Whitecross – Triumphant Return – 1989

This was the 4th album from Whitecross and it is a great Rock & Roll album. If you just started listening to it may I suggest you turn it up to 12. It’s just my opinion but I think this is their best album. Scott Wenzel’s vocals are outstanding but I’m pretty sure the tour for this album must have destroyed his vocal cords. Rex Carroll’s guitar stands out as usual, he really was one of the best guitarists in the Hard Rock/Metal Christian scene. The surprise of the album is that Rick Cua plays bass on all but one track. I was really surprised to read this and a part of me really doesn’t know if it’s actually true but wow. I respected him before but my opinion of him just went up a notch. The album reached number 13 on Billboard’s Top Contemporary Christian Albums chart and actually won a Dove award for Hard Music Album of the Year.

1 – Attention Please – 3:55
2 – Red Light – 4:32
3 – Straight Thru The Heart – 3:57
4 – Down – 4:01
5 – Behold – 4:35
6 – Shakedown – 4:16
7 – Flashpoint – 1:30
8 – Simple Man – 4:21
9 – Over The Top – 4:18
10 – Heaven’s Calling Tonight – 4:16

Backing Vocals [Additional] – Caroline Nieto, Jonathan Pagano
Bass – Rick Cua (tracks: 1,2, 4-10)
Bass, Vocals – Rick Armstrong (tracks: 3)
Drums – Frank Liva
Drums, Vocals – Mike Elliot
Guitar, Vocals, Producer – Rex Carroll
Keyboards – George Small
Lead Vocals – Scott Wenzel
Producer – Joey Powers

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Russ Taff – The Way Home – 1989

Is there a better and more passionate male vocalist in the history of Christian music? After several years in Southern Gospel ensembles and a career building tenure with the Imperials, Russ Taff took his throaty and earthy blue-eyed soul voice of gold into a solo realm and, for several years, created some of the finest albums in CCM. Three of those albums make the list here. After two successful pop albums and a thematic and musical shift with a self-titled release, Taff released his fourth solo album to an overwhelming contingent of positive responses. Not as dark or rock driven as the previous release, The Way Home is more Americana and Springsteen influenced. Not “country,” but decidedly less “alternative” and more earthy. yet the Country market embraced the album charting three singles from the album. Christian radio was not as embracing though a few songs did make a dent including the wonderful ballad, “Farther On.” The ballads on the album are incredibly strong with several written by Michael Anderson (who himself will appear later on this list). In fact, an Anderson penned tune remains my personal favorite on the album. “I Need You,” which appeared on Anderson’s A&M debut release is wonderfully redone here. On several occasions Taff points toward a later release entitles “Under Their Influence” in which he covers several classic country and southern gospel classics. The songs included here reflect Taff’s heritage and respect for the legacy of amazing music left behind by some incredible artists. The album closes with “Table in the Wilderness” that is simply a 4 minute masterpiece. It always felt to me that the song would have worked on a latter Alarm album with it’s anthem like qualities. A huge song with a great hook and Taff’s impressive vocals really carry it through. This would be the last album that would make a major impact in the CCM market for Taff though he has continued to record and release album up to the present. He has also continued an on again off again relationship with the Gaither Vocal Band.

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

1 – Winds Of Change – 4:17
2 – It Was Love – 4:26
3 – Farther On – 3:49
4 – The River Unbroken – 4:24
5 – He Came Through – 3:10
6 – I Cry – 4:07
7 – I Need You – 4:36
8 – Go On – 4:22
9 – Ain’t No Grave – 1:19
10 – Guiding Light – 4:13
11 – Take My Hand – 4:35
12 – Table In The Wilderness – 4:15

Arranged By [Strings] – Don Hart
Art Direction – Buddy Jackson
Bass – Jackie Streets
Coordinator [Cover] – Laurie Fink
Drums – Lynn Williams
Engineer – Tim Crich
Engineer [Additional] – Dan Garcia, David Schober, Lynn Fuston
Engineer [Assistant] – Chris Rich, Clarke Schleicher, Elaine Anderson, Gil Morales, Mac Smith, Shawn McLean
Guitar – James Hollihan Jr., Russ Taff
Keyboards – James Hollihan Jr., Larry Hall
Management – Zach Glickman
Mastered By – Dan Hersch
Melodica – James Hollihan Jr.
Mixed By – Peter Coleman
Photography By [Black And White] – Bonnie Schiffman
Photography By [Front Cover] – Loren Balman
Producer – James Hollihan Jr., Russ Taff

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Word, Inc.
Recorded At – The Bennett House
Recorded At – Downstage Studio
Recorded At – Gold Mine Studio
Recorded At – Digital Recorders
Recorded At – Hollywood Sound Recorders
Recorded At – Wayne Cook Studios
Mixed At – Mama Jo’s
Mastered At – DigiPrep

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Guardian – First Watch – 1989

This was the first studio album from Guardian though they did have a demo using the name Fusion and another using the name Gardian. They inked the deal for this album in 1985 with Enigma Records but the wheels of production and release moved very slowly. The album was to be produced by Oz Fox from Stryper and he wasn’t immediately available. Recording did finish in 1988 but then for some reason it didn’t get released until 1989. Quite frankly Enigma really screwed this one up. By the time this album came out they should have been on their follow up album and another tour but the screw ups over at Enigma cost themselves and the band a lot of success and the resulting money. To top this all off Enigma did a short run of the album making it difficult for people to get their hands on. This was a great metal album and if it had been properly promoted, pressed, and distributed it might have been one of the biggest Christian Metal releases. I’m not even going to bother telling you about the album, give it a listen, I know you will be impressed. Another annoying thing Enigma did was to put 2 extra tracks on the CD release. This idea wasn’t’ unique to Enigma, lots of others did it but it was a dumb idea.

1 – I’ll Never Leave You – 4:32
2 – Mystery Man – 4:07
3 – Livin’ For The Promise – 4:09
4 – Miracle – 4:56
5 – Saints Battalion – 3:47
6 – Kingdom Of Rock – 3:25
7 – The Good Life – 4:41
8 – One Of A Kind – 3:33
9 – World Without Love – 3:56
10 – Rock In Victory – 3:50
—CD Bonus Tracks—
11 – Hyperdrive – 4:17
12 – Marching On – 3:55

Art Direction, Design – Dean Van Eimeren
Backing Vocals [Additional Backing Vocals] – Oz Fox
Bass – David Bach (2)
Drums – Rikk Hart
Engineer [Assistent Engineer] – Allen Isaacs, Gene Eugene, Jeff Simmons
Engineer [Assistent Engineer], Coordinator [Studio Coordination] – Dave Hackbarth, Dino Elefante
Engineer, Mixed By – Dan Nebenzal
Keyboards – Brent Jeffers
Lead Guitar – Tony Palacios
Lead Vocals, Guitar – Paul Cawley
Mastered By – Eddy Schreyer
Mixed By, Engineer [Assistent Engineer] – Mike Mierau
Photography By – Steve Cooper
Producer, Mixed By – Oz Fox
Vocals – David Bach, Tony Palacios

Companies, etc.
Record Company – The Benson Company, Inc.
Made By – Discovery Systems

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REZ – Innocent Blood – 1989

REZ band finished off the 80’s with this excellent album. The album showed the blues side that Glenn would head down for future recordings. The album also contains some of their heaviest material in quiet awhile. Wendy’s vocals are strong as usual and I would personally say that this album may be her best vocal performance. The album is very well produced but that’s what we had come to expect from Rez. If you like the 48 second track “Rooster Crow” be sure to pick up Glenn’s 2001 album, Carolina Moon where there’s a full length version of the song. Strangely “Bargain” is actually a cover of a “The Who” tune from 1971. Bit of trivia and I quote Wikipedia here “Innocent Blood’s cover photograph is of an eight-year-old girl named Tricia who lived close to the Jesus People USA community in urban Chicago. She was tragically abducted by an unknown person(s) around the Chase Park area. Most disturbingly, Tricia was never seen again. In her memory, the band addressed this subject on the album as well.”

1 – Rooster Crow – 0:48
2 – Altar Of Pain – 3:15
3 – The House Is On Fire – 3:25
4 – 80,000 Underground – 3:14
5 – Fiend Or Foul – 4:41
6 – Where Roses Grow – 7:20
7 – Right On Time – 5:46
8 – Child Of The Blues – 3:40
9 – Laughing Man – 3:31
10 – Bargain – 5:31
11 – Great God In Heaven – 2:56

Band [REZ Is], Bass, Keyboards – Roy Montroy
Band [REZ Is], Drums – John Herrin
Band [REZ Is], Guitar, Vocals – Glenn Kaiser
Band [REZ Is], Lead Guitar, Keyboards – Stu Heiss
Band [REZ Is], Vocals – Wendi Kaiser
Design [Cover Design], Photography By – Cornerstone Graphics, Janet Cameron
Engineer [Engineered By] – Ed Bialach, Roger Heiss, Roy Montroy
Producer [Produced By] – Rez*, Tom Cameron

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Grrr Records
Copyright (c) – Grrr Records
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word, Inc.
Engineered At – Tone Zone Recording
Published By – Rez Band Music
Published By – Suolubaf Music
Published By – ABKCO Music
Published By – Towser Tunes, Inc.
Made By – JVC

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Sacred Warrior – Master’s Command – 1989

This was the second album from Sacred Warrior and the same line up gave us another album much like their first one. The band decided to produce this one themselves and did a pretty good job. I can hear a few spots where I think they could have done better but over all they did a good job. The album takes up where the last one left off and if you liked the first one you’ll like this one. Vocals from Rey Parra are excellent and Bruce Swift’s guitar screams. If I did have to pick out an improvement after the first album I would say it’s the drumming. I don’t know if Tony Velasquez’s drumming improved or if it was a result of the self production but the drumming is excellent where on their first album it was just good.

1 – Master’s Command – 4:53
2 – Beyond The Mountain – 4:25
3 – Evil Lurks – 4:26
4 – Bound In Chains – 3:45
5 – Unfailing Love – 5:31
6 – Paradise – 5:21
7 – Uncontrolled – 3:47
8 – Many Will Come – 3:53
9 – Onward Warriors – 3:13
10 – The Flood – 4:15
11 – Holy, Holy, Holy – 4:27

Art Direction – Ed McTaggart
Bass – Steve Watkins
Drums – Tony Velasquez
Engineer – Dave Jahnsen
Guitar – Bruce Swift
Illustration – John Dickenson
Keyboards – Rick Macias
Photography By – Michael Seeley
Producer – Dave Jahnsen, Sacred Warrior
Vocals – Rey Parra
Written-By [All Songs By] – Bruce Swift, Rey Parra, Rick Macias, Steve Watkins (2), Tony Velasquez

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Intense Records (10)
Copyright (c) – Intense Records (10)
Distributed By – The Benson Company
Recorded At – Mixing Lab A
Recorded At – Mixing Lab B
Published By – Broken Songs
Glass Mastered At – Nimbus, Virginia

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Leviticus – Knights Of Heaven – 1989

This was the last album from Leviticus (there was a 2000’s reboot album) as the band separated after the support tour. This album turned more to a commercial sound perfected by the Elefante brothers. In fact I would say that some of the tracks on this album would fall in the Hard Rock category rather than metal. The album sold well and many thought it was their best work.

1 – Born Again – 3:38
2 – The World Goes ‘Round – 4:16
3 – Isn’t It Love – 4:32
4 – Oh, Lord – 4:51
5 – Feel So Good – 2:20
6 – Strong Love – 3:38
7 – Messiah – 3:55
8 – Over The Hills – 3:55
9 – For Once In My Life – 4:07
10 – Love On Fire – 3:40

Backing Vocals [Additional Musician] – David Amato
Bass, Backing Vocals – Niklas Frannklin
Design [Cover] – Donna Del Sesto
Design [Cover], Executive-Producer – David Del Sesto
Drums, Percussion – Kjell Andersson
Engineer – Bosse Reimer, Mike Mierau
Engineer [Assistant] – Jeff Simmons
Executive-Producer – Magnus Erikson
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Bjorn Stigsson
Illustration – Robert Fisher
Lead Vocals, Keyboards – Peo Pettersson
Mixed By [Using Eventide H3000B] – Gil Griffith
Producer – Dino, John Elefante

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Royal Music Productions
Copyright (c) – Royal Music Productions
Distributed By – Refuge Music Group
Distributed By – Spectra Distribution
Recorded At – Royal Music Studio
Recorded At – Pakaderm Studios
Overdubbed At – Pakaderm Studios
Mixed At – Pakaderm Studios
Pressed By – Denon Digital Industries

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Rage of Angels – Rage of Angels – 1989

This was the one and only album from Rage of Angels and if you have the vinyl version it’s actually quite collectible. This was another late 80’s glam metal band but they were a notch up from some of the metal bands of the time. I am always surprised by the metal bands that come out of nowhere, put out an excellent album and then disappear again. Reportedly the band broke up before the album even came out which is too bad as I really feel they were very good. Two members of the band, John Fowler and Frank Di Costanzo went on to form Steelheart. The other members didn’t appear again on an album and unfortunately drummer John Fowler passed away in 2008. If you like your metal albums you will like this one and if your only a fan of hard rock give it a chance too, you might like it. I did.

1 – Leave You Or Forsake You – 2:52
2 – Reason To Rock – 3:53
3 – It’s Not Late For Love – 4:31
4 – Somebody’s Watching You – 3:53
5 – Hooked On A Good Thing – 4:17
6 – Do You Still Believe In Love – 4:16
7 – Rock For The Rock – 4:39
8 – Are You Ready For Thunder – 4:09
9 – Don’t Give Up – 4:08

Arranged By – Rage Of Angels
Bass – Dale Glifort
Co-producer [Assisted By] – Rage Of Angels
Design, Layout – Jeff Spencer
Drums – John Fowler
Engineer – Bil Burke, Gary Fulton, Joe Mendek, Paul Krueger
Guitar – Frank DiCostanzo, Greg Kurtzman
Keyboards – Chris Ainsley (tracks: 7)
Lead Vocals – Dan Mariano
Mixed By – Doug Mann, Paul Krueger
Producer – Doug Mann

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Regency Music (2)
Copyright (c) – Regency Music (2)
Distributed By – Spectra Distribution, Inc.
Recorded At – Audio West
Recorded At – Morningstar Studios
Mixed At – Morningstar Studios
Mastered At – Capitol Studios
Designed At – Sudden Images Studio
Manufactured By – U.S. Optical Disc

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Mastedon – It’s a Jungle Out There – 1989

Mastedon was a studio project by John & Dino Elefante. The fact that they were dabbling in heavy metal right at the end of the 80’s kind of surprises me but then again it shows their versatility and their love of all styles of music. The “Band” were basically a bunch of high quality studio musicians. John & Dino Elefante both played on the album but left lead vocals to David Robbins who was also the vocalist on the 1989 X-Sinner album “Get It”, another Elefante project. John & Dino Elefante also wrote all of the tracks with the exception of the lyrics on “Shine On” written by Petra’s Bob Hartman. The album is a pretty high quality metal album but some tracks lean more Hard Rock. Most of the Metal songs have a commercial Metal Pop song. My final thought on this album is that it’s pretty good and I look forward to listening their album from 1990.

1 – It’s A Jungle Out There – 3:54
2 – Glory Bound – 4:17
3 – This Is The Day – 4:14
4 – Love Inhalation – 4:39
5 – Islands In The Sky – 3:42
6 – Get Up – 4:00
7 – Love That Will Survive – 4:02
8 – Innocent Girl – 3:42
9 – Shine On – 4:24
10 – Right Hand – 6:05

Backing Vocals – Dave Amato, Dino Elefante, John Elefante
Bass – Dino Elefante, Jimmy “Flim” Johnson, John Pierce
Drums – David Raven, John Elefante, Phil Rowland
Engineer [Additional] – Ben Rodgers
Engineer [Assistant] – Jeff Simmons
Engineer, Mixed By – Dino Elefante, John Elefante, Mike Mierau
Fretless Bass – John Patitucci (tracks: 9)
Illustration – Robert Fischer
Keyboards – John Elefante
Lead Guitar – Dave “Pittsy” Amato
Lead Vocals – Dave Amato (tracks: 2, 4, 10), Dave Robbins (tracks: 1, 3, 5, 6), Perry Lee (tracks: 4, 8)
Lyrics By – Bob Hartman (tracks: 9)
Mastered By – Steve Hall
Music By – Dino Elefante (tracks: 9), John Elefante (tracks: 9)
Producer – Dino Elefante, John Elefante
Rhythm Guitar – Dino Elefante
Vocals – Dave Robbins
Written-By – Dino Elefante (tracks: 1-8, 10), John Elefante (tracks: 1-8, 10)

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – R.E.X. Music Inc.
Copyright (c) – Regency Music
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Regency Music
Mastered At – Future Disc
Recorded At – Pakaderm Studios
Recorded At – Pack’s Place
Pressed By – Disc Manufacturing, Inc., Huntsville – 27581

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Katsbarnea – O Som que te faz Girar – 1989

Completely unbeknownst to me until very recently there was a huge CCM music scene in South America. Now of course the music was in Portuguese or Spanish but it was a huge scene that for some reason I had never heard of until I met friends though this project. This particular band was one of the big ones. This was their demo that they released in 1989. Apparently it sold very very well and it included future hits such as “Extra” and “Grito de Katsbarnea. The band actually had 12 members including a horns section but don’t let that fool you, this is a Rock & Roll band and a darn good one at that. The band went on to great success with multiple albums all the way until 2013. So if your looking to broaden your CCM knowledge give this one a listen. At least listen to the single “Extra” It’s actually a very good song.

1 – Contato
2 – Retrovisor
3 – Grito de Katsbarnea
4 – Etéreo
5 – Viagem da Oração
6 – Pacote Salvação
7 – Extra
8 – Corredor 18
9 – Salve a tua Paz
10 – Brisa

Brother Simion – vocal, guitarra rítmica e harmônica
Tchu Salomão – baixo e vocal em “Brisa”
Fábio – bateria
Paulinho Makuko – percussão e vocal em “Corredor 18”
Marquinhos – saxofone
André Mira – guitarra solo
Cláudia Bastos – vocal de apoio
Sandra Simões – vocal de apoio
Patrícia – teclado

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Jerome Olds – No Disguise – 1989

Jerome is often said to be the Christian answer to Bruce Hornsby. Indeed his style strongly resembles Bruce Hornsby and this was probably in part his relative success. Actually he had been involved in the CCM scene since 1985 writing several #1 songs for Mylon & Broken Heart. He struck out on his own with this album in 1989 though he did have a self release in 1980. It’s a little disappointing that he is constantly compared to Bruce Hornsby as I think it detracts from his true talent as a singer songwriter. The first single for the album was “Is It Right?” which peaked at #4. “His Love Flows” and “Rejoice” also singled at #12 and #15 respectively. The piano pop sound of this album will likely site well with most people. The surprise track on the album is “Sing Out” which has a more traditional African sound.

1 – Rejoice – 3:06
2 – Is It Right? – 4:22
3 – His Love Flows – 4:25
4 – Dying To See Jesus In Me – 4:18
5 – No Disguise – 2:06
6 – Sing Out – 3:00
7 – God Will Find A Way – 4:10
8 – Bethlehem – 3:32
9 – “The Barn” Video Sequence – 3:08
10 – Keeper Of The Fire – 5:40

Scott Allen – Composer
Gary Bennett – Vocals
Pat Buchanan – Guitar (Electric), Vocal Arrangement, Vocals
Charles Bullock – Choir/Chorus
Brenda Carter – Choir/Chorus
Russ Fowler – Engineer, Mixing
Gloria Gaither – Composer
Frank Gibson – Preparation
Bill Hatcher – Guitar (Acoustic), Harp
Tim Holbrook – Composer
Adrion Jones – Choir/Chorus
Ricky Keller – Arranger, Bass, Composer, Engineer, Guitar (Electric), Mixing, Percussion, Producer, Synthesizer
Sonny Lallerstedt – Guitar (Acoustic)
Jim Lloyd – Mastering
Donna Maddox – Choir/Chorus
Scott Meeder – Drums, Percussion, Producer
Jerome Olds – Arranger, Composer, Percussion, Primary Artist, Producer, Vocal Arrangement, Vocals
Solomon Olds – Composer
Cheryl Rogers – Arranger, Composer, Keyboards, Producer, Vocal Arrangement, Vocals
Terry Simpson – Vocals
Angel Smith – Choir/Chorus
Vance Taylor – Synthesizer
Toni Thigpen – Photo Editing
Oliver Wells – Arranger, Keyboards, Producer

Companies, etc.
Printed By – Sleeveprint Ltd
Mastered At – Masterfonics
Mixed At – Southern Tracks
Recorded At – Southern Living At Its Finest

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