Zero Option was actually just one guy, Ralph Ward. I guess you could call him the Thomas Dolby of Christian music. Well maybe more the Howard Jones due to his vocals. This is actually his second album, his first album was titled “Ralph Ward” but using the artist name Zero Option. Does that qualify as a self titled album? When asked why he didn’t refer to his work by just his name he said “…..people expect you to be one bloke standing there with an acoustic guitar!” He took the name Zero Option from the nuclear disarmament policy of the same name which I guess was big in the U.K. in the early 80’s. He played anywhere he could including pubs, schools, and Churches. The album is a synth affair with upbeat vocals. At times I hear Harold Faltermeyer, Howard Jones, and even Men Without Hats. Speaking of Men Without Hats the album cover looks like it’s right out of the music video for “Safety Dance”. This is the style of music I loved i the 80’s and it’s too bad I had to wait until 2021 to hear this album because I really like it.
Tracklist 1 – Throwing It All Away – 5:32 2 – Let Me Die On Platform 9 – 6:09 3 – Still In Love With You – 3:31 4 – Let Go And Let God – 5:43 5 – The Telephone Song – 5:30 6 – Caught Up On The Wrong Side – 3:42 7 – In My Dreams Tonight – 5:47 8 – For Eternity – 4:33 9 – Love Looks Down – 3:19 10 – Hold Out Forever – 5:00
Credits Instruments, Vocals, Producer, Songwriter – Ralph Ward Producer, Engineer – William Jackson
The 10th studio album from Petra turned it up to 11 on the Hard Rock scale. Well OK maybe not 11 but then a strong 10 out of 12. Only one personnel change for this album, Ronny Cates replaced Mark Kelly on Bass and this marked a return to some stabilization of band members which was well relieved by fans. This album also closed out their contractually obligations with Star Song but I don’t get the feeling that they just put out an album due to contractual obligations. I really feel they put a lot of effort and time into this album. The mix/engineering is dead on but that’s not surprising from the Elefante brothers. But even for them this album is very well mixed and produced. The lead track “All Fired Up” sets the tone for the album with a sound that almost has a commercial Metal feel. All in all an excellent album.
Tracklist 1 – All Fired Up – 4:30 2 – Hit You Where You Live – 4:20 3 – Mine Field – 4:28 4 – First Love – 4:10 5 – Defector – 4:30 6 – Counsel Of The Holy – 3:37 7 – Somebody’s Gonna Praise His Name – 4:02 8 – Open Book – 4:28 9 – Stand In The Gap – 4:10 10 – Homeless Few – 4:33
Credits Arranged By – Bob Hartman, Dino Elefante, John Elefante, John Lawry Art Direction, Design – Dave Rogers Backing Vocals – Bob Carlisle, John Elefante, John Lawry, John Schlitt, Riki Michelle* Bass Guitar – Ronny Cates Drums – Louie Weaver Keyboards – John Lawry Lead Guitar – Bob Hartman Lead Vocals – John Schlitt Engineer [Asst. Engineers] – Greg Parker, Jeff Simmons, Mannie Parker Engineer – Dino Elefante, John Elefante, Mike Mierau Illustration – Ken Westphal Mastered By – Steve Hall Keyboards, Programmed By [Programming] – John Andrew Schreiner Programmed By [Programming] – Tim Heitz Producer – Dino Elefante, John Elefante Programmed By [Computer Programming] – John Lawry
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Star Song Records Copyright (c) – Star Song Records Record Company – Jubilee Communications, Inc. Distributed By – Sparrow/Star Song Distribution Recorded At – Pakaderm Studios Recorded At – Woodland Studios Mixed At – Pakaderm Studios Mastered At – Future Disc Glass Mastered At – Nimbus, Virginia Published By – Petsong Publishing Published By – Uncle Pitts Publishing Published By – Birdwing Publishing Published By – Shepherd’s Fold Music
I believe D & K were trying to recreate the huge success of their 1982 Live album “No Turning Back”. This album also came out as a video entitled “Rock Solid…The Rock-U-Mentary”. I took in the “No Turing Back” tour and while this album is good it’s not even in the same ballpark. I have seen the video for this album and it is mainly the guys hamming it up for the camera and this effects the music quality in my opinion. Also the noted for the album state that the sound is raw and not enhanced. This is plainly obvious when you listen to it as the engineering is questionable. In my OPINION live albums need “enhancing” to relay the feel of the concert to the listener. Now all that said it’s a pretty good album and I enjoy listening to it but I strongly prefer “No Turning Back”
Tracklist 1 – Casual Christian (Chorus) – 1:11 2 – Rock Solid – 7:09 3 – Ready Or Not – 3:27 4 – Soldier Of Fortune – 4:24 5 – Six, Six, Six – 5:35 6 – Don’t Stop The Music – 6:16 7 – Holy Hustle – 3:54 8 – When The Son Begins To Reign – 3:04 9 – Are You Ready – 3:43 10 – Addey – 7:37 11 – Let The Whole World Sing – 1:22 12 – Alleluia, Christ Is Coming – 1:07 13 – Destined To Win – 2:21 14 – Rock Solid (Reprise) – 3:33
Credits Artwork [Art Coordination] – Connie Sneed Bass, Vocals – Tommy Cathey Design – Katherine DeVault Design Engineer – Gary Hedden Engineer [Assistant] – Jim Kaiser Executive-producer – Dan R. Brock, Ron W. Griffin Guitar, Vocals – Steve Taylor Keyboards, Vocals – Eddie DeGarmo Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar – Dana Key Management – Brock & Associates Mastered By [Digitally Mastered] – Hank Williams Mixed By [Assistant Engineer] – James Craft Mixed By, Drums, Percussion – Greg Morrow Photography By – Paul Wharton Producer, Mixed By – Degarmo & Key Recorded By [Remote Recording] – GHL Audio Engineering
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – ForeFront Records Copyright (c) – The Benson Company, Inc. Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc. Mixed At – Crosstown Recorders Mastered At – Mastermix
Lust Control was formed by Doug Van Pelt. He brought together Maury Millican, Philip Owens, and Paul Q-Pek into the project. Strangely Owens and Q’Pek are from One Bad Pig. Lust Control were doing something different in singing (I use that term loosely) about very controversial topics. They maintained an anonymous identity by using pseudonyms on the albums and even more strangely wearing ski masks while performing. This was their demo and was also put on cassette and CD for sale. They quickly developed a cult following however their controversial (read bizarre) nature pretty well terrified most the record companies so no record deal was gong to happen obviously. As for my opinion? I hate thrash, not just dislike, I actually hate it. That said I found the album humorous and fun and I really don’t think they were taking themselves too serious which isn’t a bad thing. I understand why they do have fans though because no one was doing anything this controversial.
Tracklist 1 – Grace – 1:43 2 – Rude Awakening – 0:43 3 – Madolyn Murray O’Hair – 2:07 4 – Wretched – 0:14 5 – Apocalyptic Nightmare – 2:56 6 – I Want To Die – 1:22 7 – Mad At The Girls – 1:54 8 – The Big ‘M’ – 3:49 9 – You Make Me Puke – 1:37 10 – There Is A Fountain/Grace Reprise – 2:42
Credits Doug Van Pelt – Vocals Maury Millican – Bass Philip Owens – Drums Paul Q-Pek – Guitar Steve Allen – Producer, Engineer Paul Lamond – Engineer
This was the Imperials album for 1988. They didn’t put out an album every year but almost. They toured so heavy that they missed the occasional year. After the shock of their previous album, “This Year’s Model”, this one wasn’t quite as rock and leaned back to Pop. Not that that album was rock but it was Rock for them. This is a solid Pop album and the vocals are even better than “This Years Model” in my opinion. This album is probably my second most liked from them and it’s a solid Pop effort. The album had an awesome 2 #2 singles, “Free The Fire”, and “The Boss”. “You” also made it to #24. I really like Dann Huff’s guitar work on the intro to “Higher Things” though that’s where I end liking the song. The intro doesn’t fit the song and they did one of those stupid abrupt ends. Not a producing masterpiece that one. That said this is a pretty good album and one of their best in my opinion.
Tracklist 1 – Free The Fire – 5:11 2 – Wild Geese – 4:08 3 – City In The Sky – 4:56 4 – You – 4:55 5 – The Boss – 5:17 6 – Higher Things – 5:11 7 – Rest In Your Arms – 4:16 8 – Let It Go – 4:15 9 – Better Than I Know Myself – 4:08 10 – Touchin’ Me – 4:03 11 – I Just Came To Praise The Lord – 1:59
Credits A&R – Lynn Nichols, Mark Maxwell Art Direction, Design – Roland Young Band [The Imperials Are] – Armond Morales, David Will, Jimmie Lee, Ron Hemby Engineer – Bart Stevens, Wade Jaynes Mastered By – Doug Sax Bass – Jimmie Lee Sloas Drums – Paul Leim Guitar – Dann Huff Keyboards – Robbie Buchanan Percussion – Lenny Castro Piano, Synthesizer – Michael Omartian Photography By – Howard Rosenberg Producer, Engineer – Bill Schnee Producer – Deborah Klein
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc. Copyright (c) – Word, Inc. Manufactured By – Word, Inc. Pressed By – Discovery Systems Recorded At – Bill Schnee Studios Recorded At – The Bunny Hop Recorded At – 41B Studios Recorded At – O’Henry Sound Studios Mixed At – Bill Schnee Studios Mastered At – The Mastering Lab Published By – See This House Music Published By – Swot Patch Music Published By – Marquis III Published By – Word Music Published By – Martin Noyes Publishing Published By – Todah Music Published By – Nanacub Music Published By – California Phase Music Published By – Whitney Katherine Music, Inc. Published By – Birdwing Music Published By – Waif Productions Ltd. Published By – ATV Music Ltd. Published By – Paragon Music Corp.
Unfortunately by this point David and The Giants were producing albums too regularly. This album while good feels like they just went into the studio to get another album out. The album is a good listen but there just aren’t any real stand out tracks. Probably the best track is “Perfect Love” which features harmonies from David’s daughter Kellye Huff. Of course CCM charts missed this entirely and picked “Show Them the Light” and “Strangers to the Night” as the charting singles. But while I think “Perfect Love” is a great track it’s not gonna make it onto my regular rotation. To sum up, it’s a good album but unfortunately not a great album.
Tracklist 1 – Celebrate His Power – 3:50 2 – Show Them the Light – 3:54 3 – Lively Stones – 4:22 4 – I’m Not Ashamed – 3:23 5 – Perfect Love – 4:28 6 – Restless – 5:30 7 – Strangers to the Night – 3:49 8 – No Compromise – 4:34 9 – I Believe in You – 3:48 10 – I Was the Nails – 3:40
Credits Backing Vocals – Dave Mullen, James Bolton, Karen Harding, Kellye Huff, Rick Florian Concept By, Design, Art Direction – P. R. Allen Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Keith Thibodeaux Engineer, Arranged By, Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Rayborn Huff Engineer, Bass, Backing Vocals – Clayborn Huff Engineer, Engineer [Assistant Remix Engineer] – Terry Ostovich Mastered By – Denny Purcell Percussion – Lance Huff Producer, Arranged By, Backing Vocals – Tommy Sims Producer, Engineer, Mixed By [Remixed By], Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals – David Huff Saxophone – Donnie “Sax” Sanders
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Giant Records (13) Copyright (c) – Giant Records (13) Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc. Recorded At – Huff Recording Studios Mixed At – Huff Recording Studios Mastered At – Georgetown Masters
I guess this album was the result of “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Constantly compared to Paul McCartney during his career, why not just do a Beatles album? What was actually supposed to be a possible semi-regular group, Phil Keaggy & Sunday’s Child only ever released this one album. But what an album they created! Making up the rest of “Sunday’s Child” are Rick Cua on bass, Mike Mead on drums and Lynn Nichols on guitar and vocals. It also may go down in CCM history as the single nicest group of musicians to record a record together. There is this one odd thing about many Keaggy albums. Those with great songs have a tendency to lack the guitar prowess that many clamor for, while those with great guitar work have tendency to lack quality songwriting throughout. This album is all about the songwriting and is clearly some of Keaggy’s finest work in the regard. And true to form the album is not filled with blazing and intricate guitar work, though many tasteful and enjoyable examples can be found. There album is also the most “band” sounding in his career outside of the Crimson and Blue recordings. But that band is supported by a Hall of fame list of musicians including Steve Taylor, Mark Heard, Randy Stonehill, Alwyn Wall, Derri Daugherty, Russ Taff and the always impressive and often overlooked James Hollihan on guitar. Many of the guests also provided songwriting help. The Beatles comparisons are not subtle. They were clearly the inspiration and that adds to the sheer joy of the album. In fact, according to the liner notes, Ringer Starr’s drum kit was used on the recording. Older amps, instruments and recording processes were employed to give the album the rich, analog sound.
The album kicks off with the mid-tempo rocker, “Tell me How You Feel.” This tone setter reveals what will follow with the head side bopping beat and Keaggy’s higher end vocals at times reminiscent of McCartney with abandon. But there is also a clear nod to the Byrds here and throughout. The title track, co-written with Stonehill, was a hit, and for good reason. This song is memorable and smart at the same time. I believe I hear Stonehill’s vocals in there as well. The two released a wonderful album a year or so ago that employed some of the same musical stylings. A personal favorite, and one of the better rockers on the album is “I Always Do.” Starting slow before kicking halfway through the verse into a killer rocker that is more reminiscent of Glass Harp’s poppier side. The song also features one of the more upfront guitar solos and the best hook on the entire album. Without blazing fingers and extended riffs, Keaggy here shows the power of a well controlled, melodic and tasteful rock solo. It should be noted this is a Mark heard penned tune. “I’m Gonna Get You Now” is more early 70’s rock and sounds the least like the Beatles as any on the record, excepting the song that follows. But it should be noted that it also provides some of Keaggy’s best rock vocals. Co-written by Lynn Nichols, the songs edge gives Keaggy the change to explore some vocal styles he hadn’t previously. If someone mentioned that Steve Taylor co-wrote one of the songs, my guess would immediately be “Bless Be the Ties,” and that would be correct. More psychedelic than the rest of the album, this slower, dare I say darker (?) song remains one of the best as well. This Could Be the Moment” returns to the more fun rock and roll. This is a good old-fashioned, put the top down on the convertible and hit Pacific Highway. The chorus is a monster with some great harmonies. The instrumental break just pounds with Mead’s great driving beat and Keaggy’s subtle and building guitar work. Even Cua gets a short solo here! This was a great song live I should add as it was extended to include solos from everyone. Side Two kicks off with the loudest guitars and a song co-written by Stonehill called “Ain’t Got No.” But this Stonehill is Sandi, the then wife of Randy. Oddly enough, it sounds like something randy would have recorded himself. It’s hard to decide which song stands out as the “best” on such a great album, but “Somebody Loves You” would have to receive recognition. The acoustic driven rock song is pure Keaggy and one of the songs Keaggy penned entirely by himself. Keaggy here shows his guitar prowess is not just limited to electric and solo, but tasteful and smart acoustic rhythm work as well. This alone gives it more of a Byrds feel. Another of the darker feeling songs follows with “Big Eraser.” Another Nichols co-written tune, it is perfect fit for something on the Chagall Guevara debut. The vocals are clouded amongst a large rock vibe and huge drum sound. This would make sense given Nichols involvement with the group. The Mark Heard penned “Everything is Alright” is a true dichotomy. A dark and almost atmospheric verse structure followed by a pop and memorable hook driven chorus. This is also around the time of Ideola, and the style shows through. “I’ve Just Begun (Again)” brings the album back to the joyful musical expressions that dominate the vast majority of the album, while the following “Walk In Two Worlds” represents the darker, rougher edge. One would have hoped future releases would expand upon this sound as it worked so incredible well here. The album closes with a wonderful version of the traditional spiritual “Talk About Suffering.” Staring nearly in an acapella (drums only) before adding the band, this version is both beautiful and unforgettable. A fitting ending to a great album. This may be Keaggy’s finest hour as a songwriter, though another album of his will appear much later in the countdown, it is a real shame this ended up being only a one-off and no further collaborations between these men exists in this format.
Tracklist 1 – Tell Me How You Feel – 3:21 2 – Sunday’s Child – 3:57 3 – I Always Do – 4:50 4 – I’m Gonna Get You Now – 3:47 5 – Blessed Be the Ties – 3:56 6 – This Could Be the Moment – 3:48 7 – Ain’t Got No – 3:29 8 – Somebody Loves You – 4:05 9 – Big Eraser – 4:33 10 – Everything Is Alright – 4:19 11 – I’ve Just Begun (Again) – 3:00 12 – Walk In Two Worlds – 3:37 13 – Talk About Suffering – 4:50
Credits Robbie Buchanan – Organ B3 Lenny Castro – Percussion Rick Cua – Bass Derri Daugherty – Vocals Lance Demers – Songwriter Dave Hackbarth – Mixed Mark Heard – Songwriter, Engineer, Keyboards, Guitar, Vocals James Hollihan – Guitar Wade Jaynes – Mixed Eddie Keaggy – Mixed Phil Keaggy – Songwriter, Guitars, Bass, Percussion, Vocals Mike Mead – Drums Lynn Arthur Nichols – Producer, Songwriter, Guitar, Vocals A. Palladino – Songwriter Jack Joseph Puig – Mixed David Schober – Engineer Jimmie Lee Sloas – Vocals Bart Stevens – Mixed Randy Stonehill – Songwriter, Guitar, Vocals Sandi Stonehill – Songwriter Russ Taff – Vocals Brian Tankersley – Engineer Steve Taylor – Songwriter, Percussion Rudy Valentine – Vocals Alwyn Wall – Vocals
Here’s another great Metal band out of Michigan. This was Xalt’s first album which I guess is technically a demo but is probably best described as self released. It was only released on cassette which is a pity because the quality was, well, questionable. The album was finally re-released in 2017 by Retroactive Records with 6 bonus tracks. I have heard however that the quality is still questionable. Doesn’t matter what format you want to distribute music on, it’s only going to sound at best as it’s source. Anyway we do have a pretty good Metal album here that leans commercial but not overly. If you only have time for one track try out “God In A Box”.
Tracklist 1 – The Cross – 3:13 2 – God In A Box – 2:49 3 – Where Victory Storms – 2:59 4 – Angry Fire – 3:59 5 – Ready For The Fight – 2:29 6 – A Warrior’s Honour – 2:43 7 – Looking Down A Loaded Gun – 4:13 8 – Palace Daydream – 2:06 9 – Soldiers In The Mist – 3:02 10 – Dark War – 5:11
Credits Bass Guitar – Steve Davis Drums – Todd Gleason Engineer – John Frazier Guitar – James Erdman Lead Vocals – Scott Doerfler Mixed By – Hank Horton, John Frazier, Xalt Producer – Hank Horton
Tonio K released two albums for the Christian market in the mid 80’s on What? Records. Both of them reach the Top 100 on this list. Both a must own album and truly brilliant works. Both are completely different musically and differ greatly in topic and theme. More will be said about Tonio K in a future post, but it should be noted here that for nearly three decades he released some of the most important releases that no one knows about. Before embracing the Christian faith Tonio K released several critically lauded and publicly ignored masterpieces. The same rang true in Christian music circles. I believe “Notes” was the last release for What? Records, a brilliant label whose imprint was the kiss of death in the CCM world. I cannot confirm this right now, but I believe every What? Records release appears on this countdown. The label was a joint effort between Word Records and A&M with the intent to bring Christian music to the masses with artists that had the chops and integrity to pull off the crossover. Where Tonio’s CCM debut (Romeo Unchained) was driven by technology and “new wave” rhythms and production, “Notes” was organic, blues and country influenced Americana rock and roll set in the heart of city life and suburban nightmares. There are two versions of the album with the Word released version not containing a song that will be discussed later. No one should own the Word version and I refused to carry that version in my store at the time.
Contributor David Lowman – https://ccms500bestalbums.wordpress.com/
Tracklist 1 – Without Love – 3:33 2 – Children’s Crusade – 4:56 3 – Stay – 4:14 4 – City Life – 4:07 5 – You Were There – 4:46 6 – The Executioner’s Song – 6:27 7 – I Can’t Stand It – 4:08 8 – What Women Want – 4:27 9 – I Can’t Stop – 3:19 10 – Where Is That Place? – 3:59
Credits A&R [Productive A&R] – Aaron Jacoves, Tom Willett Arranged By – David Miner, T Bone Burnett, Tonio K. Art Direction, Photography By, Design – Linda Myers-Krikorian Bass – James Jamerson, Jr. (tracks: 7 to 10) Bass, Double Bass [String Bass], Harmonium, Marimba – David Miner Drum Programming – Ralph Forbes Drums – Raymond Pounds (tracks: 7 to 10) Drums, Synthesizer [Dynacord] – Jim Keltner Electric Guitar – Jack Sherman Electric Guitar [12-string, Gut String, National], Acoustic Guitar – T Bone Burnett Engineer [Assistant Engineering] – Barry Conley, Bob Loftus, Brian Soucy, Dave “The Blade” Knight, Duncan Aldrich, Ira Rubnitz, Tom Banghart Executive-Producer – T Bone Burnett Graphic Design, Layout – Karl Shields, Susan Shields Mastered By – Tony Dawsey Mixed By – Tchad Blake Organ [Farfisa] – Rick Neigher Organ [Hammond] – Booker T. Jones Percussion – Alex Acuña Piano – John Keller Producer [Produced By] – David Miner, Tonio K. Recorded By – Larry Hirsch Recorded By [Additional Recording By] – Larold Rebhun (tracks: 8) Rhythm Guitar [Occasional], Vocals – Tonio K.
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – What? Records Copyright (c) – What? Records Manufactured By – A&M Records, Inc. Distributed By – A&M Records, Inc. Recorded At – The Sound Factory Recorded At – American Recorders Recorded At – Ocean Way Recording Recorded At – Mad Hatter Studios Recorded At – A&M Studios Mixed At – The Sound Factory Mastered At – Masterdisk Published By – Bibo Music Publishers Published By – N.Y.M. Published By – Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. Published By – Safespace Music Published By – Unicity Music Published By – Tea Time Tunes Published By – Yellow Brick Road Music Published By – VALEVISTA Music
This 1988 Regency Records sampler featured some of the best East Coast Metal bands of the time and some very exclusive tunes. There are a few unreleased tracks and other than that I have listed below where you can find the albums with the songs.
Tracklist 1 – Apostle – The Sword – On the 1988 Demo “Hymns” 2 – Rage Of Angels – Reason To Rock – On the 1989 Album “Rage Of Angels” 3 – Arsenal – Message Of Love – Unreleased 4 – The Lead – Tunnel Vision – On the 1987 Album “The Past Behind” 5 – Taker – Yesterday, Today & Forever – On the 1987 Demo “Mat. 11:12” 6 – Second Chance – The Blazing Wasteland – On the 1988 Demo “The Blazing Wasteland” 7 – Arsenal – Stand Strong – Unreleased 8 – Believer – The Chosen – Unreleased until “Extraction From Mortality” in 2001 9 – Taker – Living By Faith – On the 1987 Demo “Mat. 11:12”