Gospel Hard Rock (Mark, 1971)
Fred Caban & company was one of the very earliest hard rock bands to play Christian music. Jesus Rock historian Paul Baker famously called their music "Jesus Rock at its crustiest." Based on the release dates alone, the historical significance of these records cannot be overlooked. Gospel Hard Rock featured blues-oriented material that rocked much harder than anything coming out of Calvary Chapel at the time.
Victims of Tradition (Renrut, 1972)
Victims of Tradition added some jazz-fusion into the mix. It's even been suggested that these gentlemen inspired Larry Norman to play rock and roll for Jesus. If so, we all owe them a huge debt of gratitude.
ALL SAVED FREAK BAND
My Poor Generation (Rock the World, 1973)
Bizarre stuff. One of the stranger and more original units in the history of Jesus Rock. Fronted by Glenn Schartz (formerly of James Gang and Pacific Gas and Electric), this band inspired lots of rumors and conspiracy theories. An early member, Tom Miller, was one of the "Kent 25," the group of students who instigated the infamous 1970 riots at Kent State University. It is rumored that fellow Ohio native Phil Keaggy was a member of the band for a while, though this apparently has never been corroborated. It's also alleged that the band was part of an extremist cult that eventually lost its way big time. Somehow, they made some inventive, memorable, eerie music along the way.
ALL SAVED FREAK BAND
Brainwashed (War Again, 1976)
My Poor Generation alternates between rock and folk, while Brainwashed rocked harder and was directed more to the unsaved. These guys were versatile - each record alternates between psychedelic rock, blues, folk and even Southern Gospel - and just plain weird.
ANDRUS, BLACKWOOD & COMPANY
Following You (Greentree, 1978)
These talented gentlemen with well-established musical pedigrees created some smooth, radio-friendly pop on their debut (#91 on our list), and that continued here. Following You was a rarity: a 2-record set of studio material. It came in a gatefold cover and featured tunes by such noteworthy songwriters as Tim Sheppard, Phil Johnson, Donnie McGuire and Reba Rambo. Highlights included the title track, You're So Good To Me, and the wildly popular (Jesus You're So) Wonderful.
Things We Deeply Feel (Light, 1975)
The Archers had roots firmly planted in the Jesus Movement. Tim and Steve grew up as Pentecostal preacher's kids in Southern California. They put a band together and relied on their own soulful vocals as well as the talents of Nancye Short and Billy Masters. 1975's Things We Deeply Feel included a song called It Wouldn't Be Enough that went on to become a monster hit for the group. Little sister Janice joined and by the late 70s they had become a photogenic sibling trio with lots of hair, million dollar smiles, and a slick, polished West Coast sound thanks to some really good material and some of the best session players in the business.
Stand Up (Light, 1978)
Stand Up featured huge hits like the title track and Pickin' Up The Pieces. It really should've been on the Top 100 list.
Celebrate Live (Light, 1979)
Celebrate Live was essentially a greatest hits project. It also included an unforgettable rendition of the classic gospel hymn Where Could I Go. Whether playing Explo 72, the White House, or lots of places in between, the Archers were crowd pleasers who always gave God the glory.
Bethlehem (Maranatha!, 1978)
Country rock produced by Tom Stipe and Al Perkins. Originally known as Bethlehem Steel (to call attention to one of their primary instruments, the steel guitar), they eventually shortened the name to avoid any potential legal challenges. The group featured Danny Daniels who went on to be a decent bluesman and a pastor in the Vineyard church movement.
First Class (Lamb & Lion, 1978)
The sophomore release by this sister act was a big step forward in production values over their debut. It featured hits like You Took My Heart By Surprise and I'm A Believer. But the tracks that got our attention were a cover of Daniel Amos' Father's Arms as well as I Love You More (Than My Rock And Roll) featuring an unforgettable guest vocal appearance by inimitable Mr. Matthew Ward.
SCOTT WESLEY BROWN
I'm Not Religious, I Just Love the Lord (Sparrow, 1977)
Remembered today as a prolific songwriter with a burden for missions, Scott Wesley Brown actually got his start during the Jesus Music era. Initially a folk singer-songwriter reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot, Brown eventually enjoyed a great amount of CCM radio airplay as he worked tirelessly on behalf of the poor and hungry around the world through I Care Ministries. I'm Not Religious was his third album and is said to be a "classic." Highlights included the title track and a huge hit called I Wish You Jesus.
Shinin' Through the Rain (Lamb & Lion, 1979)
Actor-turned-singer Wendell Burton released four albums of CCM during his career. Shinin' Through the Rain contained Guru -- somewhat of a novelty song that was funny, timely, and well-sung and played.
Evening Pastoral (Sword, 1979)
Rob Cassells was a "southern boogie piano man" from the palmetto state who surrendered his life to Jesus in 1971 at age 19. Turning his back on drugs, he began to tour clubs up and down the east coast, using a thick southern drawl to tell audiences about the One who'd set him free. Often compared to Leon Russell, Cassells recorded a classic debut in 1979 that featured Steve Morse of the Dixie Dregs on guitar.
Chris Christian (Myrrh, 1976)
For many of us, this album was our introduction to this multi-talented artist who is credited with not only discovering Amy Grant, but also with practically inventing the soft-rock CCM sound that became so pervasive in the late 70s and beyond. Born Lon Christian Smith in 1951, he has been instrumental in either launching or helping to sustain the careers of many artists over the years, including B.J. Thomas, The Imperials, Dogwood, Fireworks, White Heart, Mark Heard, Steve Archer, Dan Peek, and many others. His self-titled debut contained a classic titled Mountain Top and a country-rock send-up of Larry Norman's most famous rock and roll song. Christian called his version Why Does the Devil (Have All the Good Music) - he even mentioned Larry by name in the bridge - and gave it more of a country flair. In fact, the whole album has more in common with country music than 80% of what passes as "country" these days. Other highlights included Get Back to the Bible and Great, Great Joy. A case could be made for including this one on the Top 100 list. Christian's songs were recorded by Elvis Presley, Olivia Newton-John, Hall and Oates, Natalie Cole, The Pointer Sisters, The Carpenters, Dionne Warwick, Donnie Osmond, and many more. Christian has produced albums that have been nominated for nine and won four Grammy Awards. He has also been nominated for seven Gospel Music Association Dove Awards as an artist, songwriter, and producer, winning five. He's been inducted into the West Texas Music Hall of Fame, as well as the Christian Music Hall of Fame in 2007.
PAUL CLARK & FRIENDS
Come Into His Presence (Seed, 1974)
With four other albums on our countdown, we've already had plenty to say about Paul Clark's life and music. Come Into His Presence featured (among others) Bill Speer on piano, Love Song members Jay Truax and John Mehler on bass and drums, and the already-great Phil Keaggy on lead guitar. This record achieved a more full rock sound than Clark had been able to accomplish up until that point. Highlights include the title track and He’ll Do The Same. Considered a Jesus Music classic, and one that probably should've been in our Top 100 list. For more on Paul Clark's life and ministry, click here, here, here and here.
Standin' in the Light (Maranatha!, 1979)
He scored a #4 secular hit (Ride Captain Ride) with Blues Image in 1970, and although his debut solo album wasn't released until 1979, Denny Correll's fingerprints were all over the Jesus Music era. He was an early member of the band Love Song, and was instrumental in causing Chuck Girard to begin reading the Bible and searching for God. He'd been a part of the group Manna, had written several songs for Darrell Mansfied's debut album, and sang on The Misfit by Erick Nelson and Michele Pillar. Highlights from Standin' in the Light included the title track, Living Water and The Witness. Denny Correll went Home to be with the Lord on November 29, 2002 at age 56.
I'll Be Thinking of You (Light, 1979)
I'll Be Thinking of You (Light, 1979)
Andrae's biography has been and will continue to be thoroughly explored, as he has many albums in the countdown. This was his first solo album after disbanding The Disciples, and it featured a RIDICULOUS supporting cast. Philip Bailey, Bea Carr, Sandra Crouch, James Felix, Tommy Funderburk, Danniebelle Hall, Hadley Hockensmith, David Hungate, Abraham Laboriel, Bill Maxwell, Marty McCall, Howard and Linda McCrary, Perry Morgan, Glen Myerscough, Michael Omartian, Dean Parks, Billy Preston, Harlan Rogers, Phyllis Saint James, Joe Sample, Leland Sklar, and Stevie Wonder all had a part to play in making this Grammy-winning album what it was. Highlights included the title track and I've Got the Best. Probably should be in the Top 100.
DAVID & THE GIANTS
This One's For You (Song of Songs, 1978)
David & the Giants: Four men from Mississippi who are at least as well known for their gentle, humble spirits as for their classic, southern rock and roll. In the 80s they built their own studio, produced their own projects and released their own albums, delighting rock fans while simultaneously flooding Christian radio airwaves with hit after hit after hit. This One's For You is the group's sophomore Christian release; highlights include He's Comin' Back and the very first studio recording of the classic song Noah, a spine-chilling tune that would be used to close out most David & the Giants concerts throughout the 80s and 90s.
It's All Right Now (Light, 1977)
Most Christian rock fans know Jessy Dixon as "that black guy in the Destined To Win video with DeGarmo & Key." Long before his collaboration with D&K, Jessy Dixon was making music of his own. It's All Right Now was produced by Bill Maxwell and Andrae Crouch, and featured the talents of Harlan Rogers, Joe Sample, Ernie Watts, Glenn Myerscough, and some Disciples with names like Danniebelle Hall, Bili Thedford, James Felix and Perry Morgan. Standout tracks include the title track, Father Me, I'm Satisfied, Hold On, and Born Again. It was a Dove and Grammy winning project. Jessy Dixon went Home to be with the Lord on September 26, 2011. He was 73.
After the Flood, Before the Fire (Lamb & Lion, 1975)
Dogwood served as the launching pad for husband/wife team Steve & Annie Chapman. The Chapmans recorded as a duo and enjoyed a long and fruitful ministry to families and couples after Dogwood ended. Ron Elder was the other member of Dogwood. After the Fire, Before the Flood is notable for a couple of reasons: it represented Chris Christian's very first time in the producer's chair, and it featured a song called Water Grave. That classic song about baptism was later perfected by the Imperials, but it was first brought to our attention by Dogwood.
Love Note (Lamb & Lion, 1976)
Love Note sees Annie Chapman stepping into a more prominent role. Acoustic guitars, fiddles and banjos were staples for this country folk trio.
Mirror (Word, 1977)
She was the Sweetheart of Christian Music in the 1970s. With cross-generational appeal, Evie was loved (or at the very least tolerated) by everyone in the house. And everyone in the Church. Mirror has been called "the ultimate Evie album," producing hits like the title track, Born Again, Praise You Just the Same and Just Because I Asked.
Never the Same (Word, 1979)
Never the Same offered popular tunes like Live For Jesus, Special Delivery and the title track which, incidentally, was penned by the man she would marry - Pelle Karlsson. These might've made the Top 100 if they'd been a little less "inspirational" and a little more "contemporary."
We'll have more Honorable Mentions after 10 more posts.