This was Jan’s second album and his first released outside of Norway. He was picked up in North America by tiny label Pilgrim America and in the U.K. by Marshalls. It was recorded in Nashville and they used the Joe English band, including Joe English, for the backing band. Someone important must have helped put this together as Jan was a relatively unknown at this point. Sometimes I would just love to hear how projects like this came together. The album has an early 80’s Pop feel and is a little heavy on Easy Listening tracks. Considering what Jan would do in the future it’s a pretty mellow album. But at this point in his career I suspect the record labels were pretty well dictating what he would do. Anyway it’s a good album and deserves a listen.
Tracklist 1 – So Glad – 2:57 2 – The King Has Come – 3:16 3 – Circle Of Love – 3:37 4 – Wait For Me – 3:19 5 – Take Me – 3:36 6 – Peace Like A River – 4:25 7 – Count On Me – 3:34 8 – Shine Your Light – 4:35 9 – I’m All Alone – 3:39 10 – He Really Loves You – 3:11
Credits Backing Vocals – Carolyn Brandt, Donna Gillie, Mo James, Pam Wolfe, Scott Roley, Suzy Mac, Tom Douglas Bass – Tim Smith Drums, Backing Vocals – Joe English Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Paul Brannon Executive Producer – Ray Nenow Guitar, Slide Guitar – George Cocchini Horns – Harvey Thompson, Jay Coble, Mike Haynes, Ronnie Eades Keyboards – John Lawry Percussion – Mike Feller Producer – Joe English, Ray Nenow Vocals, Backing Vocals – Jan Groth
Actually recorded by “Anthem the ROCK Band,” but most commonly referred to as simply Anthem, “Cuttin’ Thru” was quite a groundbreaking release for its time, as many of the Tunesmith releases were. A female led rock band at a time when only Servant and Resurrection Band (partially) were female led bands. For the history behind the band, please check out the interview with guitarist Michael Manthei on the Legacy podcast. The album breaks ground immediately by kicking the album off with an instrumental rock track, “Spiritual Warfare.” This was actually a bit controversial for the time given that most albums in Christian bookstores were purchased by parents and were “previewed” at listening centers. At a time when rock music was still taboo in many circles and the popularity of anti-rock critics and “backwards masking” investigators, leading off with screaming guitars and no “Jesus message” was virtually unheard of, especially for a debut project. But the song does kick off the album quite nicely. But when the title track kicks we get to hear the powerful and soulful voice of female lead vocalist, Mary Pinkley. Big, strong and aggressive, Pinkley’s voice reminds me of a edgier Pauline Wilson (Seawind) more than a Janice Joplin or Grace Slick. It doesn’t have the growl of the aforementioned, but rather rests on the power it possesses. The vocal description fits best in the following track, “Word.” More soulful and bluesly, this song easily would fit on an early Petra album or Servant’s “Shallow Water.” Here the guitar takes center stage with a great blues riff throughout. “Cheap Thrill” shifts to a more Southern Rock flair with a warning message regarding playing with sin. It may be the one song on the album that Pinkley shows a more raspy, gutsy vocal style. Possibly “Doctor” would fall into this descriptor, with a more bluesy direction. One of the things that really separates this album from many of its contemporaries is that it doesn’t bounce between rockers and ballads and give some sort of 50/50 representation. The first 9 songs are straight ahead rockers, with even the slower songs being full throated blues rockers. The only ballad is the worshipful closer, “Morning Star.” Original vinyl copies can be difficult top find as the label was beginning its financial struggles and would close up shop before this band could release a sophomore album. Production ended up being relatively limited, so it is seen as somewhat of a rarity.
Contributor David Lowman – https://legacyccmsgreatestalbums.wordpress.com/
Tracklist 1 – Spiritual Warfare – 3:19 2 – Cuttin’ Thru – 2:09 3 – Word – 3:13 4 – Cheap Thrill – 2:32 5 – Free You – 3:47 6 – Winners – 3:51 7 – On Your Knees – 3:19 8 – Doctor – 3:11 9 – Don’t Be Deceived – 4:01 10 – Morning Star – 2:56
Credits Drum – Gene M. Grammatico Electric Bass – Kent Vander Weide Engineer – Alan Schuman, Tom Russell Guitar – Doug Cordell, Michael Manthei Lead Vocals – Mary Pinkley Producer – Eddie Everitt
I guess it’s rather silly to point out that this is a live album from Don Francisco but I have to open the paragraph some way. It was recorded at the Huffman Assembly of God in Birmingham, AL on September 20, 1982 and released later that year. At this point in his career Don was established as THE folk artist of CCM music. At the time this album came out I was not a big fan of folk music but I liked this album. Let that be a testament to how good it is. In fact I would say it is probably one of the best live albums of the 80’s regardless of style. I can honestly say that I would have loved to have seen him live as it sounds like it was a really good show. Years later I have listened to most of his albums now and most of the versions he did live are the best versions of these songs.
Tracklist 1 – Since I Met Him I Can See – 3:24 2 – Got To Tell Somebody – 5:11 3 – Jesus Is The Lord Of The Way I Feel – 2:34 4 – Steeple Song – 3:01 5 – I’ll Never Let Go Of Your Hand – 3:28 6 – Adam – 4:30 7 – I Don’t Care Where You’ve Been Sleeping – 3:12 8 – Give Your Heart A Home – 3:52 9 – Too Small A Price – 5:52 10 – Christmas Song – 2:44 11 – Come And Follow Me – 4:10 12 – I Could Never Promise You – 3:03 13 – Love Is Not A Feeling – 1:57 14 – Beautiful To Me – 4:22 15 – The Package – 3:08 16 – Jehoshaphat – 3:01 17 – Closer To Jesus – 3:22 18 – He’s Alive – 4:50
Credits Art Direction, Design – Bill Barnes, Randy Martin Backing Vocals – Duann Hall, Gary Dunham Bass, Acoustic Guitar – Louie Hall Engineer – Noah White Executive-Producer – Michael B. Suttle Keyboards – Gary Dunham Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar – Don Francisco Mastered By – Ken Perry Mixed By [Remixed By] – Louie Hall Photography By – Dean Dixon Producer – Don Francisco, Louie Hall
Companies, etc. Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc. Mixed At – Spectrum Recording Studios, Birmingham, AL Mastered At – Masterfonics
This album was our introduction to The Call. Well in my case it honestly it was their second album, I missed this one almost entirely. Actually I think a lot of people missed this first album which is a pity because it’s actually very good. There isn’t much information on the formative years of The Call but we do know they formed in 1980 in Santa Cruz, California. The original lineup was Michael Been (lead vocals, guitar), Scott Musick (drums), Tom Ferrier (guitar), and Greg Freeman (bass). Steve Huddleston (keyboards) joined 1981. This album would set the sound we would come to love but this album only did moderately well and didn’t rank in the U.S. top 100 album chart. It just didn’t have a breakout single, that would wait for their second album. The chosen single was “There’s A Heart Here” but really I think “Bandits” would have been a much better choice but who am I to question the record company gurus. Anyway if you joined The Call on their second album be sure to take the time to listen to this one and hear where it all started.
Tracklist 1 – War Weary World – 4:18 2 – There’s A Heart Here – 2:56 3 – Doubt – 4:19 4 – This Is Life – 3:06 5 – Fulham Blues – 3:13 6 – Who’s That Man – 3:05 7 – Upperbirth – 3:38 8 – Bandits – 3:28 9 – Flesh And Steel – 4:54 10 – Unbearable – 2:37 11 – Waiting For The End – 5:15
Credits Bass, Vocals – Greg Freeman Drums, Vocals – Scott Musick Engineer – Hugh Padgham Engineer [Assistant] – Andy Lyden, Howard Grey, Steve Prestage Guitar, Vocals – Tom Ferrier Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards – Michael Been Producer – Hugh Padgham Synthesizer, Piano, Saxophone – Garth Hudson Written-By – Michael Been
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
Michelle came to prominence with her duet album with Erick Nelson “The Misfit” in 1979. It was well received and is considered a classic to this day. This is her debut album as a solo artist. This album was very well received and had 2 CCM chart singles including “Walk Across Heaven” which made it to #4, and More Than Just A Man that made it to #11. The album is solidly Easy Listening and on a couple tracks eases into AOR but for the main part it’s a nice comfortable listen. If you missed it in the 80’s give it a listen now.
Tracklist 1 – Walk Across Heaven – 4:03 2 – You Were There All Along – 3:30 3 – More Than Just A Man – 3:30 4 – You’ve Known Me All My Life – 3:15 5 – Free From The Night – 3:20 6 – Rock Of Love – 3:15 7 – The Things I Hope For You – 3:17 8 – In Nazareth There’s A Carpenter – 4:18 9 – You – 3:37 10 – I Can Do It All By Myself – 4:20
Credits 12-String Acoustic Guitar – Jerry Wallce Acoustic Guitar – Jerry Wallce, Will McFarlane Arranged By [Horns] – Harrison Calloway Arranged By [Strings] – Jerry Wallace Art Direction – Stan Evenson Backing Vocals – Cindy Richardson, Jerry Wallace, Lenny Le Blanc, Michele Pillar, Robert Byrne, Will McFarlane Bass – Butch Ledford Bells – Jerry Wallace Concertmaster [Strings] – Earl Spielman Coordinator [Cover Coordinator] – B. Charlyne Hinesley Drums – Owen Hale Electric Guitar – Will McFarlane Electric Piano [Rhodes] – Jerry Wallce Engineer – Steve Moore Engineer [Assistant] – Keith Compton Executive-Producer – Billy Ray Hearn Guitar – Jerry Wallce, Will McFarlane Guitar, Soloist – Will McFarlane Harmony Vocals – Jerry Wallace, Lenny LeBlanc Horns [The Muscle Shoals Horns] – Charles Rose, Harrison Calloway, Harvey Thompson, Ronnie Eade Keyboards – Jerry Wallce Oboe – Beth Smith Organ – Clayton Ivey Percussion – Mickey Buckins Photography By [Cover] – Mark Hanauer Piano – Jerry Wallce, Lenny Le Blanc, Steve Nathan Piano [Acoustic] – Steve Nathan Producer – J.L. Wallace, Lonnie Ledford Saxophone, Soloist – Harvey Thompson Strings – Earl Spielman, Jo Ann Cruthirds, Kristin Wilkinson, Martha Wiggins, Paul Tobias, Pauli Ewing Synthesizer – Jerry Wallace Synthesizer [Prophet] – Steve Nathan Vocoder – Michele Pillar
Companies, etc. Recorded At – East Avalon Recorders Mixed At – East Avalon Recorders Mastered At – Masterfonics Phonographic Copyright (p) – Sparrow Records, Inc. Published By – Hall-Clement Publications Published By – Muscle Shoals Sounds Publishing Co., Inc. Published By – Birdwing Music Published By – Cherry Lane Music Publishing Company Inc.
As the 70’s turned the corner into the 80’s, the “last band” of the Jesus Music era morphed from a funky, groovy and R&B driven unit into a full-fledged commercial and corporate rock quartet. And one of the very best CCM ever produced. With only six albums to their credit, the band will have landed four of those titles on this list when all is said and done. Two albums come from the first half of their career with the more R&B style while the final two on the list will come from the “rock trilogy” that closed out their career. Both of those two will be included in the Top 100. Those three albums would be noted not only for the obvious change in musical direction, but also for the fact that Bryan Duncan all but completely took over the lead vocals exclusively and played the part of front man in concert as well. This would be helped by the inclusion of the amazing John Andrew Schreiner on keyboards, both on the recording as well as in live concert support. One other difference were the fabulous brush art album cover artwork. The first two (Hearts of Fire, Cutting Edge) featured a “Spiritual Warfare” theme to the artwork with swords and battle appearance. Cutting Edge artwork shows a glistening sword with a warrior battling a serpent in the sward’s reflection. This warfare theme would also educate the lyrics at times as well. Cutting Edge is a really odd album in that, for some reason, even fans of hard rock and metal seem to like the album with several “heavy music” publications giving the album a great review. perhaps it was the artwork and themes, but no matter, the album is one for the ages.
Contributor David Lowman – https://ccms500bestalbums.wordpress.com/
Tracklist 1 – Runnin’ To Win – 4:06 2 – What Have You Got? – 3:10 3 – Falling In Love With You – 3:34 4 – Haven’t Seen You – 4:47 5 – Breakdown Love – 3:12 6 – Valerie – 3:23 7 – Changed Hearts – 3:40 8 – Live It – 4:03 9 – What Did It Mean? – 3:31 10 – Armed And Ready – 4:47
Credits Bass – Kevin Thomson Drums, Vocals – Rick Thomson Engineer [Second @ Bill Schnee] – David Shober Engineer [Second @ Mama Jo’s] – Steve Ford Guitar, Vocals – Randy Thomas Illustration, Design – Kernie Erickson Keyboards – John Schreiner Keyboards, Vocals – Brian Duncan Management – David Bendett Artists, Inc. Mastered By – Doug Sax Percussion – Victor Feldman Photography By [Back Cover] – David Randle Producer – Jack Joseph Puig Soprano Saxophone – David Hlebo Tenor Saxophone – John Phillips Vocals – Bob Carlisle
Companies, etc. Record Company – Lexicon Music, Inc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Lexicon Music, Inc. Copyright (c) – Lexicon Music, Inc. Recorded At – Bill Schnee Studios Recorded At – Mama Jo’s Mixed At – Mama Jo’s Mastered At – The Mastering Lab Pressed By – Electrosound Group Midwest, Inc.
This is another album I found by rooting through the Refuge catalog. It is Per-Erik’s first album and as near as I can tell it was his only album released outside of Europe. There’s not really that much information about him out there so unfortunately I’m going to just be able to echo his Wikipedia page. In the 70’s he apparently played with Elvis but again I struggled to find any more information about this. He was a strong studio musician in the 70’s with tons of appearances. The album is naturally keyboard and piano heavy but has a bit of a funk feel in places. It is well worth listening to at least once.
Tracklist 1 – Let It Out – 3:37 2 – Gospel Train – 5:33 3 – You Put Another Song In My Heart – 4:15 4 – Do You Know What You’re Missing – 4:01 5 – What A World It Would Be – 3:23 6 – Better Late Than Never – 3:34 7 – Don’t You Put It Off Until Tomorrow – 4:16 8 – The Golden Rule Jingle – 4:09 9 – Nothing To Fear – 4:38 10 – The Summer Is Not Over – 4:25
Credits Design – Camilla B Engineer – Gordon Shryock, Peter Olsson Engineer [Mixing] – Per-Erik Hallin, Peter Olsson Engineer [Overdubs] – Anders Oredson, Andy Kidd, Boje Lundberg, Christer Lindström, Peter Olsson, Wally Grant Photography By – Labe Allwin Producer, Arranged By, Written-By – Per-Erik Hallin Programmed By [Prophet 5 Synthesizer] – Per-Erik Hallin
Companies, etc. Recorded At – Weddington Studios Recorded At – Park Studio Overdubbed At – Studio Bastun Overdubbed At – Weddington Studios Overdubbed At – Supreme Studio Overdubbed At – Park Studio Overdubbed At – KMH Studios Mixed At – Studio Bastun Phonographic Copyright (p) – Royal Music Productions Copyright (c) – Magnus Erikson Production Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Refuge Records Copyright (c) – Refuge Records
Here’s the second album from Barnabas. It follows in the path of their first release but the production is much better. There was also considerable changes in the band lineup so that may have contributed to the improved sound. The album was initially released by Tunesmith Records in 1982 but Light Records worked out some kind of deal to re-release it in 1984. Barnabas had signed with Light in 1983 and released “Approaching Light Speed” so for some Barnabas fans they were getting the albums out of order. The album has been re-released twice since then. In 2000 it was packaged with “Hear The Light” and the 2 album on one CD was released by Millenium Eight Records. It was again re-released by Retroactive Records in 2017. It is a testament of this bands popularity that their albums keep getting re-released.
Tracklist 1 – Find Your Heart A Home – 4:44 2 – The Conflict Of Desire – 4:49 3 – Way To Destruction – 4:38 4 – Boogie Tyme – 4:26 5 – Swordsman – 3:47 6 – Southern Woman – 5:28 7 – Star – 7:50
Credits Bass – Gary Mann Cover Layout – Tim Varro Drums – Kris Klingensmith Engineer – Rick Hope Lead Guitar – Kris Brauminger, Mick Donner Organ – Kris Brauminger Piano – Kris Brauminger Producer – Barnabas Rhythm Guitar – Kris Brauminger, Mick Donner Synthesizer – Nancy Jo Mann Vocals – Nancy Jo Mann
This was the first album after the Cruse Family renamed themselves “Cruse” to sound more hip and young. There really isn’t much info out there on the family and really the only member to go on to success was Cindy Cruse. The album has a pop feel on several tracks but others are very easy listening oriented. The interesting track is the lead track “First Love” which was written by producer John Rosasco. It’s interesting in that it is also done by Joe English on his Held Accountable album. John played keyboards on that album and also played keyboards on this album. Both versions came out in the same year but I’ll be honest I think I prefer this version. Anyway we have a pretty good album here and it’s definitely worth a listen.
Tracklist 1 – First Love – 4:26 2 – How Did God Know? – 4:10 3 – Everyday Life – 3:50 4 – I Am, The Mighty One – 3:35 5 – Sing – 4:07 6 – You Are That Man – 4:51 7 – Understanding Heart – 3:30 8 – Bless Your Name – 2:57 9 – One Day Closer Home – 3:02 10 – Me And My House – 3:11
Credits Arranged By [Track], Arranged By [String], Keyboards – Larry Muhoberac Arranged By [Track], Guitar – Hadley Hockensmith Arranged By [Track], Keyboards – Smitty Price Art Direction – Bob McConnell Baritone Saxophone – Dennis Solee Bass – Abe Laboriel Drum Programming [Linn Drum Machine] – Robbie Buchanan Drums – Ed Greene, Ron Krasinski, Steve Turner Engineer – Bob Cotton Engineer [Assistant] – Jim Baird, Wally Grant Guitar – Jon Goin Illustration – Mike Drake Keyboards – Allen Steinberger Percussion – Paulinho daCosta Photography By – Larry Dixon Producer, Arranged By [Track], Arranged By [Vocal], Keyboards – John Rosasco Saxophone – Dennis Solee Strings – Sid Sharp Strings
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright ℗ – CBS Inc. Published By – Priority Music Published By – John T. Benson Publishing Recorded At – Weddington Studios Recorded At – Bullet Recording Recorded At – United Western Studios Mixed At – Weddington Studios Mastered At – MCA Whitney Recording Studios Mastered At – Future Disc