Friday, December 30, 2011

Wishing everyone a blessed and prosperous new year!

 (This song gets tagged as one of the worst of all time by some people.  I happen to love it.)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

My Top Ten Favorite Christmas Albums

This post is not to tell you about the newest Christmas CD's available this year, but rather to tell you what my all time favorites are that I keep coming back to year after year.   Most of them are special to me because they have songs by some of my favorite artists that aren't available elsewhere. In no particular order, we have:


Produced and arranged by Steve Hindalong and Derri Daugherty, (The Choir,)  this is more or less the third disc in their "At The Foot Of the Cross" worship series, or so I've always viewed it.  Steve and Derri's original tune "Babe In The Straw" is a highlight, but my favorite is Michael Pritzl and Jenny Gullen's rendition of "Silent Night."

The Broken Christmas

When a CD contains otherwise unavailable tracks by the likes of Undercover, Riki Michele,Adam Again and 4-4-1, you know it's a must have for me.  I bought this one as a new release, along with Sparrow Record's "Christmas," back in 1988, and I don't think a Christmas season has gone by that I haven't played them.  Too many highlights to hit here, but "Born In A Stable" by Level Heads is not only the best song on the disc, it's one of the greatest songs ever written.  Period.

Bruce Cockburn-Christmas

As much as I would disagree with Mr. Cockburn politically and theologically, I have loved his music for years, and when I heard he was releasing a Christmas CD, I couldn't pass that up.  Includes a lot of standards and a lot of obscure seasonal tunes, all performed in Cockburn's usual flawless style.  Bonus points for taking on "I Saw Three Ships," a song not many artists are willing to record.  "Three Ships" has been my favorite Carol for many years, and I can't explain why.  I've never been able to figure out what it's about.  But I've never heard a better performance than this one.

Sparrow Christmas

Whiteheart's "Little Drummer boy."  Enough said.

Okay, the rest of the disc is great, too!  It just wouldn't seem like Christmas without Steve Camp's "O' Holy Night, Michael Card's "What Child is This," and Steve Taylor's wonderfully twisted Mariachi style "Winter Wonderland."  Classic!

Jon Anderson-Three Ships

No, not John Anderson of "Swingin'" fame, but Jon Anderson, lead singer for Prog Rock giants, Yes.  Progressive Rock this isn't, and I have to admit the production is stuck smack in the 80's, but I love this album.  "Where Were You," and "Day Of Days" are beautiful, and his rendition of "O' Holy Night," featuring Sandra Crouch is amazing.  And of course, he recorded my favorite Carol.

First call-An Evening In December

Absolutely beautiful and relaxing Acapella, this is the album that actually introduced First Call, being released a year or so before their "debut" album, "Undivided."

Our Christmas

Sort of a follow up to the popular "Our Hymns" disc, this featured exclusive songs by Michael W. Smith, Mylon Lefevre, Bryan Duncan, Russ Taff and many other then popular artists.  David Meece's first recording of his perennial "One Small Child" steals the show for me.

The Gift-A Colours Christmas

Beautiful instrumental versions of popular Carols,  three tunes by the late great Tom Howard make this one a necessity for me.

Mannheim Steamroller-Christmas

No offense to anyone, but the Steamroller are in a rut.  I'll always love this one, though.

Christmas With George Beverly Shea

Yes, I'm serious.  Bev's voice has a relaxing, worshipful tone that I need sometimes.  Probably also nostalgia from all the Billy Graham Crusades I watched on TV as a kid.  Whatever the reason, I love this album.

Probably won't post anymore until after Christmas, so:

May the love of Christ dwell in your hearts, now and always.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Captured In Time And Space

In 1986 Petra released this excellent live album recorded on the" Beat The System" tour.  Originally released as a double lp set or a double length cassette, it was edited quite a bit for a single cd release in the early 90's.  The cassette version is the best, most complete version if you can find one. I recorded my cassette to two cd-r's, and that's what I listen to.

The concert was also released on vhs, and much later was finally released on dvd, which is sold on Petra's web site,

The complete video is also on youtube.  Not the best quality, but watchable, if you can ignore the sub titles. ;-)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Weird, Strange, Odd, Unique...Part 4

Lust Control

A "joke" band with a serious message, Lust Control was the creation of HM Magazine editor Doug Van Pelt.  Musically very raw, intense punk rock, akin to bands like the Ramones, Dead Milkmen or Nobody Special, but with far less production values.  Members, which at one time included guys on loan from One Bad Pig, wore ski masks to hide their identities, ostensibly due to their music's controversial content, but most likely it was just a gimmick.  That's not a stab at the band, I thought the mask thing was pretty cool!

Christian Rock bashers loved to hate on this band.  A "fundamentalist, KJV Only" type website gave my favorite review of one of their albums; "The album is titled "We Are Not Ashamed."  They should be.  With a name like Lust Control, you just know these guys are spiritual giants."  Well, I believe they are, at least more so than the individual with the wooden contact lenses who wrote that review.

The subject matter of the songs, which was radically biblical, delt with everything from sexual abstinence to marriage to child abuse to abortion to holiness to the second coming of Christ.  They were called the "Josh McDowell of the Christian Rock world" by CCM Magazine (October, 1991.)  They were also named "Worst Band of the Decade (1990's) by HM Magazine. (Interesting, since the editor of HM is also the bandleader.)  :-)

The band hasn't released any new material since 1994's "Feminazi" ep, but have recently reissued an expanded version of "We Are Not Ashamed," including some tracks from the "Fun, Fun Feeling" cd, plus some commentary segments.