Category Archives: Music

#260: Lamb and Jews for Jesus

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #260, on the subject of Lamb and Jews for Jesus.

I had heard of Lamb long before I heard them.  I think I even knew that their names were Joel and Rick, and I knew that Rick was a goy and Joel was Jewish.  They were a tip of an iceberg floating in the sea of the Jesus movement, of which Moishe Rosen’s organization Jews for Jesus was the other visible tip:  Jews embracing Jesus as Messiah.  I knew they were out there, they were happening, they were said to be good.

It wasn’t until their sixth album, in their eighth year, that I heard them.  That 1981 album New Mix was a bit different, and particularly different was the hit song Jonah.  Guitarist Rick “Levi” Coghill achieved the vocal effect with something called a “voice tube”, then a relatively new gadget that enabled the guitarist to control the “packaging” of the guitar output by singing into the device, combining voice packaging with guitar pitch.  Vocalist Joel Chernoff captured the drama of the song quite well.  The rest of their music has a very Jewish folk feel–well done and beautiful, and they were on the charts before and after I was involved in radio.  Sing Hallelujah, from their earlier Songs for the Flock LP, is perhaps more typical of their sound..

It is perhaps peculiar that Jonah is the only song of theirs that I remember, but it was quite a memorable song.  I saw them perform it live, and they managed to capture most of the flavor of the song with just the two of them on stage.

I caught up with Rick after that concert.  He was engaged in a discussion with a fan who was very disappointed that the band didn’t have an “altar call” and invite the unsaved to pray for salvation.  His answer was quite interesting.  He said that no one gets to a Lamb concert who doesn’t already at least know what they have to do to be saved.  They might not have decided to do it, but they don’t really need to be told or walked through it.  It seemed to me he was right.  After all, the concert, like probably ninety-five percent of the Christian concerts I attended, was in a church (and another 1% were at specifically Christian events like Creation).  By 1981 there weren’t many people who might have attended such a concert who were not Christian and hadn’t heard the gospel.  Rick and Joel weren’t so much there for the few unbelievers who might have been in the audience, but for the believers who filled the hall.  It showed a keen understanding of the purpose of their ministry.

Online discographies report that the final album was released in 1990, after which there was a compilation CD of their earliest work in 1993.  Joel’s Lamb website reports that he continued to perform and record, and in 2005 released an album with another guitarist replacing Rick.  I find nothing more recent but a Facebook fan page, which is not currently very active.  Still, 1973 to 2005 is a respectable thirty-two year run, and the band more than anyone else defined Messianic music.

Jews for Jesus is still alive and well, and will gladly come to your church to present the Jewish roots of Christian faith and practice, including images of Christ in the Passover.

*****

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;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.
  14. #258: British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.

#258: British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #258, on the subject of British Invaders Malcolm and Alwyn.

It was again the early 1970s; I had a pirated tape of their debut album Fool’s Wisdom.  I’m not really certain what to say about them–call it mixed feelings.

They were a short-lived band, producing only the two albums, the second called Wildwall.  I’m sure I heard the second (I know I saw it), but I don’t recall anything from it.  On the other hand, despite the fact that I must have listened to the first for several years (until my tape recorders died), I remember only two songs from it, although obviously listening to it now I recognize the rest.  I think of them as good songs, and I’ll get to them in a moment.

From the beginning, Malcolm Wild and Alwyn Wall struck me as the Simon & Garfunkel of Christian music, what was then called Jesus Music, but that they were a British duo.  I thought they were very good, and they were certainly enjoyable.  I did not know at the time that they had come to America and were friends with Larry Norman, but he wrote a song about them entitled Dear Malcolm, Dear Alwyn.

The title song of the first album, second track Fool’s Wisdom, was all the rage in my first college.  I was certainly not the only person who learned how to play it and could perform it, and indeed I performed it at my most recent concert, although I had not done so for decades, just because I’d promised to do some covers and it was a good one that I knew.  One thing about Luther College is that there were a lot of singers there and not a few instrumentalists, and it was not at all uncommon for someone to start playing a familiar song and everyone to improvise harmonies.  This song lent itself to that, and I’ll confess to having thrown in a few more modern sounds to the chorus than the original sported.  It was well-loved because of that.

I played another song from that album, though, one called Growing Old, fourth track.  I liked it when I heard it, and I learned it (it was simple, really).  I never played it in concert and never played it with anyone else, but every once in a while would play it just for myself.  Then after my father died, I happened to try to play it–months later, no connection to his death–and almost didn’t get through it.  When I put together the program for my next concert, I included it.  It was the only song that got specific mention from audience members after a two-hour concert.

I’m sure there were other good songs, and that I just don’t remember them.  They released the first two albums in 1973 and 1974, then broke up, but reunited to do a live album in ’81.  Both did solo albums, and both are now pastors.

*****

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;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.
  13. #256:  Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.

#256: Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #256, on the subject of Harry Thomas’ Creations Come Alive.

If you have no idea who Harry Thomas is, you are certainly forgiven.  I saw what I take to be his one independently-released album, and may have heard something from it, maybe once.  I met him in the early eighties; we had two friends in common.  Harry isn’t really important for his music, though; he is important for everyone else’s music.

Sometime in the early 1970s Harry started a radio program called Come Alive, and an associated organization called Come Alive Ministries.  It was a popular show in some ways, and causes me to digress because it illustrates a significant problem with Christian radio.

WNNN had Harry’s program before I arrived.  As I have mentioned, I came to the station in the wake of a massive restructuring when new owners acquired the business and were persuaded that the only people who listened to “religious broadcasting” were retirees older than themselves.  The previous programming staff were grateful to have Harry’s program at all; the new ownership wanted to know why he didn’t pay for airtime–and therein lies the problem.

Before I was born, radio worked with programs, frequently live radio dramas, sometimes prerecorded ones, and other types of shows.  People tuned in to hear their favorite programs–much as it was with television when I was a kid, that people knew when their shows were going to air and made sure they watched the right station.  That stopped being true of radio stations, replaced by a model in which the station format was the show–that is, you tuned to this station for rock music, that station for classical music, the other for continuous news.  You expect to find the kind of programming you want by going to the station that has it.

Christian radio is still largely on the old model, but with a twist.  People who want to put a program on the radio pay the radio station for air time, and ask their listeners to support the program.  In most cases the program also has a second revenue stream, such as a church congregation that believes this will bring people to their services, or a line of books or tapes for sale to listeners, or conferences or meetings which raise money.  It is very like vanity publishing, that people who want to be on the radio pay to be on the radio and hope that it will bring money to cover the costs.  Yet radio doesn’t really work that way–people who turn on the radio and don’t hear the particular kind of programming they seek change the station.

Harry’s program was a Christian contemporary/rock music program, and it was apparently good–good enough that secular rock stations were paying him for permission to air it.  It worked for them, because it was officially a religious program but had a sound similar enough to their format that it wouldn’t drive away listeners the way, say, a Sunday morning church service would.  So Harry was being paid to release his program to secular radio stations, while Christian stations like mine wouldn’t air it because he wouldn’t buy air time.

All of which suggests that the programs on Christian radio stations are there not because people want to hear them but because people are willing to pay to play them.  I sometimes listen to preachers when my local radio station goes away from the good music to the teaching and preaching, because I know some of them, and because, well, I’m a professional Bible teacher, and once in a while I learn something, even if it’s only what obvious mistakes others are making.

So Harry had a good show.

He then arranged a small outdoor concert, and it worked, so in 1979–the year I reached the radio station–he went one step bigger and launched Creation, a Christian rock festival now believed to be the longest continuously running festival series and the largest, with the original now known as Creation Northeast and a second on the opposite side of the country known as Creation Northwest.

I said I had two friends in common with Harry.  One was the Reverend Jim Bracken, founder of Mission Teens, a rehab not far from the radio station.  I think he must have taken me to Harry’s home in Medford once.  The other was a college classmate, Big Brother Archie Bradley, who worked Harry’s security department and got me on staff for Creation ’83, when I met and interviewed several artists.  I’ve talked about that before, and will do so again.

I hear ads for the upcoming Creation festival, June 27th, and I wanted to post this before that happened.  I don’t expect to be there.  However, researching this article has made me aware that Harry Thomas, now in his seventies and quite infirm, has recently been arrested and charged with sexual misconduct involving minors.  The details have all been kept secret, and his attorney has submitted a not guilty plea, while his ministries have all suspended his involvement for the present.

As their church website says, pray for all those involved.

We’ll get back to the musicians next time.

*****

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;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252:  Petra Means Rock.
  12. #254:  Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands.

#254: Miscellaneous Early Christian Bands

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:

  1. #232:  Larry Norman, Visitor;
  2. #234:  Flip Sides of Ralph Carmichael;
  3. #236:  Reign of the Imperials;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.
  11. #252: Petra Means Rock.

#252: Petra Means Rock

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #252, on the subject of Petra Means Rock.

There will be quite a few links in this article, because despite the fact that my view of this band was limited to a very small fraction of the time they were playing, I heard a great many excellent songs from them.  They were not the rockiest band out there, but they were among the best.

I know I saw their first reported self-titled album, probably the year it was released or the year after while I was in college.  I’m not sure whether I ever heard it, but I knew they were about as cutting edge a rock band as was found in Christian music in the early 1970s.  It was in a sense their Washes Whiter Than album which reached us at the radio station not long after my arrival which introduced me to the band, and taught me something about radio airplay and the music industry.

When I was in high school, maybe even before that, people would say to me about The Doors that if the only songs of theirs I’d ever heard were their radio hits, I didn’t know what they sounded like.  At the time I thought this stupid.  After all, wouldn’t a band’s best songs be their hits, and wouldn’t those best songs be the best examples of their sound?  However, although the album was a collection of guitar, keyboard, and vocal-driven rock songs, the cut that got the airplay was Why Should the Father Bother?, a wonderful song built on three voices, three acoustic guitars, a string section, and subdued instruments–something that could be played by any Christian radio station in the country that could play The Gaithers.

I didn’t get it then, but they repeated the trick with their next album, Never Say Die, whose title song was a pop-rock piece, and which featured such rock songs as Chameleon, Angel of Light, Killing My Old Man, Without Him We Can Do Nothing–all mellower in the studio than they are in live videos–but the song that got the airplay was again a quiet piece, the opener of the album, almost a children’s song in its sound and structure, Coloring Song.

That’s when I got it.  Most of the songs Petra played would never have gotten airplay on most of the Christian radio stations at the time.  Yet each album had one song heavily promoted by the record companies for airplay on all those stations, and that way Petra fans who listened to these mellow stations as the default option for Christian music would learn that there was a new Petra album and would go find it.  They refined the trick with the next album, in which the title song itself, More Power To Ya, was the gentle guitar vocal and keyboards piece that got the broad airplay, and the album itself continued to push the envelope with songs like Stand Up, Second Wind, Rose Colored Stained Glass Windows, Run for the Prize, and Judas Kiss.

In the opening seconds of Judas Kiss the band included a bit of a joke.  At the time, a lot of Christians had found a new way to attack rock music, claiming that if you played the records backwards you could hear satanic messages in the vocals.  The idea was so ridiculous that everyone was joking about it.  One comedian claimed that he played a Black Sabbath album backwards and it said “Praise Jesus” and “Glory to God”.  Petra contributed to this by recording and reversing the words, “What are you lookin’ for the devil for when you oughta be lookin’ for the Lord?” in the first seconds of that track.

I’m afraid that by the time their next album, Not of This World, reached the radio station I was already handing the reins to my replacement, and I never heard the disk.  However, Petra has produced twenty albums, two of them in Spanish, and although they officially disbanded in 2006 they kept reuniting to produce a bit more and play another concert.

They were one of the greats, and I still listen to them today; but they weren’t my favorite, I think.

*****

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;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246:  The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.
  10. #250:  Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.

#250: Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #250, on the subject of Original Worship Leader Ted Sandquist.

The peculiar thing about Christian rock music in the 1970s is that it was almost all evangelistic.  As I noted before, during the Jesus Movement if you were a musician it was assumed God had called you to be an evangelist, or at least to play at evangelistic rallies to attract unbelievers to hear the message.

Today the expectation is entirely different.  We expect our musicians to lead worship.  It doesn’t even occur to us that this puts them squarely in the realm of pastoral ministry, but helping people approach God is the task of pastors, and that’s what worship leaders do.  In the seventies we didn’t really have these–even Chuck Girard’s previously mentioned Sometimes Alleluia isn’t really so much a worship song as a song about worship, an instructional as it were.  Yet one person appeared on the scene who understood that not all music ministry was evangelistic, who led worship and who wrote and recorded songs that were focused on worship.  His name was Ted Sandquist.

Sandquist was a leader in a community that had its own place in the history of the Jesus Movement, The Love Inn in Freeville, New York.  One of the other leaders there was Scott Ross, who as a radio disk jockey came out of the drug culture into being an evangelist, reaching into schools as part of an anti-drug program.  Guitarist Phil Keaggy (still to come in our series) was also there for a time.  It was something of a community or possibly commune dedicated to the pursuit of Christian faith and practice, something like a modern version of a monastery but without the gender restrictions.  Its very name hints at the connection between the hippie movement and the subsequent Jesus movement.

I mentioned having heard Sandquist and spoken with him after a concert he and Keaggy did somewhere in north Jersey; those comments are mentioned in web log post #163:  So You Want to Be a Christian Musician, and are what I most remember about him.  However, I was exposed to his album of the time, The Courts of the King, and remember Lion of Judah from it.  He was accompanied by the people at Love Inn.  I sang and played his song All That I Can Do many times before I recognized that the melody came from another famous bit of worship music (I have since wondered whether he or anyone else ever realized it).

Yet the best song I ever heard from Ted Sandquist goes by several names.  I knew it as Eternally Grateful, but I see online that it was also known as I Am Grateful, I Am, You Are Messiah, You Are, and I Am Eternally Grateful.  It was co-written with Keaggy–and there is not a single copy of this song anywhere online that I can find.  It was released on his 1984 album Let the Whole Earth Be Filled, but Jeff Zurheide and I were singing it at least a decade before that.  Its absence from the web is a serious loss to Christian worship music.

*****

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;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244:  Missed The Archers.
  8. #246:  The Secular Radio Hits.
  9. #248:  The Hawkins Family.

#248: The Hawkins Family

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #248, on the subject of The Hawkins Family.

Like Andraé Crouch and his sister Sandra, this family brought black gospel into contemporary Christian music–and they also put it on the charts on secular radio.

Within the black gospel world the name is Walter Hawkins and the Hawkins Family, or Walter Hawkins and the Family, Bishop Walter Hawkins noted for several albums, including the Love Alive series.  However, his older brother and pianist Edwin Hawkins separately formed The Edwin Hawkins Singers, and their recording of Oh Happy Day, a nineteenth-century spiritual, reached number four on the United States singles chart, number two in the United Kingdom and in Ireland, and number one in France, Germany, and the Netherlands.  (I’m sure we had one of his albums at the radio station, but I can’t figure out which one it was; we did not have a copy of the hit single.)  Edwin was involved in twice as many albums as his younger brother, although many of them as producer for someone else, or director of other musical ensembles.

The talent didn’t end there.  One of the memorable albums we had was the self-titled debut Tramaine, from Walter’s wife.  Its opening cut, Look At Me, was an upbeat jazz/scat influenced pleasure that felt right at home among contemporary Christian songs of the day and blended black gospel stylings into a bouncing rhythmic toe-tapper.

The leading black gospel artists of the day generally produced poor quality recordings, the muddied sounds of a choir and band recorded live in an empty hall with two microphones and too much ambiance.  The Hawkins family got beyond that, with technical quality in the recordings appropriate to the time, multiple-track recording and mixing.  You can hear the professionalism in the product–not just good singing and playing of good music, but good production values.  We were at times pressured to play certain leading black artists whose records were a bit of an embarrassment despite the quality of the music, but nothing by the Hawkins family was ever substandard.  Light Records did well with them, and we never hesitated to play what they presented.

*****

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;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.
  8. #246: The Secular Radio Hits.

#246: The Secular Radio Hits

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #246, on the subject of The Secular Radio Hits.

I suppose we can call it one of the weird side effects of the Jesus Movement, that there were a few songs that made it on popular secular radio that people thought were Christian.  Most of them were not, but they are worth a quick look.

Lawrence Welk once described Brewer & Shipley‘s One Toke Over the Line as a “modern spiritual”; it is evident that he didn’t understand this song about having gone too far with a drug, written by a couple of folk singers when they were high, entirely as a joke which put them on the charts partly because even radio station program directors had no clue what it meant.  It is not a Christian song despite its references to “sweet Jesus” and “sweet Mary”.  (The Lawrence Welk show video is hysterical for its complete ignorance of the meaning of the song.)

Although many Christian artists have covered it as a song about Jesus, James Taylor’s You’ve Got a Friend is entirely about human friendship.  That’s not a bad thing; it’s even a Christian thing.  However, it is not a Christian song, but a song written (and originally recorded) by Carole King, in response to the line in Taylor’s Fire and Rain about not being able to find a friend.

Paul McCartney has said that The Beatles hit Let It Be probably would not have been half so successful if it had not been that coincidentally his own mother’s name was Mary.  The religious connection is read into it by the hearers; this was just advice that his mother had given him growing up.

Alan Parsons, whose The Alan Parsons Project song Eye in the Sky was their greatest hit, has complained that his lyricist Eric Woolfson writes terribly obscure lyrics.  This song is about dropping a lover, and reportedly heavily influenced by Woolfson’s obsession with the ceiling cameras in casinos.

One of the great rock classics which was never released as a single but makes great popular songs lists anyway, Led Zeppelin‘s Stairway to Heaven seems on its face to have something to do with, well, getting to heaven.  It probably does, but not in any Christian way, the composers being influenced by writings about supposed ancient Celtic magic.

You can be excused if you think Norman Greenbaum’s biggest hit Spirit In the Sky was a Christian song.  Unfortunately, Greenbaum is Jewish, from an Orthodox family.  He wanted the song to capture the imagery of the westerns on which he was raised, the notion of “dying with your boots on”, and he says he used Christian imagery because he had to use something and that made sense in the setting.

Kerry Livgren was asked whether KansasDust in the Wind was a Christian song.  He says not really.  It was written during his search for meaning, which he documented in his book (co-authored by Kenneth Boa) Seeds of Change.  I read the book decades back, and remember only fragments, but Livgren became a Christian, and Kansas started doing songs with lyrics Christian enough that vocalist Steve Walsh was uncomfortable and left the band, to be replaced by John Elefante.  Eventually Livgren and Dave Hope left to form AD, and after the band dissolved Elefante reportedly had a career as a CCM soloist I never heard, and to serve as producer for several Christian rock bands I did.  I think Livgren also released a solo album, but I don’t remember it.

One other song will be mentioned here, because it made #3 on the pop charts in the U.S., #1 in Canada, and was a genuine Christian song.  Ocean (pictured) is usually identified as a Canadian Gospel band, and although Put Your Hand in the Hand was a cover it was their version of the song which was heard by most people.  Unfortunately, the business side of the business cheated the artists of a lot of money, and they gave up on the music world without producing another hit.

So in conclusion the Jesus movement did have some impact on putting Christian music on secular radio, but not really all that much.  Oh, there eventually was more, but we’ll get to that.

*****

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;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.
  7. #244: Missed The Archers.

#244: Missed The Archers

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #244, on the subject of Missed The Archers.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew there was a Christian band called The Archers.  I knew quite a bit, actually–that it was a sister and two brothers of that surname with a backup band behind them.  I had seen somewhere an album cover of three faces, one of them a smiling blonde girl.  I think I never heard them, but somehow I must have done so because I had a notion of what they sounded like, and now scrounging through videos of their songs I find that notion to have been if not strictly correct at least comporting with what I would have thought at the time.

That assessent was that they had a pop sound that did not really appeal to me nor to most of my peers.

That’s not a particularly fair assessment, in a sense.  In researching this I listened to more than a few of their old songs, and they did a broad range of pop sounds from Gary Puckett and the Union Gap to the early disco-era Bee Gees to a bit of funk.  Their music was technically well-performed, with tight vocals and solid instrumental support, and they had some excellent lyrics in the mix.  Even so, when I try to listen to them while driving my wife always wants to change the music to someone else.  While they were probably recognizable from their voices, it never felt like they had anything uniquely original about their sound–of many of the artists of the time, there was always something about the way they played the guitar or the piano, or the vocal arrangements and frills, or the musical stylings, that so characterized them that you could recognize them when they were providing backup on someone else’s album.  The Archers thus were arguably very good, but not very interesting, that I recall.  They were a Light Records act back in the 1970s, and apparently kept going for quite some time, because as we noted that’s what musicians do.

Since I can’t really say I know any of their songs despite having recognized some (many of which I thought or even knew I heard from other artists), I’m not linking any videos here.  However, they have a MySpace page entitled The Archers | Listen and Stream Free Music, Albums, New Releases, Photos, Video, which I have discovered but not explored, so if you are an Archers fan, they must have been out there not very long ago (since the MySpace rebuild, anyway) and you might be able to catch up on what they’ve been doing.

For my part, I’ve got a lot of artists ahead who interest me much more.

*****

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;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.
  6. #242:  Disciple Andraé Crouch.

#242: Disciple Andraé Crouch

This is mark Joseph “young” blog entry #242, on the subject of Disciple Andraé Crouch.

In 1973 Andraé (often spelled André) Crouch released an album recorded live in Carnegie Hall the previous autumn.  I was in that audience for that performance, and remember the excitement of the performance that had a mostly young white audience on its feet.

Prior to that I had never heard of him; I wasn’t at Carnegie Hall to hear him.  He was one of six performers that night; he wasn’t even the only one recording an album.  I was there because I was a big fan of the fourth act, Rock Garden, and because I had long wanted to hear the third, The Maranatha Singers, and because this was, in its own way, a moment in history.  New Milford’s Maranatha Church of the Nazarene had sponsored the first major multi-artist Christian rock concert in the northeast, precursor to–well, that’s a bit of history in itself.

The church, home of the Maranatha Coffeehouse and Maranatha Band, decided to attempt to run a concert in Carnegie Hall, and so completely oversold the hall that they filled the large church across the street.  I don’t remember what they called these, but it was the first of, if I recall correctly, four such concerts over the next several months.  The second I know I attended, but of it cannot remember more than that it was originally intended to be in Madison Square Garden, but as that proved too ambitious it was moved to the smaller Felt Forum there.  I do not recall the third at all, but the fourth was held in three different cities and featured then-popular premillenial author and speaker Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth).  I always perceived them as the precursor to what I think was the first east coast Woodstock-like Christian rock festival, Jesus ’73, held that summer.  I didn’t make it there, but my friend Jack Haberer took my cassette recorder, a stack of tapes and a batch of batteries, and brought back teachings from such people as Stuart Briscoe and Tom Skinner, which I listened to time and again for many years.  This was the beginning of that.

Of course, Crouch’s involvement was in a sense incidental to that.  Still, he was a major artist for decades, winning seven Grammies and six Dove Awards and several other recognitions.

What Andraé did was something like what The Imperials did from the Southern Gospel direction:  he brought the stylings of Black Gospel into Contemporary Christian Music.  The way the music would end and then abruptly restart to sing the chorus again, the soul counterpoint vocals, these were mostly new to the mostly young mostly white Christian audiences of the Jesus Movement.

It actually bothers me to say that, because I read a review of the concert a few days after I attended it, and the critic credited the excitement there to those things.  I want to say that Andraé had an unquestionable anointing in his music.  God clearly gave him a gift–and the story has been told about that gift.

The story is that Reverend Crouch’s church had no piano player, and were praying about what to do about their unaccompanied music.  Suddenly, unexpectedly, the Reverend called his grade-school boy to the front, and said, “Andraé, if God gave you the gift of music, would you use it for his glory?”  The eleven-year-old Andraé said yes, the church prayed, and two weeks later he began playing the piano in the church–and continued playing for decades.  It was rumored that eventually someone attempted to teach him to read music, and he couldn’t grasp it, although eventually he managed to get past the basics to work more broadly in the music industry.

I never owned an Andraé Crouch album; I’m not sure I heard one until Finally was delivered to the radio station.  However, I knew quite a few of his songs.  I taught the Luther College Agape Singers to sing Jesus Is the Answer, and still today I often find myself singing fragments of It Won’t Be Long–I love the part, Count the years as months, count the months as weeks, count the weeks as days, any day now we’ll be going home.  I remember singing Through It All (this video includes Andraé telling the story about receiving the gift of music) while paddling through rapids on rivers in the Adirondacks and on the Delaware.  Looking over his discography, I immediately recall The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power, I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me, and My Tribute (To God Be The Glory).  Even people who weren’t fans knew some of his songs; some of those wound up in my aunt’s Southern Baptist hymnal, and Jimmy Swaggart (who preached against any possibility that God could use contemporary Christian music) recorded at least one that I recall.

His twin sister Sandra (behind him in the featured photo) sang with him in the early days and also had an illustrious career, with a Grammy of her own and several solo albums, but I never heard her outside of her work with The Disciples, the name of the band for most of his early career.  He was embraced as one of the Contemporary Christian artists of the time, and appeared on the later Keith Green tribute album First Love with quite a few other artists in our series.

His first album was released in 1968; he died in 2015.  Between those times, he contributed a great deal to Contemporary Christian music and to music generally, and to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.

*****

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;
  4. #238:  Love Song by Love Song.
  5. #240:  Should Have Been a Friend of Paul Clark.