Dion – Only Jesus – 1981

This was Dion’s 3rd Christian album. It followed pretty closely in the path of the first two but did concentrate more on the teachings of Christ rather than the misgivings of his own personal life. There really isn’t much more to say about the album. I do not mean this to be disrespectful but let’s face it, most Dion albums sound similar and are rinse and repeat. Now I’m not saying it’s a dull album, in fact it’s a good album as were all of Dion’s albums in my opinion.

1 – Hearts Made Of Stone – 3:58
2 – The Best – 3:29
3 – Sweet Love Of Jesus – 4:18
4 – It’s Gonna Rain – 3:35
5 – Only Jesus – 4:30
6 – Train For Glory – 3:32
7 – Thank You Lord – 3:07
8 – Sailing Ahead Of The Wind – 4:51
9 – Puttin’ On My Crown – 3:29
10 – Greater Is He – 4:12

Alto Saxophone – Jeff Kirk
Arranged By – Dion DiMucci (tracks: A4)
Artwork By – Rick Garcia
Backing Vocals – John Sambataro, Kitty Woodson
Bass – Jeff Caswell
Co-producer, Keyboards, Harp – Paul Harris
Co-producer, Recorded By, Engineer – Eric Schilling
Congas – Santos
Design – Jim Osborn
Drums, Percussion – Joe Galdo
Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals – Tony Battaglia
Engineer – George Gomez
Lead Guitar – George Gomez (tracks: A1)
Mastered By – Bob Ludwig
Photography By – Alan Messer
Producer, Arranged By, Acoustic Guitar – Dion DiMucci
Synthesizer – Reed Arvin, Ron Taylor
Tenor Saxophone – Charles Chalmers
Written-By – Bill Tuohy (tracks: A1), Dan Beck (tracks: B5), Dion DiMucci (tracks: A1, B2, B3, B5), John Fowler (tracks: A2), John Hanley (tracks: A5), Bob Smith (tracks: A3, B1, B4)

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Word, Inc.
Recorded At – Bayshore Recording Studios
Mixed At – Bayshore Recording Studios

Randy Matthews – Plugged In – 1981

This 1981 offering from Randy showcases his ability to stay relevant in the 80’s. Randy was an artist throughout the 70’s releasing 8 albums. This is his second album in the 80’s and his style was evolving without doing anything that would qualify him as a sellout. I compared his previous album as having a Joe Cocker sound and Scott commented that it also had a Bob Seger feel. This album has a strong Seger sound with a lot less of a Cocker sound. All in all an excellent album and if you can only listen to one song on the album I suggest the title track Plugged In. Point of trivia, Steve Scruggs engineered this album and his brother Randy played guitar on the album. They were the sons of the legendary Earl Scruggs.

Track Listing:
1 – Plugged In – 3:42
2 – Ball & Chain – 3:50
3 – Can’t They See – 3:51
4 – Sooner Or Later – 3:21
5 – Hold Fast, Hold Tight – 4:04
6 – Over & Over – 2:43
7 – Prodigal Son – 3:13
8 – Loud Shroud – 3:44
9 – White Boat – 4:10
10 – Praise These Days – 3:41

Acoustic Guitar – Randy Matthews
Backing Vocals – Bonnie D. Hatcher, Francine Belcher, Gary Scruggs, Kimberly D. Fleming
Bass, Backing Vocals – David McCaskell
Drums, Backing Vocals – Louie Weaver
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Randy Scruggs
Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals – Allen Holmes
Engineer – Steve Scruggs
Engineer, Mixed By – Tom Semmes
Executive Producer – Kent Washburn
Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Gene Sisk
Producer – John Thompson

Amy Grant – In Concert Volume Two – 1981

This was the second of 2 albums featuring Amy Grant in concert released in 1981. It was recorded at Mabee Hall in Tulsa Oklahoma and Lloyd Noble Center in Norman Oklahoma. It featured four “new” songs: “I’m Gonna Fly”, “You Gave Me Love” which was a cover of a BJ Thomas song, “Fill Me With Your Love”, and “Nobody Loves Me Like You” which was a song by DeGarmo & Key and featured DeGarmo & Key. Wikipedia states “Although the two should have been issued as a double album, budget problems forced the two to be released separately.” This is absurd, there was no shortage of money at Myrrh and A&M for their gold mine performer so I’d love to hear the real reason.

1 – I’m Gonna Fly – 4:11
2 – Too Late – 4:41
3 – So Glad – 4:23
4 – You Gave Me Love – 3:17
5 – Fill Me With Your Love – 2:44
6 – What A Difference You’ve Made – 2:33
7 – If I Have To Die – 3:31
8 – That’s The Day – 3:29
9 – Look What Has Happened To Me – 3:12
10 – Keep It On Going – 1:03
11 – Nobody Loves Me Like You Do – 3:26

Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Billy Sprague
Backing Vocals – Dave Durham, Gary Pigg, Jan Harris, Teresa Ellis
Bass – Mike Brignardello
Drums – Gregg Morrow
Electric Guitar, Vocals – Dana Key
Engineer [Recording and Mix Engineer] – Jack Joseph Puig
Executive-Producer – Dan Harrell, Mike Blanton
Keyboards – Eddie DeGarmo
Photography By [Cover Photo] – Glen Wexler
Producer – Brown Bannister
Recorded By [Mobile Recording] – Malcolm Harper
Remastered By – Steve Hall
Synthesizer [Oberheim] – Gerry Peters

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Amy Grant Productions
Copyright (c) – Amy Grant Productions
Licensed To – Sparrow Records
Distributed By – EMI CMG Distribution
Recorded At – Mabee Center
Recorded At – Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
Remixed At – Mama Jo’s
Remastered At – Future Disc
Pressed By – Cinram, Richmond, IN

Tommy Coomes – Love Is The Key – 1981

No matter what happened after 1975 or so Tommy Coomes place in Christian music would be forever cemented as a result of his inclusion as a founding member of Love Song, possibly the most important band in Jesus Music. Tommy spent some time in the Army during the late 1960’s and upon returning began hanging around with an old friend named Fred Field and a few other young “hippies” looking for a positive future named Jay Truax and Chuck Girard. But even after Love Song’s relatively short tenure ended Tommy did not leave ministry or music behind him. He worked as an executive with Maranatha Music and recorded occasionally. One such solo recording is the subject of this post. Love is the Key is smart and smooth pop/jazz influenced record focusing on Tommy’s sweet and unique voice. A renowned band of who’s who is Southern California musicians (many members that would later form the jazz band Koinonia) including Hadley Hockensmith, Harlan Rogers, Darrell Cook and others. Other friends like former Love Song bandmates Church Girard, John Mehler and Jay Truax also joined the likes of Bob Bennett, Alex MacDougall, Michelle Pillar and Kelly Willard in support of the project. The top notch musicianship shows.

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

1 – Love Is The Key – 4:04
2 – I Owe Everything To You – 3:37
3 – The Pleasure’s Mine – 4:08
4 – Hidden Treasure – 3:13
5 – Singing Our Praises To Jesus – 3:04
6 – Thinkin’ Of You – 4:07
7 – A Faithful Witness – 2:55
8 – He’s A Liar – 5:58
9 – Don’t Be Afraid (Just Walk With Him) – 4:57

Acoustic Guitar – Hadley Hockensmith (tracks: A4, B4), Tommy (tracks: A1, A5)
Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Gordon Goodwin (tracks: B2, B3)
Arranged By – Harlan Rogers (tracks: A4, B2-B4)
Arranged By [Strings], Conductor – Stan Endicott
Backing Vocals – Bili Thedford (tracks: A1, A3, B1-B3), Bob Bennett (3) (tracks: A2, B4), Chuck Girard (tracks: A5), Dona Thedford (tracks: A1), Harlan Rogers (tracks: A4, B4), Jay Truax (tracks: A5), Kelly Willard (tracks: A2, A4, B3, B4), Michele Pillar (tracks: A2, A4, B3, B4), Mortonette Jenkins (tracks: A3, B1-B3), Phyllis St. James (tracks: A3, B1-B3), Tommy (tracks: A2, A5), Vanetta Fields* (tracks: A1)
Baritone Saxophone – Gordon Goodwin (tracks: B2)
Bass – Darrell Cook (tracks: A1, A4, A5, B4), Jimmy Perez (tracks: A2, A3, B1-B3)
Design [Back Cover] – Milton Sue
Design [Front Cover] – Dennis Hill (6)
Drums – John Mehler (tracks: B1), Keith Edwards (tracks: A2, A3, B2, B3), Ron Tutt (tracks: A1, A4, A5, B4)
Electric Guitar – Tony Dean (tracks: A2, A3, B1-B3), Hadley Hockensmith (tracks: A1-A3, B1-B4)
Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] – Harlan Rogers (tracks: A1-A3, B1, B3)
Electric Piano [Wurlitzer] – Harlan Rogers (tracks: B2)
Engineer – Chris Taylor (11), Jonathan Brown
Lead Vocals – Tommy
Mastered By – Steve Hall
Organ [“Soultown” B-3 Organ] – Harlan Rogers (tracks: B2)
Percussion – Alex MacDougall (tracks: A2, A3, B1-B3)
Photography By – Paul Ekon
Piano – Harlan Rogers (tracks: A4, B4)
Producer – Tommy Coomes
Producer, Arranged By [Horns] – Harlan Rogers
Saxophone – John Phillips (tracks: A3)
Synthesizer [Prophet 5 Synthesizer] – Harlan Rogers (tracks: B4), Rob Watson (tracks: A2, A3, B3)
Tenor Saxophone – John Phillips
Trombone – Val Johnson (tracks: B2, B3)
Trumpet – Darrell Gardner (tracks: B2, B3)
Written-By – Chuck Girard (tracks: A5), Tom Coomes

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

Amy Grant – In Concert – 1981

This was the first of 2 albums featuring Amy Grant in concert. It was recorded at Mabee Hall in Tulsa Oklahoma and Lloyd Noble Center in Norman Oklahoma. It featured two new songs from Grant, “Mimi’s House” and “Singing a Love Song”. Wikipedia states “Although the two should have been issued as a double album, budget problems forced the two to be released separately.” This is absurd, there was no shortage of money at Myrrh and A&M for their gold mine performer so I’d love to hear the real reason. The album was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary. Point of trivia is that DeGarmo & Key are credited as being on the album.

1 – Medley – Beautiful Music , Giggle, Old Man’s Rubble, Never Give You Up – 9:31
2 – Mimi’s House – 3:26
3 – Father’s Eyes – 5:50
4 – Faith Walkin’ People – 3:56
5 – Walking Away With You – 4:38
6 – Mountain Top – 3:40
7 – All I Ever Have To Be – 3:16
8 – Singing A Love Song – 5:52
9 – Don’t Give Up On Me – 4:04

Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Billy Sprague
Art Direction, Design – Michael Harris Design
Backing Vocals – Dave Durham, Gary Pigg, Jan Harris, Teresa Ellis
Bass – Mike Brignardello
Drums – Gregg Morrow
Electric Guitar, Vocals – Dana Key
Engineer [“Live Recording” Engineer] – Jack Puig
Executive-Producer – Dan Harrell, Mike Blanton
Keyboards – Ed DeGarmo
Mastered By – Glenn Meadows
Mixed By [Mix-Down Engineer] – Brown Bannister
Photography By [Cover Photo] – Wyatt Brown
Producer – Brown Bannister
Recorded By [Mobile Recording] – Malcolm Harper
Synthesizer [Oberheim] – Gerry Peters

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Word, Inc.
Mixed At – Gold Mine Studio
Recorded At – Mabee Center
Recorded At – Lloyd Noble Center, Norman
Mastered At – Masterfonics
Published By – Bug & Bear Music
Published By – Song Tailors Music
Published By – Paragon Music Corp.
Published By – Home Sweet Home Music
Published By – Meadowgreen Music, Inc.
Pressed By – Monarch Record Mfg. Co.

Benny Hester – Nobody Knows Me Like You – 1981

Benny Hester’s classic “Nobody Knows me Like You” is the very best Adult Contemporary pop album in the history of Christian Music! Hyperbole much? Nay! There will be other album that are classified as AC or pop higher on this list, but most of the albums were not really “current,” commercial vehicles. They appealed to a pop market, but were not actually purely pop music for the day. But NKMLY was in a class all by itself. All the while the CCM market was discovering they had a treasure in Benny Hester the artist, who, over the years, has not only delivered memorable songs, but actual classics that changed and shaped the CCM landscape. Most artists would be honoured to have one song that could be listed among the greatest in the history of the genre, while Hester has a handful! Long before he made a mockery of radio chart records with “When God Ran,” has had made a very potent career of not just brilliant hits, but overwhelming good albums within his genre. Borrowing liberally from the hit music makes of the late 70’s and early 80’s (Hall & Oates, Christopher Cross, Bee Gee’s, Elton John), Hester mastered his songwriting craft early and never slowed down. He was driven to be a recognized artist, all the while he was driven to express his faith in original and honest ways. Unlike the vast majority of his peers, Hester did not release an album every year like clockwork. Often there were a few years between releases and this gave him the opportunity to create great collections of well-written pop music. But no album would surpass his third (second CCM) album. With the album (and many albums like it) it is often the backstory that makes the album so intriguing and lasting. In the late 70’s Hester had record a series of songs and was getting nowhere with record labels. His debut (mainstream) release owns a tragic story and has become a collectors item of sorts. The label he was signed to folded and the warehouse holding the LP’s burned to the ground, destroying most known copies. Only a handful ever found there way into the hands of listeners. I am one those lucky few. Hester took those few songs and drove from Las Vegas to Canoga Park, CA and the then offices of Sparrow Records. Hester sat in the reception office until Bill Hearn (Sr.) finally agreed to meet with him. Hester played the songs for Hearn who signed him on the spot. Those songs and a few others were released as Hester’s “debut,” the self-titled Spirit Label release that was later knows as “Be a Receiver.” Soon after the release of the album, Hester found himself driving across the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco. By the time he had crossed the bridge he had written the chorus to the song “Nobody Knows Me Like” without an instrument. He spent the rest of the day in San Francisco writing the song that he would forever attached to and that would make Hester one of the most popular CCM artists at the time. Hester went into the studio with a who’s who collection of musicians and emerged several months later with his classic. But the album took longer to get going because his new label (Myrrh) wanted Hester to work with producer, Michael Omartian. No one could blame Hester and the label for waiting to work with Omartian. But the time off also allowed Hester to fine tune his craft. It also gave the industry just enough time to forget who he was, and Hester and the label would have to start all over again and making Hester a known commodity.

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

1 – Come Back – 4:14
2 – No Man’s Land – 4:13
3 – Rubber Canoe – 4:09
4 – Nobody Knows Me Like You – 4:44
5 – Step By Step – 4:53
6 – One More Time – 4:07
7 – Goodbye Salty – 4:39
8 – Real Change – 4:22
9 – You Loved Me – 4:04
10 – Christ The Solid Rock – 2:22

Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Benny Hester
Art Direction – Dennis Hill
Artwork [Special Logo Design] – Tim Barela
Backing Vocals – Jeff Lams, Michael Omartian, Tommy Funderburk
Bass – Abraham Laboriel
Concertmaster – Assa Drori
Congas – Bobby LaKind
Coordinator [Production Coordinator] – Yvonne Garcia
Drums – Ron Tutt
Electric Guitar – Martin K. Walsh
Engineer [Second] – Ross Pallone, Steve Crimmel
Engineer, Remix – John Guess
Keyboards – Jeff Lams, Michael Omartian
Mastered By – Ken Perry
Photography By – Harry Langdon
Producer – Michael Omartian
Saxophone – Kim Hutchcroft

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Word, Inc.
Produced For – Rhema Productions
Recorded At – Hollywood Sound Recorders
Mastered At – Capitol Mastering
Pressed By – Monarch Record Mfg. Co.

Saint – The Gentiles Demo – 1981

Saint started out as Power Faith in the late 70’s but didn’t last long. It reformed as The Gentiles in either 80 or 81 and this is the demo they recorded under that name. The lineup would change again after/during the change of name to the Saint we are now familiar with. Lucky for their fans the demo was resurrected in 2001 by M8 Distribution and has been re released two more times since then. It is very very rough but is a nice insight into the early days of the band.

1 – Abyss – 3:22
2 – Worrying World – 2:52
3 – Self Made Man – 5:48
4 – Space Cruiser – 4:46

Bass – Richard Lynch
Drums – Unknown
Guitar – John Mahan
Vocals – Max Clark

Phil Keaggy – Town To Town – 1981

There is not a lot to say about Phil Keaggy that hasn’t already been said. In fact, I can be pretty sure than nothing I say will be in any way enlightening to the reader. I can do no more than to simply repeat the previous accolades and find a way to recommend even more so the need to own as much Phil Keaggy as humanly possible, especially his 70’s and 80’s material which is just staggeringly impressive. Town to Town is separated from nearly all other Keaggy releases by the fact that it may be his most accessible and commercial. It contains more radio friendly and pop based structured than any other Keaggy recording outside of the “band” Sunday’s Child. The opening track is a great live favorite that tells the story of a one night reunion with his classic rock band, Glass Harp. This song, like many of Keaggy’s, suffer from the guitar solos being limited. The same is not the case for the following track, Full Circle. Here is a great example of how to create a pop rock song without shorting the guitar aficionado fans desire for Keaggy guitar solos.
“What a Wonder You Are” featured vocal support from the queen of Christian duets, Michele Pillar, and ended up being the biggest hit from the album. The song broke molds in that was one of the first radio hits that was simply a love song without having to be a “wedding song.” Previously the only romantic songs were those specifically created for weddings. The album closes with one of Keaggy most popular and enduring songs, Let Everything Else Go. The beautiful song proves that stunning guitar work does not always have to be blistering guitar solos, but also soothing, atmospheric sounds created at the hands of a master. Here we find beautiful and haunting sounds that so create the musical canvas Keaggy’s Paul McCartney-like vocals can paint upon.

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

1 – Wished You Were There – 3:01
2 – Full Circle – 4:15
3 – Life Love And You – 4:20
4 – Town To Town – 6:45
5 – What A Wonder You Are – 4:00
6 – In Between – 3:01
7 – Our Lives – 5:23
8 – Rise Up O Men Of God – 4:10
9 – Let Everything Else Go – 4:50

Alex Acuña – Percussion
Curt Bartlett – Guitar
Bob Cotton – Engineer, Producer
Jim DeLong – Drums, Percussion
Eugene Friesen – Composer
Leon Gaer – Bass, Bass (Electric), Guitar (Bass)
Dean Hagen – Drums
Paul Halley – Composer
Bruce Hibbard – Vocals (Background)
Lee Jones – Fretless Bass
Bernadette Keaggy – Vocals
Phil Keaggy – Bass, Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Bass), Primary Artist, Vocals
Tom Keene – Keyboards, Piano, Synthesizer
Dan Murdock – Keyboards, Piano
Michele Pillar – Vocals (Background)
John Pooley – Engineer
Denny Siegrist – Engineer
Richard Souther – Synthesizer
The Winans – Vocals (Background)
Pete York – Vocals (Background)

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Sparrow Records, Inc.
Printed By – Garrod & Lofthouse Ltd.

Evie – Unfailing Love – 1981

This was Evie’s album for 1981. She generally put out an album every year which unfortunately, in my opinion, diluted the quality of her albums. This album was pretty well received and some even called it innovative though honestly I don’t hear anything different than her earlier albums. The album had one single on the CCM charts. “How I Love You Lord” made it to #9 with a very strong 27 weeks on the chart. A quick skim through the studio musicians doesn’t reveal any interesting names except for Al Perkins who I think was on every studio musician album in the 80’s.

1 – How I Love You Lord – 3:45
2 – Bind Us Together – 3:20
3 – The Cross Where Jesus Gave His Life – 3:40
4 – Be Still – 4:10
5 – I Love My Jesus – 3:30
6 – Unfailing Love – 5:50
7 – A Picture Of You – 3:50
8 – All The Glory – 3:30
9 – You Gave A Song – 3:10
10 – The Lord’s Prayer – 3:40

Arranged By [String Arrangements], Conductor – Stan Endicott
Backing Vocals – Evie
Bass – Darrel Cook
Design [Cover Design] – Finn Tornquist
Drums – Keith Edwards
Engineer – Chris Taylor
Guitar – Hadley Hockensmith
Keyboards – Harlan Rogers (tracks: A1, A2, A3, A5, B2 To B5)
Keyboards [Extras], Guitar [Extras], Mandolin [Extras], Synthesizer [Extras], Producer, Arranged By, Backing Vocals – Pelle Karlsson
Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Kelly Willard (tracks: A4)
Photography By – Allwil, Dannsted
Steel Guitar – Al Perkins

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Word, Inc.
Produced For – White Field Music
Recorded At – Whitefield Studios
Mixed At – Whitefield Studios
Manufactured By – Prim

Salmond & Mulder – Hoping & Coping – 1981

Vancouver Canada’s Salmond & Mulder are joined by Faye Mulder and Gayle Chambers for their third album. Full disclaimer they themselves describe this album as follows. “It is basically a worship album, focusing on wholeness in Christ and the struggle to hold that truth preeminent in our lives”. They achieve this outshout even vaguely venturing into even a hint of Rock & Roll. In all fairness that description is on the back of the album so hopefully you caught it before buying this album and expecting like their last album. I’m not saying this is a bad album in fact it’s pretty good but it is a worship album and not consistent with their previous work.

1 – Growing Richer – 3:07
2 – Looking At The Sun – 2:50
3 – Never Doubt – 1:32
4 – Father I Know – 4:18
5 – Hoping And Coping – 4:42
6 – Imnunurnmi – 2:52
7 – Give Me The Courage – 3:35
8 – Moving On – 4:55
9 – You Are My Wholeness – 2:55
10 – May The God And Father – 1:15
11 – You Are The Lord – 1:48

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Image VII Records Inc.
Copyright (c) – Image VII Records Inc.
Published By – Image VII Music