Tom Franzak – Shadowboxing – 1985

This is the second of 2 albums from Tom Franzak in the 80’s but he has released some worship albums in the 2000’s. If you don’t know Tom’s background I’ll just skim it here. He was the first Catholic performer signed by Word records and as such stands out as an oddity. This album is considerable better than his first album. Not that his first album is bad, it’s actually quite good but this one is quite a bit better. The themes are Christian but there’s no hint of evangelism as he was Catholic. That said the lyrics are solidly Christian and regardless of your denomination there are some good messages here. The album is pop keyboard heavy and at times even has a Steve Taylor feel. Tom continues in a music career becoming the Director of Music Ministries at St. John XXIII Parish in Pennsylvania. If you missed this one in the 80’s and you like Pop you should really give it a listen.

Tracklist
1 – We Can Make A Difference – 3:56
2 – Theology – 3:25
3 – I’ll Come After You – 4:08
4 – Stuff – 3:39
5 – David Danced – 3:33
6 – Shadowboxing – 4:17
7 – Where’s Love For Susie – 4:33
8 – Soon To Be Without A Major Attraction – 4:54
9 – Without Love – 5:49

Credits
Dawn Bianchi – Background Vocals
Bill Bodine – Bass
Kevin Clark – Engineer, Mixed, Guitar, Bass-o-matic
Laura Creamer – Background Vocals
Jeff DeMorris – Assistant Engineer
Teri DeSario – Background Vocals
John Flynn – Background Vocals
Tom Franzak – Songwriter, Arrangements, Keyboards, Vocals
Bill Purse – Producer, Arrangements, Keyboards, Background Vocals
Brooke Romano – Background Vocals
Peter Romano – Background Vocals
Robert Sanchez – Background Vocals
Doug Sax – Mastered
Larry Treadwell – Guitar
Cheryl Wilks – Background Vocals
Art Wood – Drums
R. Tandy Xeno – Assistant Engineer

Companies, etc.
Pressed By – Electrosound Los Angeles – Δ27133
Mastered At – The Mastering Lab

Larnelle Harris – I’ve Just Seen Jesus – 1985

Larnelle has been doing solo albums since 1975 and is still releasing them as of 2018. This is perhaps one of his most liked album. Considering how many albums he has I can’t confirm that of course. It was successful. It had two charting CCM singles, “How Excellent Is Thy Name” made it to #7 and his duet with Sandi Patty, “I’ve Just Seen Jesus” made it to #13. He also won the Grammy for Best Gospel Performance, Male based on this album. However quite frankly he shouldn’t have. Russ Taff was also nominated in the category based on his album “Medals” and I think most would agree that Medals was a far better album, in fact not even close. But the Grammy’s are a funny beast, lot’s of record industry politics involved. As for the album it is the epidemy of a worship album and I have no doubt some of these tracks are begin sung in churches these days.

Tracklist
1 – How Excellent Is Thy Name – 2:04
2 – Amen – 3:07
3 – Road In The Wilderness – 3:25
4 – For Unto Us – 1:48
5 – His Grace Is Greater – 4:55
6 – I’ve Just Seen Jesus – 5:42
7 – God’s Kingdom Is What I’ve Got – 2:19
8 – Desert Of My Days – 4:15
9 – Let Freedom Ring – 5:45

Credits
Arranged By, Orchestrated By, Conductor – David T. Clydesdale
Backing Vocals – Beverly Darnall, Bonnie Keen, Dave Durham, Gary Pigg, John Darnall, Jon Mohr, Judy Clydesdale, Karla Worley, Kristi Cleary, Marty McCall, Melodie Tunney*, Rick Gibson, Sherry Paige
Bass – Craig Nelson, Gary Lunn
Drums – Mark Hammond
Guitar – Jon Goin
Harp – Mary Alice Hoepfinger
Percussion – Farrell Morris
Piano – David Huntsinger
Strings – The Nashville String Machine
Synthesizer – Mark Gersmehl, Shane Keister

Kenny Marks – Attitude – 1985

This was Kenny Mark’s third album and was kind of a breakthrough album. Mark’s first two albums received very little airplay as the lyrics and style went a little to far for Christian radio. However this album got heavy radio play in part due to it being better material and also in part to Christian radio was finally growing up and allowing more upbeat pop songs. The album produced 3 singles. Soul Reviver spent 9 weeks on the charts peaking at #35. Heroes was on the charts for 17 weeks peaking at #27 and Friends made it to #21 and was on the charts for 8 weeks. However the best song on the album “The Party’s Over” received no airplay as the JPM count was too low (Jesus Per Minute). Anyway, it’s a great Pop album and the music video for The Party’s Over was excellent.

1 – Life After High School – 3:57
2 – Attitude – 2:53
3 – It Doesn’t Hurt That Much – 4:51
4 – Heroes – 4:28
5 – It’s A Good Thing – 3:33
6 – The Party’s Over – 4:27
7 – Heart Trouble – 4:28
8 – Soul Reviver – 4:33
9 – Friends – 3:40

Credits
Art Direction – Keith Hunter (2), Thomas Ryan Design
Concept By [Cover Concept] – Pamela Marks
Engineer [Additional Engineering] – Willie Pevear
Engineer [Assistant] – Alan Henry, Chris Hammond
Executive-Producer – Neal Joseph
Producer – Bubba Smith (2)
Recorded By, Mixed By – David Schober

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Word, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Word, Inc.
Recorded At – Bullet Recording
Mixed At – Bullet Recording
Mastered At – Masterdisk
Mastered At – The Mastering Lab
Mastered At – Sheffield Lab Matrix
Pressed By – Electrosound Los Angeles – △27138

Joshua – Surrender – 1985

Joshua Perahia is back for his second album with a new lineup for Joshua including new vocalist Jeff Fenholt. The album was initially released in 1985 and did well in Europe but was little known in North America. It was reissued in 1992 completely rerecorded except for the vocals. Does that even count as a reissue? Joshua also added a new track, “Show Me the Way”, with vocals by Robyn Kyle Basauri. Robyn’s vocals were also added to “Loveshock” which was originally performed by Ken Tamplin. The recording we offer here is that 1992 reissue. I have not been able to find a copy of the original album so I’m unable to contrast it for you but I understand that this version is much much better. The album has been reissued over the years utilizing the 1992 version. Of interest on the album is a cover of The Yardbirds “Heart Full Of Soul”. It’s an interesting rework but I can’t say it better or worse than the original as the 2 styles are too far apart to compare. I know some people were looking forward to this one and were proud to have it.

Tracklist
1 – Surrender Love – 4:32
2 – Heart Full Of Soul – 4:33
3 – Your Love Is Gone – 4:19
4 – Stay Alive – 4:44
5 – Rockin’ The World – 4:42
6 – Back To The Rock – 3:36
7 – Hold On – 4:06
8 – Show Me The Way – 4:24
9 – Loveshock – 5:10
10 – Rockin’ The World (Reprise) – 0:51

Credits
Artwork – Noah Elias
Backing Vocals – Bryan Fleming, Eric Tuttobene, Jeff Fenholt, Joshua Perahia, Ken Price, Robin Kyle
Bass – Loren Robinson
Co-producer – Charles Gates
Drums – Craig Ostbo, Joe Galletta, Joe Tafoya
Engineer [Engineered By], Mixed By – John Sarappo
Guitar, Bass – Joshua Perahia
Keyboards – Patrick Bradley
Photography By – Andrew Watrous
Producer – Joshua Perahia
Vocals – Jeff Fenholt, Robin Kyle

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Ocean Records
Copyright (c) – Ocean Records
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.

Larry Norman – Back To America – 1985

This EP was released in 1985 when Larry made his big announcement that he was moving back to America after spending a lot of time working in Europe.

Between about 1980 and 1985 he worked with a lot of artists from UK and Western Europe, including Alwyn Wall, Bryn Haworth, Lyrix, Q-Stone and a lot of others. Larry really wanted to find a home for himself again where he grew up, on the West Coast.

Presumably he was hoping for a warm welcome this time after having a hard time releasing some of the music he wanted to put out in the 1970s.

The live version of “Messiah” showed off a mature sound compared to his early rock days. “It’s Only Today That Counts” is one type of prophetic song that Larry liked to write, urging people to make take life very seriously.

Side two is music and interview intertwined. Larry never gave up any opportunity to get his own words in about his own words. Rather than wait for interview requests to come in, he put this record out there with his side of the interview recorded. All that was necessary for anyone to use it was to set up the questions by either introducing them, or by fake-interviewing Larry using this material.

Here are some excerpts from the interview portions:

“I’m coming back to America, with the Young Lions. We’re going to do 200 concerts, go to all 50 states. There’s anew album coming out.
there’s a live album and video from my foreign tours. That will be available next year.”

“When I was nine I got real serious about music and started writing about my feelings, my beliefs, things that were happening to me and my friends at school.”

“When Elvis Presley came along, he wasn’t doing anything new. He was just doing Black gospel music, only instead of talking about his saviour he talked about his ‘baby.'” Rock’n’roll came from the Church. It belongs to the Church. Rock’n’roll seems now to be providence of non-believers while the Church sits on the side and denounces rock’n’roll, says that it’s ungodly music and that if you play it backwards you hear secret satanic messages.”

“Certainly the lifestyles of the people performing rock’n’roll doesn’t coincide with the moral overviews of the Christian church but rock’n’roll was Black music and it came from the early American Black church. and I don’t know why we should let anyone steal it from us. It belongs to us I think we should steal it back.”

Tracklist
1 – Messiah (Live)
2 – It’s Only Today That Counts
Side 2 – Interview
If The Bombs Fall
Letter To A Friend
Woman Of God (Proverbs 31)
Soul On Fire (1968 Version) and more.

Credits
Bass – Charly Norman
Drums – Kenny Bam Boom
Guitar, Keyboards – Larry Norman
Lead Guitar – Jon Linn
Rhythm Guitar – Bill Romansky
Written-By – Larry Norman

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Stress Records
Copyright (c) – Stress Records
Published By – Six Blue Lions
Mastered At – Sheffield Lab Matrix – △11008

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Barren Cross – Believe – 1985

This was the release that started it all for Barren Cross. The band was started in 82/83 in Los Angeles by friends Ray Parris and Steve Whitaker. This EP was recorded at Pakaderm Studios which was owned by the infamous Elefante brothers and this album was produced by Dino Elefante. It was released in 2 Edition with edition 1 pressed independently on the MPPA label and had a blue cover with white text. Edition 2 was pressed by Erika Records and had a white cover with blue text and was on blue vinyl. All of the tracks on this EP ended up on their first album along with 3 more tracks. This version of those 6 tracks is a little more edgy than the versions that ended up on their premiere album. It should be noted that this was a self financed effort which makes it all the more impressive.

Tracklist
1 – Believe – 2:16
2 – He Loves You – 4:30
3 – Going Nowhere – 3:46
4 – Give Your Life – 2:53
5 – Just A Touch – 3:26
6 – Light The Flame – 5:21

Credits
Dino Elefante – Producer, Engineer
Tim Heintz – Keyboards
Jim La Verde – Songwriter, Bass, Taurus Pedals, Vocals
Mike Lee – Songwriter, Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitars
Mike Micrau – Engineer
Ray Parris – Songwriter, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitars, Background Vocals
Steve Whitaker – Songwriter, Drums, Vocals

Companies, etc.
Manufactured By – Erika Records
Recorded At – Pakaderm Studios
Mixed At – Pakaderm Studios

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Rick Riso – Gotta Have The Real Thing – 1985

Rick Riso was the lead singer for Messenger in the 70’s who released 2 albums the last in 1978. Rick then disappeared until this album showed up in 1985. The style is similar to Messenger with a funk feel/sound. As I mentioned on my review of a Messenger album I really can’t find out much about Rick. There just isn’t any info on him. This is a little odd as this album had a top 10 single. “Gotta Have The Real Thing” made it to #10 in October of 85 and even stayed on the charts for 22 weeks. So I’ll have to leave the review at that. This is a fun funk pop album and deserves a listen.

Tracklist
1 – Don’t Let It Fool You – 4:16
2 – Remember Me – 4:32
3 – Gotta Have The Real Thing – 4:00
4 – He Is Willing – 3:43
5 – I Only Wanna Follow You – 4:12
6 – Take A Stand And Fight – 4:23
7 – Your Loving Hands – 3:49
8 – Armor Of The Lord – 4:21
9 – Each Moment Of My Life – 3:54
10 – Worship You – 3:56

Credits
Backing Vocals – Donny Henderson
Bass – Dave Marotta, Leon Gaer
Bass, Backing Vocals – Tim Jaquette
Drums – Dave Spurr, John Ferraro
Engineer, Mixed By – Tim Jaquette
Executive Producer – Chris Christian
Guitar – Carl Verheyen, Carlos Rios
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Bob Somma
Harmony Vocals – Alexa Anatasia
Keyboards, Arranged By – Bill Meyers, Mark Levang
Mastered By – Bernie Grundman
Percussion – Paul Bahn
Producer, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Songwriter – Rick Riso
Saxophone – Brandon Fields
Songwriter – Joey Arreguin
Synthesizer – Marc Hugenberger
Synthesizer, Backing Vocals, Arranged By, Keyboards – Brad Cole
Trumpet – Walt Fowler

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Studio Masters
Mixed At – Studio Masters
Mastered At – Bernie Grundman Mastering

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The English Band – What You Need – 1985

The best of all of Joe English’s contribution to the world of CCM was also his last. There was band name from The Joe English Band to just The English band and a decidedly much more contemporary sound than the previous albums that seemed dated, even by the standard of the day, despite having some wonderful songs and killer production attached to them. Joe English entered the Christian Music world with a bang with name recognition high as the drummer for the band Wings of Paul McCartney fame. After producing a few pop albums in a distinctly 70’s feel there was clear need for a change. That change came in the form of a new label, new musical direction as well as the previously mentioned band name change. More “modern” sounds with heavier guitars, bigger and glossier production, electronic drums (a thankfully short lived music experiment in the world of music) and more contemporary musical arrangements made the album a pretty big hit with several Top 10 radio hits. His back up band were an amazing group of musicians that also recorded a solo record of their own under the name Forerunner with former Petra member John Lawry handling the vocals. What You Need, The Master, Yield to the Spirit and Children of the Light are all stand outs. It may be difficult for some to listen to the album now is it was clearly impacted by the sound of the day and does not translate as well as other album. But for the time the album was a standard. The musical direction also impacted groups like the Imperials. English would return to do a solo album a few years later that did not make a dent. He then simply disappeared and was unable to continue drumming due to some physical ailments regarding his ankles. He has also recently been seen filming a video for a questionable and controversial Church in the south where he denounces his years in CCM as a fraud, claiming to have never been a Christian during those days.

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

Tracklist
1 – What You Need – 3:33
2 – The Master – 3:38
3 – Take the Cross – 4:05
4 – The First Stone – 3:10
5 – Easy Street – 3:13
6 – I Will Follow You – 3:51
7 – Yield to the Spirit – 3:52
8 – The Joy of the Lord – 4:12
9 – Children of the Light – 3:29
10 – Through the Veil – 2:22

Credits
Kim Boyce – Background Vocals
Paul Brannon – Songwriter, Bass, Guitar
Steve Camp – Songwriter
George Cocchini – Producer, Songwriter, Guitars, Bass
Rick Crawford – Songwriter
James Isaac Elliott – Songwriter
Joe English – Producer, Songwriter, Drums, Vocals
Glen Allen Green – Songwriter, Background Vocals
Monroe Jones – Songwriter
Chris McCollum – Songwriter
Paul Mills – Songwriter, Keyboards, Synclavier
Justin Peters – Songwriter
Brian Tankersley – Producer, Engineer, Mixed, Background Vocals
Becky Thurman – Songwriter
Geoff Thurman – Songwriter
David Zycheck – Background Vocals

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – GMB
Distributed By – Nye Toner / Teovision
Distributed By – Finngospel
Distributed By – Sephora Diffusion
Distributed By – Emmaul
Distributed By – GMI Records
Distributed By – Filadelfia Forlag
Distributed By – La Sorgente Music
Distributed By – Master Music
Distributed By – Grace Music
Distributed By – Master-Vision-S.A.
Distributed By – Leon Music A.B.
Distributed By – Kir Music
Distributed By – Word (Uk) Ltd.
Distributed By – Pila Music
Engineered At – Rivendell Recorders
Mixed At – Rivendell Recorders

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Michael Hart – True – 1985

This is a micro Canadian release album. In fact it was so micro that we never heard of the artist or the album and we’re Canadian. That said the producer was Roy Salmond who you may not recognize but I can guarantee you have heard his productions as he was one of the best producers of the era. He was also very influential in Canadian music circles and I’m sure it’s that influence that helped supply the excellent lineup of studio musicians for this album. In fact the drummer, Phil Robertson, was the drummer for Idle Eyes who were a very big Canadian secular band at the time. Anyway, let’s talk about the album. It’s a solid Pop offering with some quirky spots here and there and several tracks almost have a calypso fell/sound. This is an album that could have done well but it was stuck on the Producers micro label and I don’t even think it had a distribution deal. Too bad cause it’s a pretty good album.

Tracklist
1 – True – 3:23
2 – Beachcomber – 3:57
3 – Small Voice – 4:00
4 – Robin’s Song – 4:30
5 – Waterfall – 2:59
6 – Blackbeard’s Gold – 3:13
7 – Peter Was A Fisherman – 4:02
8 – Wings Of Your Love – 3:12
9 – Hear The Lord – 2:37
10 – 2,000 Years – 4:16

Credits
Alto Saxophone – Bill Runge
Backing Vocals – Pattie Howard, Rebecca Kemery
Bass – Miles Hill
Drums, Percussion – Phil Robertson
Electric Guitar – Brett Wade, Dane DeViller
Engineer, Mixed By – Don Ramos (tracks: Don Raymus)
Flute – Mark Dowding
Keyboards – Dave Pickell
Percussion – Darryl Bennet
Producer, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Composed By – Michael Hart
Producer, Synthesizer, Piano – Roy Salmond

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Profile Sound Studios
Published By – Riverbed Publishing Co.

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Mark Heard – Mosaics – 1985

Mosaics is another folk-rock sounding album from Mark, a style he settled solidly into after releasing some softer, almost country albums and a few rock albums. This blend suited his creativity well. After this album he had a five year gap before putting out another one. Mark recorded few songs that were not his own writing, so this album stands out with a version of T Bone Burnett’s “Power Of Love.” It’s a pretty close cover of the original on T Bone’s 1980 album “Truth Decay.” An interesting coincidence with the T Bone cover is the appearance of David Mansfield playing lead guitar on four of the tracks on this album. However, David is not credited on “Power of Love” despite having played with T Bone on his albums, as well as their work together in Alpha Band and on Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue. As always, Mark was able to attract top level musicians to his project. It seems like everyone wanted to work with him and the results suggest the reason why. Leslie Phillips (aka Sam Phillips) appears on backing vocals on a few tracks, Tom Howard plays keys on several tracks, and John Mehler adds his drumming to make this another all-star cast project.

Tracklist
1 – With Broken Wings – 4:23
2 – Schizophrenia – 3:48
3 – All Is Not Lost – 3:05
4 – Heart On The Line – 4:08
5 – He Plays The Game – 3:20
6 – The Golden Age – 4:08
7 – The Power Of Love – 3:42
8 – I Want You – 4:04
9 – It Will Not Be Like This Forever – 4:18
10 – Miracle – 4:58

Credits
Arranged By – Mark Heard
Backing Vocals – Dave de Coup-Crank (tracks: 2), Dori Howard (tracks: 10), Leslie Phillips (tracks: 1, 3, 4), Mark Heard
Bass – Bill Batstone (tracks: 4)
Cover [Front Cover Concept] – Tim Alderson
Design, Illustration [Computer Art] – Mark Heard
Drums – John Mehler (tracks: 1-6, 8, 9)
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Lead Guitar, Bass, Lead Vocals – Mark Heard
Electronic Drums [Simmons Drums] – David McSparran (tracks: 7, 9)
Engineer, Mixed By – Mark Heard
Harmonica – Buddy Rufus Greene (tracks: 3, 6)
Lead Guitar – David Mansfield (tracks: 2, 4, 8, 9)
Organ – Barry Kaye (tracks: 9)
Percussion, Electronic Drums [Simmons Drums] – Harry Stinson
Photography By – Stewart Ivester
Producer – Mark Heard
Synthesizer – Tom Howard (tracks: 2, 3, 6)

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – Word Ltd.
Printed By – Shorewood Packaging Co. Ltd.
Recorded At – Fingerprint Recorders
Mixed At – Fingerprint Recorders

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