Monday, October 22, 2012

My personal top ten Christian albums.

From the outset, I must state the obvious: my list will differ from yours.  There are lots of CCM "greatest" lists out there, the most prominant being CCM's  "100 Greatest Albums In Christian Music," or the great list at  My list will include albums that didn't make any other list, of course.  We all have different taste.  My list will include artists from many different genres and spiritual viewpoints, even some who no longer identify as Christian.  Those albums must be included because, while my heart may ache for those individuals who have chosen, for whatever reason, to walk away from the Church, (and in some instances, from Christ Himself,)  the impact their music had on me will never go away.

To save time and space, I'm only going to comment on the top five.  Enjoy!

1. The Alarma Chronicles - Daniel Amos
A bit of a cheat here, as this is actually four separate albums, (Alarma!, Doppelganger, Vox Humana and Fearful Symmetry,) but I can't view them that way.  I've always seen the Chronicles as one work, perhaps the most ambitious undertaking in Christian music, and one of the most ambitious in Rock music, period.  Actually, everything Terry Taylor and company have done could easily find it's way on to this list. True visionaries.

2.  Russ Taff - Russ Taff
No one, in CCM or otherwise, has a more powerful voice than Russ Taff.  These days, Taff has been active mainly as a soloist in Bill Gaither's series of Southern Gospel videos, and as a member of the Gaither Vocal Band.  Anyone who knows him just from that would be shocked to hear his 1987 self-titled release.  His third solo album after departing the Imperials, (who's best work was recorded while he was a member,) this was serious, heart wrenching, soul searching Rock that chronicled a tough time in Taff's life, after a hard tour for his previous album, Medals.  About this time, Taff recorded an excellent interview for the radio presentation Shake: Christian Artists Face The Music that is well worth searching out.

3. Lie Down In The Grass - Charlie Peacock
When I first saw this album cover, I have to admit, it didn't fit my idea of what a "Christian" album should be.  Listening to the album didn't change my mind much, honestly, and I put it away without any more thought.  But then, several years later, I had a third shift job and as I was leaving for work one night, for some inexplicable reason, I chose this album to listen too.  I had an over thirty minute commute, plenty of time to listen to most of it, and this time, I "got" it.  Favorite songs would be "Whole Lot Different," "Lost In Translation," "Who Is Not Afraid," "Human Condition"... actually, every song is a classic.  To this day, as great as CP's recorded output is, this remains my favorite.

4. Return To Paradise - Randy Stonehill
Randy Stonehill has never recorded a "bad" album.  True, some releases suffered from bad production, (Love Beyond Reason, the Stonehill ep, Celebrate This Heartbeat,) but the songs were always good, and his acoustic performances always brought that out.  Producer Mark Heard played on that strength, and this amazing album of acoustic tunes was the result.  Randy has always been a very "emotional" singer, but he never sounded better than this.  From the plaintive 'Starlings" to the joyous "Ready To Go,"  Randy ended the 80's with his best album ever.

5. Learning To Trust - David Meece
As prolific as David Meece was back in the 80's, you're not likely to see any of his albums on lists like this.  He was not a critical favorite, and his music was considered too light weight and "poppy," a description that, quite frankly, is hard to argue with when you go back and give albums like "Are You Ready" and "7" a listen, and "Candle In The Rain," while musically very good, was somewhat confusing theologically.  Then came this beautiful, personal album that, while maintaining a "Pop" sound, was comparable to Russ Taff's album mentioned above.  This was Meece's chronicle of his own "dark night of the soul," and made even some who were critical of his earlier albums reassess  their opinion of him.

6. Circle Slide - The Choir

7. Faith, Hope, Love - King's X

8. Sunday's Child - Phil Keaggy

9. Something New Under The Son - Larry Norman

10. Satellite Sky - Mark Heard

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