Hostage – Searching for Survivors

Searching for Survivors
1986 (no label)
Bartlesville, Oklahoma, USA

Adam Barnett – Lead vocals, synthesizers, bass
John Pennington – Guitars, drums

Side 1:

  1. Chair
  2. A Matter of Survival
  3. My Leg’s on Fire
  4. Angels Cry

Side 2:

  1. Modern Man
  2. The Future Ain’t What It Used to be
  3. The Playground
  4. Precious in My Sight (Why?)

To be honest, I have no idea how to describe this. The cover gave the impression that it would be cheesy white boy rap. Which I would have enjoyed – I know a few people that like cheesy rap. But the first song starts playing, and its rock… I believe? Maybe going for a dark alternative/goth vibe? Kind of hard to tell, as they really don’t know how to play their instruments that well. Or maybe they had problems synching them up after playing at different times? “My Leg’s on Fire” is intro’d like it was intentionally bad… but maybe it was just a regular song that turned out so cheesy that maybe they decided to make it look like it was intentional? I think they had some good ideas for new wave/alt rock songs, but need to learn how to record better, as well as how to identify and replace song parts that just aren’t fitting well in particular songs.

2 Replies to “Hostage – Searching for Survivors”

  1. I liked this tape back in the day. I thought it was pretty interesting that they had several styles going on, but also some memorable hooks. I mean, 32 years later and I still remember this tape…they must have done something right! I concur with your review, Matt.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey! Adam Barnett here! I really enjoyed seeing some retrospective feedback and appreciate everyone’s thoughts. Here’s the rest of the story:

    We were much smoother when we were a trio. We cut a demo with a guy named Chris Cranton in a real studio and it was much more accessible. But then Chris left the band and John and I were left to our own devices. The problem was that, at the time, Chris was far and away the best musician.

    For some reason, we thought we should still record an album. So, Producer Todd (who was in high school like we all were at the time the album was recorded) said he could give it a more rock slant than the studio where we recorded the demo, and the price was right. 🙂

    Here was the issue: Todd did not believe in re-takes. So, if we tried an idea and it didn’t pan out, it was still going on the album. Glitches and screw-ups, experiments that didn’t work, etc., were all going on the album. No rehearsing, no do-overs. We would lay down the tracks for drum and bass first, then guitar and keys, then vocal. In Todd’s defense, since the process therefore took at least twice as long as a regular, full band, we didn’t have a lot of time to burn.

    So, we got a very raw album. Did our reach exceed our grasp? Heck, yes. As a band, we got a lot more support from the alternative scene than we probably deserved. But we were 16-17 years old, doing everything ourselves, and it’s hard not to be proud of something people remember 30 years later (even if it’s just groaning about the “My Leg’s on Fire” 45 rpm).

    We were, as one reviewer said back in the day, sincere and intense. For some, that made up for the lack of musicianship. For others, not so much. Our timing was bad, because we came out in the mid-80s, when music was heavily produced. If we’d come out during grunge, maybe we would have gone over better. People are certainly kinder about the album now than they were in the mid-80s.

    John *hated* the album, and I didn’t just love it. At the time, it seemed like a public declaration that we were in over our heads. But over time, it seems less odd. It has many flaws, but is interesting in spite of them (or because of them!). Ah, the angst of adolescence.

    John died unexpectedly a few years ago. We lost touch shortly after I graduated high school. I know he played bass for his church, but not much else. Meanwhile, I spent the years learning how to record my own stuff (as well as develop my musical proficiency) while life went on: I became an attorney. I’ve been practicing since 1994.

    I’d invite anyone to see how I progressed by listening to the albums I recorded as “Cain’s Redemption.” Free streams and downloads are at and Hopefully, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    I also recorded a version of “I Don’t Mean Any Harm” under the Hostage moniker for the 2nd installment of the Choir tribute project, *Pants on Fire.*

    Again, thanks for talking about the “Searching for Survivors” album. I’m still smiling. 🙂


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