Undercover – Branded – 1986

Branded was a turning point album for Undercover. It has a mature sound but it certainly leaves behind some of the elements that set Undercover apart in their early days. Their first album featured Ric Alba on lead vocals, then on the follow up Bill Walden took over, as Ric had moved on to Altar Boys. Bill recorded lead vocals on two albums for Undercover before this, their fourth where Sim Wilson took over the mic. The mature sound is very dark compared to the original upbeat, peppy happy-go-Jesus songs on their first two albums. The third record started to get more serious, but not brooding like Branded is. Sim’s vocals are powerful and booming, begging you to take seriously everything he says, ensuring you that the drama is all worth it. Most of the band did stick together, so they still have some signature sounds, although this could have been a different band. The band obviously didn’t see it that way because on this, their fourth album they labelled the record “side 7” and “side 8.” Maybe that was apologetic. There are a lot of introspective tracks such as “I’m Just A Man,” “Cry Myself To Sleep,” and “Come Away With Me.”

Tracklist
1 – I’m Just A Man – 3:24
2 – The Fight For Love – 3:00
3 – Where Can I Go – 3:13
4 – Tears In Your Eyes – 2:05
5 – Pilate – 3:00
6 – Build A Castle – 3:25
7 – Cry Myself To Sleep – 2:31
8 – Prelude – 1:55
9 – Darkest Hour – 3:26
10 – Interlude – 0:35
11 – Come Away With Me – 4:44
12 – If I Had A Dream – 5:02

Credits
Arranged By – Undercover
Art Direction – Harry Barnes, Ojo Taylor
Crew [Road] – Buzz Bolton, Kenny Olson
Design [Album] – Undercover
Engineer – Mike Mierau, Joey
Engineer [Second] – Bobby Saucedo, Paul Abajian
Executive-Producer – Harry Barnes
Illustration, Typography [Lettering] – Dave Gibson
Keyboards, Bass – Ojo Taylor
Layout – Graphics Gloria
Mastered By – Bernie Grundmann
Mixed By – Dino Elefante
Photography By – David Gomez
Producer – Ojo Taylor
Vocals – Sim Wilson
Vocals, Drums – Gary Olson
Vocals, Guitar – Gym Nicholson
Voice [Additional] – Gene Eugene, Glenn, Riki
Written-By – Gym Nicholson, Ojo Taylor

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – Lexicon Distribution
Recorded At – Pakaderm Studios
Mixed At – Pakaderm Studios
Published By – B-1 Music
Published By – Royal Commandment Music

Dan Peek – Electro Voice – 1986

This was Dan’s third solo album and easily his most successful. The first single “Lonely People” reached #2 on the contemporary Christian music chart. Rather oddly this was actually a cover of his song he wrote and performed with his original group, America, in 1975. The second single “Electro-Voice” also charted on the CCM Adult chart. As for the album it’s a pretty good pop album. Somehow I missed this one in the 80’s which is too bad as I think I would have really liked it.

Tracklist
1 – Electro-Voice – 4:09
2 – A New Song – 3:08
3 – Solid Ground – 2:30
4 – Not My Will – 4:00
5 – Lonely People – 2:56
6 – His Master’s Voice – 2:42
7 – I’ll Be Coming Home – 3:45
8 – Open Up Your Heart – 3:26
9 – The Rapture – 3:16
10 – All Things Work Together For Good – 3:41

Avion – White Noise – 1986

Apart from his excellent vocal contribution (as well as some guitaring) on David Zaffiro’s Surrender Absolute (1992) album, from Randall Waller’s second solo album, Midnight Fire, onwards his focus changed from the Christian music market to the mainstream music world. This is clearly evident on Avion’s well-produced second and last studio album, White Noise, released on the mainstream EMI label. Forming in 1981, Avion was an Australian band that was beset with hardship and tragedy of one kind and another. Even though they had a few appearances on Australia’s national music show Countdown, Australian rock historian Ian MacFarlane states that they were ‘met with virtual indifference at home’ (Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop). The great singles the band released suffered from a lack of airplay. Apart from a loyal Sydney fan base, the band’s biggest supporters came from North America who appreciated the band’s melodic, American-influenced AOR. Band member and keyboardist, Evan Murray, died in a car accident in late ’87. The band called it a day soon after. The album contained the following 3 singles – We’ve Got Secrets (1985), Celebration (1986), and Berlin Wall (1987). Berlin Wall addresses the detrimental effect of the wall on the city’s residents that divided Berlin into East and West Berlin. The album has two relationship songs – Elle and Ships. Elle is about a couple where one member is pushing the relationship to the next level before the other member is ready for that level of commitment. Ships is about a song of unrequited love, using the saying ‘Ships passing in the night’ to great effect. One of my favourite tracks, Calm Before The Storm, has the strongest Christian connotations about heaven coming down to earth. The only change in personnel for this album was Paul Gannell who replaced Martyn Toole on guitar.

Contributor – Frank Axel Rasenberger

Tracklist
1 – Celebration – 4:05
2 – Berlin Wall – 3:35
3 – Elle – 3:56
4 – In My Mind – 3:33
5 – Ships – 4:45
6 – We’ve Got Secrets – 3:58
7 – Calm Before The Storm – 4:41
8 – The Next Big Thing – 3:24
9 – On & On – 4:50
10 – Never Too Late – 3:55

Credits
Bass, Backing Vocals – Kendall Waller
Drums, Backing Vocals – John Waller
Engineer – Peter Cobbin, Richard Lush
Engineer [Assisted By] – Tony Espie
Engineer [Assisted By], Mixed By [Assisted By] – Greg Henderson
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Paul Gannell
Lead Vocals, Guitar – Randall Waller
Mixed By – Clive Shakespeare, John Bee, Randall Waller, Spencer Lee
Piano, Synthesizer, Backing Vocals – Evan Murray
Producer – Clive Shakespeare), Peter Dawkins, Randall Waller
Producer, Engineer – Ross Cockle
Producer, Engineer, Mixed By – Peter Blyton
Producer, Mixed By – Avion

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – EMI Studios 301
Produced At – AAV
Engineered At – AAV
Mixed At – Albert Studios

Jon Gibson – On The Run – 1986

Recently David Lowman said the following, “If there was any real justice in the world of 80’s CCM, artists Jon Gibson and Tim Miner would have sold out arenas.” Upon reading that I broke out a Tim Miner album and he was right on that one so next I broke out a Jon Gibson album and he is dead on in this one also. In fact I liked this album even more than the Tim Miner album. This is Jon’s second album but his first was on a secular label so this was his first CCM offering. The album was quite popular and had a #1 single, “God Loves a Broken Heart”. In a foreshadowing of what would make him even more popular he did a quasi rap track “Ain’t It Pretty”. Not my favourite track on the album but I’m not a fan of that style. My personal pick for best track is actually “It’s True”. This is a great pop R&B album and as David said deserved to be much better known.

Tracklist
1 – Metal Machine – 4:20
2 – Ain’t It Pretty – 4:24
3 – On The Run – 4:02
4 – God Loves A Broken Heart – 4:24
5 – It’s True – 3:07
6 – Standing On The One – 4:04
7 – Are You Gonna Stay – 4:00
8 – I Love Her Anyway – 3:52
9 – Nation In Need – 3:48
10 – Dreams – 3:52

Credits
Art Direction – Terry Dresbach
Backing Vocals – Chrystal Blake, Felton Pilate, Jon Gibson, Phillip Ingram, The Waters
Bass Guitar – Gary Jackson, Nathan Watts
Creative Director – Ed McTaggart
Drums – John Robinson, Jonathan Moffett, Tony Lewis
Electric Piano [Rhodes] – Clifford Coulter, Tony LuFrano
Executive-Producer – Sam Conti
Guitar – Ben Bridges, Felton Pilate, Greg Doty, Joe Satriani, Mickey Free, Sneaky Pete, Snuffy Walden
Keyboards, Drum Programming, Programmed By – Bill Wolfer, Felton Pilate, Tom Coster
Lead Vocals – Jon Gibson
Mastered By – Bill Cutler, George Horn
Percussion – Cubby Ingram, Wayne-O-Millstein
Photography By – Fredrica Drotos
Producer – Felton Pilate, Jon Gibson, Tom Coster
Saxophone – Larry Williams
Synthesizer [Synth Bass] – Felton Pilate, Joey Gallo
Written-By – Jon Gibson

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Frontline Records
Copyright © – Frontline Records
Distributed By – The Benson Company
Distributed By – The Master’s Collection
Distributed By – Kingsway Publications Ltd.
Pressed By – Nimbus, Virginia

One Bad Pig – A Christian Banned – 1986

One Bad Pig actually originated out of a one time performance at a local Texas music festival. I’m guessing they were pretty well received as the band decided to keep going and recorded this demo. The band at this point was imitating early 80’s punk. It was well received by their fans even though the sound had actually been overdone in the secular industry. That said punk was virtually unknown in Christian music so it was a new sound for fans. I have listened to some of their later work and I see real talent but quite frankly I just don’t hear a lot of talent here. I was a big listener of secular punk music in the early 80’s and quite frankly they just don’t measure up. That said I respect that they were doing something new and the CCM industry really needed new sounds at the time this band came along. If you are a big fan of OBP this is a must listen but don’t expect the quality they would later be know for.

Tracklist
1 – Six – 2:30
2 – Sleepin’ With The World – 1:58
3 – Make Me Burn – 3:39
4 – Blow And Go – 2:18
5 – Anarchy Is Prison – 3:04
6 – Life’s A Bomb – 2:19

Credits
Artwork [Cover Art], Design – Capital Spectrum, Kevin Phelan, Ronnie Bronson
Bass, Vocals – Kevin Phelan
Guitar, Songwriter [Song], Vocals – Paul Q-Pek
Lead Vocals [Lead Screams], Lyrics By [Lyric] – Carey Womack
Percussion – Jon Taylor
Engineer [Engineered By], Mixed By – Kerry Crafton
Photography By – David Davis
Producer [Produced By] – Kerry Crafton, One Bad Pig

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Porkys Demise
Copyright © – Porkys Demise
Recorded At – Studio West, Austin, TX.
Mastered At – Rainbo Records
Pressed By – Rainbo Records
Glass Mastered at – Cinram

Commissioned – Go Tell Somebody – 1986

I’ll be honest I have never even heard of Commissioned before but again I believe I grew up in a Funk free zone. That said I found this album to be more easy listening than funk but it is classified as a funk album. This was the second album from Commissioned and I think they turned down the funk a little bit for this one. This album peaked at #2 on the US Billboard Top Gospel albums chart which is pretty good for a second album but it is indicative of the quality of this album. There are 7 more albums by these guys so expect to hear more of them.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPcTOx34g9XRgP3bTTSfJ8dfbQDCjRQXx

Tracklist
1 – Victory – 4:59
2 – Love Isn’t Love – 5:13
3 – Go Tell Somebody – 4:43
4 – Cry On – 5:09
5 – Who Do Men Say I Am – 4:32
6 – Hide The Word – 4:51
7 – Learn To Pray – 4:01
8 – Running Back To You – 4:45

Credits
Fred Hammond – Vocals, Bass Guitar, Synclavier, Synthesizer
Keith Staten – Vocals
Mitchell Jones – Vocals
Karl Reid – Vocals
Michael Brooks – Keyboards, Piano, Horn Arrangements, Synthesizer, Synclavier, Roland Synthesizer, WX7 Wind Controller, Percussion
Michael Williams – Drums, Latin Percussion, Percussion
Eric Brice – Electric Guitar
Earl J. Wright – Keyboards, DX7, Moog Synthesizer, Synthesizer
Michael Wright – Electric Guitar
Michael J. Powell – Classical Guitar

Companies, etc.
Manufactured By – Electrosound Group Midwest, Inc.

Alternate cover

Kenny Smith – Witness – 1986

I must admit that back in the 80’s I had no idea there was Funk oriented CCM music. Now admittedly I grew up in a funk free zone but I still would have thought I would have heard of some of these artists. But for some reason it simply was not promoted in Canada. Anyway here we have one of the premiere funk artists of the 80’s and 90’s. While I don’t normally listen to this style of music I can recognize when it is good and this album is good. The single and title track did well on the charts but I was actually unable to find out how well it did. Strangely this track is 7 minutes long on the album but a radio version was released on 45 coming in at a more radio friendly 4:45. We actually get requests for more Christian funk music so were happy to provide it when we find it.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPcTOx34g9XRxPBxeJ8Up4Ii7k3XYneGM

Tracklist
1 – Holding On – 4:56
2 – Any Day Now – 6:32
3 – Giving My All To You – 4:57
4 – Watching You – 4:24
5 – Hold Me Holy Spirit – 6:21
6 – You’re My Everything – 4:55
7 – Witness – 7:00
8 – We’ll Be Together – 4:59

Credits
Backing Vocals – Kenny Smith, Loida Garcia, Narda Smith
Bass – Charles (Hitman) Jefferson
Design [Album Cover] – Susan Randle
Drum Programming – Kenny Smith
Drums – George Bell
Engineer – Carl Lange, Cecil Q. Duke
Executive-Producer – Joyce Dozier McNichols, Marlin McNichols
Guitar – Walter Kevin Foley
Horns – Arthur Manley, Tim Anderson
Keyboards – Bradley Alexander, Darron Johnson, Kenny Smith
Percussion – Gerald (Billy) Hill
Photography By – David Randle
Producer – Kenny Smith
Written-By, Arranged By – Kenny Smith

Companies, etc.
Published By – Heavenly Wisdom Music
Published By – Kenas Music
Produced For – Kenas Productions
Manufactured By – McNichols Communications
Distributed By – McNichols Communications

Sandi Patti – Morning Like This – 1986

As regular readers of this and the previous blog can attest, Adult Contemporary and Inspirational titles do not find themselves here very often. The album itself has to be more than just a collection of praise and worship, hymns and traditional gospel favorites. Something has to set the album apart more than just possibly the greatest voice on the planet. Sandi definitely has the latter. But fortunately, the album also has some great songs that make it stand out against most of the other albums in the genre. The opening track sound like it could have easily fit on a Twila Paris from the same timeframe, with “Let There Be Praise” sounding more like a pop worship/hymn than Patti’s more traditional big songs. “Hosanna” follows suit with the same sort of sound. Like most of the album, there is limited, over-dramatic anthems, but rather more pop infused inspirational music. This song also benefits from a guest appearance from Matthew Ward (who may be able to sing higher). “Love in Any Language” may be Patti’s finest song. Though not as big and dramatic as “Via Dolorosa” and “We Shall Behold Him,” this song of unity has more of a “We Are the World” feel throughout. “King of Glory” sounds more like Farrell and Farrell while “Face to Faith” starts off sounding like Amy Grant’s “Fat Baby,” but ends up sounding more like something from First Call. “Morning Like This” serves to be the most contemporary pop album, which makes it the obvious choice for inclusion on this list.

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

Tracklist
1 – Let There Be Praise – 3:03
2 – Hosanna – 3:37
3 – Unshakeable Kingdom – 5:48
4 – Shepherd Of My Heart – 4:01
5 – Love In Any Language – 4:51
6 – King Of Glory – 2:35
7 – Face To Faith – 4:21
8 – Was It A Morning Like This – 3:22
9 – In The Name Of The Lord – 5:00
10 – There Is A Savior – 4:42

Credits
Arranged By [Strings], Conductor – Alan Moore
Arranged By, Orchestrated By, Conductor – David T. Clydesdale
Bass – Craig Nelson (tracks: A3, B4, B5), Mike Brignardello
Brass – Barbara Hutchins (tracks: A3, B4), Eberhard Ramm, Michael Buckwalter, Richard Ricker, Robert Heuer, Tom McAnich
Drums – Mark Hammond, Paul Leim
Executive Producer – John Helvering
Guitar – John Darnall, Jon Goin
Keyboards – Phil Naish, Shane Keister
Leader, Strings – Carl Gorodetzky
Percussion – Farrel Morris
Piano – David Huntsinger
Producer – Greg Nelson, Sandi Patti Helvering
Strings – Carol Walker, Cathy Umstead, Charles Everett, Chris Teal, Connie Heard, Craig Nelson, David Boyle, David Vanderkooi, Dennis Molchan, Edgar Meyer, Gary Vanosdale, George Binkley, Grace Bahng, Inez Boyle, Jack Jezioro, Janet Hazen, Joann Cruthirds, John Borg, Katherine Plummer, Lee Larrison, Linda Alosco, Mark Tanner, Mary Katherine Parker, Nathan Kahn, Pam Sixfin, Pauli Ewing, Phyllis Mazza, Rosemary Harris, Roy Christensen, Sara Fogel, Stephanie Woolf, Teresa Fream, Nashville String Machine, Virginia Christensen
Vocals – Beverly Darnall, Bonnie Keen, Craig Patty, David Maddux, Jane Sherberg, Jon Mohr, Jon Sherberg, Leah Taylo, Lynn Hodges, Marty McCall, Melodie Tunney, Mike Patty, Rick Gibson, Sandi Patti Helverin, Steve Taylor, Tammy Boyer, Tammy Taylor, Keith Moore

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Word, Inc.
Copyright © – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word (Uk) Ltd.
Distributed By – Word Records Limited

Bride – Show No Mercy – 1986

Bride were originally known as Matrix and actually recorded 4 demos using that name. They got their break when they were booked to open for Daniel Band in Pottstown, PA. Apparently there were executives from Refuge records at the show and they subsequently signed the band to their new metal sub label, Pure Metal records. The band went into the studio with a budget of $2500 and it shows. The album has a very thin production but fans if Bride cite this as one of the reasons they love this album. I’m actually a little surprised that Refuge didn’t throw some money at them and give them a producer. While I love Refuge they made some very questionable business decisions during their existence. The album is a little darker than their subsequent work that they were better known for. The real star of the album is Dale Thompson’s guitar work which is some of the best in the industry and we also got a little introduction to Dale’s excellent vocal abilities coming on subsequent albums.

Tracklist
1 – Evil That Men Do – 3:38
2 – Now He Is Gone – 3:50
3 – Fly Away – 4:12
4 – Forever In Darkness – 3:44
5 – Follow Your Heart – 4:29
6 – Show No Mercy – 3:37
7 – I Will Be With You – 4:29
8 – Thunder In The City – 5:53
9 – No Matter The Price – 4:19
10 – The First Will Be Last – 4:07

Credits
Bride – Producer, Arranger
Gary Barnes – Background Vocals
Howell Gano – Background Vocals
Scott Hall – Songwriter, Bass
Steve Osborne – Lead Guitar
David Pitt – Background Vocals
Stephan Rolland – Drums
Billy Sutherland – Guitar Special Effects, Voice Box
Dale Thompson – Vocals
Michelle Thompson – Background Vocals
Sharon Thompson – Background Vocals
Troy Thompson – Songwriter, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Piano, Violin
Eric Tripton – Lead Guitar

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Pure Metal
Copyright © – Pure Metal

Larry Howard – Sanctified Blues – 1986

Larry was a member of Grinderswitch through the 70’s and early 80s. They were a southern rock band and toured with all the big names of the style and time. Larry left the band in the mid 80’s and started his solo career. This is his first solo album. Larry brought a sound to CCM music that was needed in the period. Yes their were some blues bands but not of this caliber. Quite frankly this album is as good as anything in the secular market at the time. Playing harmonica on the album is Buddy Greene who is probably second only to Darrell Mansfield as a harmonica player. The rest of the band is a who’s who of some of the best studio musicians in the CCM genre of the time. I am really surprised at how good they were at the blues as none of them had actually recorded in that style that I can find any way. This album does a rather odd track though. The intro end exit track “Sanctified Blues” is exactly the same song but with the stereo tracks reversed. Have to admit that’s a first.

Tracklist
1 – Sanctified Blues – 1:30
2 – Lost Ship – 3:21
3 – Love Ain’t What You Say – 2:56
4 – Cool Rain – 3:34
5 – I Gave Jesus My Blues – 4:20
6 – Shuffle On Home – 2:49
7 – One Night – 3:31
8 – Everybody Wants To Go To Heaven – 3:38
9 – Friend In Jesus – 4:34
10 – Sanctified Blues – 1:30

Credits
Art Direction – Michael Pierce
Artwork [Handwriting] – Michael Pierce
Backing Vocals – Ava Aldridge, D. Bergen White, Cindy Richardson, Dorothy Moore, Lisa Silver, Wendy Suits
Bass – David Hood, Ed Cain, Michael Joyce, Michael Rhodes
Design Concept [Album Cover Concept] – Gary F. Montgomery, Michael Pierce
Drums – Eddie Bayers, James Stroud, Roger Hawkins, Willie Smith
Engineer – Pat McMakin, Paul Hornsby, Steve Melton
Executive-Producer – Gary F. Montgomery
Guitar – Larry Byrom, Steve Gibson
Harmonica – Buddy Greene
Horns – Charles Rose, Don Sheffield, Harvey Thompson, Jim Horn
Keyboards – Kenny Smith, Mitch Humphries, Randy McCormick
Lead Guitar – Jimmy Nalls, Larry Byrom, Larry Howard
Lead Vocals – Larry Howard
Piano – Randy McCormick
Producer – Bucky Jones, Gary F. Montgomery, Larry Howard, Pat McMakin
Rhythm Guitar – Jimmy Nalls, Larry Byrom, Larry Howard
Saxophone – Elbert Durham, Jim Horn, Ronnie Eades
Slide Guitar – Jimmy Nalls
Synthesizer – Randy McCormick
Vocals – Bob Bailey, John Whittaker, Larry Howard, Robin Johnson

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Refuge Records
Copyright © – Refuge Records
Distributed By – Refuge Music Group
Recorded At – Muscle Shoals Sound Studios
Recorded At – The Sound Shop
Recorded At – Muscadine Studio
Produced For – New Street Productions