Christian Rock of the 80's
Aug 28, 2000 (Updated Mar 21, 2002)
Popular Products in MusicThe Bottom Line Here is a list of the top 10 Christian Rock Bands of MY 80's. A tribute to those who began a revolution of sorts.
A complete history of Christian rock music would surely need more than 1 epinion to cover it all but I wanted to share with you the portion of it that I knew about. A list of 10 of my favorites should do the trick.
Most, if not all, of you will have no clue about most of these bands, yet there are a handful of us who remember the early days (late 70's early 80's) as Christians tried to make rock music without sounding like "poser choir boys". Most failed in this attempt (some miserably) and floundered into mere trivia questions, yet there are a few that helped define the genre, and provided encouragement to a generation looking for answers. A few that actually rose above the mediocrity that was (and still is for some) rampant in those days. I respect them all in their struggle against the mainstream. Most people, even today, laugh at the mention of Christian rock, those days were much worse. While Metallica, Megadeth, and Anthrax were climbing the charts, bands like Messiah Prophet Band and Saint were not-so-successful in their handy work. So with that, I now give you MY highlights of Christian rock of the 80's.
1. Resurrection Band
Born out of the Chicago streets in the mid 70's, husband and wife team Glen and Wendy Kaiser along with a few close friends produced a heavy blues-based rock sound. Their lyrics captured the struggles found among the homeless in Chicago, who they actively worked with in a ministry called "Jesus People USA". The gritty guitar sounds and the unfettered driving beats were a breath of fresh air in the stuffy timid atmosphere of the churches. These guys were "street" all the way and their songs showed, through their honesty and raw emotion, that this thing called Christianity was far more than a religion, but a way of life. Rez Band really stood (and continue to stand) out from the crowd. I saw them in concert on their "Bootleg" tour, and was blown away....the best concert I've seen.
Early albums include: "Awaiting Your Reply", "Mommy Don't Love Daddy Anymore", "Bootleg" and "Between Heaven and Hell".
Most of you are now saying "Oh yeah, I've heard of those guys". Yes, it's the spandex bumble bees themselves. I smirk and shake my head when I remember the days of "glam-metal", the days of big hair, screeching vocals, and guitar solos for days. Stryper was the Christian's answer to the glam-metal scene. They had the big hair, the screeching vocals and yes, guitar solos for days. But beyond the hype and fanfare, they provided us with a few great albums. These guys definitely had talent and produced a good metal sound. I saw them 3 times in concert and they put on a good show each time.
Early albums include: "Yellow and Black Attack"(EP), "Soldiers Under Command" and "To Hell with the Devil".
3. Daniel Amos
No, it's not the name of one of the members, it's the Beatlesque-vocaled madmen from SoCal, lead by the king himself - Terry Taylor. I use "madmen" as a term of endearment seeing as this is my favorite band of all time. I discovered them in the mid 80s with the release of the "Fearful Symmetry" album. It was their most keyboard oriented album and I immediately saw the quality of the songwriting and talent of the musicians. A unique blend of tight harmony with very creative lyrics along with an understated rock sound, D.A. have released album after album of quality music. Tim Chandelor, my personal favorite bass player, plays several basses including fretless, and while remaining in the "background", provides a superb performance every time. Beatles and Smashing Pumpkin fans will enjoy the vocals, while Elvis Costello fans would praise the lyrical efforts.
Terry Taylor has released a couple solo albums, one of which is "A Briefing for the Ascent", a collection of songs written as his grandmother was in the hospital dying. Terry wrote songs to comfort and encourage her. This is the most powerful album I have ever heard! Do yourself a favor and check this one out.
Early albums include: "Shotgun Angel", "Alarma", "Horredous Disc", "Doppleganger", "Fearful Symmetry" and my personal favorite "Darn Floor, Big Bite".
4. Sweet Comfort Band
While only producing two albums, this "adult rock" band was the beginning of the career of a very successful CCM artist. The two albums they did release were very powerful in their message and display of talent. Brian Duncan sang lead on many of the songs and with the help of some great songwriting abilities came up with great classics like the heart wrenching ballad "Falling in Love Again" and the rocker "Perfect Timing".
Albums: "Cutting Edge" and "Perfect Timing"
5. Alter Boys
Yet another band out of SoCal, the Alter Boys, lead by Mike Stand, provided a punk-rock sound to the Christian scene. All out style, with the 80's punk-rock thing, driving guitars and straight-ahead drum beats, these guys gave us something to jump around about. Their version of the Donna Summer song "Unconditional Love" on the "Gut-Level Music" album, remains a favorite of mine to this day.
Early Albums include: "Gut-Level Music" and a self-titled album.
One of the leading forces in Christian rock, Petra was established in the mid 70's by guitarist Bob Hartman, and they are still going strong. In the 80's, lead by singer Greg Volz, Petra paved the way for many other Christian rock bands. Their style can be described as adult rock, although they jam a bit much for some adults. My very first concert, was Petra in 1983 on their "More Power to Ya" tour. Was quite fun. :^)
80's Albums include: "Never say Die", "More Power to Ya", "Not of this World, "Beat the System".
7. Steve Taylor
It's hard to describe the music of Steve Taylor. He fits within the realm of rock music, but defies any further categorization. His early albums (early to mid 80's) were recorded with his musicians called "Some Band" which included a very talented horn section. Steve Taylor's lyrical style is quirky, sarcastic, and full of puns...quite an enjoyable experience. I saw him in concert in 1983, as he toured for his EP. He was the opening act for Petra's "More Power to Ya" tour. Steve Taylor (not related to the previously mentioned Terry Taylor) spent a short time away from Christian music in the early 90's, but returned with another awesome album, "Squint" in 1993. He recently produced Newsboys, who, in my opinion, don't nearly have the appeal as he does.
Early albums include: "I want to be a clone"EP, "Meltdown", "On the Fritz".
Releasing their first album in 1982, Undercover was described (by me) as "happy-punk". High energy anthems, 3-chord, short & choppy songs. "God Rules" the title track of their second album, is the song that established them in the Christian music scene (beyond SoCal that is). This is definitely music to play if you need to wake up fast and happy. Then in 1986 they produced their 4th album, "Branded" which showed a distinct change and maturing in the band and it's songwriting. Much darker, and deeper. A great album indeed.
Early albums include: "Undercover", "God Rules", "Boys and Girls", "Branded".
Releasing their self-titled debut in 1985, Bloodgood gave us a rough-edged excellent quality metal sound. Lead by bassist Michael Bloodgood (yes, that's his real name) the band enjoyed only limited success, but left us with some great metal tunes, such as "Crucify" and "The Messiah" from the "Detonation" album. These songs work amazing together and still brings chills to my spine just thinking about it. If there is one Christian metal album to check out from the 80's it would be this one. They are no longer together, which is sad, but I did get to see them in concert once on the "Detonation" tour. Very cool.
Early albums include: "Bloodgood", "Detonation", "Rock In a Hard Place" & "Out of the Darkness".
UPDATE 03/21/02 : I just found out that apparently Bloodgood is back together. Visit www.bloodgood.org
10. Barren Cross
The release of the "Rock for the King" album in 1986 was one happy day for me. I though, "Finally! A great Christian metal album", and indeed it is. Reminiscent of Iron Maiden, BC produced a solid 80's style heavy metal sound with straight ahead lyrics. This foursome from SoCal (like everyone else it seemed) hit the scene hard and fast with a tour opening up for Stryper's "Soldiers Under Command" tour. It was a great concert! They went on to be one of the first Christian bands with a video on MTV's Headbanger's Ball.
Early albums include: "Believe" EP, "Rock for the King", "Atomic Arena", "State of Control"
Although I could only touch briefly on the contributions of these bands, I hold the utmost respect for them and their craft. They helped me through difficult days growing up, and wish I could express my gratitude to them personally. I own many of these albums, which are now out of print, on vinyl. A much treasured collection.
Thanks for reading.