Michael W Smith – The Michael W Smith Project – 1983

The MWS Project introduced us to Michael W Smith, a fresh young musician with stellar keyboard, writing, and arranging skills and a knack for writing catchy worship riffs. The positive, ‘preppy rock’ sound hit most of the popular 80s pop rock notes. His soon-to-be-familiar signature styles get their beginnings here: keyboard-heavy arrangements with plenty of synth; full choirs for backing vocals; emotionally-charged ‘milestone’ lyrics; and the first of many anthem-like worship songs.

Indeed, The MWS Project covers some ground in terms of song types. MWS has always interested me in that he writes for a multitude of occasions and venues, not just moods or subjects. On his debut album we find music for rock concerts, worship services, and even weddings/funerals/graduations:

– high energy biblical storytelling in “Could He Be the Messiah?” and “Be Strong and Courageous” (which always reminds me of Van Halen’s “Jump”)
– high energy exhortations toward the pursuit of Christian living in “The Race Is On” (I saw this in concert, and thought he was going to leap off the stage, he had so much energy), “You Need A Savior” (this lyric warrants some further discussion, but that’s for another time), and “Love In The Light” (this one has stuck with me; every time I read or hear any part of 1 John 2:8-11, it starts playing in my head)
– instrumentals (“Sonata in D Major”, “Looking Up”, “First Light”, “Alpha Overture”)
– a contemplative piece (“Too Many Times”, one of my favourites)

…and of course, two songs firmly entrenched in the collective CCM unconsciousness: Friends, and Great Is The Lord.

One last thought: What was he going for with the original album design?? MWS is a self-professed sci-fi aficionado, so maybe it was meant as a nod to video games, and science fiction movies like Tron… The album was re-released in CD format in 1987 with an updated cover and photo.

*******

Track listing:
1 – Sonata in D Major – 1:13
2 – You Need A Savior – 3:34
3 – Could He Be the Messiah? – 4:28
4 – Too Many Times – 4:25
5 – Be Strong and Courageous – 3:42
6 – Looking Up – 3:23
7 – The Race is On – 3:41
8 – First Light/Love in the Light – 5:30
9 – Friends – 4:16
10 – Great Is The Lord – 2:52
11 – Alpha Overture – 3:40

Credits:
Music
Michael W. Smith – lead vocals, background vocals, acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, Yamaha GS2 synthesizer, Prophet-5 synthesizers
Shane Keister – OB-X synthesizer, Prophet-5 synthesizers, vocoder
Jon Goin – guitars
Mike Brignardello – bass guitar
Mark Hammond – drums, Roland TR-808 drum machine on “First Light”
Mike Psanos – percussion
Dennis Solee – saxophone
Gary Chapman – background vocals
Jackie Cusic – background vocals
Diana DeWitt – background vocals
David Durham – background vocals
Teresa Ellis – background vocals
Amy Grant – background vocals (“Friends”)
Pam Mark Hall – background vocals
Chris Harris – background vocals
Gary Pigg – background vocals
Kim Smith – background vocals
Production
Michael W. Smith – producer, assistant engineer
Michael Blanton and Dan Harrell – executive producers
Mike Psanos – recording engineer
Brown Bannister – assistant engineer
John Woods – assistant engineer
Jack Joseph Puig – remixing
Recorded at Tree International Studio (Nashville, Tennessee)
Hank Williams – mastering
Mastered at Woodland Sound Studio (Nashville, Tennessee)
Bill Brunt – art direction
Tim Campbell – photography

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Edin-Ådahl – Alibi – 1983

Edin Ådahl were a band out of Sweden who released some of their albums using english in North America. This was their first release in North America. It was well received getting regular play on Christian radio. One of the odd things about this band is that it was made up of 2 sets of brothers, Bertil and Lasse Edin, and Simon and Frank Ådahl. While some people though the lyric translations didn’t work well I completely disagree, I think it works well.

Tracklist
1 – Wake Up – 3:23
2 – On The Cutting Edge – 3:39
3 – Alibi – 3:13
4 – Bring Back The Joy – 5:29
5 – Let All Of The Earth Proclaim – 4:20
6 – Saviour – 3:08
7 – For The Rain In Your Heart – 3:12
8 – Storm In My Heart – 3:17
9 – Send Me, Send Me – 5:01
10 – Your Heart Is In His Hands – 4:44

Credits
Arranged By, Producer, Mixed By – Edin-Ådahl
Engineer – Lennart Ström, Mats Öberg, Peter Olsson
Executive-Producer – Magnus Erikson
Producer [English Vocals] – Tom Douglas

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Avion – Avion – 1983

Randall Waller released a couple solo albums before leading Avion. This great 80’s album has an excellent 80’s rock pop feel and had some secular success. The guitar work is strong and on some songs the album leans more to Rock. Avion was originally called Lionheart but changed names early in their run. The band had 2 studio albums and a live album. The band disbanded in 1987 after the untimely death of the keyboard player Evan Murray. Randall Waller has continued on to play with many big stars including, Keith Urban, Shania Twain, and Rose Tattoo. This is a great album that should have sold better but at least we can continue to enjoy it today.

Tracklist
1 – I Need You – 3:51
2 – Diamond Eyes – 4:17
3 – Lady Of The Night – 2:58
4 – We Can Try – 3:24
5 – Warrior – 4:34
6 – Never Let Me Go – 4:27
7 – Where Do We Go From Here – 3:40
8 – Always Waiting – 3:32
9 – Who’s Crying Now – 3:06
10 – Once Bitten, Twice Shy – 3:19

Credits
Bass, Backing Vocals – Kendall Waller
Drums, Backing Vocals – John Waller
Guitar – Martyn Toole
Keyboards – Evan Murray
Producer – Chris Gilbey
Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Randall Waller

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Randy Weiss & The Pilgrim Band – Munch Manna Spirit Flakes – 1983

Randy Weiss & The Pilgrim Band only had one release that we know of, entitled “Munch Manna Spirit Flakes.”

This unique and wonderful record is the only example I know of a CCM recording by a Messianic Jew. I have to admit that until discovering this album in 1983 I had no idea that Messianic Jews existed.

As a CCM album, this was an independent release that did not seem to gather a lot of attention. Independent releases didn’t garner a lot of attention in general in the 1980s.

The musicianship is good and creative, but hard to put a finger on. It has a certain 60s rockabilly or country-gospel style with a wandering vocal that seems to take it outside that genre.

Subject-wise it seems to fit the traditional praise style of Jesus music.

Buckle in, buckle down, and set your expectations on “whatever happens next.” Get ready for these lyrics:

Pharoah’s dead / God’s people, we are free / And the LORD ain’t out of groceries

Track Listing:
1 – I Don’t Need No Designer Jeans
2 – The Nickel Song
3 – 3 Times Down
4 – Involvement
5 – NonDemumbo-Jumbinational
6 – Munchy Manna
7 – Wander Over Yonder
8 – 5 For A Dollar
9 – Covered By Gods Love
10 – Voices
11 – City Song
12 – My Boys
13 – God & A Mothers Love
14 – Psalm 69

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Mylon LeFevre & Broken Heart – More – 1983

This is an album I missed back in 1983 and I’m a little surprised at that considering the talent assembled. There are backing vocals from 2nd Chapter Of Acts, Annie Herring, Matthew Ward, and Sevenfold among others. Phil Keaggy is on guitar and Kerry Livgren on keyboards. This is pretty much a super group with all that talent. The album itself is mainly easy listening which is probably why I missed it. The production quality is excellent and the assembled band is tight.

Tracklist
1 – Givers And Takers – 4:18
2 – The Power – 3:19
3 – It’s Almost Over – 3:00
4 – Coming Back Again – 3:38
5 – Free Man – 3:16
6 – My Heart Belongs To Him – 3:58
7 – More (Of Jesus) – 3:52
8 – Children Of The King – 3:00
9 – Praise Hymn – 3:52
10 – The Gift – 2:16

Credits
Backing Vocals – 2nd Chapter Of Acts, Angela Street, Annie Herring, Carol Ford, Charlotte Reed, Eveleaner Smith, Jack Holder, Jaquelyn Street, Jimmy Jamieson, Matthew Ward, Nellie Greison, Sevenfold, Valarie Street, Vanessa Ford
Bass, Vocals – Kenny Bentley
Congas, Bongos – Ed Zimmerman
Design [Cover] – Mike McCarty
Drums, Percussion – Ben Hewitt, John Hampton
Engineer – Gary Ham, Joe Hardy, Wally Duguid, Will Eggleston
Guitar, Bass, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Joe Hardy
Keyboards, Synthesizer, Vocals – Stan Coates
Lacquer Cut By – L Nix
Lead Guitar – Phil Keaggy
Lead Guitar, Synthesizer, Vocals – Dean Harrington
Lead Guitar, Vocals – Tim Huffman
Legal – Joel A. Katz
Management [Road], Engineer [Sound] – Greg Westman
Management [Road], Lighting – George Close
Mastered By – Larry Nix
Mixed By – Joe Hardy
Photography By – Greg Knobloch
Producer – Dean Harrington, Joe Hardy, Mylon LeFevre
Synthesizer [Emulator] – Kerry Livgren
Vocals, Guitar – Mylon LeFevre

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Servant – Caught In The Act of Loving Him – 1983

This was the 4th studio album from Servant and their first on their own short lived label, Roof Top records.

This album continued their progression as a great 80’s CCM Rock & Roll band. The songwriting was excellent and Sandie Brock’s voice was developing to a more Fleetwood Mac sound.

Many reviewers say she was sounding like Steve Nicks on this album by I don’t actually agree. Sandie’s voice is very distinctive and stands on it’s own.

Over all the album adds a little more electronics but holds steady as a great Rock & Roll album.

Track Listing:
1 – Burning Bridges – 3:57
2 – Thank God – 4:33
3 – Fall Out – 4:30
4 – Now Is The Time – 2:56
5 – Holding On To You – 3:58
6 – Heart To Heart – 3:13
7 – Gauges – 3:02
8 – Something Right For You – 3:24
9 – Tied Down – 3:58
10 – Can’t Go Back – 3:08

Credits:
Artwork – Rob Jaffe
Bass – Rob Martens
Drums – David Holmes
Keyboards – Matt Spransy
Lead Guitar – Bruce Wright
Photography By – Christopher Briscoe
Producer – Jonathan David Brown
Rhythm Guitar, Vocals – Owen Brock
Vocals – Bob Hardy, Sandie Brock

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Lifesavors – Dream Life – 1983

This 1983 release from The Lifesavors continued where their debut ended. The guitars stayed edgy and the vocals a little raw and I felt this album was a little more fun than their previous release.

Michael Knott did most of the songwriting for this album and actually did all the original vocals but due to some internal band drama the vocals were rerecorded by Kirk Heiner and Brian Goins.

Final answer is that this is a great fun album that offered up something Christian music was missing and needed at the time.

Track Listing:
1 – Break In My Head 2:33
2 – Christian Twisters 2:18
3 – Glamour Girls 1:00
4 – Christian Army 1:50
5 – Physical 3:02
6 – Waiting For You 2:30
7 – Sooner Or Later 2:40
8 – False Identity 2:12
9 – I Won’t Give In 2:30
10 – The One 1:55
11 – Hurt, Out Of My Heart 2:55
12 – Fourteen 2:47
13 – I’m Not 2:18
14 – Watch Nowhere (Else) 3:35

Credits:
Arranged By, Co-producer [Production Assistance] – Chris Wimber
Band [The Lifesavors], Bass, Rhythm Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals – Chris Wimber
Band [The Lifesavors], Drums, Percussion, Vocals – Kevin Annis
Band [The Lifesavors], Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals – Kirk Heiner
Band [The Lifesavors], Vocals – Brian Goins
Design – Ken Baley, Linda Dillon Baley, Mark Swanson
Guest [Additional Musical Services], Backing Vocals – Carla Martin, Debbie Wimber, Jerry Chamberlain, Jim Camp, Ray Rubio, Robin Renee, Sharon McCall
Guest [Additional Musical Services], Guitar – Mike Knott*, Mike Annis
Guest [Additional Musical Services], Keyboards – Ric Alba
Layout – Mark Swanson
Mastered By – Kevin Gray
Photography – Ken Baley, Linda Dillon Baley
Producer – Thom Roy
Recorded By, Mixed By – Thom Roy

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Army Of Love – (self titled) – 1983

Army of Love was an early 80’s 3 piece band from San Diego. This was their only release and it was well received in the California music scene and it received limited airplay on Christian Radio.

It’s a guitar heavy new wave album with hints of U2 and the Police. Overall I think it was a good EP/Album but was very poorly mixed/produced as you will hear.

Track Listing:
1 – King Of All – 4:17
2 – Yaweh (Yah-Way) – 4:28
3 – Kingdom Rockin – 2:42
4 – Exodous – 4:10
5 – Vinedresser – 4:53
6 – It’s Friday (Sunday’s Commin) – 3:43

Credits:
Bass, Backing Vocals – Jeffery Harris
Drums, Backing Vocals [Percussion] – Ivan Knight
Guitar, Lead Vocals – Mark McCoy

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Semaja – No Burning Out – 1983

This was the second and last studio album from German Band Semaja. It was released in late 1983 in Germany and early 1984 in North America.

Apparently there was also a UK release but I can’t find any info on it. The German release only has 3 songs in German, the rest were the same version as released in the U.S.A. & Canada. I have included the 3 German versions in the playlist.

The album has a decidedly pop sound and is well engineered and produced. I love the opening track “Hey Friend” and declare it the single.

Track Listing (English):
1 – Hey Friend – 4:14
2 – Green Land – 3:08
3 – He’s Real – 4:33
4 – Not Too Late – 4:28
5 – Flip-Flop – 2:24
6 – No Burning Out – 3:40
7 – No, No – 3:27
8 – Karen – 4:25
9 – Behind The Curtain – 4:28

Track Listing (German):
1 – Hey Friend – 4:14
2 – Grünes Land – 3:08
3 – He’s Real – 4:33
4 – Not Too Late – 4:28
5 – Flip-Flop – 2:24
6 – No Burning Out – 3:40
7 – Nein – 3:27
8 – Karin – 4:25
9 – Behind The Curtain – 4:28

Credits:
Artwork By [Cover Painting] – Klaus Oelmann
Bass, Vocals – Wilfried Herrmann
Design – Peter Klüger
Drums – Harald Nagel
Guitar [Guitars], Vocals – Ulrich Plinke
Keyboards – Claus Feldmann
Lead Vocals – Markus Egger
Management – Rainer Kierstein
Mastered By – SNB
Percussion – Klaus Herrmann
Producer, Engineer – Jan Nemec
Words By, Music By – Semaja

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Katharsis – Drivin’ Too Fast! – 1983

This 6 song EP from Katharsis was all that was ever released from this band.

It is a rather odd combination of Jazz, Funk, and straight out Rock & Roll. The varying styles might have been its commercial downfall but that said I believe it’s a great EP.

The different styles compliment each other and I think it was very well produced. Looking for the single? My suggestions are the title track, Drivin Too Fast!, and/or, Wrong Band. Nice gem from the 80’s here.

Track Listing:
1 – Drivin’ Too Fast
2 – Not A Chance In Hell (JC Funk)
3 – Wrong Band
4 – The Easiest Answer
5 – Within The Wild
6 – Clear Deception

Credits:
Bass [Bass Response], Vocals – Jerome Reeves
Design [Album], Graphics – Paul I. Pettys
Drums, Percussion – Eric Dean (2)
Engineer – Roger Fortner, Steve Easter (4)
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar – Steve Helm (2)
Photography By – Bill Littell, Dan Wilson (21), Kevin Crafton
Producer – Katharsis (15)
Typography [Typesetting By] – Peggy Dunnagan
Vocals – Jim McLeod (4)
Vocals, Rhythm Guitar – Dwight Huthwaite
Written-By – Huthwaite*, McLeod* (tracks: A2, B1, B3)

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