New Zealander Steve Apirana is back with his second album and while I liked his first album this is a huge improvement from that album. This is a straight up blues album and it is good, real good. Again this album wasn’t released in North America which is a pity because I think it would have sold pretty good. Most people will recognize the title track as done by DeGarmo and Key bur in fact it’s a traditional so they didn’t get credited. That said this version is very good and I think I prefer it to the D&K version. Track 7 is kind of an instrumental but has some humming. The real gem of the album is the last track “It’s No Miracle”. It’s a spoken word track over a fantastic instrumental score and at 10 minutes long it’s definitely one not to miss. All in all this is probably the best album I have listened to this month and if you like blues I bet you’re gonna love this one.
Tracklist 1 – That Same Old Road – 4:54 2 – Hear Me Knocking – 3:51 3 – Postscript – 5:45 4 – No Turning Back – 4:19 5 – Song For The Bride – 6:33 6 – I Choose To Follow – 4:58 7 – E Te Ariki – 5:31 8 – It’s No Miracle – 10:02
Credits Steve Apirana – Producer, Arranger, Songwriter, Guitars, Lead and Background Vocals Alison Ahu – Background Vocals Ainsley Apirana – Lead and Background Vocals Kuru Apirana – Drums Tai Brown – Sounds, Haka, Vocals Leza Corban – Background Vocals Graham Flaws – Bass Steve Garden – Producer, Engineer, Arranger, Drums, Percussion, Keyboards Dallas Graham – Keyboards John Misky – Sounds, Haka, Vocals Pepe Nahu – Sounds, Haka, Vocals Stuart Pearce – Keyboards Donna Tai Rakena – Flute, Background Vocals Jay Tamati – Sounds, Haka, Vocals Ray Totorewa – Sounds, Haka, Vocals
This album is very tough for me. As readers of the original blog can attest, the Nashville music machine that put out very similar sounding, country infused, safe pop music was never in my wheelhouse. For decades the same singers, songwriters, record companies would put out similar sounding albums and then take home armfuls of Dove Awards. It was an industry that gave the “Rap Dove Award” to Carman! So, as a result, I came to this album very , very late. The first few Steven Curtis Chapman albums were so wrapped up in that world, that when “The Great Adventure” was released I just ignored it. I knew that hits that were incessantly on Christian radio and as a record representative that sold accompaniment cassettes, I knew virtually every song. But they meant very little to me. It wasn’t until I began the painstaking process of creating the original “Top 500” blog that I decided to familiarize myself with the album and tried to listen with new ears. It still did not make the original blog, but I did gain a higher level of respect for the singer/songwriter himself. I then saw Chapman in a solo acoustic concert several years ago where he performed several of the songs from this album with just his guitar, and even acapella. I started to discover the songs behind the processed production and my appreciation grew even more. But albums have to be judged according to their time and the way they were produced. And so the album is included here. But let’s be honest upfront…”Got to Be True” is just an awful, awful song! Most are very, very familiar with the bigger hits from the album like the title track, “Where We Belong,” and “Go There With You.” All are deserving of their success and I struggle to really be too critical here. For me the John Mellencamp ( or was he Cougar then?) inspired “That’s Paradise” is the stand out cut on the album. If Chapman only didn’t have such a pleasant voice, it could have been a mainstream radio single. Chapman also really shines here and throughout his career when accompanied by a more simple, sparse production as heard on “Don’t Let the Fire Die.” Chapman excels on simple ballads, especially when they are more focused on relational issues. “Maria” falls into the same category. Even this song has just too much going on musically. A stripped down acoustic guitar and nothing else would have been plenty. “Hearts Cry” is the very best example of what I am referring. No strings needed! With “The Great Adventure” Chapman truly broke as an artist. He had quite a bit of previous success, but this album was certified gold pretty quickly and brought previous albums along with it. It was from this point that the Gospel Music Association just backed up the Dove Award delivery truck to the Chapman estate annually. This isn’t the last album to be discussed here, but it is the one that fit the most securely in the Nashville Music Machine category, but worthy or more.
Contributor David Lowman – https://legacyccmsgreatestalbums.wordpress.com/
Tracklist 1 – Prologue – 2:37 2 – The Great Adventure – 4:35 3 – Where We Belong – 4:19 4 – Go There With You – 5:21 5 – That’s Paradise – 4:59 6 – Don’t Let The Fire Die – 4:48 7 – Got To B Tru – 4:18 8 – Walk With The Wise – 4:34 9 – Maria – 5:01 10 – Still Called Today – 6:00 11 – Heart’s Cry – 5:10
Credits Accordion – Jo-El Sonnier Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Steven Curtis Chapman Arranged By [Strings, Brass], Conductor – Don Wyrtzen, J.A.C. Redford Backing Vocals – Brent Lamb, Chris Rodriguez, Herb Chapman, Kip Raines, Lionel Cartwright, Mark Heimermann, Ricky Skaggs, Steven Curtis Chapman, Trace Balin Backing Vocals [Yells] – Chad Ballantyne, Chris Moore, Herb Chapman, James Isaac Elliott, Jason Cole, Marty Funderburk, Phil Naish, Steve Charles, Steven Curtis Chapman, Todd Robbins Bass – Jackie Street Contractor [Orchestra] – Carl Gorodetzky Design – Carol Bobolts, Red Herring Design Dobro – Scott Sanders Drum Programming – Mark Hammond Drums – Paul Leim Engineer – Ronnie Brookshire Engineer [Additional] – Carry Summers, Patrick Kelly, Steve Bishir Engineer [Assistant] – Carry Summers, John Kunz, Patrick Kelly, Todd Robbins Executive-Producer – Peter York Guitar – Dann Huff, Jerry McPherson Keyboards – Phil Naish Lap Steel Guitar, Dobro [Additional] – Rusty Young Mixed By – Bill Deaton, Ronnie Brookshire Orchestra – The Nashville String Machine Photography By – Frank W. Ockenfels Piano – Cheryl Rogers Producer – Phil Naish Rap, Guest – Toby McKeehan Soprano Saxophone – Mark Douthit Vocals [Duet] – BeBe Winans
On November 16th, 1994 Reverend Dan Smith died. He was 84 years old. To most of the world, including the world of CCM, the passing went by without much of an acknowledgement. But for 80 of his 84 years, Smith was a blues crooning, harmonica blasting, Gospel/folk, street preaching treasure. I challenge people to try to listen to this amazing album with being moved emotionally or spiritually. His life was filled with difficulties, trials and pain. Born in Alabama under Jim Crow laws he faced racism, depression and financial hardship. He struggled to educate himself while living the life of southern sharecroppers. He eventually landed a decent paying job the 1940’s, but was blinded in an industrial accident. All the while he played, sand and preached anywhere and everywhere. He even joined Pete Seeger in the fight to clean up the Hudson River. But despite all that, it is hard not to feel, sense, experience the sheer joy he expresses in every note. His love for his Savior is so obvious it drips from every note. His harmonica playing was very influential in the 60’s folk and blues world. The album being discussed here was recorded intermittently at his home as he was in poor health. The album was produced by Buddy Miller and features Miller’s wife and CCM icon, Julie Miller along with Victoria Williams and Bryan Duncan. Almost 30 years after it’s unheralded release and over 25 years since Smith’s death this masterpiece reminds us not only of a great musician, preacher, singer, but hopefully reminds of a long and treasured tradition of this truly American musical expression. If you do not own this amazing album…just find it!
Contributor David Lowman – https://legacyccmsgreatestalbums.wordpress.com/
Tracklist 1 – God’s Radar – 3:23 2 – Just Keep Goin’ On – 2:48 3 – Introduction – 0:59 4 – I’ve Never Been To Seminary, But I’ve Been To Calvary – 4:38 5 – I Walk By Faith – 3:24 6 – To Another Room – 4:51 7 – Dan Speaks – 0:15 8 – It Takes God To Build A Home – 3:37 9 – When Your Time Comes To Die – 2:52 10 – Jesus Knows My Name – 4:06 11 – This Is The Lord’s House – 3:14 12 – Down Through The Years (Testimony) – 8:47
Credits Acoustic Bass – Denny Croy Acoustic Guitar – George Ward Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Electric Bass – Buddy Miller Backing Vocals – Dexter Dickerson, Julie Miller, King Cotton, Mark Heard, Victoria Williams, Willie Greene Jr. Dobro, Mandolin, Fiddle, Banjo – Dennis Caplinger Drums – Scott Babcock Mastered By – Doug Doyle Organ [Hammond], Piano – John Andrew Schreiner Percussion – Steve Hindalong Producer – John Flynn Producer, Mixed By – Buddy Miller Resonator Guitar – Michael Hackanson-Stacy Vocals [Duet] – Bryan Duncan Vocals, Harmonica – Rev. Dan J. Smith Written-By – Rev. Dan J. Smith
Companies, etc. Manufactured By – Word, Inc. Distributed By – Word, Inc. Made By – JVC
This was Matthew’s first and only album on Benson Records after the untimely closing of Live Oak Records. I’m not really too sure how much effort he put into this album as quite frankly it’s a little dull. It leans to easy listening and quite frankly there aren’t many tunes that caught my attention though “Talk About” did interest me. I’m not saying it’s a bad album it’s just kind of dull. It only had one charting single, “Forever Stay” which made it to #10 but don’t expect much it is a frightfully easy listening track. Snooping through the credits I found that the drummer for the album was Dean Castronovo who is better known as the drummer for Bad English. Strangely I can only find that he ever appeared on 2 Christian albums, both by Ward. Also it was interesting to see Phil Keaggy played guitar on “Waterfall”. The song doesn’t have a guitar solo and I’m not really too sure why Keaggy was on the track as you can barely even make out the guitar track. All that said I am glad I have listened to the album for at least the historical value.
Tracklist 1 – Point Of View – 3:12 2 – Black And Blue – 3:25 3 – Waterfall – 3:48 4 – Too Late – 4:03 5 – Forever Stay – 4:14 6 – Teach My Heart – 3:40 7 – Faces Once More – 3:14 8 – Talk About – 3:43 9 – Sin For A Season – 4:17 10 – I Will Bless The Lord – 2:18
Credits Art Direction – Connie Harrington Backing Vocals – Bob Carlisle (tracks: 1, 2, 4 to 6, 8, 9), Debi Lee (tracks: 1, 4 to 6, 8, 9), Matthew Ward (tracks: 1, 4 to 6, 8 to 10), Nelly Greisen (tracks: 3, 7) Bass – Leon Gaer Design – The Riordon Design Group Inc. Drums – Dean Castronovo Engineer, Arranged By – Greg Hunt Guitar – Martin Walsh, Phil Keaggy (tracks: 3) Keyboards, Arranged By – Gary Leach Mastered By – Denny Purcell Photography – Russ Harrington Producer, Arranged By – Matthew Ward
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Benson Music Group, Inc. Copyright (c) – Benson Music Group, Inc. Recorded At – Rosewood Studio Mixed At – Rosewood Studio Mastered At – Georgetown Masters
This is the second and unfortunately last album from Ransom. The album leans a little more Rock and a little less Metal than their first release but it should satisfy fans of both genres. I’m more Rock oriented and I love this album. Lisa Faxon’s vocals shine again and are even better than their first release. Producer Lanny Cordola stepped in for this album and though he didn’t have many productions under his belt at this point he knocked it out of the park with this one. It is a very very well produced album. The last track is rather odd in that it’s a blues tune that doesn’t fit with the rest of the album BUT it features Oz Fox (Stryper) so it is a must listen. I’d love to hear the story of how that arrangement occurred. Anyway this is a great Rock album and deserves to be listened to.
Tracklist 1 – Soul Hymn – 4:29 2 – Exit (Euthanasia) – 4:35 3 – Windows Of My Heart – 4:22 4 – The Lies – 3:20 5 – Prayer Asylum – 4:37 6 – Only The Just Let Go – 4:12 7 – Not That Kind Of Girl – 4:19 8 – Watching Over Me – 4:42 9 – Higher Ground – 4:13 10 – Sister Blue – 4:16
Credits Art Direction – Ed McTaggart Bass – Michael Preciado Co-producer, Engineer – Mike Mierau Drums [Additional Musicians], Percussion [Additional Musicians] – Joe Calletta Guitar – Tony Ortiz Illustration [Original Illustration] – Kevin Short (2) Keyboards [Additional Musicians] – Roger Mielke Layout – Brian Godawa Mastered By – John Matousek Other [Hair And Make-Up] – Dawn Gill Photography – Wayne Armstrong Producer – Lanny Cordola Vocals – Lisa Faxon
Companies, etc. Recorded At – Mixing Lab A Recorded At – Mixing Lab B Mixed At – Front Page Recording Mastered At – Soundworks West
XT was a project / partnership between Leviticus guitarist Bjorn Stigsson and Motherlode vocalist Sonny Larsson. I was just introduced to Motherlode last week so when I read about their XT project I couldn’t wait to hear it. Larsson had contributed vocals to Stiggson’s solo project “Together With Friends” in 1987 and they must have meshed as they came back together years later after their respective bands shut down. While they were known for their Metal leaning work in the past this album with a little more hard rock with some keyboard influences. I think I preferred their work with their original bands there is nothing wrong with this album and it is well worth a listen. Stigsson and Larsson went on to release 2 more albums in the 90’s and got back together in 2017 & 2019 for two new albums. I’m looking forward to giving them a listen soon.
Tracklist 1 – Toccata – 0:36 2 – Looking For Love – 2:35 3 – The Rock Is My Life – 3:36 4 – All Your Love – 3:57 5 – Open Your Heart – 4:08 6 – I’m In Heaven – 2:53 7 – Theme Of Händel – 0:59 8 – Everything Is Possible – 3:13 9 – Call Your Name – 2:53 10 – Down The Street – 3:08 11 – White Knight – 3:37 12 – Standing For Jesus Christ – 4:03 13 – Voices In Heaven – 1:45
Credits Bass – Håkan Andersson Cover – Anders Bühlund Drums – Michael Ulfsgard Guitar, Keyboards, Arranged By, Programmed By, Producer – Björn Stigsson Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Producer – Sonny Larsson Mixed By – Magnus “MBee” Berggren* Mixed By, Engineer – Niklas Windahl Mixed By, Engineer, Bass – P-O Larsson Photography By – Torleif Svensson
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Viva Records AB Copyright (c) – Viva Records AB Made By – Zero Corporation Recorded At – Eagle One Studios Recorded At – Pol Music Studios Recorded At – Studio Box-Room
Justice were a Hard Rock/Metal band out of Australia. They actually recorded this album in 1990 but struggled to find a label to take it. It was finally released in 1992 by the band themselves I believe as I can’t find any information on the record label. There is very little information out there about the band. What I do know is that Soundmass re-released the album in 2020 along with a ton of bonus material. The bonus material however was new stuff recorded by 3 of the 4 original members. Most of those songs appear to be aimed at the secular market. As for the album itself it is a great Hard Rock album and the band are tight and good. If you missed this one in the 90’s, and you probably did, give it a listen now, I’m pretty sure you’ll like it.
Tracklist 1 – Disciple – 3:15 2 – Race For Victory – 4:47 3 – Way Back Home – 5:19 4 – Giving it All – 4:05 5 – Jesus Is the Rock – 3:09 6 – Counting Down – 3:43 7 – Blood of His Son – 3:18 8 – Betterway – 4:10 9 – Stand Up – 3:30 10 – Grace of God – 3:27
Credits Darren Grant – Guitars, Vocals (lead) Shayne Curtis – Bass Clem Sturgess – Guitars Marty Smith – Drums
Companies, etc. Distributed By – Alpha & Omega Distributors Distributed By – Brentwood Music, Inc. Glass Mastered At – DADC – DIDX-012910
Brett Williams formed The Reach in 1984 and yo have to respect his dedication as the band didn’t get a record deal until 1992. In 1989 they had an independent release, “Under The Same Sky” using the band name The Reach. I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet but I’m looking forward to it. One of my compliments for the band is that even though they formed in the 80’s this is a purely 90’s album. It’s always great to see a band that even though they were unsigned they continued to evolve and move their music forward. David Zaffiro (Bloodgood) stepped in to produce the album and even played guitar on a few tracks. The album is very well produced and quite frankly is as good as anything that was being released in the secular market at the time. The album is a guitar oriented Pop album that is very easy to listen to and if you missed this one it’s worth a listen. The title track is good enough that it’s going in my personal regular rotation.
Tracklist 1 – Waterline – 4:33 2 – Faded Love – 3:58 3 – My Heart – 3:14 4 – The Other Fall Of Cambrai – 3:24 5 – God You Are – 4:00 6 – River – 4:08 7 – Giving Me Reasons – 3:33 8 – In The In Between – 3:32 9 – Manner Of Man – 3:05 10 – Not So Easy – 3:41
Credits Art Direction, Design – Dale Wéhlacz Backing Vocals [Background Vocals] – Marlene Cochran Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals [Background Vocals] – Scott Burell Creative Director – Tony Thigpen Drums – Vince Grant Engineer – David Dysart Executive-Producer – Dez Dickerson Guitar – Charles Mesrole, David Zaffiro Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals [Background Vocals] – Brett Williams Keyboards – Mike Bell Mastered By – Denny Purcell Mixed By – Charles Mesrole, Chris Fuhrman, David Zaffiro Mixed By [Mix Assistent] – David Raneses, Eric Janko Photography – Karen Moskowitz Producer, Engineer – Charles Mesrole, David Zaffiro Sequenced By – Scott Weiss
Companies, etc. Phonographic Copyright (p) – Star Song Copyright (c) – Star Song Recorded At – Triad Studios Overdubbed At – Extra Sensory Productions Mastered At – Georgetown Masters Mixed At – Klub Key’s
Ordained Fate is odd in that 3 or the 4 members are female. The three girls started out the band in the mid 80’s under the name Cryptic Axe in Zion, IL. They started out as a secular metal band and even recorded a demo. The band became Christians in the late 80’s and went into the studio in 1989 to record a demo as Ordained Fate. The demo did fairly well and they recorded a second one in 1990. They were subsequently signed to a one album contract with Wonderland which was a sub label of Word. The album was well received but not widely available unfortunately. Wonderland/Word didn’t bring the band back in for a second album. They did however do a self produced effort in 1995 but of course with no distribution it was not widely available. This album is refreshing as it’s nice to hear some fairly hard metal from a female band. While not my style I was really surprised at the high quality of this release and I’m a little surprised it didn’t do better. I am guessing that it may not have been well promoted as Word really shouldn’t have been meddling in the Metal market as they knew nothing about it.
Tracklist 1 – Let’s Make A Deal – 4:33 2 – Gethsemane – 6:13 3 – Holy Wars – 4:45 4 – Wonderful Love – 4:15 5 – Gold Cross – 4:33 6 – Tame The Tongue – 5:23 7 – The Election – 3:53 8 – One Of The Insane – 5:19 9 – No Death – 4:26
Credits Bass, Vocals – Marge Curtner Design [Sleeve Design], Photography By – Lark Drums, Vocals – Terry Cvengros Engineer [2nd Engineer], Keyboards – Christopher Mosher Executive-Producer – Caesar Kalinowski, Peter Gavin Morkel Lead Guitar, Vocals – Anette Cvengros Lead Vocals, Guitar – Pam Scott Producer, Engineer – Caesar Kalinowski
Several months ago someone asked me if there were and “jam albums” in CCM. Off the top of my head I struggled to come up with any according to my friends definition. What was being sought after was a rock and roll album that wasn’t afraid to have the musicians take over a song for a while and letting each instrument have it’s share of the spotlight. Get Ready is such an album! The average song lasts longer then 5 minutes with a very simple blues verse chorus structure which leaves ample time for long instrumental jams featuring guitar and harmonica (Mansfield’s instrument of choice). Solos are loud and long and a heavy blues influence. The album was actually released on Polydor and had very limited Christian distribution when originally released. There was hope of Mansfield breaking into mainstream AOR radio but it never really happened despite relatively positive reviews. It may have had to do with the very evangelistic lyrics, something artists has never compromised on. The title track sounds like something from Dylan’s “Saved” album with a gospel choir accompanying the great guitar work. There are no ballads on the original 8 song release and only one song that could be categorized as “pop.” This would be the last album before Eric Turner would be added to the band n guitar. Turner’s heavier rock influence would be felt on future releases, but here it is original guitarists, Dennis Carothers, who handles the slide and electric lead perfectly. Fans of blues and southern rock like Molly Hatchet, 30 Special, Lynard Skynard and the Allman Brothers will find something here to like, In fact, this is the album I originally hoped Rick Cua would have made with the Outlaws influence. Mansfield’s importance to Jesus Music and later CCM should not be understated, even though he primarily remained a Southern California regional star. Along with Glen Kaiser Mansfield single-handedly kept the influence of blues music alive in CCM.
Contributor David Lowman – https://ccms500bestalbums.wordpress.com/
1 – Get Ready – 4:45
2 – Mr. Rock ‘N’ Roll – 4:08
3 – Above The Water – 5:17
4 – Billy Joe – 3:45
5 – Heaven Southwestern – 6:45
6 – Never Be The Same – 3:37
7 – Power Of Love – 4:18
8 – Life Saver – 4:57
CD Bonus Tracks
9 – Not Far Away – 4:18
10 – When The Curtain Falls – 3:47
11 – Flow Like A River – 4:56
Backing Vocals – Biff Vincent (tracks: 1 to 8), Bryan Duncan (tracks: 1 to 8), Christina Dent (tracks: 1 to 8), Kathy Hazzard (tracks: 1 to 8), Katy Mahoney (tracks: 1 to 8), Lisa Whitcomb (tracks: 1 to 8), Robin Glick (tracks: 1to 8), Rosemary Butler, Scott Galbraith (2) (tracks: 1 to 8), Susan Curley (tracks: 1 to 8), Virgil Beckham (tracks: 1 to 8), Virgil Beckham (tracks: 9, 10, 11)
Bass – Abraham Laboriel (tracks: 9, 10, 11), Charlie Sousa (tracks: 1 to 8)
Bass, Vocals – Jimmy Perez (tracks: 1 to 8)
Drums – Bill Maxwell (tracks: 9, 10, 11), Donny Vosburgh (tracks: 1 to 8), Paul Angers (tracks: 1 to 8)
Guitar – Hadley Hockensmith (tracks: 9, 10, 11)
Keyboards – Harlan Rogers (tracks: 9, 10, 11)
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar – Anthony Dean (2) (tracks: 1 to 8)
Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar, Twelve-String Guitar, Vocals – Dennis Corothers (tracks: 1 to 8)
Percussion – Alex Acuña (tracks: 9, 10, 11)
Producer – Skip Konte (tracks: 1 to 8), Virgil Beckham (tracks: 9, 10, 11)
Slide Guitar – Jerry Swallow (tracks: 9, 10, 11)
Vocals, Harmonica – Darrell Mansfield (tracks: 1 to 8), Darrell Mansfield (tracks: 9, 10, 11)
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Polydor Incorporated
Manufactured By – Polydor Incorporated
Marketed By – Polydor Incorporated
Recorded At – International Automated Media
Mixed At – International Automated Media
Mastered At – International Automated Media
Pressed By – Bestway Products Inc.