Russ Taff – Medals – 1985

This is Russ Taff’s second solo album and many consider it to be one of the best Christian albums of the mid 80’s. It received the Dove award for Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year in 1986 and rose to #2 on the Billboard Christian Albums chart. This album was recorded with some of the top Studio musicians of the time including, Dann Huff, Michael Landau, Nathan East, Robbie Buchanan, Tommy Funderburk, and Bill Champlin. One of the top cuts, “I’m Not Alone” was written by Paul Janz of Deliverance fame. All in all a good pop sound album that deserves at least one listen even if the Russ Taff name spooks you.

Tracklist
1 – Vision – 4:09
2 – I’m Not Alone – 4:19
3 – Medals – 4:43
4 – Not Gonna Bow – 4:11
5 – Here I Am – 4:11
6 – I’ve Come This Far – 5:28
7 – Silent Love – 4:45
8 – How Much It Hurts – 4:05
9 – Rock Solid – 4:08
10 – God Only Knows – 4:34

Credits
Backing Vocals – Bill Champlin (tracks: A1, A2, A3, A4, B2, B3), Carmen Twitty (tracks: A3, B1, B4, B5), Harry Browning (tracks: A3), Lynn Nichols (tracks: A3), Russ Taff (tracks: A1 to A4, B4), Tamara Champlin (tracks: A1, A2, A4), Tata Vega (tracks: A3, B1, B4. B5), Tommy Funderburk
Bass – Nathan East (tracks: A1, A3, B1, B4, B5), Neil Stubenhaus (tracks: A2, A4, A5 B2, B3)
Drums – Paul Leim
Electric Guitar – Dann Huff, Michael Landau (tracks: A2 to B5), Paul Jackson, Jr. (tracks: A1, B1)
Keyboards – Robbie Buchanan (tracks: A2, A4, B1, B2, B5)
Percussion – Lenny Castro (tracks: A2 to B5)
Saxophone – Larry Williams (tracks: A2, A4, B5)
Scat – Tata Vega (tracks: B1, B4)
Synthesizer – James Newton Howard (tracks: A1, A2, A4), Rhett Lawrence (tracks: B4), Robbie Buchanan

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Various – Adventures in the Land of Big Beats & Happy Feets – 1989

This has to be the worst sampler in the history of Christian music. It’s not the songs that are bad, they are great songs from great artists. It’s what they did with them that is the problem. Let me explain. This album is constructed as follows. The opening, ending, and all odd number songs are studio dance beats attributed to non existent bands. All of the even songs are well known songs by well known artists BUT they have been “remixed and extended”. Now first of all this album came out in 1989 and the secular music scene was done with cheesy two bit extended dance tracks. But for whatever reason Word Records chose at this late time to jump on a bandwagon that had already left the building. So here we go. Every song we have heard of before on this album is an “extended remix”. I use the term “extended remix” term loosely as these are without a doubt the worst remixes I have ever heard. So what we have here is the business idea of re releasing the same content over and over again only this time they pretended to dress it up as something new. What a disaster. OK listen to the album once and forget about it, that’s what I did.

Tracklist
1 – Rakim D. & The Garden Beats – Prologue – 2:03
2 – Imperials – Fallin’ – 4:18
3 – Bunny Whop And The Hip Hop – Baow Baow Baow – 1:06
4 – Philip Bailey – Thank You – 5:29
5 – Randy McNally & The Road Dogz – Rappin’ Detail – 1:12
6 – Amy Grant – Wise Up – 6:28
7 – Billy B. & The Beez Nees – No Bout Adoubt It – 1:11
8 – Steve Taylor – Svengali – 5:46
9 – Billy B. & The Beez Nees – Doutout – 0:57
10 – Kim Boyce – I Just Want To Celebrate – 5:16
11 – The Nerf Wilson Ensemble – Tee Vee Whiz – 0:51
12 – Ideola – Jericho – 4:28
13 – The Nerf Wilson Ensemble – Gee Tee Vee – 1:12
14 – Russ Taff – I’ve Come Too Far – 5:39
15 – Snappo Schultz – BBBBBeatitudinal – 1:16
16 – Sheila Walsh – Ship Of Love – 7:00
17 – Snappo Schultz – BBBBBeatitudinal – Part II – 1:01
18 – Randy Stonehill Cold Rock The Groove – 4:35
19 – Rakim D. & The Garden Beats – Epilogue – 0:42

Credits
Art Direction, Design – Bradley Grose
Compilation Producer – Leon Mulczk
Coordinator [Cover] – Laurie Fink (2)
Executive-Producer – Tom Willett
Music By [Link Music By] – Lee Cahuenga (tracks: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19)
Remix [Re-mixes], Edited By [Edits] – Lee Cahuenga
Written-By [Links Written By], Producer [Links Produced By] – Linx, Inc. (tracks: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19)

Companies, etc.
Record Company – Word, Inc.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – Word, Inc.
Copyright (c) – Word, Inc.
Distributed By – Word Records Limited
Distributed By – Word (UK) Ltd.
Manufactured By – Word, Inc.


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White Heart – Vital Signs – 1984

White Heart’s second album, Vital Signs was a masterpiece of finely produced songs. The band self-produced, with executive help from Chris Christian. The album was released on Chris Christian’s Home Sweet Home Records.

The opening song, “Sing Unto The Lamb” is a big sounding song that would qualify for a modern major Broadway number. The vocals stay true to this big performance sound all the way through the album, which is one of the things that made White Heart so popular. Standout tracks include the high energy “Carried Away” and power ballad “Let Your First Thought Be Love.”

The album was recorded in Nashville and attracted a who’s who of contributing artists. The closing song, “We Are His Hands” includes a choir with (among others) Bob Farrell (of Farrell and Farrell), Scott Wesley Brown, David Meece, Amy Grant, Steve Green, Russ Taff, Chris Christian and Kathy Troccoli. We Are His Hands was their first number one radio single.

Former lead singer, Scott Douglas went to prison in 1986. White Heart continued on with a new lead singer after this album, Rick Florian who was allegedly promoted from roadie to lead singer all at once. Florian remained in the lead post throughout the rest of White Heart’s existence.

Track Listing:
1 – Sing Unto The Lamb – 3:15
2 – Draw The Line – 4:38
3 – Walking In The Light – 3:56
4 – Carried Away (Safe On The Wings Of The Lord) – 4:19
5 – Quiet Love – 3:52
6 – Following The King – 4:05
7 – Let Your First Thought Be Love – 3:51
8 – Undercover – 3:54
9 – Vital Signs – 3:50
10 – We Are His Hands – 4:13

Credits:
Arranged By – Billy Smiley, Dann Huff, Mark Gersmehl
Arranged By [String Arrangements] – Ronn Huff
Art Direction, Design – Bill Brunt
Bass Guitar – Gary Lunn
Design Concept [Cover Concept] – Bill Brunt, Mark Tucker
Design Concept [Vital Signs Concept] – Kent Hunter
Drums, Percussion – David Huff*
Engineer [Additional Engineering] – Bill Deaton, Brent King, Mike Psanos
Engineer [Assistant] – Doug Sarrett
Executive-Producer – Chris Christian
Graphics [Vital Signs Logo] – Ken Wolgemuth, Ken Wolgemuth
Graphics [White Heart Logo] – Ellen Hodnett, Ellen Hodnett
Mastered By – Doug Sax
Mixed By – Jack Joseph Puig
Photography By – Mark Tucker
Piano, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Billy Smiley
Producer – White Heart
Recorded By – Jeff Balding
Rhythm Guitar, Lead Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Dann Huff
Strings – Carl Gorodetzky, Craig Nelson, Dennis Molchan, Gary Vanosdale, David Boyle*, Pam Vanosdale*, Phyllis Hiltz*, Roy Christensen, The Nashville String Machine, Walt Schwede*
Synthesizer, Piano, Vocals – Mark Gersmehl
Vocals – Scott Douglas

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Russ Taff – Walls of Glass – 1983

This is the debut album from Russ Taff.

It is best described as an upbeat light listening album. Most tracks are rather typical 80’s gospel easy listening. That said “Inside Look” is much closer to Rock and Roll and served as the “single” for younger CCM listeners such as myself at the time.

It’s a well rounded album that was able to attract buyers from a broad range of CCM listeners.

Track Listing:
1 – Tell Them – 4:23
2 – Walls Of Glass – 3:57
3 – I Want To Change – 5:05
4 – Pure In Heart – 3:59
5 – We Will Stand – 4:37
6 – Jeremiah – 4:02
7 – Inside Look – 4:01
8 – Just Believe – 4:26
9 – Kathryn’s Song – 4:24
10 – Unto The Lamb – 2:42

Credits:
Arranged By [Horns] – Jerry Hey
Co-producer [Production Assistant] – Janet Heard*
Engineer – Bill Schnee
Engineer [Additional] – Jack Joseph Puig
Engineer [Assistant] – Daniel Garcia
Engineer [Assitant] – David Schober
Mastered By – Doug Sax
Producer – Bill Schnee

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Joe English – Lights In The World – 1980

This is the first solo Joe English project.

Better known as a member of Paul McCartney and Wings, Joe left the band and started performing Christian music. This album was on the edge of easy listening, but many found it to have enough of an edge to consider it CCM rock.

Point of trivia is that Russ Taff provided some backup vocals for the album.

Track Listing:
1 – To Love Is to Live
2 – Shine On
3 – Dyin’
4 – Is There Not One Good Man
5 – Midnight Angel Choir
6 – Get Ready
7 – Is the King Your Friend
8 – The Lord Never Leaves
9 – Praise Him
10 – Keep in Touch

Credits:
Lead Vocals – Joe English
Backing Vocals – Russell Taff*
Bass – Larry Paxton
Drums – Joe English
Guitar – George Cocchini
Keyboards – John Rosasco
Percussion – Terry McMillan
Synthesizer [Micro-Moog] – Alan Steinberger
Synthesizer [Prophet 5] – Shane Keister
Arranged By – John Rosasco,Shelly Kurland ,Greg Nelson
Art Direction – Bob McConnell
Design [Cover Design] – Stan Evenson
Engineer – Scott Hendricks
Executive-Producer – Ray Nenow
Producer – Greg Nelson

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