#238: Love Song by Love Song

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #238, on the subject of Love Song by Love Song.

For many of us schooled in the late sixties, a record album was not just a collection of songs.  Thanks to contributions such as Abby Road and Tommy we viewed a record album as a work of art in itself, a skillful arrangement of music and lyrics which carried the listener from beginning to end through a theme or story.  The self-titled debut album from Love Song is such a recording, from the opening strains of the title song to its fragmentary reprise at end (missing from that video and seemingly from the internet itself) in which the band carries the listener through songs that seem to follow each other in an almost mandatory sequence.

This is the fourth entry in a series of reminiscences about what might be considered the early days of Christian contemporary and rock music; previous entries are listed and linked at the end of this article.  My credentials are presented in the first article of this series, the Larry Norman article.  Song title links are to YouTube videos; no representation is made as to whether they are legal copies.

The album was more than that, though.  At the time of its release (1972) it was the first Christian rock band to get distribution nationwide, and thus in the minds of many the first Christian rock album.  We thought it wonderful, and argued that the only reason it wasn’t getting national airplay was because of the discrimination against Christian music on public radio stations.

In fairness, it was a mellow album even by the standards of the day.  Front Seat, Back Seat and Little Country Church were outright Country songs; a lot of the guitar work was on acoustic or even nylon-stringed classical instruments, and the wailing distorted lead guitar solo on Let Us Be One is well back in the mix.  On the other hand, the performance and arrangement was top notch across the board, and their use of vocals was unrivaled at the time.

They felt the adulation, and didn’t much care for it.  As Christian musicians they wanted to point people to Jesus, and it seemed that people were pointing more to them.  Three years after their debut album they released what was to be their final installment, Final Touch, and officially dissolved the band.  This was a less-admired album.  The most memorable cuts are the comical southern rock Cossack’s Song and the quiet Little Pilgrim.  They reunited for a live album, Feel the Love, three years after that, and in the late nineties there was a remastered disk under several titles of which Welcome Back was the preferred commercial one in the U.S.  They also appeared live with a dozen other artists from those early years on a live double CD tribute to Keith Green entitled First Love, also in the late nineties.

After their dissolution, Chuck Girard–vocals, keyboards, guitars–continued to do music consistent with the sounds of the band; the best known song was Sometimes Alleluia.  Bassist/vocalist Jay Truax and drummer/vocalist John Mehler lent support to other artists, most notably as part of Paul Clark and Friends, but other than Chuck the band members stayed out of the spotlight.

Fans generally believe that had the band continued it would have produced more wonderful music.  The first album had succeeded in achieving something great; the second, not so much, and Chuck continued to have about as good a career as a Christian Contemporary musician could have at the time, but never produced anything comparable to that first work.

*****

The series to this point has included:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials.

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