Limpic & Rayburn – Caught In The Crossfire – 1978

Released just as the rage of male duo pop acts was waning, Limpic and Rayburn’s sophomore and final release as a duo hit the CCM marketplace. Bridging the gap of Jesus Music and CCM, Gerry Limpic and Mark Rayburn, created a record that both pointed back to the simplistic sounds and messages of acoustic Jesus Music while also pointed forward toward Gerry Limpic’s future solo work. Immediately recognizable as a late 70’s folk/pop duo replete with wide collars and leisure suits, the duo would fit in quite nicely with Loggins & Messina and England Dan & John Ford Coley. The music contained in this now classic is immediately likable and recognizable. Christian radio was very favorable to “Good News,” “Crossfire” and the popular wedding song, “Time for Joy.” The latter would become a very good seller in the fledgling accompaniment track industry and a top seller for sheet music. Limpic was the primary songwriter and would soon leave to pursue a solo career. Gerry got his start in music as a member of the band, The Random Sample, along with his brother Ted. The Random Sample recorded on Tempo Records, the contemporary arm of Impact Records in the early to mid 70’s. Side two is a bit more progressive musically with “Coming Soon” and the album’s closer, “How Long.” The standout, though, is the passion play song, “Mary’s Song (He is Alive).” A slow building story song, the first chorus is a powerful admission that many of us would be equally guilty of joining the crowd calling for Christ’s crucifixion. The final chorus is equally powerful, but the words are changed to declare the resurrection. A great song that should have been an Easter classic, but I honestly never recall anyone performing it. For fans of 70’s acoustic rock with the California country vibe (Poco, Eagles) mixed with radio friendly ballads, this one has the markings of a regular listen.

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

Tracklist
1 – Crossfire – 3:40
2 – Mr. Good News – 3:21
3 – Domino – 4:19
4 – Time For Joy – 2:50
5 – Guide My Steps – 2:44
6 – Mary’s Song (He Is Alive) – 5:17
7 – Coming Soon – 3:48
8 – Love Songs (To the Father) – 3:41
9 – How Long – 5:35

Credits
Bass – Dave Pollard
Design, Illustration – Craig McNair Wilson
Drums – Semaja
Photography By – John Jordan
Piano – Jim Crow
Producer, Guitar, Vocals, Backing Vocals – Gerry Limpic, Mark Rayburn
Producer, Orchestrated By, Engineer, Mixed By, Mastered By – Ron Compton

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Produced For – Home Free Productions
Recorded At – Fanfare Studios, El Cajon, California

Cactus World News – Urban Beaches – 1986

The first of the “asterisk” artists to make the countdown, Cactus World News may also prove to be the least well known. Despite being the first Mother Records, and getting U2’s seal of approval, the band’s success never really came. But it should have! The most obscure of the asterisk artist, CWN released a stellar debut project that yielded a moderate hit with “The Bridge” and a sound that was right in the wheelhouse of what was happening in music at the time. Influences that included The Clash, Ramones, U2 the band also had an energy that equaled The Alarm, Echo and the Bunnymen and Big Country. Christian music listeners might want to use Undercover, 441 and early 77’s as a musical comparison, though their sound was completely their own. The first single and biggest hit, The Bridge, was produced by Bono and helped spur enough interest to be placed on a tour with the Cult. Band members, especially band leader and guitarist, Frank Kearns, shared a longtime friendship with U2 and would often serve as road and equipment support for the then fledgling band. Though immediately likeable and a long time favorite, my favorite cut wasn’t the hit single, but rather the opening track, Worlds Apart. The high energy and passion of the song reveals a heart wrenching longing for acceptance and closeness. Another stand out follows with “In a Whirlpool.” Again, the high energy delivers and impassioned plea for belonging. “The Promise” contains the most direct allusions to a biblical understanding and remains another personal favorite from the album. More questioning than evangelical the band longs for answers as they examine the world around them and discover that they are no less guilty than anyone else. This song is most “U2ish” on the album. Despite the theme of loneliness that weaves itself throughout the project, the album does not feel depressing or dark. For those desiring or demanding a more obvious or clearly evangelical message this album should be avoided. For those who embraced bands like The Waterboys, U2, The Alarm and The Call, this should prove a very satisfying, albeit very obscure, experience.

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

Tracklist
1 – Worlds Apart – 3:36
2 – In A Whirlpool – 3:36
3 – The Promise – 5:03
4 – The Bridge – 4:15
5 – State Of Emergency – 7:10
6 – Years Later – 4:10
7 – Church Of The Cold – 3:49
8 – Pilots Of Beka – 6:04
9 – Jigsaw Street – 3:19
10 – Maybe This Time – 7:00

Credits
Artwork By – Creative Department Ltd, The, Dublin, Ireland.
Artwork By [Sleeve Design] – Steve Averill
Bass – Fergal MacAindris
Drums, Percussion – Wayne Sheehy
Electric Guitar, Guitar [Spanish] – Frank Kearns
Engineer [Assistant, Dublin] – Mary Kettle
Engineer [Dublin] – Mark Freegard
Engineer [Holland] – Thomas Stiehler
Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar – Eoin McEvoy
Photography [Black And White Interiors] – Conor Horgan
Photography [Exterior] – Brian Griffin
Producer – Chris Kimsey
Written-By, Performer – Cactus World News

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – MCA Records, Inc.
Manufactured By – MCA Records, Inc.
Distributed By – MCA Records, Inc.

T-Bone Burnett – Truth Decay – 1980

The first release from T-Bone Burnett after the demise of the incredible Alpha Band proved the songwriting genius of T-Bone Burnett suffered no loss at the bands demise. Fresh, current, original and utterly and completely T-Bone Burnett. The Alpha Band is not completely gone here as Steven soles, David Miner and David Mansfield all appear on the album with T-Bone. I have worked in the Christian music arena since the late 1970’s and have never been starstruck when meeting artists. Even backstage at Anaheim Stadium meeting Bono and the Edge was exciting, but no stuttering or stammering conversations took place. But when Leslie Phillips released the Turning the store I was managing did an in-store appearance with her. She brought T-Bone Burnett with her in tow. I completely lost it. I mean, seriously. the dude is T-Bone freakin Burnett! I met him again a few years later at Anaheim Stadium at the same U2 concert where my wife and I were seated between then Sam Phillips with T-Bone on one side and Nick Cage and his date on the other side. I’m sure people around me had to wonder why I was more enthralled with the fact I was next to this tall lanky, Texan with an unfamiliar face. It was with Truth Decay that i was first introduced to T-Bone Burnett. I went back to get the Alpha Band after discovering him through this great album. If I was to create a “Best Of” project it would include nearly every song from this album and a few songs from his others. Every song here rang true with great country and blues driven guitar and Burnett’s nasally and caustic vocals. It was my introduction to “roots rock” and I was sold! The album possesses a wonderful combination of bluesy rockers and stark, introspective ballads. The lyrics are as caustic, raw and emotive as the music. Relationships, selfishness, materialism and faith all are explored here with precision and honesty. One song to note is “Power of Love,” which would later be covered impressively by Mark Heard. Quicksand, Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk, and Boomerang are all major standouts on a record filled with. the latter is simply brilliant! I could never prove it but I have always been convinced that Gene Eugene was influenced by the melody and vocals found here on Madison Avenue. This is an obvious AYSO like the rest of T-Bone’s catalog. Very few artists have even scratched the surface of the brilliance of Burnett. His accolades run a mile long and his production credits have earned him Grammy and even Oscar’s, but it is with his wonderful, simply solo projects that the genius truly is exposed.

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

Tracklist
1 – Quicksand – 3:54
2 – Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk – 3:40
3 – Boomerang – 4:15
4 – Love At First Sight – 4:11
5 – Madison Avenue – 2:35
6 – Driving Wheel – 3:10
7 – Come Home – 4:22
8 – Power Of Love – 2:54
9 – House Of Mirrors – 3:30
10 – Tears Tears Tears – 2:30
11 – Pretty Girls – 4:00
12 – I’m Coming Home – 4:00

Credits
Art Direction – John Van Hamersveld
Bass – David Miner
Drums – David Kemper
Engineer [Recordist] – Geoff Gillette
Lacquer Cut By – JG
Mixed By – Larry Hirsch
Performer – Billy Swan, Gary Montgomery, Jerry McGee, Jude Johnstone, K.O. Thomas, Stephen Bruton, Steven Soles
Performer [Uncredited] – T-Bone Burnett
Photography By – Nick Rozsa
Producer – Reggie Fisher

Companies, etc.
Lacquer Cut At – Kendun Recorders
Pressed By – Columbia Records Pressing Plant, Terre Haute
Distributed By – Chrysalis Records, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Takoma Records
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Takoma Records

Margaret Becker – Immigrants Daughter – 1989

After a wonderful debut and solid sophomore effort something happened to Margaret Becker that would change the direction of her musical progression for the better and help her create one of the truly great female rock albums in CCM history. Someone introduced her to Charlie Peacock. With Peacock’s help Becker created “Immigrant’s Daughter,” a thoughtful, and rock filled pop album with alternative underpinnings. Sounding now a little more like Annie Lennox than Ann Wilson, Becker’s vocal chops expanded and sounded more current and original. Subdued when needed and blowing up when necessary, her vocals here would not be matched until much later on some independent releases. Also with Peacock’s oversight, the songwriting became more introspective and universal. Christian themes combined with real human experiences to create a more passionate and authentic record. The personal expression is found immediately with the title track and continues throughout the project. The album also sounded more “current” and pulled Becker out of the “Chick Rocker” track and allowed to expand and grow as an artist and songwriter. Wonderful rockers and paired with ballads and “modern” musical expressions that also found radio to be quite responsive. Not every ballad has to be “These dreams” or “Alone” as sometimes the softer side provides a more memorable and authentic experience. There are so many strong songs here but a few worth receiving special notation include: Solomon’s Shoes, This Is My Passion, Stay Close to Me and the title track. The cover of “People Get Ready” is also a nice touch to close the album.

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

Tracklist
1 – Immigrant’s Daughter – 4:25
2 – This Is My Passion – 4:03
3 – Stay Close To Me – 3:08
4 – The Hunger Stays – 4:06
5 – Just Come In – 4:25
6 – I Commit – 4:22
7 – Honesty – 3:44
8 – Solomon’s Shoes – 3:13
9 – Laugh A Little – 3:42
10 – People Get Ready – 3:39

Credits
Acoustic Guitar – Jimmy Abegg, Margaret Becker
Art Direction – Barbara Hearn, Larry Vigon
Backing Vocals – Annie Stocking, Brent Bourgeois, Charlie Peacock, Jeanie Tracy, Margaret Becker, Vince Ebo
Bass – Larry Tagg
Design – Larry Vigon Studio
Drums – Mike Urbano
Electric Guitar – Jimmy Abegg
Engineer [Additional] – Bill Deaton, David Houston
Executive-Producer – Peter York
Liner Notes – Margaret Becker
Mastered By – Doug Sax
Mixed By – Jeff Balding
Mixed By [Assistant] – Derek Marcil, Jared Held
Organ [Hammond B-3] – Roger Smith
Photography By – Mark Tucker
Piano, Keyboards – Charlie Peacock
Producer, Arranged By – Charlie Peacock
Recorded By – Rick Sanchez
Recorded By [Assistant] – Jim “Watts” Vereecke
Written-By – Charlie Peacock (tracks: 1, 3, 4, 8, 9), Curtis Mayfield (tracks: 10), Leonard Ahlstrom (tracks: 6), Margaret Becker (tracks: 1 to 9), Mike Demus (tracks: 6)

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Studio D
Recorded At – Moon Studios, Sacramento
Recorded At – Gold Mine Studio
Recorded At – Studio 55, Los Angeles
Mastered At – The Mastering Lab
Phonographic Copyright (p) – The Sparrow Corporation
Copyright (c) – The Sparrow Corporation
Published By – His Eyes Music
Published By – SBK Blackwood Music Inc.
Published By – Andi Beat Goes On Music
Published By – Paragon Music Corp.
Published By – Sunday Shoes Music
Published By – Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp.
Glass Mastered At – Nimbus, Virginia

John Mehler – Bow & Arrow – 1982

Ten years removed from Love Song and ten light years removed musically, Bow and Arrow was an original artistic revelation in 1982. I had just begun working for a small buy relatively aggressive Christian Bookstore in orange, CA called The Pink Lady. The store with odd name was kind of a crazy combination of ice cream shop, Bible bookstore, Hallmark store and music store. Half of the music department was dedicated choral and instrumental music with instruments, cantatas and several rooms for private instrument instruction. Yet, at the same time, the music department carried Bruce Cockburn, U2 and Bill Mason band along with Amy, Michael and Larnelle. One of my first days working there the owners daughter was training me and had put a brand new album from Maranatha Music on the in store turntable. After several songs I mentioned that I thought this was, by far, the best Phil Keaggy album I had ever heard! The album was “Bow and Arrow” by former Love Song drummer John Mehler and I bought the album that night. The album was produced by Mehler with help from Bill Batstone who also played bass on the album. The musical direction will always find comparison to Phil Keaggy because of Mehler’s voice having such an uncanny resemblance to the guitar virtuoso. Keaggy’s providing some of his best recorded guitar work helped to add luster to the comparison. But there are to be found touched of early 80’s new wave and a dash of the Police. And within the framework of the 9 songs one will find nine brilliantly written, produced and performed songs. As pioneering Love Song was for the early Jesus Music days, Mehler’s Bow and Arrow was just as captivating, original and significant. The album received very limited promotional and radio support as it was at this time that Maranatha Music decided to no longer do artist oriented releases and focus exclusively on worship and children’s albums. This is one of the great travesties in the history of the industry that the album was never picked up by another label and was left to disappear into many a cut out bin. That same album now fetches a pretty penny on the open market as audiophiles and fans recognize what a great album it was. In fact, a recent HM Magazine countdown of the Top 100 Rock albums in CCM history listed Bow and Arrow amongst many of the great releases. It should be noted here that this is sonically one of the best albums of its day. The production quality is tremendous and is easily one of those albums that deserves a CD release. I really wish I owned it on CD. The sound is worthy and the album is more than worthy! Mehler would go on to record another project five years later and a live album. In between there would also be two great instrumental jazz albums (I can’t recommend “Light the Night” enough), countless studio sessions, ministry opportunities, concerts, teaching, etc. But for one all too brief moment in CCM history, one of the truly great albums found a home on my turntable and remains “one of the greatest Phil Keaggy albums ever!”

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

Tracklist
1 – Trust In The Lord – 3:57
2 – Just Like You – 2:55
3 – His Love For You – 5:19
4 – Bow And Arrow – 3:39
5 – Be Strong In The Lord – 5:55
6 – Alright – 4:08
7 – Little Drummer Boy – 4:00
8 – The Seventh Seal – 2:32
9 – My Strength – 4:10

Credits
Bill Batstone – Songwriter, Arrangements, Bass
Wayne Brasel – Guitar
Bill Cobb – Engineer
Katherine Davis – Songwriter
Steve Hall – Mastered
Phil Keaggy – Guitars
Jim Lacefield – Bass
John Mehler – Producer, Songwriter, Arrangements, Drums, Percussion, Vocals
Lynda Mehler – Songwriter
Randy Mitchell – Guitar
Henry Onorati – Songwriter
Harry Simeone – Songwriter
Chuck Smith – Executive Producer
John Vestman – Co-Producer, Engineer, Mixed, Percusion, Violin, Guitar, Background Vocals
Rob Watson – Keyboards
Dan Willard – Mastered

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Maranatha! Music
Copyright (c) – Maranatha! Music
Engineered At – Trianon Studios
Mastered At – MCA Whitney Recording Studios
Mixed At – Trianon Studios
Published By – Maranatha! Music

Jimmy Hotz – Beyond The Crystal Sea – 1980

The definitive and original Christian progressive rock album, Beyond the Crystal Sea is the masterpiece of an artist that may be one of the most important people in the history of all of rock music that very few may even be aware of.Musicians around the world have been indebted to Hotz’s work and may not even realize it. He is the inventor of the Hotz Box, Midi Vest, Atari Hotz Box, MIDI Translator and host of other commonly used and creatively important electronic advances. In fact, Hotz is also responsible for integrating 3D Graphics and manipulating their movement through computer technology. Hidden amongst his technological achievements is also a brilliant composer, arranger, instrumentalist and songwriter. his musical vision met his technological genius ion 1980’s brilliant Gospel themed “Beyond the crystal Sea.” Like much or progressive rock Hotz borrows from fantasy literature and themes and infuses them into clear Biblical messages. This album is “Art Rock” at its finest. Fans of early Genesis and experimental rock fans of Yes, King Crimson and Pink Floyd will love what Hotz creates here. Songs are complex, with intricate changes and musical instrumental breaks interspersed with more commercial rock vocal influences. But one great joy is Hotz ability to remain accessible with this album and not alienate those outside of the limited “art rock” fan base. There are layers of vocals, keyboards and guitars creating a much larger than life wall of sound. There is no doubt that modern Progressive Rock legends like Dream Theatre and Neal Morse were heavily influenced and inspired by Hotz’s work. It should also be noted that Hotz also had a hand in producing the classic Ark Angel album to be discussed later.

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

Tracklist
1 – Observations Of A Larger Reality – 8:32
2 – Night Passage – 2:12
3 – Vision Ship – 5:35
4 – Teton – 3:18
5 – Beyond The Blues – 4:53
6 – Alpine Magic – 1:42
7 – From Love Life Did Begin – 4:37
8 – Long, Long Ago – 5:47
9 – The Gates Of Time – 3:45

Credits
Artwork By [Front Cover Art By] – Bruce Eagle
Backing Vocals [Vocals (Backup)] – Bob Farrell, Carol Chambers
Bass – Brian Tankersley, Wayne Six
Concept By [Cover Concept By] – Jimmy Hotz
Drums – Gary Ingram, Rocky Mountain, Russell Dunlap
Engineer [Assistant Engineer] – Brian Tankersley
Keyboards – Paul Mills, Phil Huston
Layout – Lex Zachary
Producer, Engineer – Jimmy Hotz
Recorder – Kemper Crabb
Remastered By – J. Powell
Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Keyboards – Jimmy Hotz

Companies, etc.
Remastered At – Steinhaus
Recorded At – Rivendell Sound Recorders
Mixed At – Rivendell Sound Recorders

Prodigal – Electric Eye – 1984

In 1982 I was a Junior in High School and had a subscription to Campus Life Magazine. One day I saw an ad for a brand new band called Prodigal that sported a very cool cover, which was a take off on Escher’s famous painting. But what was even better was that there was a pull out single for the band attached to the center of the magazine. These were all the rage during the 1970’s and often found included inside cereal boxes or even attached to the cardboard of those same cereal boxes. You had to take the very flimsy plastic disc, place it on top of a solid LP and then you could play the single. That was the first of three Prodigal releases, and all three made this list. That band was that damned good. probably better than we even realize. Prodigal is easily the most overlooked and unsung band in CCM history…PERIOD! The type of innovation already noted was what fans could expect from the band Prodigal during their short-lived three record existence. Their innovations also included being the first recipient of the Dove Award for “Video of the Year.” They were one of the few bands that continued to invest in the fledgling video marketing promotional support creating several videos per release. And even for the album in question there was what is called a “stop groove” at the end of the side 2 and a “hidden bonus track” of sorts which contained a computer code for the old Commodore 64 computer. Using a cassette drive a person could get bonus information about the album along with photos and lyrics. This may have become common with the invent of compact discs, but this was totally revolutionary in 1984. All three of their album covers were spectacular. But it was the content, both musically and lyrically, that set Prodigal above their peers for the time. Where other artist bemoaned the struggles, pain and realities of life on this spinning globe, Prodigal placed themselves within that reality and expressed those struggles from one who is intimately aware and experienced with those struggles. Where the first album stayed along the musical lines of Steely Dan and the Eagles, it was with “Electric Eye” the band became very current, and dare I say, cutting edge. Guitar driven rock and new wave synth pop merged to create a sound that was uniquely Prodigal while immediately familiar and memorable. Driving keyboard and bass that for some reason reminds me of the music from the “St. Elmo’s Fire” soundtrack. Also another unique feature is the use of three different lead singers with duties distributed according to musical style. The content on “Electric Eye” is beautifully portrayed on the album cover shown above. We have surrounded ourselves with so much to entertain us and consume our time that the difference between reality and artificial are not just blurred but rather the artificial begins to be more “real.” Note how the actual lightning through the window is faded and bland while the same lightning shown on the television set is vibrant and exiting. This is expressed in different ways on the album along with a host of other topics that are both poignant and eternal. Even the recording process was experimental. The album was recorded in an abandoned Catholic Girls school in Cincinnati using a mobile recording system built into a motor home. Band members would move from room to room to create a different acoustic sound to discover the best fit for a particular song. Lead vocalist and band leader Loyd Boldman told me that at the time the band (especially himself) was listening a lot to Springsteen’s “Born to Run” and “The River” as well as Daniel Amos and Michael Omartian. These influences shade and nuance much of what makes this record so amazing. With the knowledge guitar parts, vocal styles and overall production results make sense. The goal was to create a larger, less polished and precise studio album that the debut was. In that area the band succeeded with flying colors.

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

Tracklist
1 – Scene Of The Crime – 4:44
2 – Fast Forward – 4:43
3 – Masks – 4:05
4 – Just What I Need – 3:08
5 – Emerald City – 3:23
6 – Electric Eye – 5:00
7 – Bobby – 3:18
8 – Shout It Out – 3:25
9 – Neon – 5:15
10 – Boxes – 3:35

Credits
Arranged By – Prodigal
Artwork [Additional] – A.I.R. Studio
Bass – Mike Wilson
Design [Cover] – Dave Workman, Loyd Boldman
Design Concept [Cover] – Loyd Boldman
Drums, Vocals – Dave Workman
Effects [Special Sound FX] – Gary (Platinum) Platt
Engineer [Assistants] – Brad Kuenning, Paul Thompson, Rytt Hershberg
Graphics [Additional] – The Malone Group
Guitar, Vocals – Rick Fields
Keyboards, Vocals – Loyd Boldman
Mastered By – Mike Fuller
Mixed By [Additional Overdubs, Final Mixdown] – Gary Platt
Photography By [Back Cover] – Luther Blue
Photography By [Cover] – Gary Kessler
Producer – Jon Phelps
Recorded By – Greg McNeily
Sounds, Engineer [Concert Sound] – Paul Thompson
Written-By – Workman (tracks: A4, B5), Boldman (tracks: A1 to A3, A5 to B4)

Companies, etc.
Recorded By – The Full Sail Dream Machine
Mixed At – The Full Sail Dream Machine
Engineered At – Moonlight Sound
Mastered At – Criteria Recording Studios
Pressed By – Electrosound Group Midwest, Inc.
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Published By – Between The Lines Music
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Heartland Records Company
Copyright (c) – Heartland Records Company

Erick Nelson and Michele Pillar – The Misfit – 1979

As the world of “Jesus Music” was progressing into what is now known as CCM, there were several very good albums and some brilliant artists making music that was clearly in both genres and served as bridges and building blocks to this new industry. But there were not many “game changers” that forced the music world to consider the genre valid and worthy of consideration. Most great albums lacked quality production, originality or authenticity. The Misfit was a game changer. Completely original and just as good as anything in the pop music world at the time. Most “concept” albums suffer from content over quality and are often filled with songs that are forced to push the story forward and do not stand on their own as original compositions. The Misfit was a concept album that just happened to be filled 13 brilliant individual songs that have stood the test of time. This is not a concept album in the same way as something from The Who where it is a rock opera with a singular storyline weaving throughout each song. Rather, The Misfit is a concept album where a common thread of concept of being an “outside” or outcast weaves its way throughout each and every song. The different topics range from faith, love, loss, doubt and more, but all with a singular focus as coming from the outside looking in. Erick Nelson at this point had a very good and lengthy Jesus Music career going as both a solo artists and as members of popular bands like Good News. Michele Pillar was an up and coming and much talked about new female vocalist on the precipice of a wonderful career in the 1980’s. Her sweet and smooth Karen Carpenter (ballads) or Kiki Dee (pop) like voice matched Nelson’s more soulful and, at times, rocky voice perfectly and the blend just worked. It shocked many at the time that this would be their only album together. Nelson has said of himself that one his greatest strengths is his ability to surround himself with amazing musicians and performers. Though no slouch on the piano himself, he most certainly surrounded himself with the very best on this project. Guest musicians include Hadley Hockensmith, Dean parks, John Wickham, Jonathan David Brown, Alex MacDougall, Keith Edwards, Kelly Willard, Stan Endicott, Denny Correll and a host of others!

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

Tracklist
1 – The Misfit – 3:35
2 – Carry Me Along – 3:30
3 – Stand – 3:58
4 – Sail On – 2:35
5 – Can’t Find My Way Home – 3:22
6 – The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress – 1:56
7 – He’s Asleep – 3:20
8 – Hurting People – 3:42
9 – Take Me To The Light – 4:00
10 – First Prayer – 3:08
11 – Love Hurts – 2:47
12 – He Gave Me Love – 2:54
13 – Martyr Song – 3:40

Credits
Jonathan David Brown – Synthesizer
Alf Clausen – Orchestration
Darrel Cook – Bass
Denny Correll – Background Vocals
Tim Correll – Background Vocals
Keith Edwards – Drums, Percussion
Stan Endicott – Orchestration
Hadley Hockensmith – Bass, Guitars
Phil Kristianson – B3 Organ
Alex MacDougall – Percussion
George Marinelli, Jr. – Electric Guitar
Erick Nelson – Piano, Wurlitzer, Vocals
Dean Parks – Electric Guitar
Michele Pillar – Vocals
David Storrs – Electric Guitar
John Wickham – Electric Guitar
Kelly Willard – Rhodes

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Maranatha! Music
Copyright (c) – Maranatha! Music

Michael Anderson – Sound Alarm – 1988

Sometime around 1987 I was working at a very large and popular christian Bookstore in Southern California when a copy of Billboard Magazine came across my desk. Along the bottom of the front page was an ad for an artist on A&M Records. The slogan on the ad was something like, “There’s Nothing Funny About the End of the World.” I was intrigued. I immediately called my local one-stop mainstream distributor and asked about the project. He hadn’t heard about but did make a couple calls for me. It would be released a few weeks later, but he did call the next day and said he got an advanced copy of the album for my to review before ordering. I drove over right away and put the CD in my car. The content seemed “Christian” to me but i had no real proof the artist was a Christian. Songs were about faith and the title track mentioned Babylon and Armageddon. I ordered some for the store despite the “hell” word being present and not receiving any confirmation about the faith of the artist. It sold well. In fact, it sold extremely well. My staff loved it and pushed and I don’t think a customer came in that didn’t hear something about it one way or the other. It charted in CCM Magazine just because of our sales alone. About a month later i received a phone call. On the other end of the line was a man with a very low voice and calm demeanor. He introduced himself as Michael Anderson and asked why in the world was i selling his record at a Christian Bookstore. I was a bit stunned and taken aback. “Don’t get me wrong,” he said, “I just wanted to know how you knew I was a Christian?” As I found out later his manager told him the album charted in CCM Magazine and that was because of the sales from one store. He tracked down the store and called. That started a friendship that would last for several years. My wife and I would travel to Hollywood regularly to hang out with Michael and his wife. In fact, we were invited by Michael his wife’s birthday party at an amazing gourmet Japanese restaurant in Bel Air and were seated at a table with Michael and Stormie Omartian. Michael’s debut project on A&M Records is a powerful, straight ahead Americana rock and roll in the same vein as the best from John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen but with a more blues and country influenced sound. Anderson’s voice will huff, puff, spit, scream and squeal with an edge that pierces as it communicates with passion few have reviled. On higher notes he is known to have his voice crack in trademark fashion. But on the mellower tunes he can bring it down to soft, almost Barry White-like smooth growl. Anderson would record two releases for the mainstream market on A&M and then two projects for the Christian market on Forefront. He made his way there after I gave a copy of this album to Eddie DeGarmo at a Benson records sales conference.

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

Tracklist
1 – Sound Alarm – 5:31
2 – I Know That You Can Stand – 5:14
3 – I Need You – 4:51
4 – Until You Loved Me – 3:49
5 – Sanctuary – 5:43
6 – Little Bit O’ Love – 4:24
7 – Memphis Radio – 4:47
8 – Soweto Soul – 4:03
9 – Shine A Light – 4:49
10 – Time To Go Home – 5:10

Credits
Backing Vocals – Toni Anderson
Bass, Backing Vocals – Buck Silvertone
Drums – Chad Cromwell
Guitar – Josh Sklair
Harmonica – Jimmy Z
Producer, Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Terry Manning
Vocals, Guitar – Michael Anderson

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – A&M Records, Inc.
Copyright (c) – A&M Records, Inc.
Distributed By – PolyGram
Made By – PolyGram
Recorded At – Ardent Studios
Recorded At – Alpha Sound
Mixed At – Ardent Studios
Mixed At – Alpha Sound
Mastered At – Masterdisk
Published By – Atlantic Recording Corporation
Published By – Cadillac Pink Music

ArkAngel – Warrior – 1980

Featuring Kemper Crabb, Arkangel’s “Warrior” has become one of the most sought after and expensive collector’s item’s in CCM history. From the stunning album artwork to the brilliant art rock performed perfectly, there is really no doubt as to why this is such a sought after project. The artwork and the music conjure up images of Tolkein and “middle Earth,” crusades and knights in shining armor. Primarily a moody and melodic (and dare I say worshipful), there are moments of hard and progressive rock rock. Labeled often a progressive rock masterpiece, art rock is a better label. More thoughtful and contemplative than its contemporaries, Crabb revels in the classical, meditative and majestic musical styles employed. Crabb also demonstrates a diversity of musical taste and instrumentation, with nearly 40 instruments represented on the project with Crabb responsible for playing roughly 30 of them. On a side note, I believe fans of Daniel Amos’ “Shotgun Angel” will find quite a bit to like here. Not as country rock or Beatlesque, but there is a similarity in musical and artistic expression found here. Despite the clear artistic endeavor the album is lyrically very “Christian” and Gospel centered. The title track would later be covered by Caedmon’s Call on their first worship album and works as an introduction to the feel and sound of the entire project. Paradox is just a great acoustic rock song, perfectly suited for its day to be a mainstream radio hit, if not the blatant Jesus content. It should be noted here just how well produced the album is. Given that it was released on the burgeoning Star Song label with a distinctly limited budget, the album sounds fantastic. Vocals are clear, strings are ample and the instrumentation is more than just solid, but at times exquisite. Bekah Crabb adds vocals on a few songs as well. The heaviest number is the nearly six minute “Morning Anthem.” Taking the worshipful lyrical cue from “Warrior,” Morning Anthem is a stunning rocker that calls the worshippers to dance before the Lord. heavy, harmonic and powerful. For the time it would rank amongst the “heavier” songs in CCM and one of the truly rare instances of progressive rock in the genre. There was never a follow up to this amazing project and that is a real shame. Another journey to Middle Earth spiritually and metaphorically would have been a great delight. But alas, like most of the most progressive and artistic endeavors in CCM, it never found an audience. Though some 30 years later that limited audience is willing to part with large sums of money to discover (or rediscover) this amazing project.

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

Tracklist
1 – Pange Lingua Certaminis – 0:43
2 – Warrior / March Of The Ents – 4:22
3 – Dwelling Place – 4:32
4 – Paradox (Disciple’s Song) – 3:19
5 – Realization – 2:56
6 – Praises In The Old Tongue – 1:21
7 – Greater Love – 3:16
8 – Ex Nihilo – 2:00
9 – Morning’s Anthem – 5:46
10 – Elohim Considers Antedeluvia – 1:44
11 – The Nephilim Disembodied – 0:39
12 – Ark – 4:29
13 – Beastia Ex Machina – 0:39
14 – To A Sleeping Infidel – 3:22
15 – Morning’s Anthem Reprise – 0:22

Credits
Richard Conine – Keyboards, Alto Saxophone, Flute, Background Vocals
Bekah Crabb – Autoharp, Vocals
Kemper Crabb – Producer, Songwriter, Guitar, Lute, Recorder, Drums, Percussion, Kalimba, Dulcimer, Bass, Vocals
Philip Dorflinger – Ent Voices
Jimmy Hotz – Producer, Engineer
David Marshall – Producer, Arrangements, Guitar, Bass, Vocals
Michael Miller – Ent Voices
Paul Mills – Engineer
Randy M. Sanchez – Drums
Brian Tankersley – Bass, Background Vocals
Andy White – Bagpipes
Steve Young – Violin, Keyboards

Companies, etc.
Copyright (c) – Joyeuse Garde Recordings
Recorded At – Rivendell Sound Recorders
Mixed At – Rivendell Sound Recorders