African Sonrise – Children of Africa – 1986

In 1986 Apartheid was popular news in Canada and other Western countries. It wasn’t a new thing, but it was being talked about openly for the first time. African Sonrise is a group that was formed as a result of the opening up of South Africa. Here’s the explanation from the back of the album:

Rising out of the depression and sorrow of Africa comes a crisp, dynamic sound…

AFRICAN SONRISE

Diverse yet sharing common roots, the men of African Sonrise bring to you a special fusion of unique ethnic rhythms and Hot, contemporary instrumentation. You’ll sense many musical styles from pop to reggae, but find none that clearly defines the vibrant harmonies recorded here. Founder Henry Louw, son of a Capetown minister, first visited the U.S. in 1980. At the end of his singing tour he was encouraged to return with other performers. After achieving much success in South Africa where their ministry was greatly annointed and used of God, he and three other men are now based in Canada to share their special blend of music with the world.

The current team includes Peter Ecksteen, Daniel Visagie, and Christian Absolom. Each member has suffered under the apartheid system, yet together they sing of an answer above political struggles and military force.

This is fresh, Dynamic music. There’s incredible variety in the tunes. Both American and Canadian musicians sense the power and light that flows from the group.

The title cut, Children of Africa will move you deeply. The peaceful sounds of the jungle clash with souns of war. But shining through the strife of Africa is power and hope in following Jesus Christ. In “Tswana,” a native African language, the group sings…

Dumela, dumela, Fela (you have only to believe)

He (Jesus) will make ALL things right!

Here is power mightier than any weapon, a force above political struggle. It is the power of the Lord Jesus. These songs are the heartcry and the heartsong of Africa. May these songs encourage every listener to stand strong in Christ.

Tracklist
1 – More Like You – 3:44
2 – This Time – 4:35
3 – Just One Touch – 3:40
4 – So Much More In Jesus – 4:25
5 – Children Of Africa – 4:36
6 – Dumela Fela – 4:35
7 – Commitment – 4:04
8 – Too Good Not To Be True – 3:41
9 – So Tired And True – 3:45
10 – Together As One – 4:47

Credits
Drums – Daryl Bennet
Bass – Brian Newcombe, Rob Bailey
Guitars – Dane DeViller
Keyboards – Duncan Meiklejohn, Morry Stearns
Percussion – Daryl Bennet, Darren McGrath
Trumpet – Paul Baron
Sax – Bill Runge
Producer – Duncan Meiklejohn

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Pam Mark Hall – Keeper – 1986

This is Pam’s 4th and most successful album. It continued the pop sound she adopted earlier in the decade as opposed to her folk sound in the 70’s. I believe this album was produced with the goal of hitting the CCM charts and in this aspect it succeeded with 3 singles. “Unexpected Places” made it to #11, What Can I Do to #15, and Jordan to #27. That’s a pretty successful album. As usual the singles are just a little too worship oriented for my liking but there are some very good pop tracks on this album and that’s what makes the album worth listening for me.

Tracklist
1 – This Is A Test – 3:19
2 – Jesus In The Street – 3:48
3 – Unexpected Places – 2:50
4 – Never Trade My Love – 4:13
5 – Keeper Of The Vision – 4:40
6 – What Can I Do – 3:30
7 – Jordan – 3:42
8 – Determined – 3:09
9 – The Longing – 4:24
10 – Love Conquers Everything – 3:45

Credits
Acoustic Guitar – Craig Bickhardt (tracks: 5)
Bass – Michael Rhodes
Drums, Percussion – Harry Stinson
Engineer – John Wiles
Executive Producer – Dan Harrell, Michael Blanton
Guitar – Kenny Greenberg
Keyboards – Gary Primm
Producer – Wendy Waldman
Rhythm Guitar – Wendy Waldman (tracks: 9)
Saxophone, Recorder – Jim Horn

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Reunion Records
Copyright (c) – Reunion Records
Recorded At – Ten Thirty Studio, Nashville
Mixed At – Georgetown Masters

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Daniel Amos – Fearful Symmetry – 1986

It is amazing to consider that within a year the conclusion of the Alarma Chronicles will be celebrating its 25th anniversary. 25 years ago one of the most impressive, ambitious and amazing four album series came to an end with a work of sheer art. Each album was unique musically with Fearful Symmetry being the darkest, brooding and mysterious of the four. Following the significantly more new wave “pop” of Vox Humana, FS was shocking, intriguing and…well…fearful. The majority of the album deals with darker subjects like death, pain and loss and the musical soundscape of ethereal vocals and sweeping and weeping keyboards envelope the listener in the dark cloud of the content. That is not to say that the album is replete of hope or grace, but actually just the opposite. It is through the valley of this projects the light that does shine through appears that much brighter. Terry Scott Taylor’s admiration of and inspiration by William Blake is the strongest on this project. From the album title to the most haunting song, Sleep Silent Child, the album is filled with images and direct quotations from Blake. The album does close with the stunningly simple and beautiful lullaby or sorts, Beautiful One. This one hearkens back to Taylor’s solo projects with the sing-songy simplicity and lush keyboard strings and Taylor’s lilting higher register. It is the perfect ending to the “chronicles” as it’s message about the eternal hope of all Christians to find themselves in the arms of the Beautiful One upon their death. I remember when the album was released the number of complaints we received were almost exclusively related to the naked man (from the waist up) on the album cover. Those that complained obviously never listened to nor understood the content of the project or the complaints may have been drastically different. More keyboard driven and music less guitar oriented. the album reflected much of the European alternative music of the day like Depeche Mode, Alphaville, etc but also shows reflections of art rock music of Genesis and Pink Floyd. Not immediately accessible or as warmly received as the first four projects, the album eventually became regarded as one of the best of the Daniel Amos catalog.

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

Tracklist
1 – A Sigh For You – 3:58
2 – The Pool – 3:47
3 – Sleep Silent Child – 4:38
4 – Neverland Ballroom – 3:17
5 – Strong Points, Weak Points – 3:55
6 – Instruction Thru Film – 3:20
7 – When Moonlight Sleeps (On The Frosted Hill) – 3:55
8 – Sudden Heaven – 3:23
9 – Shadow Catcher – 4:32
10 – Beautiful One – 3:33

Credits
Arranged By [All Arrangements By] – DA
Art Direction, Layout – Mr. Ed (McTaggart)
Backing Vocals – Crystal Lewis (tracks: B2, B5), Jerry Chamberlain (tracks: A5, B5)
Design Concept [Cover Concept] – DA
Drums, Percussion, Synthesizer [Synthesizers] – Ed McTaggart
Electric Bass, Double Bass [Upright Bass], Bass [Electric Twelve-String Bass], Guitar [Guitars] – Tim Chandler
Keyboards, Snare [Snares] – Rob Watson (tracks: A3)
Lead Guitar [Lead Guitars], E-Bow [E-Bo], Synthesizer [Synthesizers], Organ [Pump Organ], Dulcimer, Mandolin – Greg Flesch
Mastered By – John Matousek
Narrator – Jerry Chamberlain (tracks: B1)
Percussion – Alex MacDougall (tracks: B2, B5)
Photography By [Band Photos By] – Linda Dillon Baley
Photography By [Photographics By] – Ken Baley
Photography By, Photography By [Photographics By] – Derrill Bazzy
Producer – DA, Terry Taylor
Recorded By, Mixed By – Dave Hackbarth, Doug Doyle, Terry Taylor
Synth [Synth Treatments] – Dave Hackbarth (tracks: A1, B3), Doug Doyle (tracks: A1, B3)
Text By [¡Alarma! Chronicles Text Volume 4 By] – Greg Flesch, Terry Taylor
Vocals, Guitar [Guitars], Harmonica, Synthesizer [Synthesizers] – Terry Taylor

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – The Benson Company
Distributed By – The Master’s Collection
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Frontline Records (3)
Copyright (c) – Frontline Records (3)
Published By – Broken Songs
Recorded At – 3-D Studios, Costa Mesa CA.
Mastered At – Hitsville

Koinonia – Frontline – 1986

This was Koinonia’s 4th release and as with their other albums it wasn’t very successful in North America but was a big hit in Europe. This album is almost entirely instrumental except for “Making Room” and “Señor”. I am guessing this is a result of the jazz style but the vocals are so good it’s too bad they didn’t do more. As with their previous albums this album has a strong Jazz Fusion sound and they were probably the best Christian artists in this style. That said I don’t think their were many CCM bands doing this style. Their next album was far more mainstream so this is the end of an era for their listeners and fans. This is one I missed in the 80’s so I’m glad I got a chance now to enjoy it.

Tracklist
1 – Gazoot – 4:30
2 – Chuncho – 6:20
3 – Greatest Love – 4:48
4 – Frontline – 5:13
5 – Señor – 4:21
6 – You Can’t Hide – 4:34
7 – Around The Corner (Runt Hornet) – 3:55
8 – Easy Morning – 4:22
9 – Making Room – 4:09

Credits
Arranged By – Koinonia
Bass – Abraham Laboriel
Drums, Percussion – Alex Acuña, Bill Maxwell
Engineer – Don Murray
Executive-Producer, Producer – Greg Mathieson
Guitar – Hadley Hockensmith
Keyboards – Harlan Rogers
Producer – Koinonia
Saxophone, Flute – Justo Almario
Synthesizer [Programming] – Greg Mathieson, Smitty Price
Vocals – Abraham Laboriel (tracks: B1, B5), Alex Acuña (tracks: B1), Diana Neciosup-Acuña* (tracks: B1), Harlan Rogers (tracks: B1), Howard Smith (tracks: B1), Tata Vega (tracks: B1, B5)

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – Sparrow Records
Phonographic Copyright (p) – The Sparrow Corporation
Copyright (c) – The Sparrow Corporation
Recorded At – Sunset Sound
Mixed At – Mama Jo’s
Mastered At – Bernie Grundman Mastering

Wild Blue Yonder Featuring Crystal Lewis – Wild Blue Yonder – 1986/1995

Wild Blue Yonder were a new incarnation of the CCM Rockabilly band The Lifters minus Rex Harvey and of course the addition of Crystal Lewis doing lead vocals. The album essentially came out on Crystal’s 17th birthday so ignore the “she was 15” stuff on the internet. The album was released September 9th 1986 and her birthday is September 11th 1969. Both Terry Taylor and Rob Watson from DA were involved in the project and they bring some quality production to the album. The album has a Rockabilly sound in places and is often referred to as Cow-punk but it’s not really Cow-punk in my opinion. It’s just a fun 80’s album with Rockabilly influences though Crystal’s vocals are so strong she really dominates the album almost making you forget about the rest of the band. The album was re-released in 1995 with 2 bonus tracks (this upload is that 1995 release) and is catalogued as being a Crystal Lewis album titled Wild Blue Yonder.

Tracklist
1 – Just One Look – 3:49
2 – You And Me – 3:07
3 – This Love’s For Real – 4:05
4 – Where Can I Go (Bonus Track) – 2:24
5 – Heart Beat – 2:34
6 – Over The Rainbow – 3:20
7 – Every Day (Bonus Track) – 3:23
8 – Only One – 3:42
9 – Revival Meeting – 2:35
10 – You’re My Love – 3:19
11 – Only You – 2:45
12 – Crying Eyes – 3:07
13 – If I Could Write A Poem – 5:01

Credits
Art Direction, Layout [Original] – Phillip Kim
Artwork By [Logo] – Dave Gibson
Artwork, Design [New] – Timothy McCaig
Backing Vocals – Terry Taylor
Bass – Paul Martin
Drums – Joey Mitchell
Engineer – Doug Doyle
Guitar – Chris Brigandi
Pedal Steel Guitar – Garry Brandon
Photography By – Brian Ray
Piano, Organ, Backing Vocals – Rob Watson
Producer – Terry Taylor
Remastered By – Dave Hackbarth
Remix – Chris Brigandi, Gene Eugene
Vocals – Crystal Lewis

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Metro One, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Metro One, Inc.
Distributed By – Diamante Distribution
Glass Mastered At – Disctronics USA – 131230

Amy Shreve – Peace In The Puzzle – 1986

This was an album in a series of instrumental albums released by Meadowlark Records in the 80’s. Amy is an excellent harp player and I will admit this is probably the only instrumental harp album I have ever listened to. I only discovered this series of albums recently and in a way I am glad because I would never have appreciated their quality in the 80’s when I was listening to Resurrection Band. That said I am enjoying the series now. Amy continues to release albums and tour with her ministry to this day. She successfully battled cancer in 2015 and attributes her healing to her faith. Her albums are available on her web page and if you enjoy her music I would urge you to visit her website. http://amyshreve.com/

Tracklist
1 – Invocation – 3:41
2 – Northern Lights – 3:30
3 – Crystal Night – 4:34
4 – Apogee – 4:05
5 – Hymn VII – 2:02
6 – Diamonds From Dust – 3:18
7 – Silent Partner – 2:28
8 – Peace In The Puzzle – 2:25
9 – Carol For Russia’s Children – 3:17
10 – Jester’s Lament – 4:06
11 – Twilight Pavan – 3:14

Credits
Producer – Peter York

Companies, etc.
Copyright (c) – Birdwing Music
Phonographic Copyright (p) – The Sparrow Corporation

Michael W. Smith – The Big Picture – 1986

It has been said here and elsewhere (and quite often) that a CCM album’s depth, quality and creativity will be inversely proportionate to its sales success. Meaning; the better the album the fewer the people that will purchase it. This appears to remain true even for CCM’s golden boy and most popular and prolific male artist, Michael W Smith. The Big Picture, Smith’s artistic triumph remains his weakest selling album and the only album in his career not to reach even gold status. After a strong debut and the utterly forgettable argyle sock of a sophomore release (aptly titled “2”), Smith grabbed the CCM world by the throat with an album that was sonically, creatively and musically miles ahead of the rest of the Nashville pablum for the time. From the dark purple and gold hues of the artwork to the tasteful technological advances and superior production, the Big Picture is great from start to finish. What keeps the album from falling off the tracks in a travesty of technological traps is that the songs themselves are very organic and real. Taking themes from the culture and wrapping them in modern sounds with a clear and poignant response to the baggage those theme bring along makes the album the one worthy release from Smith in the Top 100. Producer John Potoker had worked with Brian Eno, Madonna and a host of others and had a huge influence on the musical direction and big production sound. Many will obviously find the music and production technique dated, but one of this lists presuppositions was to judge albums based on the time they were recorded and what was happening musically. And for that, this album is the most “current” album of Smith’s career. He would record about 10 more albums in a row that are completely indistinguishable from one another. But the strength here lies not in the production (or over-production) but in the strength of a songwriter album to have his songs outlast even the dated production technique.

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

Tracklist
1 – Lamu – 5:55
2 – Wired For Sound – 6:00
3 – Old Enough To Know – 4:47
4 – Pursuit Of The Dream – 5:00
5 – Rocketown – 4:32
6 – Voices – 5:50
7 – The Last Letter – 4:37
8 – Goin’ Thru The Motions – 4:55
9 – Tearin’ Down The Wall – 3:35
10 – You’re Alright – 4:36

Credits
Artwork By [Art Direction And Design] – Kent Hunter, Thomas Ryan Design
Backing Vocals – Chris Harris, Wayne Kirkpatrick
Bass, Chapman Stick – Tony Levin
Bass, Drum Programming – Gary Lunn
Drum Programming – Frank Doyle, Tokes, Mark Kovac
Drums – Steve Ferrone
Drums, Drum Programming – David Huff
Engineer [Additional] – Bill Heath, Bob Vogt, Clark Schleicher, Ed Goodreau, JB, Jeffrey Dovner, Jon Goldberger, Keith Odle, Ken Criblez, Mike Clute, Nick Deire, Rob Feaster, Spencer Chrislu, Tim Hatfield, Tony Volante
Executive-Producer – Brown Bannister, Dan Harrell, Michael Blanton
Guitar – Dann Huff, Eddie Martinez, Nick Moroch
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Chris Rodrigues
Horns – Jim Pugh, Michael Brecker, Randy Brecker
Keyboards, Drum Programming, Backing Vocals – Michael W. Smith
Keyboards, Programmed By [Fairlight], Drum Programming – Shane Keister
Mastered By – Ted Jensen
Other [Child] – Christopher Copeland
Other [Grooming] – Jody Morlock, Julie Miller Overstreet
Other [Production Coordinator] – Kimberly Smith
Other [Styling] – Beverly Ann Moore
Percussion – Bashiri Johnson
Photography By – Dean Dixon, Larry Williams
Producer – John Potoker, Michael W. Smith
Programmed By [Synclavier] – Steve Schaffer

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Reunion Records – 1986
Copyright (c) – Reunion Records – 1986
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Recorded At – Power Station
Recorded At – Mediasound
Recorded At – Sigma Sound Studios, New York
Recorded At – Soundtrack Studios
Recorded At – Bullet Recording
Recorded At – The Bennett House
Recorded At – Emerald Sound Studios
Recorded At – The Castle Recording Studios
Recorded At – Blue Jay Studios
Mixed At – Blue Jay Studios
Mastered At – Sterling Sound

White Heart – Live At Six Flags – 1986

This White Heart live album was recorded on April 20 1984 at Six Flags Over Texas. Confusingly the album “Chris Christian With Whiteheart – Live At Six Flags” was recorded on the same day and released at the same time. This appeared to be the brilliant thinking of Chris Christian and I’m at a loss to see how he thought this was a good idea. Anyway I have covered the Chris Christian album previously so I was interested to hear how this one compared. This album is definitely more upbeat but it feels like the band definitely turned it down for this event. The same day as this was recorded the Imperials played so between these 3 concerts this was definitely the most upbeat. The album is enjoyable and the music is good but usually live albums turn things up a notch but in this case it appears they turned it down a notch. That said it is nice to hear the original band lineup play the songs that brought them onto the CCM scene and if you’re a White Heart fan you’ll probably enjoy the album but it’s certainly not the best live album I ever heard and in fact is not even in the top 20.

Tracklist
1 – Sing Unto The Lamb – 3:20
2 – Carried Away (Safe On The Wings Of The Lord) – 4:15
3 – Nothing Can Take This Love – 6:35
4 – We Are His Hands – 3:50
5 – Hosanna – 3:50
6 – Undercover – 3:58
7 – Quiet Love – 4:00
8 – Vital Signs – 5:27
9 – Carry On – 3:35
10 – He’s Returning – 2:50

Credits
John Allman – Engineer
Jeff Balding – Engineer
Steven Curtis Chapman – Songwriter
Chris Christian – Executive Producer, Engineer
Scott Douglas – Vocals
Mark Gersmehl – Songwriter, Keyboards, Vocals
Wally Grant – Engineer
Dann Huff – Songwriter, Guitars, Vocals
David Huff – Drums, Percussion
Dan Humann – Engineer, Mixed
Gary Lunn – Songwriter, Bass
Jack Joseph Puig – Engineer
Billy Smiley – Songwriter, Guitars, Vocals
White Heart – Producer

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Home Sweet Home Records, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Home Sweet Home Records, Inc.
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word Records Limited
Distributed By – Word (UK) Ltd.
Recorded At – Six Flags Over Texas
Overdubbed At – Gold Mine Studio East
Overdubbed At – Gold Mine Studio
Recorded At – Gold Mine Studio
Mastered At – Future Disc
Published By – Bug & Bear Music
Published By – Paragon Music Corp.

Matthew Ward – Armed & Dangerous – 1986

This was Ward’s second solo album. All songs were written by Ward and keyboard player, Jim Tenneboe. The album definitely has a more rock feel than his work with 2nd Chapter of Acts or his previous solo album. Supporting that Rock sound and partly responsible for it is guitarist Dann Huff (White Heart). The album only had one single however which was “Love” which made it to #14. The album is pretty good with strong keyboards and guitar but was a little thrifty on the content with only 8 tracks. Personally at times I don’t think Ward’s voice matches the songs but I’m nitpicking because it’s a really good album.

Tracklist
1 – Red And Yellow, Black And White – 3:38
2 – Trust In You – 4:18
3 – By Your Side – 4:26
4 – Armed And Dangerous – 4:12
5 – Glory To God – 3:44
6 – Moment By Moment – 3:53
7 – Put On The Armour – 4:01
8 – Love – 4:58

Credits
Arranged By – Jim Tenneboe, Matthew Ward
Art Direction, Design – Bradley Grose
Artwork By [Cover Concept] – Bradley Grose, Buddy Owens
Backing Vocals – Eric Tagg, Matthew Ward
Bass – Lee Jones
Drums – Mike Baird
Engineer – Greg Hunt
Engineer [2nd] – Daffydd Morgan
Guitar – Dann Huff
Horns – Chuck Smith, Keith Jourdan, Kim Hutchcroft, René Saenz
Keyboards, Programmed By [Keyboard Programming] – Jim Tenneboe
Mastered By – Bernie Grundman
Photography By – Constance Ashley
Photography By [Back Cover Photo] – Marty Justice
Producer – Matthew Ward
Saxophone [Sax Solos] – Kim Hutchcroft

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Live Oak Records
Copyright (c) – Live Oak Records
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Pressed By – ElectroSound Los Angeles – ∆ 27319
Recorded At – Rosewood Studio
Recorded At – Easter Song Studios
Mastered At – Bernie Grundman Mastering
Copyright (c) – Megin’s College Fund Music
Copyright (c) – Midi Mouse Music
Published By – Megin’s College Fund Music
Published By – Midi Mouse Music

Barren Cross – Rock For The King – 1986/1990

This was the first on label release for Barren Cross. They had released a self produced EP “Believe” in 1985 that was well received so Star Song gave them a one album deal. They went back into the studio and recorded 3 more tracks to add to their previous 6 songs from the EP. Dino Elefante sat down and mixed it all up for this release. I’m relatively sure Star Song was watching the success of Stryper at this time so they wanted to jump head long into the Metal scene. That said this album does not really compare to Stryper. It is much less commercial sounding and has a much more raw metal sound. I didn’t listen to this style of music back then but I’d be interested to know how Stryper fans reacted to this album. It must have been well received overall as Enigma Records immediately signed the band up for 2 albums. This album was re-released in 1990 by Medusa Records (a division of The Enigma Records) with 6 bonus live tracks (this is the version here).

Tracklist
1 – Dying Day – 3:27
2 – He Loves You – 4:32
3 – It’s All Come True – 4:02
4 – Believe – 2:16
5 – Going Nowhere – 3:47
6 – Killer Of The Unborn (Live) – 3:56
7 – Rock For The King – 5:03
8 – Give Your Life – 2:53
9 – Just A Touch – 3:27
10 – Light The Flame – 5:22
11 – Dead Lock (Live) – 4:20
12 – Cultic Regimes (Live) – 2:47
13 – He Loves You (Live) – 4:13
14 – Living Dead (Live) – 7:11
15 – Heaven Or Nothing (Live) – 4:59

Credits
Art Direction, Design – Ed McTaggart
Bass – Jim LaVerde
Concept By [Cover] – Barren Cross
Drums – Steve Whitaker
Engineer [Second] – Matt Cerbin, Mike Miereu
Guitar – Ray Parris
Other [Hair] – Carla
Other [Make-up] – Lisa Kawasaki
Photography By – Ken Baley, Linda Dillon Baley
Producer, Engineer – Dino Elefante
Vocals, Acoustic Guitar – Mike Lee

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Jubilee Communications, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Star Song Records
Copyright (c) – Star Song Records
Distributed By – Sparrow/Star Song Distribution
Recorded At – Pakaderm Studios
Mixed At – Pakaderm Studios
Pressed By – Discovery Systems
Glass Mastered At – Nimbus, Virginia