Surprise – Reformation – 1990

Reformation is the excellent sophomore studio album by Sydney band Surprise (previously known as Surprise Surprise), released by American record label, Refuge Records. The band was locally managed by David Smallbone who is the father of renowned CCM artist, Rebecca St. James. Out of all the 80s Australian bands I have reviewed so far, this is one of my favourite music finds. In preparing for this review I’ve listened to this album several times, and I still love it. The band’s music style is best described as ‘eclectic’ – ranging from rockabilly (‘Into The Light’), pop, rock, shock rock (‘Jack The Ripper?’), alternative, and even some hard rock/metal. What keeps things interesting is that the band has a male (Alexander MacDonald) and female vocalist (Lisa Parsons). The band are not as direct or in your face when it comes to sharing their Christian faith & worldview as other bands, and yet they share it in creative and sometimes witty/humorous ways. For example, in one of my favourite songs, ‘The Sixty-Six’, when referring to the canon of the Bible, the lyrics are:
I know 66 reasons for all these feelings inside my head.
I’ve seen 39 old ones full of bold ones and what You said.
Be still and know I am God…
I know that 27 speak of heaven, and that You bled.

Another great lyric is: No condemnation in the Him of Hymns, when life ends is when it all begins.

Another highlight are the guest vocals provided by In The Silence’s John Dickson on the track ‘Destroy all Monsters/Carnival Freakout/Onward’ (the ‘Onward’ part of the song is the band’s great remake of the classic hymn ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’).

The 13th track which is a bonus song contains the lyric:
I believe in the canon.
I believe in three-in-one.
I believe in the sixty-six, and the Virgin’s holy Son.

I’m looking forward to giving the band’s debut album, Fish!!!, on Refuge Records another listen.

Contributor – Frank Axel Rasenberger

1 – A-Z – 2:31
2 – Living Is Easy – 3:23
3 – Madder Than Me – 3:58
4 – Destroy All Monsters/Carnival Freakout/Onward – 3:35
5 – Into the Light – 2:32
6 – Jack the Ripper? – 2:29
7 – Slash’n’Burn – 2:41
8 – Voice Inside – 3:15
9 – Victim of Love – 1:50
10 – Look Inside Your Heart – 3:15
11 – The Sixty-Six – 2:15
12 – Come Back Today – 2:58
13 – I Believe (Bonus Track) – 3:03

Backing Vocals – Allan Dowthwaite, David Welch, Malcolm Kiely
Bass – Malcolm Kiely
Drums – Allan Dowthwaite
Engineer – Dave Simpfendorfer
Guitar – Alexander MacDonald
Keyboards – David Welch
Mixed By – Jeff Todd
Producer – Dave Simpfendorfer, Surprise
Vocals – Alexander MacDonald, Lisa Parsons

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Windwood Studios

Mark Heard – Dry Bones Dance – 1990

Mark Heard started the 90’s by starting his own record company, Fingerprint Records, with Dan Russell and Chuck Long. This was the first album on the label and they started out with a bang. Mark invited several guests for this album and they included Jerry Chamberlain, Sam Phillips, and Michael Been. Many Heard fans believe this is his best album and personally I must concur. I can put this one on repeat. When Mark started recording for his own label he made sure people were getting their moneys worth with his album having 14 tracks. We would only get a few more albums from Mark before his untimely death and I’m glad we got this one.

1 – Rise From The Ruins – 3:02
2 – The Dry Bones Dance – 3:46
3 – House Of Broken Dreams – 4:11
4 – Our Restless Hearts – 3:42
5 – Nobody’s Looking – 3:26
6 – All She Wanted Was Love – 4:19
7 – Strong Hand Of Love – 3:03
8 – How Many Tears – 2:58
9 – Lonely Road – 4:12
10 – Waiting For A Reason – 3:30
11 – Everything Is Alright – 4:24
12 – Awake In The Nightime – 3:29
13 – Mercy Of The Flame – 4:58
14 – Fire – 7:13

Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Accordion, Harmonica, Kalimba, Backing Vocals [Assorted] – Mark Heard
Backing Vocals – Jerry Chamberlain, Pam Dwinell, Sam Phillips, Sharon McCall
Chapman Stick – Fergus Marsh
Co-producer [Associate Producer] – Dan Russell
Drums – David Birmingham
Dulcimer [Hammered Dulcimer] – Doug Berch
Engineer [Second Engineer] – Dan Reed, David Miner, Richard Tiegen
Executive-Producer [Executive-At-Large] – Chuck Long
Fiddle, Mandolin – Byron Berline
Graphics [Graphic Art] – Tim Alderson, Tom Goosmann
Mastered By – Dennis Bouch
Other [Occasional Back-Seat Driving], Engineer [Second Engineer] – Tom Willett
Other [Wagonmaster], Engineer [Second Engineer], Photography By – Joel Russell
Producer – Mark Heard
Soloist [Guitar Solo] – Michael Been
Viola – Novi Novog

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Fingerprint Records, Inc
Copyright © – Fingerprint Records, Inc
Copyright © – Ideola Music
Distributed By – Word Ltd.
Made By – Disctronics S
Recorded At – Fingerprint Recorders
Mixed At – Fingerprint Recorders
Recorded At – Plum Studios
Mastered At – Future Disc

The Swoon – Neverland / Ben Son Ben Son Beatrice – 1990

The Swoon started out as a group of four kids who played D&D together. Only one of them had any formal music training but this didn’t stop them from forming a band and playing in a church that was Pastored by one of their fathers. After a few demo’s, name changes, and new members the band played at Cornerstone in 1988. They actually cut a deal with Wonderland records but it never worked out. The band moved to California and recorded this album in Neverland studios. It was produced by Charlie Peacock though there seems to be some debate as to his level of involvement. After the record came out Refuge agreed to help with distribution. This however would be it for the band. It was already 1990 so I’m not surprised that this was their only album as it has a pretty strong 80s feel. Anyway it’s really really good and is one you should definitely give a listen to.

1 – Whose Hands Are These? – 4:17
2 – Sweet Ally – 4:38
3 – Gypsy Street Legacy – 4:09
4 – One Day The Passion – 3:45
5 – Speak Soft – 5:57
Ben Son Ben Son Beatrice
6 – I Cried Out – 5:22
7 – Let’s Talk About Love – 3:59
8 – Ben Son, Ben Son Beatrice – 5:13
9 – Square Dance Candle Light – 6:52
10 – Via Dolorosa – 2:35

Backing Vocals, Bass Guitar – Troy Baartman
Backing Vocals, Keyboards – Jeana Gillispie
Bass Guitar – Daniel Thomas
Composed By [Compositions] – Austin Dacey
Drums – Emmett Dacey
Engineer – Derri Daugherty
Executive Producer – Charles Clark
Executive Producer, Producer – Charlie Peacock
Lead Vocals – Daniel Thomas
Lyrics By – Daniel Thomas
Mixed By, Engineer – Dave Hackbarth, Greg Sotebeer
Music By – The Swoon
Other [Guy Who Does Stuff] – Mark Derby
Photography By [Cover Photo] – David Dobson
Producer, Mixed By, Backing Vocals [Additional] – James
Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards – Austin Dacey

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – Refuge Records
Distributed By – Spectra Distribution
Distributed By – Mainroads Music Group

Newsboys – Hell Is For Wimps – 1990

I completely missed the Newsboys era in CCM music so every time I post one of their albums it is the first time I have heard it. I really enjoyed this album when I listened to it. It has a solid sound and my only criticism is that it kind of switches from Pop to New Wave to Rock so it’s a little inconsistent but that’s a weak criticism because the album is well done. Strangely this album didn’t do very good. In fact it would be a few more albums before the band would become the powerhouse they are known as. I subconsciously considered Newboys the New Kids On The Block of CCM but that’s entirely not true. These guys had some talent and I would have really liked them back in the late 80’s early 90’s.

1 – Stand Up For Jesus – 3:47
2 – In The End – 3:14
3 – Simple Man – 3:43
4 – All I Can See – 4:51
5 – Ten Thousand Miles – 3:54
6 – Somethin’s Missing – 2:45
7 – Get Up For Love – 3:15
8 – Sea Of Love – 3:13
9 – Love You Tomorrow – 3:33
10 – Victory – 4:16

Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Sonny Lallerstedt
Bass – Sean Taylor
Drums, Vocals – Peter Furler
Executive-Producer – Dez Dickerson, Jeff Moseley
Guitar – Jonathan Geange
Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Michael Gleason
Lead Vocals – John James
Mastered By – Denny Purcell
Other [L.D., A.D., Koala Caller] – Steve Campbell
Producer – Michael Gleason
Recorded By – Sonny Lallerstedt
Technician [Drum Tech] – David Perdikis
Written-By – Newsboys

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Star Song Communications
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Star Song
Copyright © – Star Song

Brian Becker – Daring 2 B Different – 1990

This is actually Brian’s 4th album. However his previous 3 were not picked up by a label and are almost impossible to find. This was his first of 2 albums with label Benson. Apparently Brian has an audio engineering and computer degree and was a pioneer of using MIDI’s in the Christian genre. I can’t really hear it in the album but that doesn’t mean much. The album is excellent. It’s a fun pop rock album and might just have been a little late for 1990. That said Brian was just warming up for his second album which was very successful. I quite enjoyed this album and there’s a few tracks that will be going into my regular rotation.

1 – Love Keeps Hanging On – 4:05
2 – Daring 2 – B Different – 3:51
3 – His Name Is Jesus – 3:36
4 – He Knows – 4:06
5 – Tender Touch – 5:00
6 – I Surrender All – 5:34
7 – Spirit Of Elijah – 5:33
8 – Written On My Heart – 3:41
9 – Still Quiet Voice – 5:19

Arranged By [Backing Vocals], Directed By [Backing Vocals] – Geoff Thurman
Arranged By [Horns] – Fred Middlekauff, Geoff Thurman, Jamie Page
Arranged By [Rhythm Tracks], Sequenced By – Paul Mills
Art Direction, Design – Phillip Spencer
Backing Vocals – Brian Becker, Geoff Thurman, Jamie Page, Kemper Crabb, Toni Becker
Choir – Andre Cormier, Benita Woods, Cheryln Cormier, Cynthia Brigham, Greater Emmanuel Church Of God In Christ Choir, Kerry Banks, Myra Cormier, Ophelia Banks, Tangerla White, Valerie Heard
Coordinator [Post-Production] – Alan Kawakami
Cymbal [Overdubs], Effects – Brian Becker
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Mandolin – Jerry McPherson
Engineer – Chuck Sugar
Engineer [Assistant] – Paul Mills, Steve Dady
Mastered By – Chuck Sugar, Hank Williams
Percussion [Overdubs] – Jamie Page
Photography By – Jim DeVault
Producer – Jamie Page
Sampler [Drums], Drum Programming – Paul Mills
Saxophone, Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Trombone – Fred Middlekauff
Vocals [Duet] – Toni Becker

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Rolling Shoals Productions
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Brian Becker
Copyright © – Rolling Shoals Productions
Copyright © – Brian Becker
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Pressed By – DADC – DIDX 006928
Recorded At – Rivendell Recorders
Mixed At – Rivendell Recorders
Mastered At – Mastermix

Helen Baylor – Highly Recommended – 1990

Helen actually had a very successful music career in the late 60’s and 70’s. She worked as a session musician for several big acts and was actually in the musical “Hair”. Unfortunately her career faltered in the 80’s due to drug addiction. In the late 80’s she turned her life around and after becoming a Christian and started to reignite her music career. This is her first album and it is pretty darn good. It has a solid pop sound and feel. It was produced by John Bokowski who didn’t usually work with Christian labels but I’m guessing Helen and him knew each other previously. The album was very successful. It had 2 CCM charting singles, “There’s No Greater Love” made it to #8 and “Victory” to #17.

1 – Highly Recommended – 5:09
2 – There’s No Greater Love – 5:02
3 – Victory – 4:23
4 – Thank You Jesus – 6:00
5 – Hunger For Holiness – 5:50
6 – Lifting Up The Name Of Jesus – 4:44
7 – Can You Reach My Friend – 4:09
8 – Temporary Pain – 4:18
9 – Wounded Soldier – 5:19
10 – Fear Not My Child – 4:58

Backing Vocals – Gertrude Bradley, Helen Baylor, Jackie Simley, Jeanette Williams, Pam Hutchinson, Sara Henningburg, Suandra “Pan” Alexander
Bass – Freddie Washington, Weldon Gate
Bass, Guitar – Jerry Williams
Co-producer – Helen Baylor
Drums – Ron Bruner
Guitar – Charles Fearing, Tony Maiden
Keyboards – John Bokowski
Lead Vocals – Helen Baylor
Producer – John Bokowski

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Word, Inc.
Copyright © – Word, Inc.
Record Company – Word Records Limited
Record Company – Word (Uk) Ltd.
Produced For – King’s Court Productions, Inc.
Produced For – One A’Chord Productions
Made By – JVC Disc America

Angie Alan – Angie Alan – 1990

Angie started out her professional career singing with the Continental Singers. She also appeared with Roby Duke and Tim Miner and her first album here was actually produced by Tim. The album was pretty successful and she did get a CCM single though it only got to #35 (Forever Mine). Personally I think the album is great. There are some mellow tracks I didn’t like so much but the upbeat stuff is great. It’s easily as good as anything Paula Abdul did. I say that because the style is similar to Paula. I’m looking forward to listening to her second album soon.

1 – Need Somebody – 4:00
2 – Wake Up – 4:11
3 – Whatchu Need – 3:31
4 – The Game – 4:39
5 – Today – 4:38
6 – Sunny Side – 4:34
7 – Reminders – 4:11
8 – Living Proof – 5:08
9 – With You – 4:07
10 – Forever Mine – 3:54

Angie Alan – Songwriter, Vocals
Loren Bieg – Choir Vocals
Paul Boone – Choir Vocals
Nicole Bruce – Choir Vocals
Sharon Burton – Choir Vocals
Kim Dexter – Background Vocals
David Ebensberger – Producer, Engineer, Mixed, Songwriter, Keyboards, Drum Programming, Choir Vocals
Barry Hogan – Choir Vocals
Dennis Holt – Drums
Ron Jones – Saxophone
Mike McIntyre – Choir Vocals
Tim Miner – Producer, Engineer, Mixed, Songwriter, Guitars, Keyboards, Drum Programming, Background Vocals
Cindy Cruse Ratcliff – Songwriter, Background Vocals
Barbara Ross – Choir Vocals
Tommy Sims – Bass
Mark Stitts – Engineer, Guitars
Mike Stitts – Engineer, Programming, Background and Choir Vocals
Robert Till – Choir Vocals
Mike Wilson – Background and Choir Vocals
Bernard Wright – Producer, Keyboards, Programming, Background and Choir Vocals

4 Him – 4Him – 1990

in 1989 A rep from Benson Records attended several Truth concerts. He approached the 4 male members about a new 4 member vocal group/project. This album is the first of many albums from that group. To say it worked is an understatement as the first single, “Where There Is Faith”, went to #1 for eight weeks. The second single “He Will Be There For You” made it to #4, and the third single “Couldn’t We Stand” made it to #3. I think they could have put out more singles but they really rushed out a second album. This was the start of a very successful run of 11 albums for 4Him. As for the album it has an Imperials feel but maybe with a little better production quality. Has a nice AOR pop sound and feel.

1 – Couldn’t We Stand – 4:01
2 – Stay Forever – 4:06
3 – When I Need You Most – 3:56
4 – Do Right – 3:57
5 – He Will Be There For You – 4:38
6 – Where There Is Faith – 4:56
7 – Living Water, Bread Of Life – 3:54
8 – Life Goes On – 3:38
9 – When I Am Gone – 4:18

David Angell – Strings
Mark Baldwin – Rhythm Guitar
George Binkley III – Strings
Ronnie Brookshire – Engineer
Jonathan David Brown – Producer, Mixed
Paula Carpenter – Songwriter
Andy Chrisman – Vocals
Dave Clark – Songwriter
David Davidson – Strings
Paul Davis – Songwriter
Dennis Dearing – Guitar Solos
Donna Douglas – Songwriter
Connie Ellisor – Strings
Lynn Fuston – Engineer
Randy Garmon – Assistant Engineer
Jim Grosjean – Strings
Mark Hammond – Drums
Brian Hardin – Engineer
Chris Harris – Producer
Mark Harris – Songwriter, Vocals
Mark Heimermann – Producer, Keyboards, Bass
David Huntsinger – Keyboards
Andy Ivey – Executive Producer
Don Koch – Producer, Songwriter, Rhythm Arrangements, Keyboards
Anthony Lamarchina – Strings
Ken Love – Mastered
Gary Lunn – Bass, Drum Programming
Ted Madsen – Strings
Marty Magehee – Vocals
Carl Marsh – Arrangements, Keyboards
David Martin – Songwriter
Russell Mauldin – String Arrangements
Jerry McPherson – Guitars
Dennis Molchan – Strings
David Murphy – Engineer
Steve Pinkston – Engineer
Billy Simon – Songwriter
Pam Sixfin – Strings
Billy Smiley – Songwriter
Marvin Steinberg – Drums
Kirk Sullivan – Vocals
Mark Tanner – Strings
Chris Teal – Strings
Kristen Wilkinson – Strings

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – The Benson Company, Inc.
Copyright © – The Benson Company, Inc.
Distributed By – The Benson Company, Inc.
Distributed By – R.G. Mitchell Family Books
Made By – Digital Audio Disc Corp. – DIDX 007013
Glass Mastered At – DADC – DIDX-007013
Produced For – Fun Attic Productions
Recorded At – Hummingbird Studio, Nashville, TN
Recorded At – OmniSound Studios
Recorded At – Johnny dB’s Basement
Recorded At – Great Circle Sound
Mixed At – Johnny dB’s Basement
Mastered At – Mastermix

Randy Stonehill – Until We Have Wings – 1990

Well we have kind of an interesting album from Randy here. The first 7 tracks are all original new tracks and the second 7 are live acoustic cuts from Randy’s concerts. The intro track “Didn’t It Rain” sounds like Randy’s interpretation of the famous song of the same name by Sister Rosetta Tharpe to me. The track “Old Clothes” was co-written by David Edwards and you can definitely hear the David influence. Oddly “Giovanni Audiori” is given co-writing credits on “Faithful”. This is a pseudonym for Mark Heard who is also credited on the rest of the album using his real name. To round out the Solid Rock people Tom Howard also helped out on the album. The live tracks are acoustic tracks that Randy of course kills it on. His sense of humour really is second to none in the industry. I never got a chance to see Randy in concert and that’s something I strongly regret. The whole album is worth owning just to hear the 11 plus minute live version of “Shut De Do” which is an example of Randy’s comedic brilliance.

1 – Faithful – 3:24
2 – Didn’t It Rain – 6:11
3 – Born To Love – 4:27
4 – Breath Of God – 2:59
5 – The History In Your Eyes – 4:31
6 – Can Hell Burn Hot Enough 4:07
7 – Old Clothes – 4:03
8 – Keep Me Runnin’ – 5:49
9 – Turning Thirty – 4:39
10 – Ramada Inn – 4:00
11 – Shut De Do – 11:35
12 – Hymn – 4:33
13 – Good News – 8:00
14 – I’ll Remember You – 3:43

Acoustic Guitar – Mark Heard, Randy Stonehill
Art Direction – Hipke, Inc.
Art Direction [Associate Art Director] – Roz Roos
Backing Vocals – Jerry Chamberlain, Pam Dwinell, Randy Stonehill, Sharon McCall
Bass – Bill Batstone, Mark Heard
Bass [Acoustic] – David Miner
Bass [Fretless] – Bill Batstone
Drums – David Raven
Electric Guitar – Mark Heard
Engineer [Second Engineer] – Brian Soucy
Executive-Producer – Ray Ware, Tom Willett
Keyboards – Mark Heard
Mastered By – Steve Hall
Mixed By – Mark Heard
Percussion – Brad Dutz
Photography – David Roth
Piano – Ken Medema (tracks: 7)
Producer – Mark Heard, Randy Stonehill
Recorded By – Mark Heard
Strings, Arranged By – Tom Howard (tracks: 7)
Synthesizer – Tom Howard (tracks: 1,4)
Vocals – Randy Stonehill
Written-By – Randy Stonehill (tracks: except 1, 7)

Companies, etc.
Phonographic Copyright ℗ – Word, Inc.
Copyright © – Word, Inc.
Recorded At – Fingerprint Recorders
Recorded At – The Sound Factory
Recorded At – Martinsound
Mixed At – Fingerprint Recorders
Mastered At – Future Disc
Manufactured By – Epic
Distributed By – Epic

Seventh Seal – Messengers Of Love – 1990

Seventh Seal is a Norway Metal band that actually started out as Revelation in 1985. They recorded a couple demo’s which lead to a contract with CNR records. The band hit the studio and started recording this album. Along the way it was discovered that there was another band on the label using the name Revelation so a name change was in order and they went with Seventh Seal. Now this is where this get a little odd. Apparently CNR records would not release the album and judging from the production quality it doesn’t look like they put any money into the album. I’m not saying the production is bad but it’s not record company funded good. That said I think I actually prefer the raw feel of the production, it really suits the band. So in the end the band released the album themselves but unfortunately all the drama took a toll on the band and they split before they were able to tour in support of the album.

1 – Messengers Of Love – 5:00
2 – Fantasy – 2:13
3 – Revelation – God Has The Power – 4:46
4 – Your Love – 6:00
5 – Free – 3:22
6 – Sparkling Diamond – 4:21
7 – The Seventh Seal – 1:28
8 – Visions Of Tomorrow – 4:22
9 – Born Again – 4:40
10 – Break Out – 4:39
11 – Eternal Love – 3:58
12 – The Calling – 4:41

Art Direction – Aud Vikor, Dynamo Krohg, Marianne Thulin
Backing Vocals – Trygve Hansen
Bass – Geir Knutsen, Per Elias Drabløs
Bass [Fretted & Fretless] – Geir T. Ugland
Concept By [Cover Concept] – Jan Rustad
Drums, Percussion – Trygve Hansen
Keyboards – Sjur Lundstein
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar – Geir Knutsen
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals – Geir T. Ugland
Lead Vocals, Harmony Vocals – Mark Bjorvand
Photography By – Fin Serck-Hanssen
Producer – Jan Egil Løvbak
Remastered By [Digitally] – Rob Colwell
Voice – Roger Avenstrup

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Loud Level Studio
Published By – Frost Music