There's some music playing. Make sure you turn up your sound if you'd like to hear what this list is about.
Once again there is so much good stuff I'm leaving off this list that it is a shame. And I didn't even touch the great classical religious works. My list starts at 1950 and ends around 2001. I have tried to include something from several different categories of music, which means I'm leaving out a lot from each of those categories. So here are some favorites from my collection:
Shine On Me (1992) by The Soul Stirrers w/ R.H. Harris-- This is a compilation of recordings made in the first half of 1950, right before frontman R.H. Harris was replaced by the legendary Sam Cooke. This is acappella black gospel harmony music that was the forerunner of do-wop and soul music. The performances are impeccable and the song choices are an intelligent, interesting assortment of tunes. Included is the curious cold-war inspired "Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb", which was originally done by Lowell Blanchard and the Valley Boys. Both versions are included on today's playlist.
Performance (1971) by The Oak Ridge Boys-- Before the Oak Ridge Boys went mainstream country they were a long established award winning Southern Gospel group. These were the first Christian albums I bought back in the early 1970s. One of my favorites is the live concert album which includes the Larry Norman song "I Wish We'd All Been Ready". The Oaks were still doing the traditional sounding Southern Gospel music but they were also beginning to experiment with rock and country. They also started dressing in more trendy stage garb and growing long hair and facial hair. I didn't care much for "Elvira" and some of the other country tunes they did later, but they sure could sing some good gospel music.
The Speer Family Collection (1997) by the Speer Family --- A hits collection that covers many of the more popular songs recorded in recent decades by this group which was started back in the 1920s. Like many Southern gospel groups, the Speers have seen many years in many different incarnations as singers have come and gone. The songs on this collection cover a broad range of traditional and pop leaning gospel music. Good harmonies and listenable songs.
In Another Land (1976) by Larry Norman -- Sometimes referred to as the "Father of Christian Rock", Norman was a pioneer in the genre. In his 61 years on this earth he was enormously prolific in recording and songwriting and has been a major influence on Christian artists who followed. In Another Land was part 3 of a trilogy of albums. There is a mix of song styles on the album including Southern Rock, folk rock, and even a vaudeville tune that would have been worthy of Tiny Tim. Larry Norman died in 2008.
Shotgun Angel (1977) by Daniel Amos -- The genius behind this group is Terry Scott Taylor. The Shotgun Angel album falls under a category of lavishly produced country rock. It is a concept album about the tribulation and the return of Christ. The music is somewhat reminiscent of the Eagles meet the Beatles, among other influences. It is a classic of contemporary Christian music. Terry Scott Taylor has been involved with so many different groups and projects that you really can't stick him in any precise category, but when I see his name I can be pretty sure I am going to be dealing with something interesting and of good quality. Most of his albums could be interchanged as a favorite.
Soul Survivor (1987) by Al Green -- This is gospel funk by the same smooth soulful voice that gave us hits like "Let's Stay Together". Having became a preacher and Christian artist, Green still does the same good music except now he sings about God and Jesus and it's all fine.
20 (1992) by 2nd Chapter of Acts -- This is a 2 disc career retrospective of one of the finest, most innovative vocal groups ever. The group consists of sisters Annie Herring and Nelly Greisen and their brother Matthew Ward. All are great vocalists and together the combination is a sheer vocal wonder. The music is pop, rock, and power pop. Matthew Ward has one of the most incredible voices around. The songs are all top-notch and pure music magic.
West Coast Diaries: Volumes 1,2,3 (1992) by Charlie Peacock -- Originally released as separate albums, the three volumes were later repackaged as a set. Primarily acoustic and small ensemble pieces, the music is jazz, pop, funk, and rock. Peacock started out as a jazz musician and this shows in much of his music. He creates finely crafted songs and strives for quality production with excellent musicians. The songs in this collection include alternate arrangements of songs that have appeared on other albums.This collection is guaranteed to get your feet tapping and head bobbing.
With Abandon (1999) by Chasing Furies -- The only album by this group, With Abandon is a tasty album of psychedelic alternative rock. Often moody and dreamy, with sometimes distorted guitars, the vocals are beautiful. Too bad there was not more from this group.
A Golden Field of Radioactive Crows (2001) by 77s-- This is a Christian rock group that has been around for many years and has put out a lot of good, influential music. This particular album is my favorite by them. I think the song "There Forever" is an absolute work of beautiful music.
Seals and Crofts (1969) by Seal and Crofts --- Yes, this is the same Seals & Crofts who had the multitude of hits like "Summer Breeze", "Diamond Girl", and "Hummingbird". This early album shows the lovely vocal interplay of the duo that was found in the later pop albums, but with a greater purity and beauty. These guys had been playing music for a good while before forming their duo. Why are they in my list of religious albums? This is not a Christian album. They were promoting the Baha'i faith which integrates elements of several religions including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I saw them in concert in 1971. They put on a superb concert. After the concert they invited anyone who wanted to stay and hear about the religion. I stayed to listen out of curiosity. They seemed like nice enough guys, but they didn't convince me. But this album is some really nice listening. The songs are about the religion, but the theology is not persuasive, only the beauty of the music. The sample of "See My Life" that I have put on the playlist is not the version on the album, but apparently a remix with horns added probably intended for radio release--don't know what the record company was thinking when they botched that one. I also added selections from a couple of their other albums.
So there you have it. It's a very sparse overview of Christian music in the past 60 years and there are huge gaps of missing music. So just think what will happen next Monday when my list will be twelve favorites from a period covering 600 years or so. It hardly seems fair to reduce all of classical music to twelve selections, but that's what we've been doing with all of the genres.
Stay with me the rest of this week as I look at some more Christian music topics, except for tomorrow when I review Tony Hsieh's new book Delivering Happiness.