This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #254, on the subject of Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
There were probably more Christian bands back then than anyone remembers, although not nearly so many as there are today. I’m going to hit a few that were perhaps more obscure and less remembered. These are perhaps awkwardly sequenced, because they don’t make a lot of sense grouped together anyway.
Let’s start with a fellow named Lewis McVay, because I remembered the title and cover of his album, Spirit of St. Lewis. I remember thinking at the time that it was clever. Today I recognize none of the tracks titles, but listening I immediately recognize Lost But Not Forgotten, which must be the one we played most, but I also remember Sit Down.
The reason he’s mentioned here, though, is because in looking for him, I discovered that he had been an original member of a band called Mustard Seed Faith, which was one of those bands I’d heard existed but about whom I never heard anything more. Hearing them now I would say they had a light pop sound, at least as far as the tracks surviving on the Internet indicate. As I was researching other bands, I also discovered that there was someone in the same band named Oden Fong, and the tracks I hear from him were quite a bit beyond the Christian rock of the day, and I’m disappointed that I never heard of him back then.
There was also a band that released several albums in the 70s, of which we had the one called Love Note. Honestly I probably would have forgotten this band entirely were it not for my memory of a name. I recently heard a DJ (Rudy on the Radio on Lift-FM) say that he was playing a song from Steven Curtis Chapman’s first album released in 1989, and I knew it had to be wrong. I remember nothing about Steven Curtis Chapman but that we were sent something about or by him by early 1984 (when I left the station), and I spent quite a bit of time trying to determine whether this was the Steve Chapman who was in Dogwood and who subsequently released several albums with his wife under the moniker Steve and Annie Chapman, of which again we had one which I think was the original self-titled one and is completely forgotten. I can’t find any evidence of a Steven Curtis Chapman as early as that, but I do see albums in 87 and 88, so he was certainly around before 1989; I am persuaded that he is a different person from the other Steve Chapman.
I want to mention a band called Jerusalem, not merely because their logo looks familiar so I must have seen one of their albums, but because the tracks I’ve heard on the web are very good, and for another reason as well. There is a group on Facebook that insists there was no Christian Heavy Metal music until Stryper appeared in 1984. I never heard Stryper; they were a rumor when I left the station that year. I also admit to having no clue exactly what distinguishes heavy metal–I’ve never heard more than a few hits (and see the Petra article about hits) from Metallica or AC/DC, and don’t know their sound. However, in reading about Jerusalem I find reviewers from 1976 identifying them as a “Swedish heavy metal Christian band”. So maybe the reviewers were wrong, but at least there’s some evidence of Christian metal prior to Stryper.
Finally, my researches recalled to my attention Sweet Comfort Band, which did a smooth mellow jazz rock sound in the cuts I remember. Looking at their album covers, I remember more than one disk, and several titles from their discography bring songs back to mind, such as I Love You With My Life, I Need Your Love Again and Got to Believe from their Breakin’ the Ice LP. I feel like I should remember songs from Hold On Tight, but none of them sound familiar other than the finale More Than You Need.
There were a lot of other bands, and some of them are still on the list ahead. This gives some idea of the variety of what was out there.
The series to this point has included:
- #232: Larry Norman, Visitor;
- #234: Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
- #236: Reign of the Imperials;
- #238: Love Song by Love Song.
- #240: Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
- #242: Disciple Andraé Crouch.
- #244: Missed The Archers.
- #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
- #248: The Hawkins Family.
- #250: Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
- #252: Petra Means Rock.