Top 50 Collectible Jesus Music Albums of All Time
It could be argued that the synthesis of popular music and the gospel stems back as far as the Great Reformer, Martin Luther who queried as to 'why the devil should be allowed to have all the good tunes?' The genesis of blues, soul and black gospel styles all have their roots in the music of early black work songs which were by nature overtly spiritual. Though the rock'n'roll music of this generation has degenerated taking on the perverse themes of nihilism, permissiveness, and violence, there is evidence to support the claim that rock music was given its formative impulses from rudimentary spirituality. Thus, when you hear Larry Norman lament that 'rock'n'roll music originated in the church' you can rest assure that he is correct.
In the late '60s when rock music became the voice of the burgeoning youth populace the rock media tended to focus on the shocking stories of those pushing the envelope of experience. Although many were offering positive messages, the deaths of Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Keith Moon and others were much more news-worthy. Though the music of the late '60s is more remembered for its anti-establishmentary themes, there were a gamut of musicians who spoke of salvation through another means.
The Jesus People Movement among the counterculture hippies was the background from which most of the following albums emerged. Though the production is at times not up to present standards, the spirit behind the music indicates a freshness and verve that capture the essence of experiential Christianity.
The following is an admittedly subjective list of Jesus Music albums. This list concentrates on roughly a 15 year period (1965 - 1980), so there are some collectible CCM lps that obviously won't be included. Albums were picked for both their quality and their market value. Thus, if your favorite album doesn't appear, please remember this reflects my personal tastes more than anything else. It is my hope that you will find some (or all. . . good luck) of these gems in your searching. They represent a formative time that many CCM fans know little or nothing about. I hope you are enriched by this music as I have been over the years. Maranatha! - David Di Sabatino
The 2nd updated edition of The Jesus People Movement: An Annotated Bibliography and General Resource, the first in a line of resources offering information on this revival.
Agape - Victims of Tradition (Renrut, 1972)
I am admittedly biased on placing this one first (seeing as we are responsible for reissuing both of Agape's albums on CD), but it definitely deserves to be here. This is the 2nd of Agape's lps and is a more progressive lp than the first adding jazz keyboardist Jim Hess to the already tight musical lineup. Fred Caban on lead guitar and vocals, Mike Jungman on drums and Jim Peckhart on bass make up the rest of the band.
Wilson McKinley - Spirit of Elijah (Voice of Elijah, 1971)
The members of Wilson McKinley were saved as the result of the ministry of Carl Parks, one of the leaders of the Jesus People Army in Seattle. The Jesus People Army was the vision of Linda Meissner, a former staff worker of David Wilkerson's Teen Challenge ministry, who saw 'an army of young people marching for Jesus.' While on crusade through the Pacific Northwest, the members of the band wandered into a park to heckle Carl Parks' preaching. They ended up becoming Christians and becoming the JPA band. Though the quality is admittedly sub-par, the band has elements of the west-coast guitar scene.
Randy Stonehill - Get Me Out of Hollywood (Phonogram, 1973)
In this list because of its absolute scarcity. In 1973, or thereabouts, Randy left California to search out a recording contract in England. He recorded this over there and scrapped it just before release. The story is that most of the copies were destroyed, but a few survived and are floating around out there. Album includes the song 'Vegetables' which ended up being included in the Lonesome Stone Musical performed by The Sheep over in England as a part of Jim Palosaari's wandering Jesus People group. Good luck finding copies of this album.
All Saved Freak Band - Brainwashed (Rock the World, 1975)
Interesting story. This was a communal group of Jesus freaks from Ohio who revolved around the leadership of Larry Hill and included former lead guitarist for Pacific Gas & Electric, Glenn Schwarz. The group became intensely prophetic and apocalyptic, believing that their group was the sole remnant of Christianity. The band had 3 other albums, one of which also appears on this list.
Out of Darkness - same (Key, 1970)
English band sounding very much like Jimi Hendrix. A live CD of their music was just reissued by Plankton Records in England called the Celebration Sessions.
Azitis - Help (Elco, 1971)
The rumor is that this band won a music contest to record an album, but could only do so if they changed their lyrics to Christian themes. A really startling story because the content is very strong and seems to be penned by someone who is on the ball. Other than that, it is an excellent psychedelic album.
Water Into Wine Band - Harvest Time
Don't know a heck of a whole lot about this band or this album except that it is English folk rock and was sold solely at the first Greenbelt festival in 1972. It now sells for over $750. By virtue of its price alone it merits inclusion in this list. Yikes!
Larry Norman - Street Level (One Way, 1971)
One of the three albums he and Stonehill recorded with the money given to One Way by Pat Boone. There are two different versions of this lp (and numerous different label and numerical permutations). The more rare version is the 'Gold Label Underground Edition' which has songs from the musical 'Lion's Breath.' The more common version includes one side of a live concert recorded at Hollywood's First Presbyterian Church which ran a nightclub called the Salt Company. Larry got into some trouble with the hierarchy of the church after singing the song 'Right Here in America.'
Harvest Flight - One Way (Destiny, 1971)
Led by Evan Williams, who later went on to be in Phoenix Sonshine. Album includes excellent rendition of then popular 'One in the Spirit' (". . .and they'll know we are Christians by our love.").
The Exkursions - same (custom, 1971)
Chicago based psychedelic blues band with heavy fuzz guitar sound. Led by Mike Johnson who later went on to record solo projects and even earn songwriter of the year award. Band broke up because the other two members wavered in their faith. Since a number of sealed copies were unearthed last year, the value has gone down.
Earthen Vessel - Hard Rock / Everlasting Life (NRS, 1970)
Hard rock garage band with heavy fuzz guitar and female lead vocals.
Wilson McKinley - Heaven's Gonna Be A Blast (Voice of Elijah, 1973)
Their first real studio album after two earlier releases that were rather low budget. The group became Christians almost en masse when Linda Meissner's Jesus People Army troupe set up an evangelistic rally in High Bridge Park in Spokane. The group became the musical arm of evangelist Carl Parks' Voice of Elijah community.
Last Call of Shiloh - same (Last Call, 1972)
Affiliated with the Jesus People Army group out of Idaho. This release is among the earliest Jesus rock albums.
Randy Stonehill - Born Twice (One Way, 1971)
Released along with Larry Norman's Street Level and the Son Worshipers soundtrack on a very low budget. Three versions exist of this album. The most common one includes the song 'Christmastime' which is a cut tempo of the same song that Larry included on So Long Ago The Garden. The more rare version includes 'He is A Friend of Mine' instead of 'Christmastime' which is a lyrically altered version of a Byrds tune. The final and most rare version is a mispressing which has the same live concert pressed on both sides.
The Sheep - Jeesus Rock (Finnlevy, 1972)
The original Milwaukee Jesus People group split into three camps; the Jesus People USA (Resurrection Band), Bill Lowery's 'Christ is the Answer' ministry and a group that went over to Europe to evangelize. The Sheep were involved in the latter group and recorded this first album in less than 12 hours. Some songs are actually sung in Finnish. Very hard to find.
All Saved Freak Band - My Poor Generation (Rock the World, 1973)
Their first lp dedicated to two members of the Church of the Risen Christ community (Randy Markko and Tom Miller) who died in a car crash on the way to a concert.
- same (custom, 1974)
Trio of high school students doing what is referred to as 'monster rock.' A company in the Midwest is putting this album out on CD and reissuing it on vinyl.
Agape - Gospel Hard Rock (Mark, 1971)
Their first lp with a more straight ahead blues rocking feel. Only a trio at this juncture.
Mustard Seed - same (Spectrum, 1971)
Larry Norman - same (Starstorm/Rhema, 1977)
This album is actually one of his that is worth the hunt. Released only in Australia (on either Starstorm or Rhema labels) it has different versions to some of the songs from 'So Long Ago The Garden' and a long version of If God is My Father.
Phil Keaggy - Love Broke Thru (New Song, 1976)
Jointly produced by Michael Omartian and Buck Herring it is a much more aggressive album than Keaggy's first release. The album contains the studio version of the most requested Keaggy composition entitled 'Time' and includes the first recorded version of the classic song 'Love Broke Through' which was penned by Keith Green, Randy Stonehill, and Todd Fishkind.
Joshua - same (Impact, 1973)
Good hard rock with some more mellow moments. Includes a great cover of Larry Norman's "I Wish We'd All Been Ready."
Larry Norman - Bootleg (One Way, 1973)
Double album with many various label colors and numbers. An odd collection of songs and interview sessions that capture the essence of the Jesus movement and Larry's role.
The Sheep - same (Myrrh UK, 1973)
Their second release, this group was one of the two bands to emerge from the Milwaukee Jesus People group (the other was Resurrection Band). The Sheep were under the leadership of Jim Palosaari's group which headed overseas to Europe to evangelize throughout Finland, Sweden, and eventually in England where they produced and performed the musical Lonesome Stone.
Wilson McKinley - On Stage (custom, 1971)
This album goes for a lot of money because of its scarcity, but its production quality is really poor. Apparently, unbeknownst to the band, their manager recorded the concert on a cheap tape recorder and later released it without any further mixing.
Ron and Bill Moore - Lo and Behold (Martin, 1969)
Included here because it is probably the very first indigenous Jesus music album ever recorded. Ron went on to record a number of his own albums on his homespun label Airborn. He also produced and helped a number of other artists get their start in Christian music such as Mark Heard whose original album was also released on Airborn.
The Son Worshipers Soundtrack (One Way, 1972)
This is the soundtrack for a movie piecemealed together by Bob Cording and Weldon Hardenbrook and distributed through Larry Norman's One Way label. It is a half hour documentary of the Jesus People Movement featuring interview footage, some great moments on campus at University of California at Berkeley, some Calvary Chapel scenes shot of the early days at Calvary Chapel. The movie includes footage of Jack Sparks (of the Christian World Liberation Front), Duane Pederson (of the Hollywood Free Paper), the preaching of Os Guinness, some interview footage of Jesus freak evangelist Lonnie Frisbee interspersed with some music. The soundtrack is taken verbatim from the movie and is not worth the money that people are asking, but it is somewhat collectible.
Resurrection Band - Awaiting Your Reply (Star Song, 1978)
One of the best releases from the Chicago based musical band of the Jesus People USA community. The band was originally called Charity but changed its name to Resurrection Band in the late stages of 1972 after the four-way split of the original Milwaukee Jesus People community led by Jim Palosaari. The JPUSA community still lives in Chicago doing very much the same things that they were doing back in 1972.
Fraction - Moonblood (Angelicus, 1971)
This is an absolute killer album! If you can get a hold of a taped copy you will absolutely be blown away. When copies come up for sale in collector's circles they go for over $1500.
Overland Stage - same (Epic, 1972)
A group of North Dakota Jesus freaks who were slammed by Rolling Stone in their first record review and were never heard from again.
Jesus People - Live at the Hollywood Palladium (Creative Sound, 1972)
Includes a couple of live tunes by JC Power Outlet and the Morning Star Gospel Rock Band. The concert from which some of these tunes were taken from was put on by Duane Pederson and the folks behind the Hollywood Free Paper.
Arthur Blessitt and the Eternal Rush - Soul Session at His Place (Creative Sound, 1972)
A kitschy album of rock music from the Eternal Rush (a band made up of ex-dopers) and sermonizing from Arthur Blessitt, the self-proclaimed minister of the Sunset Strip.
- Live in 1973 (Renrut, 1973) 8-track only
Not too many people are aware that this even exists. . . but it does. If you got an 8-track player and you can find a copy, then you have something that not too many people own.
Jeremy Spencer & Children of God (CBS, 1972)
Former guitarist with Fleetwood Mac just up and left the band one night in Los Angeles. When the members finally found him, Jeremy had changed his name and joined the radical cult group who emerged from a Teen Challenge coffeehouse in Huntington Beach. Spencer still does all the group's music and has released number of COG projects over the years.
Larry Norman - Only Visiting This Planet (Verve, 1972)
The most popular of all CCM albums ever released. Low on this list because of its availability.
All Saved Freak Band - Sower (War Again, 1980)
The final record released by the ASFB although it was recorded much earlier. By 1980 the group's apocalyptic views had forced their retreat from any contact with mainstream society. In the commentary included with the album the group outlines the five visions that group leader Larry Hill had received between 1965 and 1971 about the impending end-time war which would come as divine judgment upon America because of her sins. By the release of this album, the group had disbanded due to internal conflicts concerning overly excessive child discipline and authoritarian leadership. Hill and a few remaining members are still located on the church's property in Orwell, Ohio.
Paul Clark - Good to Be Home (Seed, 1975)
This album just sounds like they were having a good time recording it. Includes Phil Keaggy.
Larry Norman - Upon This Rock (Capitol, 1969)
Reported to be the first Jesus rock lp in existence, but there are a couple of lps that predate it. It also must be stated that Larry Norman was not the only one doing Jesus rock at the time, but he did have the widest exposure because of his contract with Capitol. And, to be fair, his music effectively captured the essence of those days. The album stands as one of the great legacies of the Jesus People Movement.
Because I Am - same (Clear Light, 1973)
A various artist album including a band called the 'e' band which featured future Petra singer Greg Volz.
The Everlastin' Living Jesus Music Concert Maranatha! Music, 1971)
The Everlastin' Living Jesus Music Concert Maranatha! Music, 1971) The very first record that Maranatha! Music, a subsidiary company of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, ever released. Maranatha!'s first two recordings (The Children of the Day's first album being the other one) initially sold 25,000 copies propelling the company into worldwide prominence in the area of contemporary Christian music. Musically, many of the Maranatha! groups patterned themselves after the stylistic lead of Love Song which was laid-back country rock sound although there were some exceptions (i.e. the jazz-rock of Sweet Comfort or the unique sound of the Children of the Day). Maranatha! Music also stressed the equation of music and ministry as more of an emphasis than the exploration of artistic creativity.
Love Song - Feel the Love (Good News, 1977)
Double lp released after the band had broken up. Between 1971 and 1976 Love Song was the most popular of all the Jesus music bands obtaining a lot of exposure with their allegiance to Calvary Chapel.
Paul Clark - Songs from the Savior Vol. 1 (Redeemer, 1972)
Early Jesus music pioneer who got saved independently of any of the California Jesus people epicenters. Was in a band called Rocky Mountain Goldrush when he became a Christian. Witnessed to two of his friends and the ensuing spiritual result was the following album. All of the inspiration for these songs came in only eight days.
Malcolm & Alwyn - Fool's Wisdom (Grapevine, 1973)
Duo of English performers who ended up aligning themselves with Calvary Chapel and Maranatha! Music in the United States. Excellent folk rock album. One of the finest spiritual works of musical art to come out of the period.
Randy Stonehill - Welcome to Paradise (Solid Rock, 1976)
Though it places #2 on regular polls of the most popular CCM album of all time (Larry Norman's Only Visiting This Planet coming in at #1), there are a lot of copies available. Musically it is a fantastic album, one which Randy has only recently been able to move beyond.
Randy Matthews - Son of Dust (Myrrh, 1973)
Probably the grittiest of the early albums from this father of Christian music around whom the original concept for Myrrh Records was formed.
Ron Salsbury & JC Power Outlet - Forgiven (Myrrh, 1974)
One of the first hard rock bands in existence built largely around the talents of Ron Salsbury.
Love Song - same (Good News, 1972)
With the song "Little Country Church' which propelled Calvary Chapel into a worldwide ministry. Probably the best known Jesus music band to emanate from the Jesus movement the band featured Chuck Girard, Tommy Coomes, Jay Truax, John Mehler, Bob Wall, Fred Field and others. This album was the first of three releases and the song 'Love Song' actually became a #1 hit over in the Philippine Islands.
Liberation Suite - same (Myrrh UK, 1975)
Randy Stonehill - The Sky is Falling (Solid Rock, 1980)
Date is a little bit late, but it still made it for our list. I'm sure it was in the can for a while before Larry finally released it. This album is not as good as Randy's first, but has some excellent moments.