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Often compared to Leon Russell, Rob Cassels/Castles played piano-driven music with a southern boogie flair. The South Carolina musician says that he became a Christian in 1971 at the age of nineteen when he read one of the Campus Crusade for Christ’s Four Spiritual Laws tracts given to him by a classmate. Prior to his conversion he had been heavily involved with drugs, and as a Christian performer he would sometimes haul a large ball and chain out on stage to testify about the shackles from which Christ had set him free. Cassels frequently played in clubs on the East Coast where he would sing down-home tunes in a broad southern accent. ‘Been a long week working like we should/Work’s been hard but the Lord’s been good.’
His first album, Evening Pastoral, features Steve Morse of The Dixie Dregs on guitar and includes the jazzy instrumental ‘Lunar Trot’ along with such original stompers as ‘Darkness is a Goner’ and ‘Battles Won.’ The title track reveals a more mellow side of the performer. Kamikaze Christian was officially recorded by The Rob Cassels Band, which included Mark Edger, Dave Hosler, and Kent Redd (Morse played guest guitarist again). Advertised as ‘southern boogie,’ the record opens with one of its strongest numbers, ‘You Think I’m Crazy,’ which celebrates the countercultural fool-for-Christ identification Christians often bear in modern society. ‘You Don’t Know’ is bluesy gospel with a touch of the Allman Brothers, and ‘Rebel Yell’ (not the Billy Idol song) features some of Cassel’s ornery humor. ‘Trust in your riches/You’re gonna lost your britches/In the next life.’ For Off the Wall the group updated their sound somewhat for the ’80s with Cassels switching from piano to synthesizers. Straight Shot was rereviewed by CCM magazine as ‘an explosive round of high-caliber rock extolling love, faith, and the peace of God.’
Powell, M. A. (2002). Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.
Rob Cassles lives in Anderson, South Carolina where he is a piano tuning technician. He continues to play Blues festivals around the world.