Bill's Censored Grip

Bruce Von Stiers

In the wake of 9-11 and the Superbowl wardrobe malfunction, some conservatives have been openly attacking the entertainment industry for being decadent, morally corrupting our youth and nation. Some of the criticism is over the top, just like some of the entertainers are. Depends on where you sit on this issue is the key to know whose right or wrong. But there is a guy who may be giving those conservatives another shot at proving the decadence of the music industry. This guy is Bill Madden. It's not really his music that is at issue. It is the album cover of Bill's debut release. The title of this album is Samsara's Grip. The cover shows a photo of a little boy lifting a resistance strap. The boy is bare-chested, wearing a pair of checkered fronted shorts. The controversial part of the photo is that the boy's penis is hanging out of the shorts. Can you actually have an album on store shelves with a picture on it like that? Isn't that child pornography? That is what some of the flap is all about. Does it matter that the picture is of Madden himself as a child? Who knows for sure?

Bill seems to thrive on controversy. That is what the content of the album seems to be about. His songs tackle the world issues such as poverty, wars and the need to get ahead and stepping over the downtrodden. The music is a little varied, but carries the same angst filled lyrics of a world that has turned its back on equality for all mankind.

On this album Bill does the lead vocals, plays the electric guitar, Fender Rhodes, Tibetan Bells and shakers. Gannon Arnold is on electric guitar, Fender Rhodes and reed organ. Billy Mohler is on bass and upright bass. Adam Watts plays the drums, tambourine, doumbeck and djembe on the album. Other people who provided musical talent on the album are Drew Hester and Ian Miller. The album was produced by Ian Miller and Bill Madden.

Om Tat Sat is the first track. It is getting a lot of airplay on college radio. It is a song about the way the world has become corrupted. The song has some intense lyrics and melody that is appealing. The intro has an Indian flavor to it. Of course, Bill is a proponent of Eastern philosophy, so his music somewhat reflects that culture.

Masterpiece deals with broken dreams and helping others when they are down. 19 Miles has an almost smoky blues tone to it. The song is about a relationship that has fallen apart and who is to blame.

Fool's Parade tells stories about three different people whose lives are wasted due to circumstances. The song is a strong commentary about what Bill sees is going on with people.

The title track, Samsara's Grip, has some decent guitar. It is about the decaying world. I wasn't familiar with what Samsara was, so I looked it up. The way I understand it, Samsara deals with the fragmenting of the universe. This song and its title fit with Bill's working of Eastern philosophy.

There are several other songs on the album. Those include Shrink the Guru, World Just Is, Experience and Consequence of War.

My favorite song on the album is Murder. It deals with hit and runs, gang violence and the system shutting people down. The song has some cool music, especially a rock out bit during the chorus.

Bill sites both Eastern philosophy and Bill Dylan as early influences. His music reflects both influences. He uses Eastern styling in his music. And the commentary in the songs is filled with angst and reflections on the current state of the world.

Samara's Grip is probably not going to make it into Billboard's Top 10. The songs on the album are filled with conscience raising commentary. Bill has a decent sounding voice and the music itself is good. With the music and the commentary, it is understandable why the album is getting a lot of play on college radio.

You can find out more about the album on Bill's web site. He also has links on the site to the causes that he supports and agencies for world peace, human rights and environmental concerns. The web site is .


© 2004 Bruce E Von Stiers