Monday, April 30, 2012

Zoe Girl

           It's Z so what else could I do.  I had nothing on my own so I had to look it up.  Z was there in the form of a fine sounding group called Zoe Girl.  Based on this song I would buy their music since it is similar to some other groups I enjoy listening to (maybe like Sixpence None the Richer for example?).

          They are a Christian group and their name begins with Z.  I walk away from this Challenge a winner.

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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Reaching the End

The Big Ben, London, view from across the Tham...The Big Ben, London, view from across the Thames. Français : La tour de Big Ben, à Londres (Angleterre), vue depuis la Tamise. Deutsch: Der Uhrturm (Big Ben) der Houses of Parliament in London von der gegenüberligenden Seite der Themse aus gesehen. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Show me, Lord, my life’s end
    and the number of my days; 
    let me know how fleeting my life is.

Psalm 39:4

New International Version (NIV)

      We are curious about how things will end.  Most of us would never start reading a book or watching a movie without seeing how it will end.   Sometimes we can figure out the ending ahead of time.  Other times we are surprised by the ending.  One thing we do know is there will be an end and we hope it will be a satisfactory ending.

      This month of April has gone by so swiftly--a reminder about how quickly life itself passes.  This April has been an interesting experience as I have taken this meditative Sunday blog and turned into a retrospection of Christian music.  It has been a fun and rewarding ride.
      Next Sunday I will post my A to Z Reflections Post for A Few Words.  At this time I will look back on the A to Z experience as it pertains to this blog and my thoughts on the future of this blog.   Thanks for being a part of April at A Few Words.

To every thing there is a season, and a time for every purpose under the heaven

Ecclesiastes 3:1

21st Century King James Version (KJ21)

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Youth Choir

           In the Christian book and music store in the gaudy shopping mall at Heritage U.S.A., the showcase land development project created by PTL evangelists Jim and Tammy Bakker, I was looking through the cassettes (that what I was buying back then in the mid 80s).  I ran across a cassette by a group called the Youth Choir.  I bypassed that one then.

         A couple years later the group had apparently realized that no one stays young forever and dropped "Youth" to become just The Choir.  I took a chance on one of their albums and found that it was my kind of music.  The alt rock band had a moody psychedelic sound that was flowing and dreamy, but wasn't afraid to let some rocking happen now and then.

       Now I own several Choir CDs and cassettes (yes, I still have some of those relics that are playable).  The Choir's music has given me hours of listening pleasure at home and accompanied me on many a road trip.  The Choir members are now seasoned and respected artists who were once Youths.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Greg X Volz

          X is always the problem child in an alphabetical challenge like the A to Z so I'm taking liberties in a way by choosing Greg X Volz to represent this letter.  It's a valid selection I would argue since X is the center of Volz's name.

          Greg X Volz was the lead singer for the legendary Christian rock group Petra for several years.  In the late 1980s he went solo and delivered some excellent albums.  He's gone back to reunite with Petra in recent years.  In my opinion Volz is not only one of the finest singers of Christian music, but one of the best rock singers ever.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Waiting

           The Waiting is a Beatlesque alt-rock Christian band that I started listening to in the late 1990s.  It was a listening phase in a way.  I acquired a few of their CDs and began listening to the music on a regular basis over a couple year period.  Then I stopped listening to music as much as I had done back then.  I started listening more to classical music or older rock music.

           The CDs are there waiting for me if I ever want to listen to them.  The Waiting plays good music with smart lyrics and good musicianship.  I still like the group just fine.   I'm sure I'll listen to those CDs again eventually.  I'm waiting.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Vigilantes of Love

         Vigilantes of Love came out of Athens, Georgia where other bands such as R.E.M. and B52's had been born.   They lean towards a country folk-rock sound.

          This is one of those bands I can't tell you much about even though I have listened to their music.  I own a few of their CDs, but sad to say I haven't listened to them enough to become intimately familiar with the music.   I do know that I like their music and yet I probably couldn't identify one of their songs if I heard it.

          Their group name begins with a V.  A good reason to include them here.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012


         What more can I say about the band Undercover?  Not much I guess.  I have some of their albums, but I've listened to them very few times.  One thing I've discovered as I've been doing this A to Z Challenge is that I own a lot of music that I've not listened to very often.

        I started to use U2 as my choice for the letter U, but decided that they were more politically leaning than spiritual and everyone knows U2 anyway.  Not too many people have probably heard of Undercover.  And the song is about time.  Time is an interesting subject.   Did you take the time to listen to the song?

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Terry Scott Taylor

            I guess I could have listed Terry Scott Taylor under every letter of the alphabet.  I mean this guy steals the show when it comes to contemporary Christian music.  He has been an integral part of legendary Christian rock bands like Daniel Amos, The Swirling Eddies, and Lost Dogs.   He's done several albums under his name alone and produced or had some hand in many other albums.  Let's face it--Terry Scott Taylor is one prolific dude.

            And he's good too.  His music reflects a variety of styles.  His songs are smartly written.  Every project that he touches has something that appeals to someone out here in listening land.  I would count Terry Scott Taylor in the top ten of my favorite rock artists--make that top 5.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Thank You For Visiting

Scroll of the PsalmsScroll of the Psalms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

            For those who are stopping by to follow this blog I would like to give a big thank you to you.

           If you have clicked the Follow button today, please leave a note in the comment section and let me know which of your blogs you'd like me to follow back.

            This blog A Few Words is typically a Sunday only blog.  Normally on Sundays I offer a short meditation on a verse or verses from Psalms.  It's nothing deep or complex, but just my thoughts on the Psalm excerpt and how it applies to my life and perhaps yours

            During April I've been featuring an A to Z listing of Christian music artists.  You may wish to peruse my list to see if any interest you.

           I hope you'll come back and let me know what you think about my entries on this blog.  I like to hear what the readers think.

            Thanks  for following and I look forward to visiting your blogs as well.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Soul Stirrers

            Before he became a star, "King of Soul" Sam Cooke was a part of the influential black gospel group The Soul Stirrers.   This quartet was started in the 1920s and had already attained a huge following by the time Cooke joined them in the 1950s.  The Soul Stirrers and groups like them were the predecessors of soul and rhythm and blues music.  Many of the black artists that exploded into the pop music scene of the 1960s got their starts in gospel quartets or singing in the church.

           The song showcased in this post, "Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb", was part of the curious 1950s fixation on the devastating force of atomic weapons.  This power had already been demonstrated with the bombs that had been dropped on Japan near the end of World War 2.   Apprehension grew as the world entered a race to amass the most and biggest weapons.

           This song suggests that this worry was misplaced.  People were worrying about what they might do to one another, but there is something much bigger that we all should be considering.  When Jesus returns the effect is going to be on a much bigger scale than an atomic bomb.    The works of man are trivial compared to the power of God.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Turley Richards

           Though not considered a Christian music artist, in 1970 Turley Richards came onto the popular music scene with an incredible version of the hymn "I Heard the Voice of Jesus".   I found it on a Warner Brothers sampler album that came out at the time and listened to the song in amazement.  Turley's vocal range is astounding.  The emotion with which the song is presented stirs the soul.

          "I Heard the Voice of Jesus" at least made it to the U.S. pop charts, but didn't rank very high.  However the song is somewhat of a cult hit and has attained a respectable fan base in Latin American countries.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quartets and Quintets

         Quartets and quintets are a mainstay of Southern Gospel music.  I haven't always been a fan of Southern Gospel--a bit too countrified for me when I first started hearing it.  Then after listening to some of the groups on the television gospel shows I used to watch in the early 70's, the sound started growing on me.

         I began to listen more closely and realized how intricately the voices were blended to create a unified sound.  The format of Southern and black gospel groups was a big influence on the early do-wop and rock vocal ensembles.  The more popular music that I began to listen to, the more open I became to listening to different styles.

        Also, the fact that modern styles like rock began to influence some of the gospel groups like the Oak Ridge Boys made me become more interested in the gospel format.  The Oaks were doing pop songs like "Get Together" and "Put Your Hand in the Hand".  Southern Gospel was beginning to gain relevance for me.

        The Southern Gospel style still occupies a popular niche among certain music fans.  Elvis Presley used the gospel group The Jordanaires on his recordings and as a mainstay back up group when he toured.  The sound of skillfully blended voices can be a real showstopper in a live concert.  It's kind of like Il Divo or the Three Tenors gone country gospel.

          Have you listened to much Southern Gospel or Black Gospel music?   Do you have any favorite artists in these genres?    Can you think of a song that hit the pop charts that falls into on of these genres?

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Charle Peacock

           One of my favorite groups, Petra would seem to be the obvious choice for the letter P,  but I've decided to go with another favorite Christian artist--Charlie Peacock.  He has been an influential artist who has contributed to many albums as a singer, songwriter, musician, and producer.

           Some of his earlier music was similar to groups like The Police, but his music also reflects influences from reggae, jazz, and pop.  His sound is often very commercial but his subject matter is rooted in Christian values.  Charlie Peacock has a good polished sound that I have enjoyed for many years.  There's also cool abstract juggler artwork on the cover of his Lie Down In the Grass album.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oak Ridge Boys

           In the early mornings when I was attending the University of Tennessee in the first part of the 1970s, I used to watch a gospel music show on the television.  It came on right before the Today Show where I would try to catch a bit of news before it was time to head off to school.

           My favorite videos they would show on The Golden Gospel Hour were the ones by The Oak Ridge Boys.  The group was developing a contemporary look and sound which appealed to me more than the traditional Southern Gospel groups.  "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" was written by contemporary Christian music pioneer Larry Norman.  The Oaks do a beautiful job with the song.

           I prefer the gospel singing Oak Ridge Boys to the later country music incarnation.  They were still good, but I like the Christian themes that they started out with.

            I'm going to give you a two fer in this post as I include a song with a more traditional Southern gospel sound, but with the similar theme as the first song.   This song is "Jesus Is Coming Soon".

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Larry Norman

            During the early 1970s when I was attending the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, I would often turn on the television in the early morning before leaving for classes and watch the Golden Gospel Hour.  I particularly enjoyed the videos of the Oak Ridge Boys.  They hadn't gone commercial yet and were still singing Southern Gospel.

            I especially would look forward to a clip that sometimes played where the Oak Ridge Boys performed a song called "I Wish We'd All Been Ready".   It wasn't until several years later that I discovered the writer of this song, Larry Norman.  I also discovered that he had been a member of the group People! which had a hit song that was a favorite of mine.

            Larry Norman is sometimes called the "Father of Christian Rock".     He was definitely a huge influence early on.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sing a New Song

David Playing the HarpImage via Wikipedia

I will sing a new song to you, O God! 
      I will sing your praises with a ten-stringed harp. 
  For you grant victory to kings! 
      You rescued your servant David from the fatal sword.

Psalm 144:9-10
New Living Translation (NLT)

          Singing praise to God and worshiping Him with harps, lyres, horns, and percussion is referenced to many times in the Bible.  We are encouraged to sing and dance and be joyful in the presence of the Lord.  Why wouldn't we be?  Music goes to the heart of our being and paces our lives with the rhythm of our souls.

           Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.

James 5:13

New International Version (NIV)

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Rich Mullins

              Rich Mullins is most noted for "Awesome God" which has become a classic and a standard hymn of praise sung by Christians throughout the world.  During a career that spanned two decades, Mullins created a respectable body of work and was highly regarded as a singer, songwriter, and musician.

             In 1997 Rich Mullins was killed in a jeep crash on his way to a benefit concert in Illinois.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Mylon Lefevre

         One of the pioneers of Contemporary Christian Music, Mylon Lefevre came from a well-known gospel singing family, The Singing Lefevres.  At age 17 Mylon wrote his first hit "Without Him", a song that was recorded by Elvis Presley and others.  After finishing a stint in the army, Mylon sang with the famous Southern gospel group The Stamps Quartet.

         In the late 60's Mylon Lefevre began a career in rock music during which he rubbed shoulders and recorded with many top artists of the time.  He also became heavily involved with drugs.

         Drug rehab helped Mylon clean up and in 1980 he recommitted his life to Jesus Christ and began a new career as a Christian rock artist.  He and his band were honored in 1987 with Dove and Grammy awards for the Crack the Sky album.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Phil Keaggy

            One of the most eclectic of all Christian music artists, Phil Keaggy came on the scene in the late 1960s and formed the group Glass Harp.  While noted for his expertise as a guitar player, Keaggy is a superb songwriter and is a singer with a pleasant mellow voice.  His music ranges from sounding similar to anyone from the Beatles to Pat Metheny.

            With something like fifty albums to his credit, Keaggy has a substantial catalog of vocal and instrumental music.   I have several of his albums and one is as good as the next--I can't pick one that is an absolute favorite.  "Let Everything Else Go"  is a lovely song I first heard on the album Way Back Home, an album I listened to many times in my days on the road.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jars of Clay

            Jars of Clay has attained some of the greatest commercial success of Contemporary Christian Artists. Their songs are often catchy, but they can be dark, brooding, and beautiful.  I have most of the albums by Jars of Clay, but I can't pick any one particular album as a favorite.  There is a parity among them where whichever one I'm listening to at the time is my favorite.

          I guess I like all of the albums by Jars of Clay.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Imperials

          I used to see the "Imperials" on television back when they were performing Southern Gospel music.  I wasn't a big fan of the music, but I could appreciate what they were doing.

          As the years went by, the group cycled through a line-up of members and began to develop a more contemporary pop sound.  There was still a focus on the vocal harmonies, but the sound was definitely moving toward a more modern audience.

            The album Free the Fire was where I came on board in 1989.  This album had a great sound with excellent songs.  

           I had started a novel back in the mid 1970s and worked on and off on it for a couple of decades.  After hearing Free the Fire I used to fantasize that two of that album's best songs, "City in the Sky" and "Touchin' Me", would be played during the closing credits of the movie version of my novel.  I still think they would be good if my fantasy ever came to pass.

         I couldn't find any videos of those songs, but the live performance video of "Let the Wind Blow" is from the same era and it's a nice tune.

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Monday, April 9, 2012


           One Sunday morning I heard our church's worship team play this song.  They had played it before, but on this one particular Sunday morning it hit me that this is an incredibly beautiful song.

            Later that afternoon I searched on YouTube to see if I could find the song.   After discovering that the song was by Australian group Hillsong, I sought out some of their CDs--especially the one with "All I Need Is You".   This is now one of my favorite modern praise songs.  And I think Hillsong is an wonderful group in all of its various incarnations.  

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sing Praise Forever

To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever.

Psalm 30:12

King James Version (KJV)

       God has given us the gift of music.  We should be singing.   Is music the language of Heaven?
Sing praise. Sing praise.  I could sing of your love forever.  All nature sings and around me rings the music of the spheres.


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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Al Green

           Al Green is one of the great voices of soul and rhythm and blues music.   Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Green has a body of hits that guarantees his place in music history.

           A personal  tragedy in 1974 caused Green to begin to reevaluate his life.  Eventually he went into the ministry and to this day continues to pastor a church in Memphis, Tennessee.

          When I first heard "Everything Is Gonna be Alright" in 1987 I was blown away and Al Green's Soul Survivor album became one of my favorites.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Richie Furay

           Richie Furay is a rock and roll legend having been a founding member of the groups Buffalo Springfield and Poco.  His style primarily is influenced by country and folk music.  He was among those responsible for the country rock movement that became immensely popular in the 1970s.

          Furay became a Christian in the mid 1970s and went into the ministry.  He has recorded contemporary Christian music since that time, while also recording some secular music and occasionally performing with regroupings of his earlier bands.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

The English Band / Joe English

          Late one night in 1985 I was traveling down I-95 somewhere in Maryland or Northern Virginia.  It was during the Magical Land of Oz tour with the World of Fantasy Players.  We had finished a show and were making a night jump to our next town.  I tuned in to some radio station and heard a song that caught my attention; a song that was identified as "Yield to the Spirit" by the English Band.

         At the time I had recently began exploring Christian rock music.  I had been peripherally familiar with Christian rock, but at that time did not realize the extent of it.  The song I heard that night was as good or better as anything I had been hearing on the Top Forty stations so I wanted to find out more.

         Since the album was a new release, I had no problem finding it in a store that sold Christian music.  As I investigated further I found that Joe English had formerly been a drummer with Paul McCartney's Wings and then the Southern Rock band Sea Level.

          For the next several years I developed a passion for Contemporary Christian Music and began seeking out as much as I could find about the topic and the artists.  I've received much enjoyment and edification from listening to Christian music.  The What You Need album by the English Band was one of the primary influences that began my Christian musical journey.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Daniel Amos

           One of my top ten favorite Christian rock groups is Daniel Amos.   Actually I'd put them in the top ten of my favorite rock groups period.  Under the guidance of Terry Scott Taylor, Daniel Amos has produced an eclectic body of work over the past 30 some years.  Anything ranging from country to new wave rock and roll.  The evolution of the group has been fun to follow and for me they've never made a musical misstep.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Caedmon's Call

        Caedmon's Call plays slick folk rock with taste and conviction.  Their music is listenable and if just put in your music player without revealing that the music was Christian music, most listeners probably wouldn't even notice that it is Christian music--until they start listening to the words.   And even the words aren't all that overt in that they pound you over the head.


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Monday, April 2, 2012

Brow Beat

          Not a group, but Brow Beat is a collection of acoustic performances by various groups.   The Choir, Lost Dogs, Undercover, and Adam Again are a few of the groups represented on this fine album.  Under the guidance of the late musical genius Gene Eugene, the Brow Beat collection offers up some of the finest purveyors of Christian music in the alternative rock vein.

        This may be a difficult album to find, but all of it is available online as downloads or YouTube videos.  Check this one out.  Even if Christian music isn't your cup of tea, there is probably something you will find here that you can appreciate.  The musicianship and songwriting is outstanding.  B may stand for Brow Beat, but I give the album a solid "A" rating.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Adam Again

           About as funky as you can find, Adam Again could rock out with cutting edge music or leave us broken with something profoundly beautiful and sad.  As good as any commercial group out there, they could probably have been a truly major act if they had chose to go that way.

          Lead singer and songwriter Gene Eugene died young, but not before producing or appearing on numerous albums.   Most of Adam Again's catalog should still be available and is worth checking out.

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