Carman – Comin’ On Strong – 1985

This was Carmen’s 4th album and his first with Myrrh records. This album had a “Poppier” feel than his previous and in fact a few tracks could easily have played on pop radio of the time. The album was relatively well received but their were no “chart toppers”. This is probably my favourite Carmen album with my favourite song from him “Spirit Filled Pizza” Yes it’s a bit of a goofy song but I’ve always liked it.

1 – Get Outta My Life – 3:25
2 – This Thing Is Real – 3:56
3 – His Mercy Endures Forever – 3:42
4 – Spirit Filled Pizza – 3:28
5 – Ask Of Me – 4:18
6 – Blessed Is He Who Comes – 3:10
7 – He Is The Son Of God – 3:44
8 – Lazarus Come Forth – 6:25
9 – The Light Of Jesus To The World – 3:59

Co-producer [Production Assistance] – Jeff Balding
Executive-Producer – Lynn Nichols
Mastered By – Hank Williams (2)
Producer – Keith Thomas
Recorded By, Mixed By – Jeff Balding

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – A&M Records
Recorded At – Emerald Sound Studios
Recorded At – Gold Mine Studio
Recorded At – Morningstar Studios
Recorded At – Stage III
Mixed At – The Castle Recording Studios
Mastered At – MasterMix

Phil Johnson – Somebody Like You – 1978

I was not able to find a lot of information about Phil Johnson. What I do know is that he performed with both Dallas Holm and Tim Sheppard in the 80’s and headed a group called The Phil Johnson Singers who performed on the Jimmy Swaggert show and were on albums released by The Jimmy Swaggart ministries. There also appears to be an album with the Phil Johnson Singers with the Imperials which was also a Jimmy Swaggart release. This album is decidedly easy listening/praise music with some tracks having a Jesus Music feel which makes sense given its release date.

1 – He Can Hear You – 3:07
2 – It’ll Be All Right (In The Morning) – 3:42
3 – He Didn’t Lift Us Up To Let Us Down – 3:20
4 – The Day He Wore My Crown – 4:57
5 – Somebody Like You – 3:23
6 – Don’t Take Your Love Away! – 3:23
7 – I’ve Never Been Out Of His Care – 3:11
8 – Never Be – 3:32
9 – I’m Simply Lost For Words – 3:34
10 – Here He Is Again – 3:30

Bass – Jack Williams
Design [Cover] – Bob McConnell
Drums – Kenny Malone, Larrie London
Engineer – Bob Clark, Travis Turk
Guitar – Joe Huffman, Reggie Young
Keyboards – Lari Goss, Phil Johnson, Shane Keister
Mastered By – Glenn Meadows
Percussion – Farrell Morris
Photography By [Cover] – Dill Beaty
Photography By [Sleeve] – Tom Haggerty
Producer – Phil Johnson
Producer [Vocals] – Bob Clark

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Greentree Records
Copyright (c) – Greentree Records
Recorded At – Great Circle Sound
Mastered At – Masterfonics

Common Bond – Common Bond – 1983

Common Bond was another Rob Watson project. This release was a “Demo” but I hesitate to call it a Demo because it is so well produced most consider it a stand alone album. This is one of the more commonly requested albums here at Real 80s CCM and I believe that is in part to its scarcity. I quite enjoyed the album but I did find it odd that it had so many short songs. Of course the upside to this is that you got more songs (15). All in all a great album with as sound that epitomizes the 80s.

1 – Common Bond – 2:30
2 – Heartbeat Away – 3:40
3 – It Don’t Come Easy – 2:16
4 – Secret Agent Christian – 2:40
5 – Remind Me Of Your Plans – 3:18
6 – Is Your Heart Right – 2:30
7 – Is He Lord – 3:50
8 – Your Life – 3:37
9 – The Party’s Over – 2:33
10 – New Beginnings – 2:45
11 – Christ The Cornerstone – 2:40
12 – Late for Life – 2:48
13 – Song For My Wife – 3:15
14 – For You – 2:00
15 – No Mercenary – 1:32

Ken Samuels: Bass guitar and lead vocals
Doug Doyle: Guitars and backup vocals
Rob Watson: Keyboards
Drums by Oberheim DMX drum machine except Is He Lord and Song For My Wife by Terry McNabb and Danny Ybarra.

Joe English – Back To Basics:English 101 – 1987

This was Joe’s final album though he was involved in the Compassion All Star Band ‎– One By One Live! album project in 1988. This was probably one of Joe’s better albums and it definitely had a more upbeat feel of any of his albums yet. Unfortunately it was not all that well received and as such Joe hung up his drumsticks after this one.

1 – Take Me Back – 3:57
2 – Truth And Lies – 3:40
3 – Remember – 3:55
4 – Too Much – 3:36
5 – Hot Fire – 3:32
6 – The Secrets Of The Kingdom – 4:05
7 – Stop Looking Over Love – 4:08
8 – Behold The Glory – 3:25
9 – This Must Be Love – 3:36
10 – How Sweet It Is – 3:13

Charles Bass Vocal Arranger, Background Vocals
Kathleen Bass Background Vocals
Martin Bass Background Vocals
Billy Blum Drum Machine Programming
Tony Camillo Arrangements
Jo Clayton Background Vocals
George Cocchini Guitar
Dennis Davilio Bass
Lamont Dozier Songwriter
Dave Eastman Songwriter
Sean Gallant Mixed
Tommy Greer Songwriter
Dean Harrington Songwriter
Brian Holland Songwriter
Eddie Holland Songwriter
James Holloway Songwriter
Steve Lang Keyboard Programming
Glen Marchese Engineer
Richard Marchese Trumpets
Chris McCollum Songwriter
Jerry Mokar Saxophone
Ray Nenow Executive Producer
Chuck Nichols Background Vocals
Doug Oberkircher Mixed
Joey Powers Producer
Darice Price Background Vocals
Joe Noro Savage Keyboard Programming
George Small Keyboards
Jeff Toone Engineer
Mark Tuomenoksa Sampled Saxophone
Howie Weinberg Mastered

Morgan Cryar – Keep No Secrets – 1984

This was Morgan Cryar first commercial release though he previously put out a self published album which is next to impossible to find. This album is a solid pop effort and spawned 4 singles on Christian radio. I have to admit that I hadn’t heard this album in the 80’s though I wish I had. It’s not one of the most thought provoking album of all time but it is fun. Special appearances on the album is Farrell & Farrell and Dave Thrush who is Steve Taylor’s Sax player.

1 – I Get Carried Away – 3:08
2 – Keep No Secrets – 3:53
3 – Someone To Change Me – 3:56
4 – Life In The Blood – 3:32
5 – Holy Fire – 3:55
6 – A Few Of My Old Friends – 3:03
7 – I Wanna Be Good – 2:51
8 – Concealed Weapon – 3:28
9 – Just A Little Like You – 4:21
10 – Made-up Mind – 5:42

Alto Saxophone – Dave Thrush
Arranged By – John Andrew Schreiner, Jonathan David Brown, Morgan Cryar
Art Direction, Design – Joan Tankersley
Backing Vocals – Bob Farrell, Chris Roberts, Jayne Farrell, Jonathan David Brown, Morgan Cryar
Cymbal [Overdubs] – Scott Cactus Moser
Drum Programming [Oberheim DMX Programming] – Jonathan David Brown
Engineer [Additional] – Brian Tankersley, Dan Yeaney, Greg Butler, Joe Ballamy, Michael C. Ross, Paul Mills, Steve Ford, Todd Van Etten, Wally Grant
Guitar – Marty Walsh
Layout – Lori Cooper
Lead Guitar [Guitar Solo] – Adam Smith
Mastered By – Steve Hall
Other [Hair Styling] – Dru Venable
Other [Make-Up] – Heidi Schulze
Photography – Craig Stewart
Producer – Jonathan David Brown
Programmed By [Keyboard Sequencer Programming] – John Andrew Schreiner
Programmed By [Synclavier Programming] – Paul Mills
Recorded By – Jonathan David Brown
Synthesizer, Programmed By [Fairlight Synthesizer Played And Programmed] – Carl Marsh
Tenor Saxophone – Brandon Fields

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Star Song
Copyright (c) – Star Song
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Pressed By – Monarch Record Mfg. Co. – MR 26588
Mastered At – Future Disc
Recorded At – Rivendell Recorders
Recorded At – Mama Jo’s
Recorded At – Peace In The Valley Recording
Recorded At – Weddington Studios
Recorded At – Fireside Studios

Various – Twelve New Faces – 1989

This 1989 release from Myrrh/Word Records featured new, mainly unreleased artists. Quite frankly I was surprised this album was actually released by them as a lot of these songs have a very low JPM score (Jesus per minute). It is almost entirely New Wave/Pop but it does have a Zion song which does not fit on the album at all. Nothing against the song it just doesn’t fit on this sampler. You should honestly listen to this album as it has some real gold unreleased songs.

1 – Reigh Giglio – Round and Round – 4:20
2 – Wil Comstock – Kids On The Corner – 4:00
3 – Pierce Pettis – Seven Times Seventy – 3:08
4 – Two Tru – Tell Me Your Idea – 4:20
5 – Brighton – Stay With Me – 3:42
6 – Heartbeat – Air That I Breathe – 4:32
7 – Zion – Is It A Crime – 5:26
8 – Open City – Life Is So Strange – 4:01
9 – Selah – Greater Good – 3:45
10 – Milo Carter – Line My Streets With Gold – 5:22
11 – Brooks Williams – Mystery – 4:04
12 – Phil Madeira – The Only Thing I Can Believe In – 3:51

Originating Album
Reigh Giglio – Round and Round (Sunset Blues)
Wil Comstock – Kids On The Corner (Unreleased)
Pierce Pettis – Seven Times Seventy (While The Serpent Lies Sleeping)
Two Tru – Tell Me Your Idea (Unreleased)
Brighton – Stay With Me (Only released on demo)
Heartbeat – Air That I Breathe (The Winner)
Zion – Is It A Crime (Thunder From The Mountain)
Open City – Life Is So Strange (Unreleased)
Selah – Greater Good (Unreleased)
Milo Carter – Line My Streets With Gold (Unreleased)
Brooks Williams – Mystery (Unreleased)
Phil Madeira – The Only Thing I Can Believe In (Unreleased)

My opinion of this album’s songs
1 – Reigh Giglio – Round and Round – New Wave – Very Good
2 – Wil Comstock – Kids On The Corner – Pop – Filler Song
3 – Pierce Pettis – Seven Times Seventy – Pop – Good
4 – Two Tru – Tell Me Your Idea – Synth – Very Good
5 – Brighton – Stay With Me – New Wave – Very Good
6 – Heartbeat – Air That I Breathe – Pop – Filler Song
7 – Zion – Is It A Crime – Rock – Good
8 – Open City – Life Is So Strange – Pop – Very Good
9 – Selah – Greater Good – Pop – Filler Song
10 – Milo Carter – Line My Streets With Gold – Folk – Good
11 – Brooks Williams – Mystery – New Wave – Good
12 – Phil Madeira – The Only Thing I Can Believe In – Easy Listening – Good

Tamarack – Tamarack – 1981

Tamarack appears to be another Rob Watson project. At lease he was involved but I guess I can’t say it was “his” project. While the album does have Rob Watson vocals I would say the majority of the vocals are by Cathy Spurr and/or Debbie McNeil. If you are wanting to listen to this as another upbeat Rob Watson album you’ll be disappointing. This is a easy listening album in the extreme. That said the vocals are excellent, the lyrics are good and the instrumentation is also good. Strangely this album was re-released in 2017 in Japan. Guess the Japanese were big fans.

1 – Carry My Blues Away – 3:38
2 – Breakaway – 3:35
3 – Good TImes Bad Times – 3:57
4 – Thinkin Is – 7:57
5 – High Horse – 4:58
6 – Here I Am – 3:37
7 – Exile – 3:32
8 – Come Back Jesus – 3:34
9 – Another Time – 4:30

Arranged By – Tamarack
Bass – John Patitucci
Drums, Percussion – Dave Spurr
Guitar – Wayne Brasel
Producer – Jonathan David Brown
Vocals, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Synthesizer [Prophet 5, Synclavier Ii] – Rob Watson
Vocals, Percussion – Cathy Spurr
Vocals, Piano – Debbie McNeil

Larry Norman – Streams of White Light into Darkened Corners – 1977

Larry released this album in 1977 and it was labelled “Part 1.” Like many of his projects, the rest of it was never released.

The idea here seems to be to “expose” the pseudo-Christian songs that were radio hits in the 60s and 70s. Larry seemed to feel that they were exploiting the Jesus Movement for profit.

Randy Stonehill plays the part of the radio DJ, and the two of them record covers of popular songs that many people considered religious in spite of the rest of the bands’ repretoire. The songs are not recorded very seriously, and you can hear them making fun and holding back laughter in a couple of places.

From the back of the jacket:

This album was originally a newspaper article, but several different publishers backed down from printing it so I decided to record the music that is described in the article and release the soundtrack to the “newspaper movie.”

This is a Satirical Record and anyone who doesn’t have a sense of humor that leans toward the surreal, a cursory interest in pop music, and a healthy indifference/disdain for ego-lipped disc jockeys should definitely stay away from this album.
Larry Norman, 1974″

Track Listing:
A1 Spirit In The Sky Written-By – Norman Greenbaum
A2 Put Your Hand In The Hand Written-By – Gene MacLellan
A3 Bridge Over Troubled Water Written-By – Paul Simon
A4 Let It Be Written-By – Lennon-McCartney
A5 My Sweet Lord Written-By – George Harrison
A6 Presence Of The Lord Written-By – Eric Clapton
B1 I Think He’s Hiding Written-By – Randy Newman
B2 He Gives Us All His Love Written-By – Randy Newman
B3 Stranger In A Strange Land Written-By – Leon Russell
B4 Prince Of Peace Written-By – Greg Dempsey, Leon Russell
B5 Song For Adam Written-By – Jackson Browne
B6 Shine A Light Written-By – Jagger-Richard*

Mark Heard – Stop The Dominoes – 1981

Mark Heard created a tradition of going the extra mile on his records. He wrote lyrics that had real honesty packed in tight, and yet he still managed drop some tongue-in-cheek one-liners. The effect was that when he was cheeky, you still had to take him seriously. Stop the Dominoes is a classic version of this.

He had a lot to say. The liner notes are incredible. CCM records routinely included all the lyrics printed out on the sleeve, but in addition, Mark included 2 full pages of small print, written from his heart to his fans. Mark had a passion for reality. You can hear it in his song lyrics, and these notes include some personal diary entries from his tour stops through Europe. It’s hard to imagine this kind of thoughtful writing being shared with fans now.

These notes were written on his travels, and later collated into this form, typeset and arranged, sent out to print, manufactured, distributed to stores, and then finally brought home to read. I hope a lot of people read them, but then again, I know. In 1982 when we bought records, we read everything.

There was no Twitter feed. The Internet didn’t exist in any consumer form at that time. Mark died in 1992, well before fandom was available online. Long before we would be able to follow someone’s thoughts as they had them.

Sure, we can follow people on social media now, but that’s a different thing. Online posts are so disposable because they are so temporal. Reading someone’s deliberate writing, something that they know they would have to work on, proofread, and only be able to publish to the world once a year – that’s special in a different way.

Mark Heard was one of the most thoughtful songwriters, and gone much too soon and much too young.

Track Listing:
A1 One Of The Dominoes 4:23
A2 Stranded At The Station 3:30
A3 You Could Lie To Me 4:02
A4 One Night Stand 2:52
A5 I’m Crying Again 3:29
B1 Stuck In The Middle 4:39
B2 Call Me The Fool 3:11
B3 I’m In Chains 3:25
B4 Lonely One 4:35
B5 To See Your Face 3:31

Arranged By – Mark Heard
Backing Vocals – Dave De Coup Crank, Larry Norman, Leslie Phillips, Little Bobby Emmons, Randy Stonehill
Bass – John Patitucci
Electric Guitar – Tony Eisenbarger
Electric Guitar, Lead Guitar, Slide Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Mark Heard
Engineer – Jonathan David Brown
Fiddle – Buddy Spicher
Keyboards – Tom Howard
Percussion – Alex MacDougall
Producer – Mark Heard
Saxophone – Karl Denson
Steel Guitar [Pedal Steel] – Sonny Garrish
Written By – Mark Heard

iDEoLA – Tribal Opera – 1987

This album was a concept album by Mark Heard under the pseudonym iDEoLA. Mark stated that there was no big mystery to the name. He stated “It’s not supposed to be mysterious or anything; I just put a band together and right now I happen to be the only one in it.” Mark played all the instruments with the exception of some percussion samples. All in all it’s actually a really good album. It has a solid Pop sound and I particularly like the percussion segments. While it’s a huge departure from Mark’s usual work I wish he’d pursued this line of music as well as his usual.

1 – I Am An Emotional Man – 4:29
2 – Is It Any Wonder – 3:49
3 – Watching The Ship Go Down – 3:52
4 – Talk To Me – 3:48
5 – Go Ask The Dead Man – 3:51
6 – Love Is Bigger Than Life – 3:36
7 – How To Grow Up Big And Strong – 5:06
8 – Everybody Dances – 4:07
9 – Why Can’t We Just Say No – 4:23
10 – Hold Back Your Tears – 3:46

Artwork By – Tim Alderson
Drums [People Who Hit Things For Digital Samples & Wengi Drum Machine Introduction On “talk To Me”] – David Baker
Drums [People Who Hit Things For Digital Samples] – Dan Michaels, David McSparran, Doug Matthews, Steve Hindalong
Edited By [Digital Pcm 1630] – Tom Hall
Instruments [All], Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals – Ideola
Mastered By – Steve Hall
Mixed By – Mark Heard
Mixed By [Assistant] – Dan Reed, Jim Dineen, Steve Katayama
Photography – Stewart Ivester
Producer – Mark Heard
Recorded By – Mark Heard
Written-By – Mark Heard