One of the veterans of The soul Christian music scene is back with his second solo credited album. Let’s be clear however this is actually his 15th album. As I’ve commented before I was completely unaware of the whole soul gospel music scene in the 80’s. Since starting this project I have heard so many great soul albums that I suspect I would have liked in the 80’s and this would have been one of those albums. I would classify it as soul light actually and it has a far more mainstream sound. At times I would classify it as late 70’s pop. I truly believe that anyone who was a fan of the Imperials at this point in history would have also loved this album.
Tracklist 1 – Christ Has Made The Difference – 4:28 2 – He Never Let Me Down Before – 3:53 3 – I Can’t Thank Him Enough – 4:14 4 – Your Love – 4:04 5 – Love Lifted Me – 4:00 6 – You Bring The Sun Out – 4:05 7 – Nobody But You – 4:41 8 – He’s Precious To Me – 3:47 9 – More Than Anything – 4:48 10 – We Praise You – 5:03
Credits Arranged By [Vocal] – Andraé Crouch, Bili Thedford Artwork, Design – Thel Arthur Engineer [@ P. S.] – Danny Leake, Paul Sorrono Engineer [@ Pumpkin] – Gary Lorizzo* Engineer [@ Western] – Gordon Shryock Executive-Producer – Bill Cole Mixed By – Bill Maxwell, Bob Cotton Vocals, Producer, Mixed By, Arranged By [Vocal] – Jessy Dixon
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Lexicon Music, Inc. – 1979 Recorded At – P.S. Recording Studios Recorded At – Pumpkin Studios Recorded At – Western Recorders Mixed At – Paramount Recording Studios Mastered At – Capitol Mastering
This is Brush Arbor’s 5th album and their first on a Christian album. This album doesn’t have as much of a country sound as their others and in fact this one has a 70’s rock sound to me. What this album is best known for is having the original version of David Edwards “Not Going To Fall Away” though it was titled “My Lord”. David Lowman theorizes that as Buddy King produced both this and David’s first album he had a hand in this and I think he’s probably dead on on that one. Anyway their version is pretty good and I guess because this version came out first technically David Edwards covered his own song.
Tracklist 1 – Hide Away – 2:46 2 – Listen To Your Heart – 2:52 3 – Oh, I Love You – 3:37 4 – My Lord – 2:26 5 – Here I Am – 3:26 6 – Hello God – 4:06 7 – How Long – 2:22 8 – If I Didn’t Have Love – 3:28 9 – You And Me All The Way – 2:37 10 – Please Make Yourself Known – 3:28
Credits Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Bill Keene, John Hunt Arranged By [Basic Tracks], Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar – Tom Keene Arranged By [Strings] – David Diggs Arranged By [Vocals] – Jules Alexander Art Direction – Dennis Hill Bass Guitar, Tuba – Dave Coy Concept By [Cover], Photography By – Scott Lockwood Drums, Percussion – Fred Petry Electric Guitar – David Storrs Engineer – Bino Espinoza, Richard Donaldson Engineer, Remix – Bill Bottrell Executive-Producer – Gary Whitlock Guitar – Tim Fuller Keyboards – Dave Garland Management – Dan McKinnon Mastered By – Bernie Grundman Performer – Dave Rose, Jim Rice, Joe Rice Producer, Engineer, Remix – Buddy King Saxophone – Ernie Watts Steel Guitar, Electric Guitar – Al Perkins Synthesizer – Yabo Obien Violin – Fred Field
Seawind’s “Light the Light” broke through the Christian and mainstream world with original rhythms, world class horn section, Pauline Wilson’s piercing, soulful voice and a collection of musicians that are comparable to no one. Added to that, a very strong selection of songs and killer production. Many of the band members would later be the driving force behind the epic CCM band, The Front. The horn section would play with everyone Michael Jackson to George Benson. Formed in Hawaii, the island theme would show itself throughout along with soul, funk, jazz, disco (they would later score a charting disco hit) and world music. The album starts off with a monster hit, “Hold On to Love.” More progressive Christian radio stations (like KYMS) added them to their playlist, helping them garner the following in the Christian music circles at the time. “Free” pre-dated Gloria Estefan by nearly a decade, but the sound created here would later be a forefront of the Miami music sound of the 80’s. Cool, smooth and yet rhythmically funky. Bass lines driving Larry Williams great keyboard work and Wilson’s powerful voice. It’s also one of the most Biblical Worldview enhanced songs on the album. The sound throughout is consistent and unforgettable. Bob and Pauline Wilson would later do a solo project that will be discussed later.
Contributor David Lowman – https://legacyccmsgreatestalbums.wordpress.com/
Tracklist 1 – Hold On To Love – 4:23 2 – Free – 4:21 3 – Sound Rainbow – 3:47 4 – Follow Your Road – 5:43 5 – Light The Light – 3:33 6 – Morning Star – 5:23 7 – Imagine – 4:10 8 – Enchanted Dance – 5:06
Credits Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Flute [Alto], Electronic Wind Instrument [Computone Wind Synthesizer] – Kim Hutchcroft Bass – Ken Wild Drums [Pearl] – Bob Wilson Guitar – Bud Nuanez Keyboards [Oberheim Polyphonic, Prophet 5, Mini-moog], Saxophone [Tenor], Flute, Piccolo Flute – Larry Williams Mixed By – Al Schmitt Producer – Tommy LiPuma Recorded By – Al Schmitt, Armin Steiner Trumpet, Flugelhorn, French Horn – Jerry Hey Vocals – Pauline Wilson Written-By – Bob Wilson
Larry apparently released this album almost grudgingly because he did not have many decent live recordings from this era of his touring and there were bootlegs making the rounds that he didn’t like. Larry stopped distributing Roll Away The Stone (although he continued to encourage people to buy it if they could find it), and he considered Live At The Mac a better version of that. The combination of bad recordings and bad timing haunted Larry’s late 70s work. He was touring but never did get good recordings done with a full band. Later works like the Live At Flevo recordings made up for it in a way, but they are not the same as Larry in this era. To hear it as it was, all we have are some bootlegs and some primitive recordings. This concert was August 18, 1979 in Eugene, Oregon. This CD was released in 1998 through Solid Rock Records and apparently only 200 were made, although some later versions were evidently sold by Solid Rock that were done up as CD-R with the same packaging.
Tracklist 1 – Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus – 4:58 2 – I’ve Searched All Around The World – 5:33 3 – Soul On Fire – 6:48 4 – Watch What You’re Doing – 8:36 5 – Let The Tape Keep Rolling – 5:00 6 – UFO – 10:16 7 – The Outlaw / If God Is My Father – 8:26 8 – Song For A Small Circle Of Friends – 3:37 9 – Shot Down – 2:41 10 – Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music – 2:44 11 – The Rock That Doesn’t Roll / Exit – 3:25 12 – Lonely By Myself – 6:15
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
In early 1981 I got my first job at a Christian bookstore in Orange, CA. Before the days of computerized listening centers or even tape decks with headsets you had to listen to something on the stores overhead system. Suffice it to say, considering the age and demographic of the average Christian bookstore shopper, there were few chances to hear anything like the Bill Mason Band album. In fact, the demo album had never been opened and the store owner let me buy it for a buck! That one dollar bought an album that has been played more often over the years than any LP I own except maybe Zionic Bonds. Though it has been released on CD I have yet to get a copy. I sometimes wonder if the pops and clicks that are son ingrained in my mind will disrupt the listening of a pristine CD version. As for the album itself, it is clearly an AYSO! Punk rock that is still so very cool to listen to. Touches of ska are here and there, but for the most part it is a Clash like rock version of punk with Elvis Costello’s pop sensibilities. Completely British, raw and irresistible. Produced, surprisingly, by John Pantry, the album had a cup of coffee in the US through a limited release on Star Song. The band stands out on the faster cuts like Billy and the Rotas, Stand Up and Be Counted and radio. The latter is a personal favorite and some 30 years later there still “ain’t no God on that radio.” Another favorite is “Get Inside,” a longer song at nearly 5 minutes that builds and builds into a raucous finish. I always wanted to hear Mike Roe cover the song. The album is actually pretty well produced, especially for the time and sounds great today. It is the definitive punk classic for Christian music from the 70’s. The reader must remember this preceded Undercover, Lifesavors and the Altar Boys by a few years. There was literally nothing else like it.
Contributor David Lowman – https://ccms500bestalbums.wordpress.com/
Tracklist 1 – Billy & The Rota’s – 3:27 2 – Detectives – 3:45 3 – Out On The Streets – 2:00 4 – I Don’t Want You – 3:24 5 – Stand Up And Be Counted – 2:57 6 – Radio – 2:19 7 – I Got The Answers – 2:21 8 – Mr. G – 3:41 9 – Get Inside – 4:41 10 – Lost Years – 6:36
Credits Backing Vocals – Paula Holmes Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals – Iain Beeston Congas, Noises [Whale Noises] – Steve Gilbert Drums, Percussion – Dave Rawding Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Synth [Korg Synth], Piano [Acoustic Piano], Vocals – Phil Holmes Engineer – Steve Foely Guitar, Backing Vocals, Written-By – Si Hawthorne Lead Vocals, Percussion, Written-By – Bill Mason Producer – John Pantry
Companies, etc. Recorded At – Smile Studios Published By – ThankYou Music
I have heard from different sources that Matthew Ward’s “Toward Eternity” is either the last Jesus Music album or the first CCM album. Released right around the turn of the decade that many define as the historical marker for the two genres. Produced and written by many that were the founder and stalwarts of the Jesus Music era (Randy Stonehill, Phil Keaggy, Keith Green, Michael Omartian), but decidedly more polished, rock and pop driven than anything released previously.
I simply call it a classic that is clearly the center of a musical paradigm shirt in CCM. Production was stellar, performances spotless and Ward’s vocals soar. This is not a solo project from 1/3 of 2nd Chapter of Acts, it is a brilliant rock album conceived and released by an utterly unique and engaging artist in his own right. These are not left-overs from his group, but rather songs that far exceed much of what his siblings were releasing at the time.
Musicians on the album included those mentioned above along with Abraham Laboriel, David Kemper, Ray Parker Jr. and many more studio pros. The album is nearly flawless and many aficionados will list it in their all time Top 10. It was also released at a time when many Christian Music buffs were cutting their teeth on the genre and this album proved to be a revelation to many. I would not be surprised to find many of the “older” readers complaining on its placement in the countdown, and I will not disagree; I understand their reasoning.
Oddly enough, even fans of hard rock love the album despite its general lack of anything leaning in that direction. Much has to do with the great songs and Keaggy’s outrageous guitar work. It is always odd that Keaggy will often lend some of his best work on projects for other artists. But ultimately it comes down to the fact that Ward possesses one of the greatest voices on the planet. Period!
The album kicks off with the funky rock number “It’s Alright” lead by Keaggy’s great guitar work. This is a fearless rock groove with a monster bass line driving the low-end. The song is built around a particular end times expectation complete with money system, beast and mark. That notwithstanding, the song is just so good. The great vocal bridge leads to Keaggy’s driving rhythm guitar work.
Limited breaks between songs leads the starter right into a great Keith green piano driven song, “Soft Spot.” The Beatlesque (Penny Lane) sound of the chorus complete with a great string arrangement softens what could have been a much heavier song, and it actually works in the artists favor given the content of the song.
The acoustic “Noah” immediately sounds like a Phil Keaggy song. And it is. Written by Keaggy, Ward recorded it and someone once mentioned that Keaggy didn’t want to record it after hearing Ward’s masterful vocals. I don’t know if it’s one of those popular urban legends as Keaggy eventually would record his own version.
A personal favorite is the rocker, “Till the Walls Come Down.” Like the lead track, the song is one of the heavier musically and features Keaggy’s awesome guitar work, especially the solo. Written by Ward, Keaggy and Green (wow, just think about that for a moment), the song is most noted for the Michael Omartian lead “killer bees.” One must listen to truly understand the bees reference.
Returning to the most pop oriented piano sound with Green’s “Better Than This,” Ward let’s the vocals go on a few bright moments when he hits some unreal notes. The song has a great hook, but the same can be said for the entire album. I can go years in between listens and still never miss a note when singing along.
What would be initially the start of side two, “Your Love Came Over Me” is great Doobie Brothers (China Grove) type riff that never quits throughout. I know it may be hard for readers today to understand just how rare it was for a “safe” artist to deliver such a rock oriented album. The industry at the time would allow for the occasional pop rock riff, but rarely an album that rocked from start to finish.
The song was written by Keith Green and a gentlemen named Todd Fishkind. Fishkind may be one of the most important songwriters and musicians from the era that no one really knows about. He was very close to Green and they wrote quite a bit together, including the classic “Your Love Broke Through.” Fishkind would also wrote a book about Keith. He was also considered quite the musician.
“Hold On” follows and sounds like something off pop radio at the time. If not for Ward’s distinctive vocals I would swear it could have been a single off of Chicago 13. In fact, it would have been the best song off of Chicago 13.
The borderline “world music” influenced “Angels Unaware” is the only truly dated song from the project. The lyrics about guardian angels at times are silly (something about the “honkin’ flu”) but no more silly than what Amy Grant would record nearly a decade later.
The hiccup of “Angels Unaware” is immediately forgotten with the stunning and emotionally driving ballad, “Summer Snow.” The simple song of faith and God’s timing is exclusively driven by piano and strings. Tom Keene’s great string arrangement supports Green’s beautiful playing. Matthew shows the range both vocally and emotionally here. It ranks amongst the true classic from the era.
The “much too short” album closes with an Anne Herring tune, “The Vineyard.” It is all but an instrumental, as the only vocals are “ooh’s” playing the part of strings on top of Tom Keene’s beautiful piano work. It is a contemplative ending to an utterly brilliant and timeless classic album.
Whether it ended one or era or started another is not of consequence and the debate shall continue. What is of consequence is how truly revelatory and ground breaking the album was and how, over 30 years later, it is still a brilliant masterpiece by a wonderful artist.
Track Listing: 1 – It’s All Right – 2:34 2 – Soft Spot – 3:42 3 – Noah’s Song – 3:56 4 – Till The Walls Fall Down – 2:29 5 – Gotta Do Better Than This – 3:23 6 – Your Love Came Over Me – 4:07 7 – Hold On – 3:10 8 – Angels Unaware – 2:26 9 – Summer Snow – 3:36 10 – The Vineyard – 2:18
Credits: Scotty Edwards – Bass Todd Fishkind – Songwriter Jay Graydon – Guitars Keith Green – Songwriter, Piano Melody Green – Songwriter Annie Herring – Songwriter Buck Herring – Producer, Engineer, Songwriter Phil Keaggy – Songwriter, Guitars Tom Keene – String Arranger, Piano David Kemper – Drums Abraham Laboriel – Bass Michael Omartian – Horn Arranger, Songwriter, Synthesizer, Piano, Fender Rhodes, Percussion Ray Parker, Jr. – Guitars Matthew Ward – Songwriter, Vocal Arranger, Vocals
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Sparrow Records, Inc. Recorded At – Buckskin Studio Recorded At – Sunwest Recording Studios
At this point in time the Imperials had the whole hit album thing down to a fine art and Dayspring/Word Records was in full profit mode even getting 2 albums out in 1979. The Russ Taff legacy was taking a strong foothold and they were churning out the radio hits. This album had 3 singles. The big one was “I’m Forgiven” which got stuck at #1 for an amazing 13 weeks. “What I Can Do For You” and “One More Song For You” peaked at #12 and #10 respectively. Of real note on this album is Michael Omartian coming on as producer and song writer. Personally this album just wasn’t that impressive to me. I really shouldn’t argue with radio success but at this point the guys could have put out an album of them all snoring and it would have been a #1 hit. CCM radio was only interested in playing tried and true performers and no one was more tried and true than the Imperials. That said I admit there was some good stuff coming on future albums when luckily they had to compete with up and coming acts that turned the electric guitar up past 3. That said to the normal Imperials fan this is a good album and I am sure they quite enjoyed it.
Tracklist 1 – What I Can Do For You – 2:59 2 – I’m Forgiven – 3:54 3 – All My Life – 3:24 4 – Living Without Your Love – 3:27 5 – Eagle Song – 3:14 6 – Closer Than Ever – 4:23 7 – One More Song For You – 4:38 8 – Higher Power – 4:20 9 – More Like You – 3:30
Credits Backing Vocals [Additional] – Marti McCall, Myrna Matthews, Stormie Omartian Bass – Abraham Laboriel Concertmaster – Assa Drori Congas – Victor Feldman Design [Album Design], Photography By – Bob Anderson Drums – Paul Leim Engineer [Additional] – Jack Lees, John Banuelos Engineer, Remix – John Guess Guitar – Marty Walsh Horns – Chuck Findley, Dick Hyde, Jackie Kelso, Steve Madaio Horns, Soloist [Saxophone] – Kim Hutchcroft Mastered By – Bernie Grundman Performer – Armond Morales, David Will, Jim Murray, Russell Taff Producer, Arranged By, Keyboards, Percussion – Michael Omartian
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc. Copyright (c) – Word, Inc. Published By – See This House Music Published By – Word Music, Inc. Published By – Norman Clayton Publishing Published By – I.A.M. Music Recorded At – Jennifudy Studios Recorded At – Hollywood Central Recorders Mastered At – A&M Mastering Studios Pressed By – Monarch Record Mfg. Co.
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
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
Honeytree (was was actually just Nancy Henigbaum) decided to turn it up a notch for this album. Don’t be expecting any Rez covers but given her previous work she really did turn it up for this albums. Peter York, Richard Souther, and Herb Melton from “A Band Called David” provided the musician work for the album and you can hear their influence. There is a track on the album called “Righteous Rock And Roll”. Do not accidentally listen to this song expecting an actual Rock song. I’m not saying it’s bad, just saying it ain’t my version of Rock & Roll. In a sign of things to come in the industry Al Perkins contributed some steel guitar. If you’re a fan of Nancy you’ll like this album but beware it is decidedly easy listening 70’s.
1 – Maranatha Marathon
2 – The Pilgrim
3 – Live For Jesus
4 – That’s When We Learn To Fly
5 – Father Lift Me Up
6 – Righteous Rock And Roll
7 – Psalm 57
8 – Bethel
9 – Go To Church
10 – Do You Love Me
Engineer, Mixed By – Jack Joseph Puig
Executive-Producer – Buddy Huey
Mastered By – Kevin Gray
Producer, Arranged By – Jim Stipech
Recorded By – Rick Donaldson
Mastered At – Location Recording Service
Engineered At – Martinsound
Mixed At – Martinsound
Recorded At – Soundcastle