Seawind – Light The Light – 1979

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

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Horizon Records & Tapes
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – A&M Records, Inc.
Copyright © – A&M Records, Inc.
Published By – Seawind Music Inc.
Published By – Sojourn Music
Mastered At – The Mastering Lab

Larry Norman – Live at the Mac – 1998

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

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

Bill Mason Band – No Sham! – 1979

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

Jacket Front
Jacket Back
Sleeve
Side 1
Side 2

Matthew Ward – Toward Eternity – 1979

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

Jacket Front
Jacket Back
Sleeve Front
Sleeve Back
Side 1
Side 2

Imperials – One More Song For You – 1979

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.

The Imperials – Heed The Call – 1979

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

Tracklist
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

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

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

Honeytree – Maranatha Marathon – 1979

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.

Tracklist
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

Credits
Engineer, Mixed By – Jack Joseph Puig
Executive-Producer – Buddy Huey
Mastered By – Kevin Gray
Producer, Arranged By – Jim Stipech
Recorded By – Rick Donaldson

Companies, etc.
Mastered At – Location Recording Service
Engineered At – Martinsound
Mixed At – Martinsound
Recorded At – Soundcastle

Ephraim – Ephraim – 1979

Ephraim were a 5 piece band out of Minnesota and this sums up everything I know about them. This was their only album and none of its members ever appeared to go on and do anything recorded. So let’s move on to the album. It’s great!!! As far as format goes it is your typical Jesus music album but very well done. It has the usual assortment of Rock, Country, Bluegrass and a funk tune mixed in for good measure. Quite frankly it’s so well done I am amazed I have never heard of these guys. The album appears to have been a very limited release so I guess that’s the reason but surely someone at the big CCM labels heard this album. Anyway if you’re a fan of early Daniel Amos I think you’ll love this album. Oh and the cover is excellent!!!

Tracklist
1 – Long Hard Ride
2 – Round Like A Donut
3 – He Loves Me
4 – Closed On Sunday
5 – He’s the One
6 – Night Life
7 – The River Song
8 – The Lone Ranger
9 – Breakdown
10 – Psalm 117

Credits
Bass – Dean Nelson
Drums, Percussion – Rick Naylor
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Percussion, Twelve-String Guitar – John “Woody” Manias
Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar, Classical Guitar – Daren John Hastings
Piano, Synthesizer, Organ, Harmonica, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Tim Oberg

Isaac Air Freight – In The Air – On The Air – 1979

Presented without any theological commentary, as usual. These albums were a lot of fun to listen to, and hearing the jokes again, and the great comedic performances is a great trip down memory lane.Still fun to listen to now.

Tracklist
1 – Celebrity Cornered – 3:21
2 – P-R-A-Y-E-R – 0:56
3 – Battle Of Invisible Empires – Front Desk Angel – 5:52
4 – Battle Of Invisible Empires – Demon’s Dilemma – 4:34
5 – Lucifer Son Shield – 1:39
6 – The Day After Tomorrow Show – 7:45
7 – The Test – 1:09
8 – Limited Offer – 1:10
9 – The Saving Game – 6:54
10 – Editorial Reply – 2:28
11 – Return Of Christ – 2:25
12 – Prodigal Joe – 13:12

Credits
Art Direction – Neal Buchanan
Engineer – Chris Taylor
Engineer [Assistant] – Thom Roy
Executive-Producer – Tom Coomes
Illustration, Graphics [Logo] – Tim Barela
Mastered By – Bernie Grundman
Mixed By – Chris Taylor
Musician – Darrel Cook, Gabriel Katona, Hadley Hockensmith, Jerry Chamberlain, Keith Edwards, Phil Kristianson
Performer – Dan Rupple, Dave Toole, Mitch Teemley
Photography By [Back Cover] – David J. Pavol
Photography By [Insert] – Tom Obbema
Producer – Dan Rupple, Dave Toole
Producer [Music] – Tom Coomes
Vocals – Bruce Hibbard, Erick Nelson, John Fowler, Lisa Wickham, Mitch Teemley, Tom Coomes
Voice [Additional] – Bob Bennett, Cathy Toole, Harold Taylor, Jim Coye, John Fowler, Larry Watt, Peggy Rupple, The Wheezer Cheesers, Tom Stipe, Wally Grant

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Maranatha! Music
Copyright (c) – Maranatha! Music
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Pressed By – Columbia Records Pressing Plant, Santa Maria
Recorded At – Maranatha! Studio
Mastered At – A&M Mastering Studios