Randy Matthews – Eyes To The Sky – 1975

After the fiasco at The Jesus Festival in 1974 during which he was unplugged and thrown out for playing Rock & Roll he went into the studio to cut this album. He even wrote a song about the incident “Pennsylvania Song” on which he sang “you pulled the plug and drained my soul, but I know I left a ring around the tub of tradition, I saw some dance and sing” Many of us who stumbled on Randy in the 80’s problem didn’t even know he was a Rock & Roll pioneer. A quick listen to this album will reinforce this new knowledge as this is a great 70’s rock album. Seriously if you missed this one back in the day it’s a must listen to.

1 – It Took A Carpenter – 3:09
2 – Oh My – 3:20
3 – Paid In Full – 2:38
4 – There’s A Shadow Passing Over The Land – 3:03
5 – Wounded Warrior – 3:57
6 – Captain – 4:04
7 – Guardian Angel – 3:10
8 – Pennsylvania Song – 3:47
9 – In The Morning – 4:32
10 – Four Horsemen – 4:11

Arpa – Kim Rose
Arranged By – Kim Rose
Backing Vocals – Austin Roberts, Bergen White, Buzz Cason, Kim Rose, Randy Matthews
Bass – Joe Osborn
Cover [Painting] – J. T. Morrow
Design – Small Wonder Studio
Drums – Jerry Carrigan
Engineer – Brent Maher
Executive Producer – Billy Ray Hearn
Flute – Billy Puett
Guitar – Billy Sanford, Kim Rose, Reggie Young, Steve Gibson
Keyboards – Kim Rose, Ron Oates
Percussion – Farrell Morris
Producer – Austin Roberts
Recorder – Billy Puett

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Creative Workshop

Randy Matthews – Son Of Dust – 1973

Randy Matthews may be the single most important artist in Christian music that the vast majority of CCM fans have never heard of. Even casual fans of the genre are familiar with randy Stonehill, Phil Keaggy, Larry Norman and Love Song, but few can name Randy Matthews. Yet, without Matthews and his early success and ground breaking, the industry that formed may have never stood a chance. After dabbling in Southern Gospel with his father Monty (a founding member of the Jordanaires), Matthews took to a more folk rock approach and began performing in coffee shops and small concert halls building a name for himself as a songwriter and performer. His infusion of dry and biting humor in concert was legendary. As a result, Matthews became the first “rock” act to be signed to a mainline Christian label. Word Record, a label known for spoken work and Southern Gospel acts, signed Matthews and he released his debut. For his next album Word would launch the Myrrh label to provide a platform for the new “Jesus Rock” that was beginning to break through. Matthews would be seen as the “rockiest” with his more blues influenced music and Joe Cocker like rough vocals. The rest of the movement was a little softer, employing a more folk and country driven sound. This would haunt Matthews and ultimately cause a disillusionment with Christian Music. In fact, while touring in support of Son of Dust, Matthews appeared at a large outdoor Christian music festival. The audience was more accustomed to the Love Song acoustic folk style and Randy’s raucous rock cause such an uproar that their instruments were unplugged and were chased off the stage by the crowd. With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Matthews would later release an album called “Plugged In” where that story would be recounted. Fans of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Joe Cocker, Van Morrison and Larry Norman will find much to appreciate on this album that is now considered a true classic of Jesus Music. On Son of Dust Matthews addresses more political, spiritual and emotional issues than what his contemporaries were willing to look at. Relationships, sin, society and the whole of life are addressed with an honesty that would not be seen very often in the industry until the 1980’s. The album is also noteworthy for the studio version of Matthews most memorable and time tested classic. Didn’t He. The story of the crucifixion is, in this reviewers opinion, the very best contemporary song written on the subject. Matthews emotive and scratchy voice delivers an unforgettable emotional experience. Matthews pounds his acoustic guitar for every time the hammer hits the nail and that sound hits the heart. One cannot listen to this song without some sort of emotional connection. If there is ever a list to be done of the greatest songs in CCM history this must be among the Top 5! Amongst the great albums of Jesus Music history, this is a must have and an unquestionable AYSO!

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

1 – Holy Band – 3:25
2 – The Bad Has Made It Better – 2:45
3 – It Ain’t Easy – 2:42
4 – Mighty Fine – 2:25
5 – Brown Eyed Woman – 4:46
6 – Here I Am – 3:22
7 – On The Road – 2:50
8 – Evacuation Day – 2:30
9 – Didn’t He – 5:40
10 – Pharaoh’s Hand – 3:17

Arranged By – D. Bergen White
Art Direction, Photography By – Bill Grine
Banjo – Robert Thompson
Bass – John Williams, Tommy Cogbill
Drums – Jerry Carrigan, Kenny Buttrey
Engineer – Rex Collier, Rick Horton, Tommy Semmes
Guitar – Billy Sanford, Charlie McCoy, John Christopher, Randy Matthews, Reggie Young
Keyboards – Bobby Wood, David Briggs
Keyboards [Moog] – Rick Powell
Mastered By – Tom Semmes
Percussion – Farrell Morris, Jerry Carrigan
Producer – Billy Ray Hearn
Recorded By – David McKinley, John Brandon
Saxophone – Bill Puett
Steel Guitar – Lloyd Green
Vocals – Bergen White, Billy Ray Hearn, Randy Matthews, Rick Powell
Written-By – Randy Matthews

Companies, etc.
Recorded At – Woodland Studios
Mastered At – Woodland Studios

Randy Matthews – All I Am Is What You See – 1972

This is Randy’s second album and it marked an important change in CCM music that many may not know about. He was under contract to Word records but they were very hesitant to release this album as the felt it went a little too far into the world of Rock. As such it was decided by Word would open a subsidiary label called Myrrh to handle the “Jesus Music” market. This changed the whole industry as it condoned releasing Rock music even if you had to do it a little sneakily. Of course Myrrh went on to be a dominant face in the Christian music industry. Anyway on to the album. It is definitely a more Rock oriented album than his premiere but seems relatively tame compared to what would come in the industry. His acoustic guitar work is excellent and I particularly like the track “Important Things” which while a little gimmicky it has a great message even in current times. If you missed this one back in the day listen to it now as it really was a game changer in the industry.

1 – Revolutionary Cause – 3:02
2 – All I Am Is What You See (Self Portrait) – 2:20
3 – Johnny – 3:30
4 – Power Through You, People – 3:02
5 – Time To Pray – 3:29
6 – Sunny Day – 2:59
7 – Leader Liberator – 2:25
8 – Flesh Of My Flesh – 3:10
9 – Important Things – 2:05
10 – Country Faith – 2:10

Arranged By, Conductor – Bergen White
Engineer – Les Ladd
Music By, Lyrics By – Randy Matthews
Photography By [Cover] – Bill Grine
Producer – Billy Ray Hearn

Companies, etc.
Distributed By – Word Records Limited
Pressed By – Columbia Records of Canada, Ltd.

Randy Matthews – Randy Matthews – 1980

Strangely whenever I read an article about Matthews no one ever discusses this album. Strange because I believe it to be his best album and “Out On A Limb” is one of my top 100 songs. It appears however that others don’t really view this as a good album. Randy really lets his inner Joe Cocker flow on this album but seeing as both of them were recording at the same time I don’t really think he was trying to imitate Cocker. For all we know Cocker was imitating Randy, no disrespect to Cocker as I love his work also. I was researching Randy a bit for this review and I was really surprised that he only ever had one CCM charting single and that wasn’t until 1991. Maybe I’m biased but Randy was a far greater performer than history has categorized him. If you ever read this Randy, thanks fort all the great music, you were an important part of my youth.

1 – Which Side Are You On? – 4:07
2 – Jesus Revive Me – 5:09
3 – Out On A Limb – 3:28
4 – Small Circle Of Friends – 3:27
5 – Miracle Man – 4:15
6 – I Had A Dream – 3:28
7 – I Think He’s Proud – 4:02
8 – Sweet Relief – 4:03
9 – Thin Line – 3:23
10 – Lonely Stranger – 4:45

Booking – 4-R Ranch
Design Concept [Album Cover Concept], Design – Stan Evenson Design, Inc.
Engineer – Joe Wilson
Executive-Producer – Ray Nenow
Mastered By [Mastering Engr.] – Jim Loyd
Musician, Backing Vocals [Background Vocals] – David McCaskel, Donna McElroy, Janna Hershberger, Jonathan McCaskel, Monty Matthews, Vicki Hampton, Yvonne Hodges
Musician, Bass – Paul Brannon
Musician, Drums – Louie Weaver
Musician, Guitar – Allen Holmes, David McCaskel, Joe Wilson, Paul Brannon
Musician, Guitar [Guitar Solos] – Joe Wilson
Musician, Keyboards – Bobby Edmonds, Dean Pastin, Shane Keister
Musician, Percussion – Terry McMillan
Musician, Saxophone – Donnie “Sax” Sanders
Musician, Synthesizer – Shane Keister
Photography By – Dominic Marsden, Sharon Inahara
Producer – Joe Wilson

Companies, etc.
Copyright (c) – Spirit Records
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Spirit Records
Manufactured By – Hartsong Corporation
Distributed By – Hartsong Corporation
Produced For – Primacy Productions
Published By – Arloco Music
Published By – Angelstream Music
Published By – Group Seven
Published By – Windy Music
Recorded At – Glaser Sound Studios, Inc., Nashville, Tennessee
Mastered At – Masterfonics

Randy Matthews – Plugged In – 1981

This 1981 offering from Randy showcases his ability to stay relevant in the 80’s. Randy was an artist throughout the 70’s releasing 8 albums. This is his second album in the 80’s and his style was evolving without doing anything that would qualify him as a sellout. I compared his previous album as having a Joe Cocker sound and Scott commented that it also had a Bob Seger feel. This album has a strong Seger sound with a lot less of a Cocker sound. All in all an excellent album and if you can only listen to one song on the album I suggest the title track Plugged In. Point of trivia, Steve Scruggs engineered this album and his brother Randy played guitar on the album. They were the sons of the legendary Earl Scruggs.

Track Listing:
1 – Plugged In – 3:42
2 – Ball & Chain – 3:50
3 – Can’t They See – 3:51
4 – Sooner Or Later – 3:21
5 – Hold Fast, Hold Tight – 4:04
6 – Over & Over – 2:43
7 – Prodigal Son – 3:13
8 – Loud Shroud – 3:44
9 – White Boat – 4:10
10 – Praise These Days – 3:41

Acoustic Guitar – Randy Matthews
Backing Vocals – Bonnie D. Hatcher, Francine Belcher, Gary Scruggs, Kimberly D. Fleming
Bass, Backing Vocals – David McCaskell
Drums, Backing Vocals – Louie Weaver
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Randy Scruggs
Electric Guitar, Backing Vocals – Allen Holmes
Engineer – Steve Scruggs
Engineer, Mixed By – Tom Semmes
Executive Producer – Kent Washburn
Keyboards, Backing Vocals – Gene Sisk
Producer – John Thompson

Randy Matthews – Wish We’d All Been Ready – 1971

In 1971 Randy was the first CCM artist signed to Word records and this album was the result. If you’re used to Randy’s 80’s work this album might surprise you. It isn’t a rock album, it’s not even a seventies rock album. Randy started out as a folk artist so this is a folk album. Randy’s song writing skills shine on this album. He wrote 8 of the 12 tracks on the album. There are 3 cover songs on the album which is strange for a first album. The strangest of those covers was Larry Norman’s “Wish We’d All Been Ready” which even more strangely is the title track. This album even came out before Larry’s album with the song. I would love to hear how this song ended up on Randy’s album never mind being the title track.

1 – Plastic Clown – 4:52
2 – Empty My Soul – 3:48
3 – Refuge – 2:34
4 – Psalm 19 – 2:40
5 – When I Think Of The Cross – 2:03
6 – Here Comes Jesus – 3:10
7 – Children Come Together – 4:28
8 – Sunday Morning – 2:45
9 – Easy Movin’ – 4:20
10 – I Guess That I’ve Changed – 2:57
11 – Wish We’d All Been Ready – 2:08
12 – Hallelujah Brother – 3:02

Arranged By – Rick Powell
Cover – Bill Grine
Producer – Billy Ray Hearn

Jesus Sound Explosion – 1972

It’s not too often I get to post an album with Johnny Cash on it but this is the one. This album could not be purchased but instead was sent to attendees of the 1972 EXPLO music festival. The EXPLO festival was put on by Campus Crusade for Christ and there were actually 7 days to the festival in Dallas TX. If you were there you could order the album and it would be mailed to you later. The festival was able to get all the performer’s record companies to allow this album to be distributed. I suspect one of the conditions was that it would not be commercially sold. This album has the broadest style of performers I’ve ever heard. Everything from Larry Norman (Rock) to Connie Smith (Country) to Willa Mae Dorsey (Southern Gospel). It’s an enjoyable album but the abrupt genre changes can be a bit startling. This album is a piece of CCM history. Were you there? Leave a comment below and tell us what it was like.

Printed on the jacket;
“This album is not for sale. This album was produced for the sole purpose of offering to the EXPLO ’72 television audience musical reminders of this historic congress. This album is sent to individuals who let the ministry of Campus Crusade For Christ International know that they are interested in receiving this album. Material on this album was recorded live at EXPLO ’72 in Dallas, Texas, June 12-17, 1972. Special arrangements with the artists and their record companies have made this album possible.”

1 – Johnny Cash – I See Men As Trees Walkin’ – 3:18
2 – Armageddon Experience – One Way – 3:35
3 – Randy Matthews – Didn’t He – 4:26
4 – Andraé Crouch & The Disciples – I’m Satisfied – 3:37
5 – Larry Norman – Sweet Song Of Salvation – 3:55
6 – Great Commission Company – Anticipation – 3:05
7 – Danny Lee & The Children Of Truth – Spread A Little Love Around – 2:56
8 – Connie Smith – Plenty Of Time – 4:13
9 – Forerunners – Lord – 2:44
10 – Willa Dorsey – I Have The Joy In My Soul – 2:45
11 – Love Song – A Love Song (Narration Of I Corinthians 13) – 5:40
12 – The Speer Family – The King Is Coming – 3:48

Various – Jubilation! – 1975

This 1975 Myrrh Records sampler had some of the early 70’s best Jesus Music. Strangely, it had the exact same name (Including the exclamation mark) of an album released the same time from The Kingsmen. The album only had one unreleased track, Larry Norman – Dear Malcolm, Dear Alwyn. Larry did finally release the track in 1993 on the So Long Ago The Garden re-release as a bonus track.

Include below is the info on which album the songs were released on

1 – Barry McGuire – Enter In – 5:35 – Seeds
2 – Lamb – The Sacrifice Lamb – 5:09 – Lamb
3 – The Sonlight Orchestra – Easter Song – 2:45 – Love Songs And Other Greats
4 – Randy Matthews – Johnny – 3:30 – All I Am Is What You See…
5 – Petra – Back Sliding Blues – 4:31 – Petra
6 – Walt Mills – You Got The Power – 2:55 – Sincerely, Walt Mills
7 – Ron Salsbury And J.C. Power Outlet – I Choose To Follow You – 5:15 – Forgiven…
8 – Evie – Clean Before My Lord – 3:05 – Evie Again
9 – Parchment – Light Of The World – 4:00 – Light Up The Fire
10 – The Pat Terry Group – I Can’t Wait – 3:42 – The Pat Terry Group
11 – 2nd Chapter Of Acts – I Fall In Love/Change – 4:22 – With Footnotes
12 – Ray Hildebrand – Didn’t He – 5:08 – Special Kind Of Man
13 – Honeytree – Heaven’s Gonna Be A Blast – 2:22 – The Way I Feel
14 – Aleksander John – Days Go By – 3:15 – Days Go By
15 – Love Song – A Love Song – 1:46 – Love Song
16 – Larry Norman – Dear Malcolm, Dear Alwyn – 2:36 – Unreleased until 1993
17 – Malcolm & Alwyn – Tomorrow’s News – 3:30 – Fool’s Wisdom
18 – Ken Medema – Come Let Us Reason Together – 3:35 – Fork In The Road
19 – Chuck Girard & Love Song – Think About What Jesus Said – 4:54 – Final Touch
20 – Marijohn – Where I’m Going – 3:58 – Where I’m Going

Randy Matthews – The Edge of Flight – 1990

This was the final album Randy Matthews released using his own name.

He did release an album in 2008 using the name Red Beard which was pirate oriented. Yes songs and stories about pirates. So essentially this was his last album and what an album it was.

I believe this was his best album ever. Again, we have a Bob Seger sound that at this point he has polished to be his own. The guitar work on this album is absolutely brilliant.

The album doesn’t credit any musicians so I can only assume it was Randy’s work. This is simply one of the greatest CCM rock albums ever released.

Track Listing:
1 – Man Of The Morning Sun – 5:34
2 – Defender Of The Faith – 5:18
3 – Beautiful Hands – 4:56
4 – Heart’s Still Beating – 4:08
5 – Sir – 4:33
6 – The Dream – 5:19
7 – China Sea – 4:33
8 – Ti Chapé – 4:52
9 – What A Good Lady – 4:46
10 – Make Believe – 5:26
11 – Lookin’ Back – 3:59
12 – Morning Sun (Reprise) – 1:43

Art Direction – Diane Painter
Mastered By – Ken Love
Mixed By – Billy Smiley, Lee Groitzsch
Photography – Paul Vozdic
Producer – Billy Smiley
Recorded By – Lee Groitzsch