Messiah – Going Insane – 1985

Some say that Messiah were the first Christian metal band. I can’t decide this argument as I just don’t have the knowledge of the genre to be sure but they have to be one of the first as they put out their first Demo in 1979. Their first release “Final Waning” in 1984 was a very short run release and this 1985 EP was also a very limited run release. Lucky for us Retroactive Records stepped up in 2010 and re-released this EP so that we could all enjoy it. They also included 3 tracks from the infamous 1979 demo. I have included them here. Too bad these guys are relatively unknown as there is some real quality metal here.

1 – Going Insane – 6:30
2 – We Will Rock – 3:57
3 – Heavenly Metal – 5:27
4 – Where Are You – 4:09
5 – Evil Lies – 5:00
6 – Lucifer (Demo) – 6:34
7 – Final Warning (Demo) – 7:07
8 – You’d Better Say A Prayer (Demo) – 6:03

Bass Guitar – Dave Johnson
Cover, Artwork – P. Schmoltz
Drums – Keith Behnke
Guitar – J. S. Wood
Keyboards, Harmony Vocals – Dan Knowles
Lead Vocals – Chuck Gugel

Companies, etc.
Copyright (c) – IHM Records
Phonographic Copyright (p) – IHM Records
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Viniculum Music Publishing Inc.
Record Company – Shepard Productions
Recorded At – The Disc Ltd.

Whitecross – Triumphant Return – 1989

This was the 4th album from Whitecross and it is a great Rock & Roll album. If you just started listening to it may I suggest you turn it up to 12. It’s just my opinion but I think this is their best album. Scott Wenzel’s vocals are outstanding but I’m pretty sure the tour for this album must have destroyed his vocal cords. Rex Carroll’s guitar stands out as usual, he really was one of the best guitarists in the Hard Rock/Metal Christian scene. The surprise of the album is that Rick Cua plays bass on all but one track. I was really surprised to read this and a part of me really doesn’t know if it’s actually true but wow. I respected him before but my opinion of him just went up a notch. The album reached number 13 on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Christian Albums chart and actually won a Dove award for Hard Music Album of the Year.

1 – Attention Please – 3:55
2 – Red Light – 4:32
3 – Straight Thru The Heart – 3:57
4 – Down – 4:01
5 – Behold – 4:35
6 – Shakedown – 4:16
7 – Flashpoint – 1:30
8 – Simple Man – 4:21
9 – Over The Top – 4:18
10 – Heaven’s Calling Tonight – 4:16

Backing Vocals [Additional] – Caroline Nieto, Jonathan Pagano
Bass – Rick Cua (tracks: 1,2, 4-10)
Bass, Vocals – Rick Armstrong (tracks: 3)
Drums – Frank Liva
Drums, Vocals – Mike Elliot
Guitar, Vocals, Producer – Rex Carroll
Keyboards – George Small
Lead Vocals – Scott Wenzel
Producer – Joey Powers

The Imperials – Heed The Call – 1979

Heed The Call is perhaps the Imperials most iconic album. You can see them decked out in suits that would make the Oak Ridge Boys envious on the back cover. Some memorable songs here like “Oh Buddha” and “Old Man’s Rubble” make this album the one that really represents their body of work well. The Imperials started out in 1964 and their lineup changed many times over the years, but this version of them in 1979 was when they were in their stride. These songs were a slightly modern take on some traditional styles and were very popular as contemporary music in churches in the 80s.

1 – Overcomer – 3:37
2 – Praise The Lord – 3:35
3 – Oh Buddha – 3:28
4 – Old Man’s Rubble – 3:15
5 – Heed The Call – 3:01
6 – Let Jesus Do It – 3:27
7 – Growing Stronger – 3:29
8 – First Morning In Heaven – 2:41
9 – Whenever I Speak His Name – 4:33
10 – My Mind Forgets A Million Things – 3:48
11 – He Didn’t Lift Us Up To Let Us Down – 3:21

Cover, Illustration – Dave Gaadt
Engineer – Brown Bannister
Executive-Producer – Buddy Huey
Mastered By – Glenn Meadows
Photography By [Back Cover] – Goss Photography
Producer – Chris Christian

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Word, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Recorded At – Gold Mine Studio
Remixed At – Gold Mine Studio
Mastered At – Masterfonics
Designed At – The Graphic Truth
Manufactured By – Prim
Distributed By – Prim

Joe English – Lights In The World – 1980

Imagine our surprise in 1980 when an album from Joe English showed up in the racks of our Christian book store. I recognized Joe’s name from Wings (though I did not really listened to them) but I had not heard anything of him doing Christian music. I remember we couldn’t buy it quick enough and rushed back to the stereo room to listen to it. The album really wasn’t quite as Rock & Roll as we thought it would be but we liked it and one or two tracks definitely made it onto mixed tapes for the car. To me the album has a bit of a jazz feel to it and coincidentally in 1980 Joe was also playing with a jazz fusion band called Sea Level. Joe went on to give us many more albums using the moniker The Joe English Band. Point of trivia is that both Russ Taff and Bonnie Bramlett provided backing vocals for the album.

1 – To Love Is To Live – 3:49
2 – Shine On – 3:48
3 – Dyin’ – 3:44
4 – Is There Not One Good Man – 3:49
5 – Midnight Angel Choir – 3:38
6 – Get Ready – 3:10
7 – Is The King Your Friend – 3:30
8 – The Lord Never Leaves – 3:48
9 – Praise Him – 3:17
10 – Keep In Touch – 1:57

Lead Vocals – Joe English
Backing Vocals – Russell Taff, Bonnie Bramlett
Bass – Larry Paxton
Drums – Joe English
Guitar – George Cocchini
Keyboards – John Rosasco
Percussion – Terry McMillan
Synthesizer [Micro-Moog] – Alan Steinberger
Synthesizer [Prophet 5] – Shane Keister
Arranged By – John Rosasco,Shelly Kurland ,Greg Nelson
Art Direction – Bob McConnell
Design [Cover Design] – Stan Evenson
Engineer – Scott Hendricks
Executive-Producer – Ray Nenow
Producer – Greg Nelson

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Refuge Records
Copyright (c) – Refuge Records
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Recorded At – Glaser Sound Studios, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee
Produced For – Primacy Productions

Bride – Kinetic Faith – 1991

The fourth album from Bride marked a rather abrupt change in style. I was told this was yet another metal album. As I listened to it I thought this is a Rock album not metal. As I read around the internet of peoples impression of this album and I kept reading the same thing. Metal fans who admitted they were metal fans who loved this album. From this I have deducted that Bride pulled off something very hard to do. They transitioned from metal to rock without losing their fan base. The band was still mainly Dale and Troy Thompson but they brought on a new drummer and bass player. I don’t know if this was because of the style change or was part of the design of the style change. It’s no secret that I’m not a huge fan of metal but I love hard rock and I loved this album. To my huge surprise Bride actually received a Dove award for the track “Everybody Knows My Name”. Apparently there used to be a category called “Hard Music Recorded Song Of The Year, who knew. Obviously I never followed the Dove Awards.

1 – Troubled Times – 4:29
2 – Hired Gun – 4:29
3 – Ever Fallen In Love – 4:36
4 – Mountain – 4:12
5 – Ski Mask – 4:31
6 – Everybody Knows My Name – 4:23
7 – Young Love – 3:31
8 – Kiss The Train – 3:58
9 – Crimes Against Humanity – 4:06
10 – Sweet Louise – 4:42

Art Direction – Toni Thigpen
Band [Bride Is], Bass – Rick Foley
Band [Bride Is], Drums – Jerry McBroom
Band [Bride Is], Guitar, Mandolin, Acoustic Guitar – Troy Thompson
Band [Bride Is], Vocals, Backing Vocals – Dale Thompson
Executive-Producer – Dez Dickerson
Layout, Design – Tufts Design Studio
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar [Additional], Acoustic Guitar, Slide Guitar – Rob Johnson
Mastered By – Roger Seibel
Musical Assistance [Special Assistant] – Bobby Muldoon
Photography By – Russ Harrington
Producer [Produced By] – Steve Griffith
Recorded By, Mixed By – Steve Griffith

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Pure Metal
Copyright (c) – Pure Metal
Record Company – Star Song Communications
Produced For – Gaga Productions
Recorded At – The Goldmine, Franklin, TN
Mixed At – The Goldmine, Franklin, TN
Mastered At – SAE Mastering
Published By – Dawn Treader Music
Glass Mastered At – Nimbus, Virginia

Northbound – Northbound – 1983

At first I had considered listing this album amongst those chosen as a “guilty pleasure.” Everyone, critics and fan, have these albums. The ones that you’re not supposed to like and that you know the hyper-critical snobs will scoff at as being “too commercial” or “too pop” or “too whatever.” But spending months compiling the list and listening over and over to many albums I came to the conclusion that the inclusion of Northbounds one and only album is not only well deserved, but that is more than just a guilty pleasure, but a great pop album that stands up well nearly 30 years later. Touches of Hall & Oates, Toto, Chicago, The Eagles and even Bryan Duncan, Kenny Marks and the first Prodigal album (for the CCM fans) can be heard throughout this incredibly well produced project. For a debut (and unfortunately only) release this was one of the best produced projects with bright high ends, diverse musical arrangements and some killer saxophone. The album kicks off with what could be the catchiest songs in CCM history, Dancin’ In the Aisles. This ode to a more expressive form of worship has such a monster hook that I mentioned the band’s name to a friend of mine in Christian radio and he immediately began singing the chorus despite not playing the song since around 1985. “Maybe Tonight” slows things down to something akin to a mid-tempo rocker by The Eagles with a bit more soul. The nearly 6 minute ballad “What Do You Do” is reminiscent of Kenny Marks’, “The Party’s Over,” with a slow build that ends huge with great passionate vocals. The question raised about gaining the whole world while losing your soul is timeless and works well within the storytelling nature of the song. The more “Seawind,” jazzy tunes work really well on this project. Songs like Evening Song, Life Without Your Love and When I Look In Your Eyes are great examples. “You Got Me Singing” is the “singing” version of Dancin’ in the Aisles. The albums closer, “Easy Street,” has a “Desperado” sort of feel with the solo piano arrangement builds as the song progresses. This is a clear AYSO, though it may be nearly impossible to find. The album was released nearly 30 years ago and was not amajor hit. It, along with David Edwards’ “Get the Picture” and Dion’s “I Put Away My Idols” were released with a free LP of various Myrrh artists that is also a tough find.

Contributor David Lowman –

1 – Dancin’ In The Aisles – 3:31
2 – Maybe Tonight – 5:10
3 – Livin’ In The Light – 4:21
4 – What Do You Do – 5:48
5 – Evening Song – 4:07
6 – Life Without Your Love – 4:39
7 – You Got Me Singin’ – 3:29
8 – When I Look In Your Eyes – 3:33
9 – Easy Street – 3:02

Arranged By [Basic Tracks] – Mike Utley (tracks: B1, B4, B5)
Arranged By [Vocal And Instrumental] – Bill Bottrell, Bob Book, Ron Gollner
Bass – Tim Camp
Drum Machine [Linn] – Bill Bottrell
Drums, Vocals – Dave Workman
Engineer [Assistant] – David Marquette, Larry Nefzger, Mitch Gibson, Paul Erickson
Executive-Producer – Buddy King
Guitar [Additional] – Bill Hawkins
Guitar, Vocals – Bob Book
Keyboards [Rhodes “Dyno-my-piano” / Moog / Prophet V], Vocals – Ron Gollner
Lead Vocals – Bob Book, Ron Gollner
Organ [Hammond] – Dave Danieli
Piano – Dale Walker
Producer, Mixed By – Bill Bottrell
Programmed By [Synthesizers] – Ron Gollner
Saxophone [Sax Solos] – Steve Allen

Companies, etc.
Copyright (c) – Word Music
Copyright (c) – Pure Joy Music
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word Music
Recorded At – Triad Studios
Recorded At – Soundcastle
Mixed At – Soundcastle
Mastered At – Future Disc
Pressed By – Monarch Record Mfg. Co. – ?26221
Pressed By – Monarch Record Mfg. Co. – ?26203

Level Heads – Momento Mori – 1988

This was the second and last album from Level Heads. I had missed these guys in the 80’s so a few months ago when I heard their first album/EP I was really impressed. I wasn’t disappointed by this album either. In listening to this album I heard some Elvis Costello and maybe some Joe Jackson on different tracks. Then I gave my head a shake and accepted them as having their own sound. I also struggled with describing this album as either alternative or new wave. Again it’s in it’s own category especially in the Christian music industry. If you loved the EP you should love this album also. If you haven’t heard these guys before give it a listen. I suspect you will like it.

1 – Universe Is Out Of Control – 2:54
2 – Seeing You – 4:06
3 – Hand To Hold – 3:40
4 – Betrayed With A Kiss – 3:14
5 – Everybody Wants To Be Loved – 4:32
6 – Live No Lie – 4:36
7 – Emancipation – 4:07
8 – More Than This – 4:28
9 – Lookin’ For The Line – 2:52
10 – The Train – 2:49
11 – Work It Out – 4:30
12 – Truth Or Fantasy – 3:06
13 – Hey You – 2:21
14 – Fire And Grace – 3:18

Arranged By [All Songs] – Craig Gillings, Jim Chevalier, Todd Gillings
Art Direction, Design – Brian Ray
Edited By – Chris Taylor
Engineer [Second Engineer], Producer [Assistant Producer] – Todd Gillings
Executive-Producer, Engineer – Joey Taylor
Photography By [Band Photos] – Barry Hill
Photography By [Cover Photo] – Brian Ray
Producer [Produced By] – Jim Chevalier
Written-By [All Songs] – Jim Chevalier

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Brainstorm Artists International
Copyright (c) – Brainstorm Artists International
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Recorded At – 3-D Studios, Costa Mesa CA.
Recorded At – Neverland
Recorded At – Whitefield Studios
Made By – Discovery Systems – 28X0400A
Published By – Brainstorm Music

Saint – The Gentiles Demo – 1981

Saint started out as Power Faith in the late 70’s but didn’t last long. It reformed as The Gentiles in either 80 or 81 and this is the demo they recorded under that name. The lineup would change again after/during the change of name to the Saint we are now familiar with. Lucky for their fans the demo was resurrected in 2001 by M8 Distribution and has been re released two more times since then. It is very very rough but is a nice insight into the early days of the band.

1 – Abyss – 3:22
2 – Worrying World – 2:52
3 – Self Made Man – 5:48
4 – Space Cruiser – 4:46

Bass – Richard Lynch
Drums – Unknown
Guitar – John Mahan
Vocals – Max Clark

Dual Edge – Knock ‘Em Alive – 1987

This hair metal band from Minnesota were introduced to us by Intense Records. They arrived at a time we were being inundated by Glam metal bands and these guys pretty well fit the mold. This album was actually just a remix of their demo with one new track and one track removed. There are some excellent vocals from Scott Turner and great guitar from Rick Wald. The only thing that could have done some work are the lyrics. That said if you don’t take the genre too seriously you should enjoy this album. I did.

1 – Lift Him Up – 4:06
2 – Fight For The Light – 5:08
3 – Be With You – 4:16
4 – New Life – 3:52
5 – Knock ‘Em Alive – 4:40
6 – Take It To The Bank – 4:04
7 – The Light – 4:09
8 – Follow Your Dreams – 3:23

John Avery – Songwriter, Bass, Background Vocals
Brian Bart – Producer, Engineer, Mixed, Background Vocals
David Harland – Songwriter, Background Vocals
Caesar Kalinowski – Producer, Engineer, Mixed
Rob Poseley – Background Vocals
Terry Steinmeyer – Songwriter, Drums, Background Vocals
Scott Turner – Lead Vocals
Rick Wald – Songwriter, Guitars, Background Vocals

Phil Keaggy – Town To Town – 1981

There is not a lot to say about Phil Keaggy that hasn’t already been said. In fact, I can be pretty sure than nothing I say will be in any way enlightening to the reader. I can do no more than to simply repeat the previous accolades and find a way to recommend even more so the need to own as much Phil Keaggy as humanly possible, especially his 70’s and 80’s material which is just staggeringly impressive. Town to Town is separated from nearly all other Keaggy releases by the fact that it may be his most accessible and commercial. It contains more radio friendly and pop based structured than any other Keaggy recording outside of the “band” Sunday’s Child. The opening track is a great live favorite that tells the story of a one night reunion with his classic rock band, Glass Harp. This song, like many of Keaggy’s, suffer from the guitar solos being limited. The same is not the case for the following track, Full Circle. Here is a great example of how to create a pop rock song without shorting the guitar aficionado fans desire for Keaggy guitar solos.
“What a Wonder You Are” featured vocal support from the queen of Christian duets, Michele Pillar, and ended up being the biggest hit from the album. The song broke molds in that was one of the first radio hits that was simply a love song without having to be a “wedding song.” Previously the only romantic songs were those specifically created for weddings. The album closes with one of Keaggy most popular and enduring songs, Let Everything Else Go. The beautiful song proves that stunning guitar work does not always have to be blistering guitar solos, but also soothing, atmospheric sounds created at the hands of a master. Here we find beautiful and haunting sounds that so create the musical canvas Keaggy’s Paul McCartney-like vocals can paint upon.

Contributor David Lowman –

1 – Wished You Were There – 3:01
2 – Full Circle – 4:15
3 – Life Love And You – 4:20
4 – Town To Town – 6:45
5 – What A Wonder You Are – 4:00
6 – In Between – 3:01
7 – Our Lives – 5:23
8 – Rise Up O Men Of God – 4:10
9 – Let Everything Else Go – 4:50

Alex Acuña – Percussion
Curt Bartlett – Guitar
Bob Cotton – Engineer, Producer
Jim DeLong – Drums, Percussion
Eugene Friesen – Composer
Leon Gaer – Bass, Bass (Electric), Guitar (Bass)
Dean Hagen – Drums
Paul Halley – Composer
Bruce Hibbard – Vocals (Background)
Lee Jones – Fretless Bass
Bernadette Keaggy – Vocals
Phil Keaggy – Bass, Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Bass), Primary Artist, Vocals
Tom Keene – Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer
Dan Murdock – Keyboards, Piano
Michele Pillar – Vocals (Background)
John Pooley – Engineer
Denny Siegrist – Engineer
Richard Souther – Synthesizer
The Winans – Vocals (Background)
Pete York – Vocals (Background)

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Sparrow Records, Inc.
Printed By – Garrod & Lofthouse Ltd.