Per-Erik Hallin – Better Late Than Never – 1982

This is another album I found by rooting through the Refuge catalog. It is Per-Erik’s first album and as near as I can tell it was his only album released outside of Europe. There’s not really that much information about him out there so unfortunately I’m going to just be able to echo his Wikipedia page. In the 70’s he apparently played with Elvis but again I struggled to find any more information about this. He was a strong studio musician in the 70’s with tons of appearances. The album is naturally keyboard and piano heavy but has a bit of a funk feel in places. It is well worth listening to at least once.

1 – Let It Out – 3:37
2 – Gospel Train – 5:33
3 – You Put Another Song In My Heart – 4:15
4 – Do You Know What You’re Missing – 4:01
5 – What A World It Would Be – 3:23
6 – Better Late Than Never – 3:34
7 – Don’t You Put It Off Until Tomorrow – 4:16
8 – The Golden Rule Jingle – 4:09
9 – Nothing To Fear – 4:38
10 – The Summer Is Not Over – 4:25

Design – Camilla B
Engineer – Gordon Shryock, Peter Olsson
Engineer [Mixing] – Per-Erik Hallin, Peter Olsson
Engineer [Overdubs] – Anders Oredson, Andy Kidd, Boje Lundberg, Christer Lindström, Peter Olsson, Wally Grant
Photography By – Labe Allwin
Producer, Arranged By, Written-By – Per-Erik Hallin
Programmed By [Prophet 5 Synthesizer] – Per-Erik Hallin

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Weddington Studios
Recorded At – Park Studio
Overdubbed At – Studio Bastun
Overdubbed At – Weddington Studios
Overdubbed At – Supreme Studio
Overdubbed At – Park Studio
Overdubbed At – KMH Studios
Mixed At – Studio Bastun
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Royal Music Productions
Copyright (c) – Magnus Erikson Production
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Refuge Records
Copyright (c) – Refuge Records

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The Call – Scene Beyond Dreams – 1984

This was the third album from The Call and my personal favourite. It has a pretty distinct change in style from “Modern Romans” and at the time this was a style I was a huge fan of. This style is not really my favourite anymore but this album is still in my top 100. I was a bit surprised while researching this album that the title track single didn’t make the charts. I was further surprised that the album only made it to #204 in the U.S. I was a DJ in Canada and this album was huge, I remember playing it like crazy. I know it must have singled pretty strong in Canada but I couldn’t find the charts to confirm. Commonly referred to as their “metaphysical” album this is one you should listen to again.

1 – Scene Beyond Dreams – 3:47
2 – The Burden – 3:34
3 – Tremble – 4:01
4 – Delivered – 4:03
5 – Heavy Hand – 3:23
6 – Promise And Threat – 4:30
7 – One Life Leads To Another – 4:38
8 – Apocalypse – 1:46
9 – Notified – 2:58

Art Direction, Design – Ria Lewerke
Bass, Vocals – Joe Read
Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Scott Musick
Engineer – Dave Jerden
Engineer [assistent] – Carolyn Collins
Guitar, Bass, Synthesizer, Lead Vocals – Michael Been
Guitar, Vocals – Tom Ferrier
Keyboards – Jim Goodwin
Photography – Moshe Brakha
Producer – Michael Been, The Call
Written-By – Michael Been, Peter Lewis

Companies, etc.
Manufactured By – PolyGram Records, Inc.
Marketed By – PolyGram Records, Inc.
Recorded At – Eldorado Recording Studios
Pressed By – Hauppauge Record Manufacturing Ltd.

Kellye Huff – In A Special Way – 1989

I think the entire Huff family came together to help Kellye get her first album out. The album was released on the Huff families record label “Giant Records” and Kellye had just debuted the year earlier on the David and the Giants album “Strangers To The Night”. It only had one charting single with “In A Special Way” just making it onto the charts at #40. What we have here is a slightly poppier version of David and the Giants with Kellye doing lead vocals. I am actually pretty impressed with her vocal skills, she obviously inherited the family music gift. That said the vocals are a little thin in places but it is her first album and there was much to be learnt yet. I’m looking forward to hearing her second album and hopefully hearing that development.

1 – Anticipation – 3:07
2 – Who In The World – 3:32
3 – All My Days – 3:46
4 – Tailor Me – 3:34
5 – In A Special Way – 3:38
6 – Sing His Song – 3:19
7 – I Cherish Thee – 3:37
8 – Glory Hallelujah – 3:23
9 – All I Need – 3:56
10 – Little Lamb – 4:49

Kellye Huff – Lead and Background Vocals
Lloyd Bustard – Songwriter
Rick Cooper – Songwriter
Karen Harding – Background Vocals
Clayborn Huff – Engineer, Songwriter, Bass
David W. Huff – Producer, Engineer, Mixed, Songwriter, Guitars, Mandolin, Background Vocals
Lance Huff – Drums, Percussion
Rayborn Huff – Engineer, Songwriter, Programming, Keyboards, Background Vocals
Anthony Neal – Saxophone
Terry Ostovich – Mixed
Tim Pedigo – Background Vocals
Larry Rust – Keyboards
Donnie Sanders – Saxophone
Tommy Sims – Songwriter, Keyboards
Hank Williams – Mastered

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Giant Records
Copyright (c) – Giant Records
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Distributed By – Mitchell Family Books, Inc.
Pressed By – Nimbus

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Julie Miller – Meet Julie Miller – 1990

Dear God, how I love this album! There is not one wasted note, riff or beat anywhere to be found. Some may find Miller’s quirky, child-like voice an acquired taste, but I rather consider it simply needing an educated palette. After a very short stint with the group Streetlight, which only recorded an EP, with her husband Buddy Miller, Julie was signed by Myrrh and immediately they began the horrific mistake of touting their Leslie Phillips replacement and their answer to Cyndi Lauper. What they actually had was a brilliant songwriter, singer and performer. Talent runs deep in the Miller household and CCM;s inability to grasp the fact and promote her properly left her looking to mainstream and independent channels for the majority of her fine career. But in 1990 a wonderful, melodic, accessible and utterly enjoyable album found a home in my CD rotation and has never left it. Rich in harmonies, memorable melodies and brilliant musicianship, Meet Julie Miller was a brilliant introduction to the artist.

The 30-second acapella blues number “Dogtown” starts the record before launching right into one of the radio hits from the album, “You Knew the Way to My Heart.” Melodic, pop-driven Americana rock with a hook of a chorus so large you could drive a truck through it. Miller’s ability to work her voice through whispering, soft moments to gravelly pop hooks is quite impressive. The use of her own voice in the backing vocals just works in creating the perfect harmonies in the bridge.

“Mystery Love” follows in the same vein with the bluesy, jangly rock (Mark Heard and T-Bone Burnett would be proud) style. This is one of the few songs that reminds me musically of Leslie Phillips, though one of the great ironies is that Phillips is said to be the one who passed along Miller’s demo to the execs at Myrrh in the first place.

We have mentioned “classics” and what qualifies as one several times on this blog. I firmly believe Miller has one here on this project and it remains her one biggest hit on Christian radio though clocking in at nearly 6 minutes (most stations played the edited version that leaves off the spoken word introduction), with “What Would Jesus Do.”

The song is not the normal sweet and lovely “Jesus loves me” sort of content CCM radio has been known for. But rather, the song is pointed look at the churches lack of genuine Biblical and loving response to the “least of these.” This missional (before the word existed) song features an all-star chorus at the end that is genuinely inspirational in the good sense of the word, including Phillips, Buddy Miller, Russ Taff and a host of others.

“Don’t Cry for me” returns to the more acoustic Americana rock that populates the majority of the album. Dan Posthuma’s production may get occasionally heavy-handed, as a more stark, limited and earthy arrangement would have made this song more authentic. But Posthuma is much more hands off sounding than on some of the work he did a few years previous with Phillips.

Following somewhat in the vein of “What Would Jesus Do,” is the beautiful “How Could You Say No.” A stunningly simply acoustic ballad, the song is both poignant and powerful in its sheer simple faith. When presented with the truth of what Christ suffered on your behalf, how is it possible to reject His grace?

“King of My Heart” is another less than a minute number that moves directly into the one real “rocker” on the album. The funky and rollicking “Song to the Devil” is very reminiscent of the two “Devil” songs recorded by Keith Green over a decade previously. The possibly pretentious silliness of the song is overcome by the sheer joy and humor of the performance.

The completely different “world music” rhythm of “Who Owns Your heart” is so refreshing as sounds cool 20 years later. Reminds me of some of Bruce Cockburn’s music off of “Stealing Fire.”

Live the “devil” song, “My Psychiatrist” is a humorous novelty song that wins the listener over by the sheer joy of it all. Deep within the silliness, though, is a great message.

“Love Will Find You” remains my favorite song from the album and would give the listener a glimpse at what was to come from the artist. The light country/folk of the melody belies a deeper thought process within its message. Also, the song really shows Miller the singer and how she sounds harmonizing with Buddy. Really a pretty song that should and could have been a country hit in the right circumstance.

The darkest and most moving song on the album may be the abortion themed “Dangerous Place.” Here the womb is described as a dangerous place to many an unborn child. Melodically, the song is the darkest and most difficult. The fading refrain of “Jesus Loves Me” sung by a children’s choir at the songs close is quite moving.

The album closes with the traditional, “I Will Arise and Go to Jesus.” This simple reworking of the classic Gospel tune is a fitting finale to this amazing project that throughout tips its cap to the traditional music of Gospel while looking to the future of great artistic folk and rock music in Miller’s career.

Contributor David Lowman –

1 – Dogtown – 0:32
2 – You Knew The Way To My Heart – 3:00
3 – Mystery Love – 3:06
4 – What Would Jesus Do – 6:11
5 – Don’t Cry For Me – 3:49
6 – How Could You Say No – 3:27
7 – King Of My Heart – 0:55
8 – Song To The Devil (I’m Thru With You) – 2:38
9 – Who Owns Your Heart – 2:41
10 – My Psychiatrist – 2:09
11 – Love Will Find You – 3:52
12 – Dangerous Place – 2:58
13 – I Will Arise and Go To Jesus – 2:54

Rose Banks – Background Vocals
Mickey Cates – Songwriter
Shawn Colvin – Background Vocals
Craig Finley – Background Vocals
Dan Garcia – Mixed
Amy Grant – Background Vocals
Amy Hargrave – Choir Vocals
Katie Hargrave – Choir Vocals
Jean Johnson – Background Vocals
Ron Krueger – Keyboards
Howard McCrary – Background Vocals
Buddy Miller – Associate Producer, Engineer, Songwriter, Bass, Guitars, Keyboards, Drum Programming, Background Vocals
Julie Miller – Songwriter, Guitars, Vocals
Kathy Pinto – Background Vocals
Dan Posthuma – Producer, Bass, Drum Programming
Lee Trudy Posthuma – Choir Vocals
Millard Posthuma – Violin
Sara Posthuma – Choir Vocals
Sara Richards – Choir Vocals
Lincoln Schalifer – Bass
John Andrew Schreiner – Keyboards, Accordion
Leland Sklar – Bass
Russ Taff – Background Vocals
Carlos Vega – Percussion
Billy Jo Walker – Guitars
Kelly Willard – Background Vocals
Victoria Williams – Background Vocals
Robin Williamson – Hurdy-Gurdy

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Word, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Word, Inc.
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Published By – Word Music
Published By – LCS Music
Published By – StraightWay Music
Manufactured By – JVC
Designed At – OSS

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David & The Giants – Strangers To The Night – 1988

Unfortunately by this point David and The Giants were producing albums too regularly. This album while good feels like they just went into the studio to get another album out. The album is a good listen but there just aren’t any real stand out tracks. Probably the best track is “Perfect Love” which features harmonies from David’s daughter Kellye Huff. Of course CCM charts missed this entirely and picked “Show Them the Light” and “Strangers to the Night” as the charting singles. But while I think “Perfect Love” is a great track it’s not gonna make it onto my regular rotation. To sum up, it’s a good album but unfortunately not a great album.

1 – Celebrate His Power – 3:50
2 – Show Them the Light – 3:54
3 – Lively Stones – 4:22
4 – I’m Not Ashamed – 3:23
5 – Perfect Love – 4:28
6 – Restless – 5:30
7 – Strangers to the Night – 3:49
8 – No Compromise – 4:34
9 – I Believe in You – 3:48
10 – I Was the Nails – 3:40

Backing Vocals – Dave Mullen, James Bolton, Karen Harding, Kellye Huff, Rick Florian
Concept By, Design, Art Direction – P. R. Allen
Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Keith Thibodeaux
Engineer, Arranged By, Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Rayborn Huff
Engineer, Bass, Backing Vocals – Clayborn Huff
Engineer, Engineer [Assistant Remix Engineer] – Terry Ostovich
Mastered By – Denny Purcell
Percussion – Lance Huff
Producer, Arranged By, Backing Vocals – Tommy Sims
Producer, Engineer, Mixed By [Remixed By], Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals – David Huff
Saxophone – Donnie “Sax” Sanders

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Giant Records (13)
Copyright (c) – Giant Records (13)
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Recorded At – Huff Recording Studios
Mixed At – Huff Recording Studios
Mastered At – Georgetown Masters

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The 77s – Tom Tom Blues – 1995

A lot of stuff happened between 1984’s All Fall Down and Tom Tom Blues. Six other albums in fact, so the fact that this one stands stark against their 1980s style isn’t that strange. However, here at Real 80s CCM we really like the 80s stuff so I have to talk about it. I first discovered this album in the used CD bin at a local record shop in the mid-90s. I think someone else must have bought it expecting that cutting, pop-new wave and found something else instead. Not that this isn’t a good collection of songs, but it required seriously resetting some expectations. Having said that, I don’t like it as much as some of their other work, such as their self-titled album in 1987. This 1995 release isn’t what I would call grunge, but it came from the grunge era and in retrospect, that is probably the most noticeable influence on the sound. 77s do not really excel at the grunge sound. The lead track, Rocks In Your Head comes on strong, and may be the most memorable one here. Throughout the album there is a lot of rumbly bassline and gutsy guitar. It did make me think back to Ping Pong Over the Abyss with the guitar sound. If there is such a thing as new wave grunge, maybe this is it.

1 – Rocks In Your Head – 3:37
2 – Honesty – 6:21
3 – You Still Love Me – 5:22
4 – Outskirts – 4:42
5 – Flowers In The Sand – 4:51
6 – Don’t Leave Me Long – 4:21
7 – Gravy Chain – 3:17
8 – Five In The Nave – 1:01
9 – Earache – 6:06
10 – Deliverance – 8:53

Band [Seventy Sevens Are], Bass, Backing Vocals, Other [Bottom] – Mark Harmon
Band [Seventy Sevens Are], Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals, Other [Everything In Between] – Bruce Spencer
Band [Seventy Sevens Are], Guitar [Guitars], Lead Vocals, Other [Top] – Michael Roe
Cover, Illustration – Rachel Thornton
Design Concept [Art Concept By], Design – Seventy Sevens
Engineer [Engineered By] – Craig Long, Kirt Shearer, Scott Reams
Engineer [Engineered By], Mixed By – Guy Niosi, John Flanagan
Executive-Producer – Gene Eugene, Ojo Taylor
Featuring, Percussion, Other [Cool Vibes] – Cary Avery
Illustration [Inside B/W Illustration] – Kathryn Garcia Smith
Mastered By – Michael Romanowski
Photography By – Pat Johnson
Producer [Produced By] – The 77’s
Songwriter [All Songs Written By] – The 77’s

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Brainstorm Artists International
Copyright © – Brainstorm Artists International
Distributed By – Diamante Music Group
Recorded At – Paradise Studios, Sacramento, CA
Recorded At – Plaid Jacket
Mixed At – Plaid Jacket
Mastered At – Rocket Lab
Pressed By – Disctronics USA – 138314
Published By – 7 And 7 Is Music

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Contender – Fighting To Win – 1990

Right off the bat there is some confusion out there on this band. This is the New York Contender NOT the Illinois Contender. The Illinois version had 2 demos and this version does not have a demo out there I am aware of. Other than that I was unable to find out much about this one album band. The lead singer Eddie Villanueva apparently had some info on the band on MySpace but it’s long since been scrubbed. The album is a straight out Rock album. Some have classified it at Metal but in my opinion it’s Hard Rock. It’s a pretty good album but I feel it should have had a little more production. It was produced by the band and I am surprised that when Refuge picked it up they didn’t bring someone in to work on the album but it really looks like it went straight from studio to pressing. Too bad because I think had this had some better production it would have been a whole lot better known.

1 – I Won’t Give Up – 3:10
2 – You – 3:36
3 – Convenient Christianity – 4:04
4 – You’re There For Me – 4:10
5 – Fighting To Win – 4:03
6 – So I’m Singing – 3:53
7 – Cryin’ Over You – 3:31
8 – I Know You’re There – 4:27
9 – Pullin’ The Wool – 3:10
10 – I Believe In You – 4:19

Bass – Rich McCarthy
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals – Paul Grimsland
Guitar, Drums, Bass – Bob Vinsick
Guitar, Keyboards, Drums, Bass, Backing Vocals – Steve Atwood
Lead Vocals – Eddie Villanueva

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Refuge Records
Copyright © – Refuge Records
Distributed By – Spectra Distribution, Inc.
Distributed By – Mainroads Music Group

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Keith Thomas – Kaleidoscope – 1986

You might be listening to this thinking you don’t know Keith Thomas but I can guarantee you’ve heard him or his songs. Keith was/is a prolific studio musician and song writer. He has worked for hundreds (yes I do mean hundreds). I’d offer some names here but there really are just too many but in the Christian market they include Amy Grant, Sandi Patty, and Carman plus many many more. This was his second and last album. Like so many high end studio musicians and writers they find great success right up until they try to release their own album. That said in this case Keith really should have had greater success. This album is fantastic and the quality is there through all 8 tracks. The album did have a CCM single with “It’s Only Natural” making it to #4 which is pretty darn good. The album is very synth heavy and at time has a cool funk feel. This is another one that if you missed it in the 80’s you need to give this one a listen now.

1 – Te Deum – 4:18
2 – It’s Only Natural – 3:54
3 – Pinwheel – 5:07
4 – Imagine – 4:31
5 – Home Away From Home – 3:58
6 – Arms Of Love – 4:04
7 – Suspicious Heart – 3:54
8 – Kaleidoscope – 5:55

Art Direction, Design – Bill Brunt
Backing Vocals – Donna McElroy, BeBe Winans, Greg Guidry, Lisa Bevill
Bass – Mike Brignardello, Jimmie Lee Sloas
Drum Programming – Mark Hammond
Featuring – BeBe Winans, Donna McElroy, Greg Guidry
Guitar – Jon Goin, Tom Hemby, James Hollihan
Illustration – Jim Osborn
Keyboards [Programming] – Brett Perry
Lyrics By – Paul Smith, BeBe Winans, Brett Perry, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Greg Guidry, Keith Thomas
Music By – Keith Thomas
Photography By – Dean Dixon
Producer – Keith Thomas
Recorded By, Mixed By – Jeff Balding
Saxophone – Mark Douthit
Synthesizer – Keith Thomas
Written-by – Keith Thomas

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Word, Inc.
Copyright © – Word, Inc.
Recorded At – Gold Mine Studio
Mixed At – Gold Mine Studio
Designed At – Private Eye Studio

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Greg X Volz – No Room in the Middle – 1989

This was Greg’s 3rd solo album and his first on what I suspect is his own label “River Records”. I am actually quite impressed how well he did with a new label release. You can’t argue with an album with 4 top 20 CCM chart hits with “Waitin’ On Someday” doing the best making it to #5. Now we know that CCM chart hits do not translate into sales so I would love to hear some sales numbers for this album as it did struggle with distribution. Anyway let’s get to the album itself. Greg’s excellent vocals dominate as usual. CCM chart numbers mean nothing to me so I think the best track is “Gethsemane”. Unfortunately because it is 7:40 long it will not end up in my regular rotation as quite frankly I get bored with it at about the 5 minute mark. I feel I need to address the “Feelings” track as I can’t decide if it was intentionally quirky or just a bad musical decision. But that’s the end of my criticisms because this is a great album and is a must listen to.

1 – Walk Toward The Light – 4:51
2 – No Room In The Middle – 3:48
3 – Love Moves In A Different Circle – 4:13
4 – The Carpenter – 4:05
5 – I’m Yours – 5:58
6 – Servants And Witnesses – 5:05
7 – Feelings – 5:18
8 – Frontline – 4:19
9 – Gethsemane – 7:38
10 – Waitin’ On Someday – 5:46

Arranged By – George Atwell, Michael Atwell
Bass – Gary Lunn, Matt Pierson
Co-producer – Greg X. Volz
Design – Camille Engel
Drums – Marvin Steinberg
Guitar – Kirk Henderson, Paul Brannon, Tom Hemby
Keyboards [Additional] – Jonathan David Brown
Keyboards, Arranged By – Carl Marsh
Mastered By – Ken Love
Mixed By, Producer, Recorded By – Jonathan David Brown
Photography By – Russ Harrington
Saxophone – Mark Douthit
Synthesizer – Joe Hogue
Vocals – Greg X. Volz

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – GMI Records
Recorded At – Johnny dB’s Basement
Mixed At – Johnny dB’s Basement
Mastered At – Mastermix
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – River Records
Copyright © – River Records

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Paul Smith – Live and Learn – 1986

Paul Smith is probably best known for his time as an Imperial. He replaced Russ Taff in 1981 when Russ left to pursue a solo career. Paul would follow that same path in 1986 with this album. There has been much discussion as to why lead singers fled the Imperials. My best guess (and it’s only a guess) is that it was money. A solo album contract is always better than a group contract. That said as many album as the Imperials were selling I kind of doubt Paul made as much as a solo artist. That said I can guarantee Russ Taff made more money as a solo artist than he did with the Imperials. But really that’s all speculation. Anyway Paul released this album in 1986 on Dayspring Records and it did very well. It had 4 singles on the CCM charts with Never Be Another doing the best climbing to #2. The others didn’t do quite as well but 4 singles on a first solo album is pretty darn good. But keep in mind his musical pedigree guaranteed the album would get noticed. The album is a solid AOR pop album and while a little on the easy listening side for me I still quite enjoyed it.

1 – Everlasting Joy – 4:03
2 – Live And Learn – 4:32
3 – Never Be Another – 3:51
4 – Keep The Light On – 4:05
5 – So Good To Know – 4:11
6 – Let Love Happen To You – 4:43
7 – A Holy Nation – 3:39
8 – Praisemaker – 3:49
9 – Beautiful The Dreamer – 4:00

Art Direction – Buddy Jackson
Backing Vocals – David Martin, Denny Henson, Greg Guidry, Keith Thomas, Lisa Bevill, Patti Morris, Paul Smith
Bass – Jimmie Lee Sloas
Drum Programming – Keith Thomas, Mark Hammond
Drums – Mark Hammond
Executive Producer – Neal Joseph
Guitar – Jon Goin
Keyboards – Keith Thomas
Percussion – Terry McMillan
Photography – Ron Keith, Scott Bonner
Producer – Keith Thomas
Saxophone – Jim Horn
Synthesizer [Additional Programming] – Brett Perry

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Word, Inc.
Copyright © – Word, Inc.
Manufactured By – Word Records Limited

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