Maranatha Albums
Various Artists

Click on individual artist names for more info and sound clips

Hosanna (aka Hymns of Praise) Maranatha! 1979
 Fairest Lord Jesus - Erick Nelson
 At The Cross - Harlan Rogers & Kelly Willard
 Amazing Grace - Leon Patillo
Here was a really great album that just slipped through the cracks. Originally titled simply Hosanna when it was released in 1979, this album contains eight classic hymns, done in a jazz/pop style. The vocals were performed by Maranatha! artists of that era, including Erick Nelson, Kelly Willard, Leon Patillo, Ernie Rettino and Debby Kerner. Producer Harlan Rogers (who also sang vocals) used some of the best studio musicians available; himself on keyboards, Hadley Hockensmith on guitar, Bill Maxwell on drums, Abe Laboriel on bass; in other words, Koinonia. The basic tracks are what you'd expect from that line-up - solid pop with a jazz/funk edge, thanks largely to Abe's legendary bass playing. That's particularly noticeable on the more upbeat cuts, like "Higher Ground" (sung by Patillo) and my personal favorite, a rousing "At The Cross," sung as a duet by Harlan Rogers and Kelly Willard. Erick Nelson's "Fairest Lord Jesus," is a classic, and was included on the Maranatha! Current sampler and Erick's later best-of LP. Like some of the other slower-tempo cuts, "Fairest Lord Jesus" employs the judicious use of some strings to fill in the sound. The original release had a wild cover and a beautiful gatefold jacket with a detailed personnel list, the hymn lyrics on the LP sleeve and a separate insert with a history of the hymns, written by Maranatha! regular Bob Bennett. Apparently, the LP didn't make much headway as it was, so Maranatha! tried to repackage it as "Hymns Of Praise," with a much tamer cover, and squeeze it into the then-flourishing Praise series. Unfortunately, it didn't fit that mold very well and it went out of print long before CD's hit, and it was never re-released. CP

Hosanna USA Live Maranatha! 1979
This album is the audio of a live concert that was the pinnacle of Calvary Chapel's Saturday Night concert series in the late 70's. It showcases several popular acts of the time: Leon Patillo, Benny Hester Band, Kelly Willard, Darrell Mansfield, and Denny Correll, as well as part of a message from Chuck Smith. Most of the performances are OK. The Benny Hester cuts are the best; Benny and band are really at the top of their form with "Jesus Came Into My Life" and "We All Know He's Coming". On the other end of the scale, Darrell Mansfield does an uncharacteristically mellow and somewhat lame performance on "The Prize." I kept saying to myself, "hey, I didn't know B.J. Thomas was on this!" :). Overall, a nice LP to commemorate the event, but not really a must-have for fans of any of these artists. CP

Maranatha 1 -
The Everlastin' Living Jesus Music Concert
Maranatha 1971
Two Roads (Country Faith)
If You Will Believe (The Way)
Holy, Holy, Holy (Everyone)
The very first album on Maranatha is actually a collection of studio cuts, not a live lp as the title might indicate. Love Song, Children Of The Day, and Debby Kerner all perform songs that would appear on future lps. Also here are songs unavailable elsewhere by Gentle Faith, The Way, and Love Song. The rest of the lp is made up of groups that never had subsequent albums including folkrockers Blessed Hope with 'Something More'. Country Faith with Chuck Butler (later of Parable) does 'Two Roads'. Selah appears to be a female duo and they deliver a wonderful rootsy folk number that sounds like it belongs on one of those FM PBS programs. All the songs on the lp are strong and unlike many other various artists projects, they're stylistically compatible. KS Trivia:This album was produced anonymously by Chuck Girard for a little over $2000. DH

Maranatha 2 Maranatha 1972
Jesus Is The One (The Way)
The Peace That Passes Understanding (Debby Kerner)
Ballad of Luke Warm (Country Faith)
Several names from the first album re-appear: Country Faith, Blessed Hope, The Way (with two excellent non-lp tracks). Also appearing are Selah (with Erick Nelson), Debby Kerner, Kenn Gulliksen ('Charity') and Denny Stahl. Most are unavailable elsewhere, the rest are lp cuts or different mixes. Mostly light rock, the good kind. Blessed Hope's a dead ringer for Love Song. KS

Maranatha 3 Maranatha 1973
Nursery Rhyme (Country Faith aka Chuck Butler)
 Rest (Mustard Seed Faith)
This is the one with the happy cartoon cover - happy mountains, happy trees clapping their branches, and a long-haired bell- bottomed, barefoot grinnin' Bible-totin' happy hippie in the middle shouting "Rejoice in the Lord!" All non-lp for this offering with Mustard Seed Faith debuting at the top of their form with two songs. Hosanna scores a winner with a brilliant psychy acoustic piece. Also appearing for the first time are Karen Lafferty and Becky Ugartechea, both of whom later did full length works for the label. Re-appearing are Blessed Hope and Country Faith. Ernie Rettino's piano ballad and Bob & Steve's acoustic piece round out the set. Artwork superb throughout including the classic evangelistic comic tract on the liner sleeve. KS

Maranatha 4 Maranatha 1974
All I Know (Mustard Seed Faith)
Have You Ever Heard (The Way)
The Holy Spirit Song (Children of the Day)
More good unavailable-elsewhere stuff by The Way and Mustard Seed Faith. On the mellow side this time is Blessed Hope, as is Chuck Butler's (of Country Faith) Girard-ish 'Pearly Mansions'. Country rock is explored by The Road Home (with Daniel Amos' Ed McTaggart on drums). Tom Stipe and Al Perkins join 3/5ths of Love Song for two tunes under the name Wing & A Prayer. Also lp cuts by Good News, Children Of The Day, and Karen Lafferty. KS

Maranatha! Current Maranatha! 1979
Peace Be With You - Adrian Snell
Father of Lights - Karen Lafferty
Includes cuts from Bethlehem, Oden Fong, Isaac Air Freight, Karen Lafferty, Maranatha! Singers, Erick Nelson, Lewis McVay, Leon Patillo, Rettino & Kerner, Kelly, John Pantry, and Adrian Snell. ARM

The Praise Album Maranatha! 1974
Heavenly Father
The first real "praise" album from a long line of later releases under the able production skills of ex-Love Song member, Tommy Coomes. Just about all the Calvary Chapel gang is on this one. Artists include Chuck Girard, Dana Angle, Tommy Coomes, Bruce Herring, John Mehler, Erick Nelson, Tom Stipe, Bill Sprouse, Jay Truax, Bob Wall, John Wickham, Karen Lafferty and many others.

Praise II Maranatha! 1976
Sing To The Father
Light Our Way
This was the album that defined "praise music" for me, and I suspect for many others. It's much more cohesive stylistically than its predecessor The Praise Album (except perhaps for the bouncing country tune "Servant Of All"). Still, all of the songs maintain a spark of freshness and individuality that seemed to be lost in the mid-to-late 80's, when the Praise series, in my opinion, sort of melted into a bland, mushy, homogeneous mass. Though none of the soloists are credited, it's easy to pick out Tommy Coomes on "Light Our Way," Erick Nelson on "Christ In Me" and Chuck Butler on "My Peace." If you listen carefully, you can even pick out some of the group vocalists from the consolidated list of singers and musicians in the credits. This album contained a couple of songs that were destined to become classics in praise music: "Open Our Eyes," and "Sing Hallelujah." Other standouts are "Praise You Father," and "Sing To The Father." Sadly, this LP was never released on CD. Instead, Maranatha! decided to rerecord these songs in the late 80's in that "bland, mushy, homogenous" manner I ranted about above, and released those recordings as part of the Double Praise CD series. CP

Praise III Maranatha 1979
For this first Praise album after Maranatha!'s partnership with Word Records, producer Tommy Coomes used Word artist Evie to solo on John Wimber's "Spirit Song," and Maranatha! regular Kelly Willard for the opener "Let's Forget About Ourselves." Like Praise 2, the soloists aren't credited, but unlike Praise 2, the liner doesn't even list the names of any of the singers or musicians. For the most part, the arrangements are more varied than on Praise 2, but this album has a much more polished sound than, say, The Praise Album. These recordings were released on the Double Praise 3 CD. CP

The Joy Album Maranatha! 1975
This compilation of otherwise unavailable tunes includes about every Maranatha associate in the book, plus a few more. Parts are similar to the early same-label Praise series (also produced by Tom Coomes), though this is more stylistically spread out, so pick and choose from folk, praise, rock, gospel, country, orchestrated MOR bluegrass, honky tonk, marching band, and choral. Despite the huge cast most of the songs are done in small band format. KS

Maranatha 5 Maranatha 1976
Notable for being the debut of Daniel Amos with the non-lp ballad 'Ain't Gonna Fight It'. Sweet Comfort with Bryan Duncan also appears for the first time with 'Golden Ages' as well as country rockers Bethlehem with 'Bright And Shining Son'. Another fine Mustard Seed Faith tune in 'Sidney The Pirate', as well as another cut by The Road Home. Also lp selections by Gentle Faith, Parable, Fred Field, Erick Nelson, and Bob Cull. Dominated it seems by a bit too much easy listening, but a few of the songs make it worthwhile. Look for the cover with angels groovin' to the jukebox in a malt shop. KS

Maranatha 6 Maranatha 1977
Who Loves The Lonely - Aslan
Perfect Will - Bruce Herring
In the pity-they-never-had-an-album department is Aslan's rock cut. Becky Ugartechea does 'Nightingale' and Bruce Herring takes a solo break from The Way for 'Perfect Will'. Lifted from full-length lps is tuneage from Karen Lafferty, Sweet Comfort, Erick Nelson, Parable, Bethlehem, Daniel Amos, and Bob & Joy Cull. Consistency is what set apart the early albums in this series from other samplers. What was hinted on 4 and confirmed on 5 continues here also: too much MOR mars the overall listening experience. KS

Maranatha Strings-Praise Strings Maranatha 1977
This first album in the Praise Strings series is actually made up mostly of songs from Praise 2. Jim Stipech and Tommy Coomes (arranger and producer of Praise 2) took the instrumental tracks for that album and added some additional orchestration to make for some very pleasant material. They skipped three of the cuts from Praise 2 (the country twanger "Servant of All," "O Come Let Us Adore Him/Thou Art Worthy," and "Christ In Me", which is a pity; I'd love to hear an instrumental based on that track), and filled in with completely new orchestral arrangements of three of the big hits from The Praise Album: "Seek Ye First", "Praise The Lord" and "Father I Adore You". Altogether, it's a very nice album. Though this album was never released as a standalone CD, most of these original instrumental cuts were eventually released on a Double Praise CD with a badly redone "Praise 1." CP

Maranatha Strings-Praise Strings II Maranatha 1978
This album is stylistically quite different from the first Praise Strings album. Not to be nasty, but this definitely has the ring of "elevator music," and by that I don't mean that it's uplifting. Having had most of the good stuff from Praise 2 taken, this album is made up of new instrumental arrangements of songs featured on The Praise Album, The Joy Album, and a couple other early Maranatha! standards. Most of the settings are rather bland, although arranger Pete Jacobs did a nice job on "These Things I Have Spoken Unto You," "Psalm 5," and "Thank-you Jesus." I sometimes find this LP a bit schmaltzy to listen to, but it's got some nice material. Though this album was never released as a standalone CD, these original instrumental cuts were eventually released on a Double Praise CD with a badly redone "Praise 2." CP

Maranatha Strings-Praise Strings III Maranatha 1979
Praise Strings III marks a return to original Praise 2/Praise Strings arranger Jim Stipech. This time, he outdoes himself. Unlike the first Praise Strings album, this album doesn't rely on any of the instrumental tracks from its vocal companion Praise 3. Instead, Stipech used the London Philharmonic to record quite elaborate new orchestrated versions of ten of the Praise 3 songs. The album starts off with a very majestic rendition of "Humble Yourselves in the Sight of the Lord." It's dramatic enough that I always imagined it as a fantastic opener for a film. That cut is followed by a lush and beautiful "Wait On The Lord." Other highlights include "His Name Is Jesus," and "Behold, Bless Ye the Lord." An outstanding orchestral album overall. Though this album was never released as a standalone CD, all but one of these original instrumental cuts were eventually released on the Double Praise 3 CD. CP

Gift of Praise Box Set Maranatha! 1979

Best of Maranatha! Vol.1 Maranatha! 1979
This first album of the two-volume set lives up to its name. It contains some of the best material from the early years of Maranatha! Music. The recording of "Little Country Church" is better, in my opinion, than the one on Love Song's debut album. Parable's "Song for the Church" is a winner, and this is one of the few places you can find Daniel Amos' non-LP song "Ain't Gonna Fight It." Except for the bouncy country tune "Since I Met Jesus," this is a very subdued collection. It has a cool blue cut-out cover revealing an LP made of translucent red vinyl. CP

Little Country Church - Love Song
Behold I Stand At the Door - Debby Kerner - from the LP Maranatha! 2
He Lives - Selah - from the LP Maranatha! 2
He's the Reason To Go On - The Way
Seek Ye First - Maranatha! Singers (Karen Lafferty soloist) - from the LP The Praise Album
Father, I Adore You - Maranatha! Singers - from the LP The Praise Album
Friends - Ernie Rettino & Debbie Kerner - from the LP Friends
Since I Met Jesus - The Road Home
Sweet Summer Rain - Karen Lafferty
Sail On Sailor - Mustard Seed Faith - from the LP Sail On Sailor
Song For the Church - Parable
Ain't Gonna Fight It - Daniel Amos - from the LP Maranatha! 5
Psalm 5 - The Road Home - from the LP Maranatha! 5

Best of Maranatha! Vol.2 Maranatha! 1979
Best of Maranatha! Volume 2 is much more upbeat than its companion. Contains rocking tunes from Parable, "Come Untangled" and "Got To Decide", a very nice early Erick Nelson/Michele Pillar (before she was Michele Pillar) collaboration "Soldiers of the Cross", and the Daniel Amos classics "Father's Arms" (a portent of their style to come) and "Shotgun Angel" (a track exemplifying their country roots), both from the "Shotgun Angel" album. Has the reverse appearance of Volume 1; this one has a red cut-out cover revealing a translucent blue LP. CP

Come Untangled - Parable - from Illustrations
Soldiers of the Cross - Erick Nelson & Michele Pillar - from The Misfit
Sweet Jesus Morning - Mustard Seed Faith - from Sail On Sailor
When I Was Alone - Sweet Comfort - from Sweet Comfort
Father's Arms - Daniel Amos - from Maranatha! 6
Jerusalem - Gentle Faith - from Gentle Faith
Sing Hallelujah - Praise Strings - from Praise Strings
Got To Decide - Parable - from Illustrations
Childish Things - Sweet Comfort - from Sweet Comfort
Shotgun Angel - Daniel Amos - from Shotgun Angel
Beautiful Day - Karen Lafferty - from Sweet Communion
My Peace - Maranatha! Singers