Wheat WR 1001 (1977)
Although this Detroit-based production has been described as “Christo-funk,” it’s really very eclectic, with a wide variety of styles that reflect the makeup of the group. There’s both jazz and soul elements in it, some hard driving stuff and some very light stuff too. One thing that’s missing is any churchy or even any CCM sound to it. A real delight that is sure to brighten your day.
Thanks to Dennis for providing this music.
- Whom The Son Sets Free
- Changed Man
- I Long To Glorify Thee
- Blessed Abundantly
- Rock Of Refuge
- Be All That You Can
- Psalm 57
- Expose Yourself To His Love
It’s just a tad late in the Advent calendar, but just in time for Christmas: “Gaudete,” sung a capella by the British folk/rock group Steeleye Span.
Getting British rockers (even folk types like Steeleye Span) to sing in Latin was no mean trick, but they did it, and this video furnishes the lyrics.
Guaranteed to freak your church out if you can replicate it.
It was a sorry moment on Twitter when I found the Atlantic‘s James Parker’s “book review” on David Weigel’s The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock. It’s not as much a book review as an assault on “prog” as it’s called. Given that everything else “progressive” gets good press in the Atlantic, that strikes me as odd. So I think it’s time for me to Stand Up (pun intended) for the one form of secular rock that really made an impact on me.
It’s not an understatement to say that, for a span of about four years (later years in prep school and first years as an undergraduate) prog rock dominated the turntable. Principally it was Jethro Tull, but Emerson Lake & Palmer, the Moody Blues (and later Mike Oldfield, Kevin Ayers and 10cc) joined the domination. They turned into tour guides on my 1976 trip to the UK, leading me to places such as the Fulham Road and Hergest Ridge. The obvious question, then and now, is “What did you see in these groups?” Prog, more than any other type of rock, is an acquired taste, and it’s one of those things that was acquired first and the “why” figured out later, if ever.
The first was that they were all British, or more broadly unAmerican. To be raised where I was resulted in being raised out of touch with much of American life, and what most Americans thought important wasn’t on the radar screen. The endless “hick moving to town” theme meant nothing to me. Prog was a way to escape a culture I didn’t like and, in some ways, didn’t like me.
The second was, believe it or not, a product of church upbringing. Let’s put it this way: when people raised on the “Red Back Hymnal” (one former Church of God state overseer refers to it as the “Red Neck Hymnal”) got into rock, they listened to Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis, who themselves were raised in that kind of church. For someone like me who was raised on the Episcopal 1940 Hymnal, prog artists like ELP fit the bill, to say nothing of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung.
That underscores another aspect of prog that’s forgotten: many prog artists, such as Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman, had classical training. ELP’s Pictures at an Exhibition is, in many ways, the best rendition of Mussorgsky’s piano piece; Ravel is too restrained. There was also Tull’s Bourée. But classical influences and training are, usually, the kiss of death on this side of the Atlantic.
Parker’s characterisation of prog as the “whitest music” only shows his uncritical acceptance (along with much of the American left) of the white supremacists‘ racial model. Prog is better described as European, as opposed to American. That’s in evidence in the rhythmic clapping during Mike Oldfield’s Exposed (his live album of a Continental tour) rendition of Incantations. His use of Longfellow’s Hiawatha as an “incantation” is hilarious, but much of his music had a satirical underpinning. To look at things differently, at the time country and Southern gospel were very “white” forms of music, but the result is entirely different.
Getting back to the UK trip, in addition to a guide it was a nice mental soundtrack, from 10cc’s fine motorway driving music at the start of How Dare You! to the late Lindsay Cooper’s haunting oboe solo at the top of Hergest Ridge. Such were things that, in the day, made life sweet.
So how did I “get past” prog? That’s easy: it wasn’t that I tired of the music, but I tired of the message. That occasioned a culture shock, but also a shift in music styles to what you see on this site. There’s certainly Christian prog, but there isn’t a lot of it, and it was years before I found it.
Progressive music was the product of a world with universal health care, planned urban spaces and public transportation (as the Baker Street Muse knew all too well.) Nearly a half century later, these are mostly unrealised in these United States. Those who wanted them to happen and survived the years of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll should have worried about something else than what happens when the hick moves to town.
As for me, I think I’ll stick with the show that really, truly, never ends. But leave my prog alone.
Although he had many hits, my favourite was “Arkansas:”
As I’ve mentioned before, my mother was from there, and I’ve spent a lot of time in what used to be called the “Land of Opportunity.” But now she and her birth family are there, awaiting the resurrection.
Dovetail DOVE 1 (1973)
Inaugural album on the UK’s premier Christian music label of the 1970’s. As Ken Scott observes, by the time it was released the music is a little behind the times; it’s more of a 1960’s “British Invasion” kind of record in an era when the country was putting out albums that inspired this kind of thing.
This album has two strong points. First, it’s a fun album, especially now that the “behind times” problem is pretty much moot. People who want that 1960’s UK sound, with organ, are going to love this album. The group members were associate evangelists with Youth for Christ, and I’m sure they put on a much livelier performance than their Maranatha counterparts in the U.S. (and I went to a couple of those.) And it’s an album that expresses the simple joy of loving Jesus and meeting him for the first time that much Christian music that has come after it has sadly lost.
- Take A Good Look At Yourself
- Rise Shine
- His Name Is Jesus
- No-Man’s Land
- Just Jesus And Me
- Jumping Jeremiah
- Blind Eyes
- Rebels Song
The musicians: Dave Kitchen, Stuart Bell, John Hindmarsh and Keith Howard.
Emmanuel L.P. 3000 (1975)
Most rock groups were pretty compact: four or five members, but they put out the defining sound of the era. Large groups with choral leanings were exceptional, even among Christian groups. We’ve featured large groups like Cloud, with their ethereal sound and very Anglican harmonies.
At the opposite end of the spectrum in every sense of the word is this group, from East Los Angeles and almost entirely Hispanic. This album moves and rocks in a way that’s a sheer delight to listen to. From their hard-driving cover of “I Am the Resurrection” onward, the vocals and instrumentation work very well. For those of us who spent much of the 1970’s wishing that someone would “cut loose” it’s too bad it took this long to find a group that did just that, but Senovia does. The closest thing to this album posted is God Unlimited, but although their work is excellent their result is restrained by comparison. This is an album that has been forgotten, but it shouldn’t have been and shouldn’t be now.
- I Am The Resurrection
- Follow Me
- Salvation Song
- Christian Man
- Glory Land
- New Creation
- United By Love
- The Lord
- My Name Is Peace
- Ken Brokamp, Director, Guitar
- Ron Rios, Bass Guitar
- Esther Puente
- Jesse Galenos, Guitar
- Vic Valverde, Harmonica
- Cenovia Madero, Maracas
- Gloria Guzman
- Rudy Pacheco
- Gil Fierro, Congas
- Dave Hidalgo, Drums
- Olga Castelianos
- Ofelia Balt-Liovera
- Rosa Colorado
- Maron Valadez, Guitar
- Ricardo Yanez Electric Guitar
Mayim MM 1001 (1976)
Texas Catholicism made some magnificent contributions to the “Jesus Music” era, including this, this and this. These Days is yet another contribution to that roster. From the Community Of The Well in Austin, this delight is a well produced, well instrumented production with excellent vocals and a variety of styles, from the country style of “Jesus was a Carpenter” to the Jewish overtones of the “Song of Joel.” Unlike most other Catholic productions, it does not have a particularly long section devoted to strictly liturgical music. I suspect that the obstacle to wider acceptance of this music for liturgical use was that most parishes didn’t (and don’t) have the musicians up to performing it, but that’s a reason a great deal of great liturgical music written during this time ended up on the shelf.
Kathy Kanewske is still active producing Catholic music. Albums like this, however, are a reminder that the Lord’s Prayer really says “on earth as it is in Texas.” 😉
- Jesus Was A Carpenter
- Song Of Joel
- Do You Know What It’s Like
- They That Sow In Tears
- Jesus Riding Into Jerusalem
- Lamb Of God
- We Have Seen A Great Light
- Blessed Is The Man
- Eternal God
- When Thou Passest
- Christopher Stephen
After the food fight I got into with my posting of the one Word of God album I did, I became reluctant to post another Catholic Charismatic community album. I think, however, that the genre needs to be remembered and available when possible, and this production of the People of Praise in South Bend, Indiana is a good example of it.
Although the People of Praise wasn’t a small community, they brought in (yes, they did) Jim Cavnar from the Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to produce the album. It’s safe to say that there wasn’t that much difference in the worship styles of the two communities to start with, but with Cavnar’s presence it would be difficult to tell this album blindfolded from its Word of God counterparts. The downside to that is the flat style, tambourines being the only percussion allowed, and heavy on the acoustic guitars. The upside is that it was easy for a congregation to sing to (which is more than I can say for a lot of the current praise and worship music) and no worse than much of what OCP has produced over the years.
The style may be the same, but most of the songs are different from the Word of God repertoire. One exception is “We See the Lord,” based on Isaiah 6. It’s an old favourite of mine and was of my prayer group leader, who worked for the Southern Railroad. It’s one of several songs with Protestant origins, common in the repertoire of communities and prayers groups of the era.
In her book Which Way for Catholic Pentecostals, J. Massyngberde Ford depicted the Ann Arbor-South Bend connection in a way that reminds history buffs of the Berlin-Rome axis. (I guess that throwing in Dallas’ Community of God’s Delight makes a Berlin-Rome-Tokyo axis.) But Ann Arbor’s leadership had fallings out, first with South Bend and then with Dallas, over the Sword of the Spirit. For all the similarities of the three groups, that suggests that Steve Clark and his SoS people overplayed their hand, which contributed to the breakup of the 1970’s Catholic Charismatic Renewal.
- Come Lord
- Mission Hymn
- My Heart Stands Ready
- We See The Lord
- Jesus Is the Light of the World
- Make Music to Our God
- Revelation 21
- O Living Water
- But We See Jesus
- I Know the Lord Laid His Hands on Me
- Christ is the Lord of All
- When the Roll is Called Up Yonder
- Every Time I Feel the Spirit