, Deliverance as well as long standing bands like Guardian and Bride. Unlike Bride and Deliverance, however, Guardian did not stick to the theme of the evening. It was suppose to be 80's Metal Retro Night, yet Guardian chose to play material from their "Buzz" and "Bottle Rocket" crap and NOTHING off their one awesome 80's release "First Watch." However, they did play a few songs from the 80's influenced "Fire & Love" and "Miracle Mile," both of which are favorites of mine. The difference between this material and the band's alternative material really becomes apparent on this live disc. It's amazing how Jamie's voice is so fitting of the more melodic nature of songs like "Shoeshine Johnny" and "Power of Love" yet he sounds awful on the alternative rock tracks like "Lead The Way" and "This Old Man." "Bottle Rocket" and "Psychedelic Runaway" are pure crap! I can't stand these songs, so the skip button is an absolute must for this disc. "Salvation" is not much better. I guess I was really hoping to hear more of the band's metal material. I remember seeing Guardian at Calvary Chapel on the "Fire & Love" tour and Jamie Rowe did a phenomenal job on the "First Watch" songs. Overall, this disc was disappointing for me, although I did find the Twisted Sister chant amusing though.

Back to Index