Valor – Masquerade – 1987

Valor rose out of the ashes of another band named Golgotha. The band was pretty much the same lineup but with Chris Price replacing Todd Price. Chris brought a more thrash sound to the band. Vic Sardon was brought on as a second guitarist to solidify that thrash sound. The band had a pretty good following as Golgotha so they had a head start as they toured and played across the U.S. They actually stayed together for several years and though they never got a real record deal (they did release a full self produced album) they were quite popular. Now it’s well known that thrash bands had a very difficult time with record deals I am kind of surprised that Valor had this problem. Their version of thrash is far more bearable than most. The lyrics are clear and good. The guitar has distinguishable chords and quite frankly this is probably one of the best thrash albums I’ve ever heard. Even if you’re not a fan of thrash I’d really suggest you give this one a quick listen. You might be pleasantly surprised.

1 – Masquerade – 4:26
2 – Fight For Your Life – 2:42
3 – Burn – 5:00
4 – Didn’t I – 4:27
5 – The Flesh Is Weak – 4:11

Bass, Backing Vocals – Adam Alvarez
Drums – Jim Maxwell
Guitar – Chris Price, Vic Sardon
Vocals – Michael Brueck

Will McFarlane – Only The Heart – 1987

Will McFarlane self released his 3rd album though his previous label Refuge Records did take care of distribution. Because it was self released it was virtually guaranteed not to have a charting single. This is too bad because the album definitely had a couple tracks that could have singled. It has a bit of an Imperials sound and feel. The album is not my preferred genre but I actually quite liked the album. If you missed this one in the 80’s you should give it a listen now.

1 – I Can Depend On You – 3:44
2 – Can’t Go Back – 5:07
3 – Who Can Separate Us – 3:54
4 – The End Of Me – 5:44
5 – Only The Heart – 3:45
6 – Don’t Be Fooled – 5:33
7 – Come Unto Me – 5:24
8 – Blessed Jesus – 5:35

Illustrator – Illustrator – 1987

Illustrator appears to be a new version of Eternity Express. Nathan Gaub, Dan Gaub, Mark Matthews,Kirk Allen are all from Eternity Express and this version is joined by Dawndee Gaub. I’ll be honest that there is a pretty different sound here than Eternity Express. The album is much more pop oriented and quite frankly much better than the previous Eternity Express album. One last point is that neither this version or the original Eternity Express ever had a charting single on the CCM charts. How is that even possible?

1 – Lonely Hearts For Sale – 4:21
2 – Love’s Not Your Enemy – 4:15
3 – Hidden Pain – 4:04
4 – Let It Go – 3:20
5 – Out Of Time – 3:28
6 – Don’t Change Your Heart – 4:46
7 – Gina – 4:37
8 – Holding On – 4:25
9 – End Of The Line – 4:53

Drums, Percussion [Electronic] – Kirk Allen
Engineer – Steven Ford, Wes McGuire
Engineer [Additional Assistance] – Mike Buster
Mixed By – Win Kutz
Producer – Illustrator
Vocals, Bass Guitar, Keyboards – Mark Matthews
Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Percussion – Dan Gaub
Vocals, Keyboards – Dawndee Gaub
Vocals, Keyboards, Programmed By [Synth & Computer] – Nathan Gaub

Companies, etc.
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Ocean Records
Copyright © – Ocean Records
Recorded At – Nick’s Place Recording Studio
Recorded At – Mama Jo’s
Mixed At – Eagle Mountain Studios
Mastered At – The Mastering Lab
Pressed By – Wakefield Manufacturing – 47497

Harvest – Give Them Back – 1987

This is the offering from Harvest for 1987. Having now listened to a few Harvest albums at this point I think this might be one of their best. It has the best production of all I have heard so far and actually it’s one of the better produced albums I’ve heard. It was produced by band member Jerry Williams who really didn’t have any significant experience at the job but he nailed it on this day. As for the album it is a solid Easy Listening Pop album that’s actually quite good. Again this is not my preferred style of music but I’ll admit I enjoyed this album though there’s not a track that’ll go in my regular rotation.

1 – Rise Up – 3:12
2 – All That Is In Me – 3:40
3 – Soon That Day – 4:02
4 – His Angels Are Everywhere – 4:08
5 – You Are My Keeper – 3:58
6 – Give Them Back – 2:51
7 – What Are You Singing For – 6:02
8 – I Am Your Father – 3:52
9 – Wash Me, Lord – 3:56
10 – Great Jehovah – 3:46

Acoustic Guitar – Larry Rolando
Arranged By [Vocals] – Harvest
Art Direction, Design – Bill Barnes
Backing Vocals – Debbie Lee, Ed Kerr, Eric Tagg, Janie Cruse Stone, Jerry Williams, Karen Cruse Adams, LaDonna Johnson, Ronnie Ricks, Tim Johnson
Bass – Leon Gaer
Design – Deb Mahalanobis
Drums – Jack Kelly
Electric Guitar – Michael Thompson
Graphics – Barnes & Company
Keyboards, Programmed By, Arranged By [Vocals], Arranged By – John Andrew Schreiner
Percussion – Charles Barnett
Photography By – Matthew Barnes
Piano [Acoustic] – Ed Kerr
Producer – Jerry Williams
Programmed By [Synthesizer] – Gary Leach
Recorded By, Mixed By – Greg Hunt

Companies, etc.
Copyright © – The Benson Company, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – The Benson Company, Inc.
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Distributed By – Mitchell Family Books, Inc.
Recorded At – Rosewood Studio
Recorded At – Easter Song Studios
Mastered At – The Mastering Lab

Fresh Claim – Odd One Out – 1987

After the demise of his two previous bands (Sea Stone and Intransit) Simon Law started up Fresh Claim and this is their first album. The name of the band came from a counter at the local unemployment office with the designation “Fresh Claims”. Simon has also established Plankton records which was originally just his own label to release his first band Sea Stone but developed into a full fledged record label. The album is often labelled as alternative but personally I find it to be more New Wave. At times I get a “The Keep” feel from a few tracks but I’m pretty sure this is coincidental as The Keep were only released in Canada and Fresh Claim were from the UK. This is another one I missed in the 80’s and really wish I had heard back then because I absolutely love it.

1 – Strong Enough To See – 3:06
2 – There’s Someone Loving You – 2:54
3 – Sunday Morning Dawn – 4:50
4 – Yesterday’s Hero (Is Tomorrow’s Fool) – 2:51
5 – Enough Is Enough – 3:31
6 – Visions Never Sleep – 3:50

Bass, Vocals – Derek Llewellyn
Composed By – Derek Llewellyn, Simon Law
Design, Keyboards – Mags Law
Drums – Ali Byworth
Engineer, Producer – Nigel “Chopper” Palmer
Guitar, Vocals – Simon Law

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Scarf Studios
Duplicated By – Selecta Sound

Stevie & The Saints – Metalblue – 1987

This album was presented to me as a metal album but quite frankly after listening to it about 3 ties I just don’t get a metal feeling from it. Instead what I’m hearing is a great southern Rock album. There are some ZZ Top feelings and quite frankly some Rez feelings. Bottom line what we have here is a fantastic bluesy hard Rock album that deserved a much larger audience. My only complaint is that the production is not the best. I read the album was produced on a tight budget and you can tell. The talent of the band is very high so it still balances out that this is a great album and a must have in your CCM collection.

1 – We Are The Saints – 3:03
2 – Saint’s Boogie – 3:53
3 – Code Name: Jesus – 3:23
4 – One In One-Hundred – 6:06
5 – Don’t Knock The Rock – 4:01
6 – Talkin’ bout Love – 5:26
7 – Jehovah Jirah – 3:26
8 – Prisoner Of Love – 2:59

Backing Vocals – Kathy Jameson, Maureen Kelly
Bass Guitar – Ken Kane
Cover – Ken Roberts
Drums – John Tinker
Engineer – James Saad
Keyboards – Ralph Clayton
Lead Guitar – Steve Olsen
Photography By – Glenn Emery Brim
Producer – Ken Roberts
Vocals – Steve Olsen

Companies, etc.
Copyright © – Slick Songs

Michael W. Smith – The Live Set – 1987

Recorded at The Civic Theatre, Des Moines, Iowa and The Civic Center Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia here’s probably Micheal W. Smiths best album. That said I always love live albums and Michael definitely turned it up a notch when appearing live. I don’t really care for his albums as they are a little too mellow for me but this album I have been listening to.

1 – Nothin’ But The Blood – 3:38
2 – Lamu – 8:27
3 – You’re Alright – 4:39
4 – Could He Be The Messiah – 5:02
5 – Rocketown – 6:13
6 – Emily – 3:45
7 – I Know – 4:23
8 – Friends – 3:59
9 – Old Enough To Know – 5:57
10 – Pursuit Of The Dream – 6:01
11 – Be Strong And Courageous – 4:15
12 – You Need A Savior – 6:24

Art Direction, Design – Heather Brown
Artwork By [Cover Painting] – Robert Meecham
Bass – Chris Harris
Drums – David Huff
Edited By [Audio Sweetening] – Blaine Stewart
Engineer [Claire House] – Bob Weibel
Engineer [Monitor] – Keith Carroll
Executive Producer – Dan Harrell, Jeff Moseley, Michael Blanton
Guitar – Chris Rodriguez, Wayne Kirkpatrick
Keyboards – Mark Heimermann, Michael W. Smith
Mastered By – Glenn Meadows
Photography – Tim Campbell
Producer – Michael W. Smith
Production Manager, Engineer [House Sound], Engineer – Chris Taylor
Recorded By [Location Audio Reel Sound Recorders], Engineer [Additional Audio Engineered By] – Malcolm Harper

Companies, etc.
Manufactured By – BMG Music
Distributed By – BMG Music

Paul Smith – No Frills – 1987

Paul’s first solo album after leaving the Imperials was a big hit so Dayspring Records went for round 2 with this one. They must a thrown a lot of money at this album as the credit list is huge. Alas from what I have read this album did not do as well as his previous one. I’m kind of disappointed with that as I think this album is easily just as good but I wouldn’t say it’s better. This is solid pop album and while his last release was a little more AOR oriented I think this one should have done better with a more youthful audience. While there are a few too many ballads for my taste they are well done and are solid tracks.

1 – Faithful – 4:02
2 – Dancing Too Close – 4:20
3 – Walls – 5:07
4 – The Right Thing – 4:00
5 – I Will Be There For You – 4:51
6 – Something Better – 4:39
7 – Cantabile – 4:24
8 – Celebration (I Wanna Be There) – 5:20
9 – When Love Comes Home – 4:44

Jeff Balding – Engineer, Mixed
Deanna Cabaniss – Background Vocals
Claire Cloninger – Songwriter
Billy Crockett – Songwriter
Bill Deaton – Engineer
Mark Douthit – Sax
Michael English – Background Vocals
Bob Farrell – Songwriter
Kim Fleming – Background Vocals
Mark Hammond – Drum Programming
Richard Headen – Engineer
Deanna Hemby – Spoken Vocals
Tom Hemby – Producer, Songwriter, Arrangements, Mandolin, Drum Programming, Guitars, Background Vocals
JB Baird – Engineer, Mixed
Neal Joseph – Executive Producer
Wayne Kirkpatrick – Songwriter
Phil Kristianson – Piano, Organ
Gary Lunn – Bass, Drum Programming
Phil Madeira – Additional Synthesizers
David Martin – Songwriter
Donna McElroy – Background Vocals
Phil Naish – Synthesizers
Brett Perry – Songwriter
Kelly Raglin – Spoken Vocals
Chris Rodriguez – Background Vocals
Jimmie Lee Sloas – Background Vocals
Paul Smith – Songwriter, Vocals, Background Vocals
Keith Thomas – Producer, Songwriter, Arrangements, Synthesizers, Drum Programming
Tricia Walker – Songwriter
Marcia Wells – Background Vocals
Bill Whittington – Engineer, Mixed
Hank Williams – Mastered
Kenny Wood – Songwriter

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Word, Inc.
Copyright © – Word, Inc.
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Made By – Discovery Systems
Recorded At – Gold Mine Studio
Recorded At – OmniSound Studios
Recorded At – Center Stage Studio
Mixed At – OmniSound Studios
Mixed At – Center Stage Studio
Mastered At – Mastermix

Urgent Cry – Demo 041187 – 1987

Urgent Cry were a band out of Vandalia, Ohio. They released 2 demos but were never signed by a label. This is their first demo and it’s pretty good. It has a nice pop rock sound and is musically sound. Unfortunately the vocals are a bit weak. I think the vocal skills were there but Steven just needed a little guidance. This is a good example of the difference a good producer could have made. While the engineering was actually very good I think they needed a producer to pull it all together. One thing I really like that this band did was to release their demo cassette with all 4 tracks on each side. This means the cassette would last twice as long. Given the quality of these bulk cassettes I really liked it when bands did this.

1 – Cry In The Wilderness – 3:57
2 – Unexpected – 3:48
3 – Christ Is The Answer – 3:51
4 – No Pantomime – 4:06

Darryl Gibson – Drums, acoustic guitar
Kevin Landon – Bass, keyboards
Bill Kuhn – Lead Guitar
Steven Mikel – Lead vocals, flute

Crystal Lewis – Beyond The Charade – 1987

This is Crystal’s first solo album. She had previously appeared on albums with the Lifters/Wild Blue Yonder. She was offered this album deal at only 17 years old. It’s a pretty good album though I think it’s a little heavy on the keyboards on a few tracks. That synth pop sound doesn’t really work with her voice in my opinion. The track “Breakdown” best suits her vocals in my opinion. That said her vocals are so good she overcomes some questionable music to make a pretty darn good album. Crystal was one of CCM’s greatest vocalists but never got the recognition she deserved from the industry.

1 – Frustrated – 3:34
2 – Precious Lord – 3:37
3 – Without You – 4:21
4 – Runnin’ – 4:34
5 – Turn Your Heart Around – 3:33
6 – Breakdown – 3:53
7 – One More Heart – 3:46
8 – Special Love – 3:57
9 – Let Them Know – 4:15
10 – Tonight – 4:06

Backing Vocals – Brian Tong, Dave Jahnsen, Michael Campion, Mike Mac Lane, Paul Daldwell
Drums – Pete Pfiefer
Engineer [Mixing] – Dave Jahnsen
Guitar – Bob Somm, Terence Elliot
Keyboards – Tim Heintz
Producer, Vocals, Backing Vocals, Engineer – Bill Baumgart
Saxophone – Eric Marienthal
Vocals – Billy Hufsey
Vocals, Backing Vocals – Crystal Lewis

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Frontline Records
Copyright © – Frontline Records
Distributed By – The Benson Company