Rick Elias – Ten Stories – 1991

With Ten Stories Rick Elias is “Confession-less” and he stands alone with 10 brilliantly conceived, performed and recorded songs that should have made Elias a major name in CCM. But alas, it would be a few years later as a member of Rich Mullins’ Ragamuffin Band that Rick would garner what celebrity he has. But it is his first two releases that will be noted on this list with the debut being presented MUCH later. Frontline Records held no expense in trying to break Rick Elias into the mainstream of CCM with a major marketing and promotional push. I remember selling the album to stores with a huge cardboard cutout display and securing end-caps for even more exposure. But Christian radio was not ready (ever ready?) for gritty, earthy, Americana rock and roll without the easy Christianeze answers to life’s bigger questions. Or maybe the fact that Elias would not limit his musical export to three minute ditties for CCM consumption also played a role. The fact the album was a brilliant was not lost, though, on fans and critics alike. Despite never achieving the retail success the album deserved the critical and fan base response was huge. And for good reason. the album is filled with brilliance from the first power chord of “I Wouldn’t Need You Like I Do” to the last fading strain of “Leave One Light On.” Elias continues many of the themes from the debut including some stunning and difficult stories of those struggling with their faith, lives and doubts. No easy believism allowed here. There are pictures of frustration, loss, anger and rejection painted here. John Doe discusses the struggles of a man beaten up by his father as a child and beaten up by life as an adult. “Don’t Rain On Me” explores the one who refuses the love and grace of God. Despite looking at the gift, the subject refuses the basic common graces of God and refuses outright, through a heart of selfishness and doubt, the unique grace that comes through faith. Elias makes his characters so believable that it is hard not to imagine you or someone you know as the subjects. “My Very Own Hero” would have been a mainstream radio success story if the name on the single was Springsteen, Petty or Mellencamp. Great groove, killer melody and impressively passionate performance. “When You Lose Someone You Love” has Elias accompanied by acoustic guitar and harmonica, possessing a melody from something akin to Springsteen’s “Nebraska.” Though beautiful and brilliant, the haunting lyrical content would never allow it to be heard on Christian radio. The list of brilliant description could go throughout the entire project. Maybe it should!

Contributor David Lowman – https://ccms500bestalbums.wordpress.com/

1 – I Wouldn’t Need You (Like I Do) – 5:18
2 – John Doe – 4:32
3 – Don’t Rain On Me – 5:19
4 – My Very Own Hero – 5:05
5 – When You Lose Someone You Love – 4:28
6 – Steps – 4:30
7 – Wondering Why – 4:10
8 – Pray For The Day – 5:15
9 – Only Your Love – 4:31
10 – Leave One Light On – 5:53

Acoustic Bass – Glen Holmen (tracks: 5)
Art Direction – Ed McTaggart
Backing Vocals – Dave Jahnsen (tracks: 2,6), Kenny Hicks (tracks: 7), Linda Elias, Pete Shambrook* (tracks: 7), Rick Elias
Bass – Kelly Burns
Design – Brian Godawa
Drums – Doug Mathews
Electric Guitar – Glenn Pearce (tracks: 8)
Engineer – Dave Jahnsen
Engineer [Additional] – Bill Baumgart, Rick Elias
Guitar – Rick Elias
Keyboards – Linda Elias, Rick Elias
Keyboards [Additional] – Jay York
Lead Vocals – Rick Elias
Mixed By – Dave Jahnsen, Rick Elias
Percussion – Linda Elias
Photography By – Wayne Armstrong
Producer – Rick Elias
Producer [Additional Production] – Dave Jahnsen, Linda Elias
Written-By – Rick Elias

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – FMG Distribution
Record Company – Frontline Music Group – FLD9246

Paul Johnson & The Packards – California – 1987

In my quest to find the oddball examples of 80’s CCM I found this artist. Paul Johnson was playing Surf music long ago in the 60’s and he played with some of the most popular surf bands including The Surfias. This is actually his 3rd Christian album though I kind of struggle with calling it a Christian album. Not because I question Paul’s beliefs but because it is an instrumental album. That said it was picked up by Frontline Records so let’s be clear I have no doubts it was an inspired album. That said it is a very oddball album. If you have a hankering for some 50’s/60’s style surf music this album is for you. Oh, and it has an excellent cover of The Beatles song “Day Tripper”.

1 – Kamikaze – 2:37
2 – Escape To Reality – 4:26
3 – Mr. Moto – 1:49
4 – Baja – 3:11
5 – Stand Up, Stand Up For Jesus – 3:39
6 – Squad Car – 2:07
7 – Day Tripper – 2:30
8 – Link Wray Medley: Rumble, Jack The Ripper, Rawhide – 7:02
9 – Streets Of Gold – 3:52

Arranged By – Paul Johnson
Art Direction, Design – Ed McTaggart
Artwork [Cover Art, Guitar Heaven] – John Dickenson
Bass Guitar – Guy Hufferd
Drums – Ray Huskey
Engineer, Mastered By [Digitally Re-Mastered By] – Doug Doyle
Guitar – Paul Johnson
Mastered By – John Matousek
Painting [Cover Painting, California] – Rick Griffin
Producer – Doug Doyle, Paul Johnson
Rhythm Guitar – Marc Burroughs
Soloist – Marc Burroughs (tracks: 7)

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – 3-D Studios, Costa Mesa CA.
Mixed At – 3-D Studios, Costa Mesa CA.
Mastered At – Hitsville
Remastered At – Digital Brothers
Distributed By – FMG Distribution
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Frontline Records
Copyright (c) – Frontline Records
Record Company – Frontline Music Group

Mike Warnke – Growing Up – 1983

The humour continues as Mike is joined by his wife, at the time, for his 7th album.

It should be noted that Warnke was revealed as a liar and fraudster in 1991 by Cornerstone magazine. This recording is offered as a historic record of what was being listened to in the Christian community in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

Art Direction – Jim Osborn
Engineer – Malcolm Harper
Mastered By – Hank Williams (2)
Photography By – Mark Tucker (7)
Producer, Edited By, Remix – Neal Joseph

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Word, Inc.
Published By – Warnke Publishing Co.
Published By – Prime Time Music (2)
Recorded At – Will Rogers Auditorium
Recorded By – Reelsound
Edited At – Bullet Recording
Remixed At – Bullet Recording
Mastered At – Mastermix

Deliverance – Weapons Of Our Warfare – 1990

For their second album Deliverance turned up the thrash to 10. Upon reading reviews of this album it seems like this album is loved by the people who love this genre. A few even said this may be the best Christian trash album ever. Obviously I can’t really comment on this as I don’t like thrash and to me it all sounds the same. I did find the track “23” quite interesting as it makes a reference to Psalm 23. I just can’t get used to thrash metal making a reference to a Psalm. Anyway while I may not care for the album I can tell that it is a good album judging from the reviews. It’s history of re-releases, 2008, 2014, and twice in 2017 is a further testament to it’s popularity. So if you’re a metal head with a love of thrash this obviously is the album for you.

1 – Supplication – 1:48
2 – This Present Darkness – 2:47
3 – Weapons Of Our Warfare – 4:25
4 – Solitude – 6:05
5 – Flesh And Blood – 7:27
6 – Bought By Blood – 3:17
7 – 23 – 5:49
8 – Slay The Wicked – 4:03
9 – Greetings Of Death – 2:49
10 – If We Faint Not – 4:25

Art Direction – Ed McTaggart
Band [Deliverance Is], Bass – Brian Khairullah
Band [Deliverance Is], Drums – Chris Hyde
Band [Deliverance Is], Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – George Ochoa
Band [Deliverance Is], Vocals [All Vocals], Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar – Jimmy P. Brown II
Co-producer [Co-produced By] – Jimmy P. Brown II
Design Concept [Cover Concept By] – Jimmy P. Brown II
Engineer [2nd Engineer] – Brian “Missing” Person
Engineer, Producer [Production Assistant] – Eric “Homefilth” Kibbe
Illustration [Cover Illustration By] – Joe Yakovetic
Layout – Joe Potter
Mixed By – Bill Metoyer
Photography By – Douglas Cloutier
Producer [Produced By] – George Ochoa

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Intense Records
Copyright (c) – Intense Records
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Published By – Broken Songs
Published By – Carlotta Publishing
Glass Mastered At – Nimbus, Virginia

Billy Sprague – What A Way To Go – 1984

Billy Sprague got his start in the Christian music scene by being a member of Amy Grant’s band in the early 80’s. This work included a duet with Amy, “Singing A Love Song,” off Amy’s In Concert album. This relationship developed into his own record deal in 1984 with Reunion Records. Reunion brought in Michael W. Smith in to produce the album and the result of that is this album. It was a very successful release garnering 3 singles on the CCM charts. “Heavenly Father” climbed to #8, “What A Way To Go” to #22, and “Jude Doxology” to #30. I’m kind of surprised they released Jude Doxology as a single as personally I think it’s the weakest track on the album, but I never really got along with the CCM charts anyway. Obviously the album was very successful and I’m sure Reunion Records couldn’t get a second album out fast enough though it would have to wait until he was done his tour.

1 – What A Way To Go – 4:07
2 – Don’t Give Up – 3:55
3 – Heavenly Father – 3:31
4 – Never Be The Same – 4:59
5 – I Believe – 4:42
6 – Secret Heart – 4:29
7 – How Could You Say No – 3:28
8 – Take My Heart – 4:54
9 – Jude Doxology – 2:03

Art Direction, Design – Kent Hunter
Bass – Mike Brignardello
Drums – Mark Hammond
Engineer – Jeff Balding
Engineer [Additional] – Jim “J.B.” Baird
Engineer [Assistant] – Allen Henry, Chris Hammond, Sam Baily
Engineer, Mixed By – Brent King
Executive-Producer – Dan Harrell, Michael Blanton
Guitar, Electric Guitar – Jon Goin
Mastered By – Hank Williams
Mixed By [Assistant] – Phil Dihel
Photography By – Mark Tucker
Producer, Keyboards – Michael W. Smith

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Reunion Records
Copyright (c) – Reunion Records
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word Records Limited
Distributed By – Word (Uk) Ltd.
Designed At – Thomas Ryan Design
Recorded At – Goldmine Studio, Brentwood, TN
Recorded At – Bullet Recording
Recorded At – Center Stage Studio
Mixed At – Mastermix
Mastered At – Mastermix
Pressed By – Monarch Record Mfg. Co.

Adam Again – Homeboys – 1990

When a band with only five studio releases is able to have four placed on a list like this, it says something about the band that is beyond impressive. And the thing is, I am not a huge Adam Again fan stylistically, but utterly recognize the Gene Eugene Andrusco and crew created some of the most impressive music ever recorded over that very short five album career. And I don’t just mean the most impressive music ever recorded in CCM…but anywhere! The title track kicks off things with such an unforgettable groove and some impressive and memorable lyrics. Eugene’s is master storyteller here and anyone who remembers their youth and childhood will find something here to reflect upon. The loss of friendship and innocence is difficult and real. Obviously raised with a love for blues, R&B and cool funk/soul, Eugene was able to capture those grooves and place them firmly into the heart of alternative music. Often compared vocally to Michael Stipe and, in the early days, musically to The Talking Heads, on Homeboys there is more jazz, funk and heavier rock influences than either of those comparisons. Very few bands with the above comparisons and influences would be able to create a song like “Hide Away.” Mellow without ever being soft there is something more Van Morrison like here and it is utterly brilliant with a perfectly included violin accompaniment. The vocal passion in the album’s closer, No Regrets, again points to why this band was so amazing. Eugene and then wife, Riki Michelle, join forces here to bring the message home. The most auto-biographical record for Eugene, Homeboys is a classic along with two more that will follow.

Contributor David Lowman – https://ccms500bestalbums.wordpress.com/

1 – Homeboys – 3:41
2 – The Fine Line – 4:32
3 – Hide Away – 2:51
4 – Bad News On The Radio – 3:52
5 – Inner City Blues – 5:44
6 – Dance Around In Circles – 2:39
7 – This Band Is Our House – 5:56
8 – Save Me – 4:11
9 – Occam’s Razor – 3:35
10 – No Regrets – 5:24

Art Direction, Layout, Photography By – Bruce Heavin
Assemblage [Assembled By] – Dave Collins
Bass – Paul Valadex
Drums – Jon Knox
Engineer [Additional] – Greg Lawless, Ojo Taylor, Paul Valadez, Super C
Keyboards – James Werning
Lead Guitar – Greg Lawless
Mixed By – G. Eugene
Mixed By [With] – Greg Lawless (tracks: 1, 2, 5 to 10), Jeff Simmons (tracks: 3, 4), Paul Valadez (tracks: 1, 2, 5 to 10)
Producer [Produced By] – Gene Eugene
Recorded By – G. Eugene
Saxophone – Dan Michaels
Vocals – Riki Michele
Vocals, Guitar, Electric Piano [Rhodes], Organ [B-3] – G. Eugene
Voice [Preaching] – Rev. Howard Finster, Man Of Visions

Companies, etc.
Copyright (c) – Brainstorm Artists International
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Recorded At – The Mixing Lab
Recorded At – Neverland
Recorded At – Winetree Recording
Recorded At – Pakaderm West Studios
Mixed At – The Mixing Lab
Mixed At – Pakaderm Studios
Engineered At – Icehouse, Upland, CA
Engineered At – A&M Studios
Mastered At – Bernie Grundman Mastering
Published By – Chenka, Chenka Music
Published By – Jobete Music
Manufactured By – JVC

The Call – Modern Romans – 1983

This was the second album from The Call and is probably the one that introduced most people to the band. Their first album was not very well received but I guess was well enough received that Mercury Records went ahead with a second album. The single “The Walls Came Down” was a rather odd single. It only reached #74 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart though did make it to #17 on the mainstream rock chart. What was odd is that it was hugely popular on MTV. The video was very well received which I find odd because it is the just the band playing the song in what looks like a warehouse. Remember that often first singles followed this style on the thought we would learn who the band was. A strategy I always thought was stupid as these videos were notoriously boring. But as boring as it was (and it is) it was on heavy rotation. The song is actually referring to the cold war between the U.S. and Russia but there is the obvious suggestion of the biblical story of Battle of Jericho. Now I will toss in a personal opinion. I actually preferred their initial self titled album, but this album did solidify me as a permanent fan.

1 – The Walls Came Down – 3:35
2 – Turn A Blind Eye – 3:48
3 – Time Of Your Life – 3:27
4 – Modern Romans – 3:24
5 – Back From The Front – 4:02
6 – Destination – 4:32
7 – Violent Times – 4:28
8 – Face To Face – 4:05
9 – All About You – 4:20

Bass – Greg Freeman
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Scott Musick
Engineer – Richard Kaplan
Engineer [Assistant] – Chuck Johnson, David Spritz
Guitar, Vocals – Tom Ferrier
Guitar, Vocals [Lead] – Michael Been
Producer – Michael Been, The Call
Synthesizer, Cornet – Steve Huddleston
Synthesizer, Saxophone – Garth Hudson
Written-By – Michael Been

Companies, etc.
Published By – Neeb Music
Published By – Tarka Music
Phonographic Copyright (p) – PolyGram Records, Inc.
Manufactured By – PolyGram Records, Inc.
Marketed By – PolyGram Records, Inc.
Pressed By – PRC Recording Company, Compton, CA
Recorded At – Indigo Ranch Studios

T-Bone Burnett – Proof Through The Night – 1983

T-Bone Burnett may appear more often than any artist outside of Terry Scott Taylor if one includes solo projects, band projects and musician and production duties. From Bob Dylan and Tonio K to Leslie Phillips and Mark Heard T-Bone Burnett never had his own albums released into the CCM market, yet his presence is undeniable and, for the listener and fan, greatly appreciated. While working at Maranatha Village I was doing an in-store appearance with Leslie Phillips for her CCM swan song, The Turning, and she entered the store with a very tall and lanky gentleman in tow. Now, realize I had met Amy Grant, Bob Dylan, Bono and Michael Been by this time in my life, but I can tell you that I have never been so in awe or so utterly tongue tied as when I met T-Bone Burnett for the first time. Proof Through the Night is a haunting, dark and impressive album. Guests include Pete Townsend and Ry Cooder along with Burnett’s normal group of stellar friends and bandmates like David Mansfield and David Miner. The album sort of lulls you into experiencing what it has to offer. Burnett’s acoustically driven stark production is so compelling it is no surprise he continues to be one of the most sought after producers, and here it shines in its simplicity and authenticity. There are several wonderful songs to highlight on this album. “Stunned” is the most accessible and should have been a single if Burnett could ever really have a “single.” The chorus is memorable and stays with the listener. The same for “Fatally Beautiful.” ”Pressure” is true highlight with a great guitar driven 1-3 beat and incredible hook. Burnett also has a long standing trademark of talking through songs. There are a few examples on this album that make for compelling listening. “The Sixties” is hysterical, especially its comments regarding the use of the word “freak.” “Hefner and Disney” also employs the storytelling motif and creates and troubling mood musically which compliments the content as he reverses the roles of the two famous gentlemen. A great album worth tracking down that a few years ago was finally released on CD.

Contributor David Lowman – https://ccms500bestalbums.wordpress.com/

1 – The Murder Weapon – 4:29
2 – Fatally Beautiful – 4:21
3 – After All These Years – 3:11
4 – Baby Fall Down – 3:00
5 – The Sixties – 5:30
6 – Stunned – 3:50
7 – Pressure – 3:30
8 – Hula Hoop – 3:13
9 – When The Night Falls – 3:54
10 – Hefner And Disney – 3:47
11 – Shut It Tight – 3:56

Art Direction – Jeri McManus
Composed By – John Fleming (tracks: B3), Roscoe West (tracks: B3), T-Bone Burnett
Engineer [Assistant] – Jules Bowen, Tony Chiappa
Management [Direction] – Al Schlesinger, Nancy Clarke
Mastered By [Originally] – Bernie Grundman
Mixed By – Mark Ettel
Musician – David Mansfield, David Miner, Jerry Marotta, Masakazu Yoshizawa, Mick Ronson, Pete Townshend, Richard Thompson, Ry Cooder, Stan Lynch, T-Bone Burnett
Photography By – Frank Gargani
Producer – Jeff Eyrich
Producer [Associate] – The Chelew Bros. (tracks: B6)
Recorded By – Dennis Kirk
Vocals – T-Bone Burnett, The Williams Brothers

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Warner Communications
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Warner Bros. Records Inc.
Copyright (c) – Warner Bros. Records Inc.
Pressed By – Allied Record Company – B-18376
Pressed By – Allied Record Company – B-18377
Published By – Arthur Buster Stahr Music
Published By – Black Tent Music
Published By – Bug
Recorded At – Eel Pie Studios
Recorded At – The Sound Factory
Recorded At – Ocean Way Recording
Mixed At – Ocean Way Recording
Mastered At – Sheffield Lab Matrix

Jay Beech – The Death of the Stickman – 1982

This is the first of 2 albums from Jay. The cover is fantastic but has no relation to the album. This was a rather odd album for me. I just told the other person here at Real 80’s CCM I didn’t like it. So I sat down to do a review for the album and upon listening to it for probably the 3rd time it actually started growing on me. In fact strangely I think I actually really like it now. I’m actually going to have a difficult time describing it. It’s somewhat jazzy but at times has a 70’s sound. You’re going to have to listen to it yourself because I can’t quite describe what I’m hearing. Do not prejudge this album by the cover, you will be disappointed. Give it a listen with an open mind and let me know how it felt to you.

1 – I’m All Right – 3:58
2 – Anchor Of My Soul – 4:02
3 – It Is Not Me – 3:37
4 – For Real – 3:40
5 – Forgiveness – 3:33
6 – God-Man – 4:20
7 – Watching The Sky – 3:57
8 – Broken People – 5:54
9 – Faith – 4:10
10 – Black & White – 2:37

Jay Beech – Guitar, Vocals, Producer
Curt Bartlett – Guitar
Don Harris – Bass
Doug Dimmel – Drums
Mark Isackson – Sax, Flute
Bill Busch – Keyboards
Amy Swartzendruber – Background Vocals
Lyndon Bartell – Background Vocals, Engineer
Steve Peterson – Engineer

Weber and the Buzztones – Weber and the Buzztones – 1984

This little gem would have ranked significantly higher if there were more than 4 songs. As a result this album (EP) is the shortest on the list. But one little unique oddity of the album is that the vinyl has all four songs on each side. The group started out as the Larry Weber Millennium and they released a 45 single under that moniker with Lamb Chops (also here) and the song “God Blessed America” that I have never heard and may be unfortunately lost to obscurity. Lamb Chops is straight up techno, keyboard pop with just a dash of Devo and talking Heads in the quirky vocal styling. A whole lot of keyboards and with touches of The Cars and Gary Numan, especially on Lamb Chops. But the second cut, “OK,” is not far removed from what Vector did on their “Please Stand By” album. This cut has a much more Missing Person’s vice and would have fit quite nicely on modern radio (KROQ) at the time. The guitar parts shine on this tune and sets it apart from the rest of the EP. I would venture to say that fans of Quickflight would also find quite a bit to like here. The final two cuts, “Run Away” and “Walk Away,” both fit into the overall pop, keyboard new wave, with the latter just being a little slower…which I guess makes sense. Where the former appears to be about running away from God, the latter encourages the listener to turn away from sin. I did get to see them once at the Anaheim Convention Center as part of a Calvary Chapel evangelistic event. Several different members flowed in and out of the band and I admit to having very limited knowledge about them outside of seeing them one other time with Steve Taylor. Like early Steve Taylor the music is quirky, fun and the lyrics dry and funny at times. I had always wished for more, but it was apparently never to be. In the previous blog several of the band members left comments. I hope they return here and that Larry will also be heard from.

Contributor David Lowman – https://legacyccmsgreatestalbums.wordpress.com/

1 – Lamb Chops – 2:50
2 – Ok – 3:50
3 – Runaway – 4:30
4 – Walk Away – 4:24

Cover – Paul Carstensen
Design – Paul Carstensen
Drum Programming [Linndrum] – Pat Craig
Drum Programming [Simmons] – Mike Tuuri
Engineer – David Denny, Jammie Bridges
Executive Producer – Brian Martin
Guitar – Larry Weber
Mastered By – George Horn
Percussion – Mike Tuuri
Producer – Larry Weber
Synthesizer – Glen Repoza, Larry Weber, Nelson DiMarco, Tim Watt
Vocals – Larry Weber
Written-By – Larry Weber

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Starlight Sound
Mastered At – Fantasy Studios