The latest part of the ongoing series chronicling, in no particular order, the greatest 1001 recordings made by Christian artists

971. RANCE ALLEN GROUP - THERE'S GONNA BE A SHOWDOWN, 1972. From the album 'Truth Is Where It's At', Gospel Truth.
The family vocal and instrumental team from Monroe, Michigan, The Rance Allen Group had in Rance Allen one of the most phenomenal singers of the whole gospel world. When they signed to Gospel Truth Records, a subsidiary of legendary Memphis label Stax Records, they took a catchy song "There's Gonna Be A Showdown" which had been a big R&B hit for Archie Bell & The Drells and gospelizing the lyrics turned it into an exhilarating gospel anthem.
Tony Cummings

972. MARANATHA! SINGERS - LORD, I LIFT YOUR NAME ON HIGH, 1989. From the album 'Praise 12', Maranatha! Music.
American songwriter Rick Founds wrote the song "Lord, I Lift Your Name On High" after reading Scriptures on his computer and thinking about the "cycle of redemption" comparing it with the water cycle. So were birthed the lyrics "You came from Heaven to earth to show the way/From the earth to the cross my debt to pay/From the cross to the grave, from the grave to the sky/Lord I lift your name on high." Since it was written this worship classic has been recorded in all kinds of styles - gospel, dance, reggae, even punk rock. But I'll go back to the original recording, by the Maranatha! Singers.
Tony Cummings

Pilgrim Travelers
Pilgrim Travelers

973. PILGRIM TRAVELERS - JESUS MET THE WOMAN AT THE WELL, 1957. From the Alabama Singers' album 'Spirituals: Negro Spiritual Music', Joker.
In 1957 the Pilgrim Travelers left Speciality Records, who had had some success with them, and signed with Andex Records. The group brought in a new lead singer, Lou Rawls, who was years later to have mainstream success, first guesting on Sam Cooke records and then becoming a jazz and soul star. The Pilgrims' recordings for Andex were long neglected though an album of them did turn up on an Italian release, mysteriously credited The Alabama Singers, and recently Mojo magazine put their song "Jesus Met The Woman At The Well" on a sampler tribute to rock star Nick Cave.
Tony Cummings

974. REND COLLECTIVE - MY LIGHTHOUSE, 2014. From the album 'The Art Of Celebration', Integrity Music.
Hymnwriters and gospel song composers have for a long time been using the metaphor of the lighthouse as a picture of God's saving light shining through our darkness. In 2014 those Northern Irish folk rockers Rend Collective delivered a new anthem for singing and dancing our gratitude to God, the Light of the World.
Tony Cummings

975. RAVIZEE SINGERS - I AM THINKING OF A CITY (LANKA LANKA), 1937. From the various artists album 'Black Vocal Groups Vol 7 1927-1941, Document.
Ever heard of the Ravizee Singers? No, neither had I until I discovered this ancient recording they made back in the 1930s. What this gospel group's "I Am Thinking Of A City (Lanka Lanka)" clearly shows is that all those doowop music hits of the '50s and '60s ("Rama Lama Ding Dong", "Barbara Ann", "Blue Moon", etc) owe their origins to acappella jubilee groups who invented nonsensical phrases, like "Lanka Lanka", to chant their songs of faith. This is a delightful slice of acappella jubilee singing demonstrating that, as with other forms of music, doowop began in the church.
Tony Cummings

976. SOUNDS OF BLACKNESS - THE PRESSURE, 1991. From the album 'The Evolution Of Gospel', Perspective.
It took dance and R&B producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis to take a gospel choir from Minneapolis, Sounds Of Blackness, and with plenty of propulsive dance rhythm, give them a hitmaking, Grammy-winning sound. With a super powered vocal from Ann Nesby on a song written by Jam, Lewis and choir leader Gary Hines, "The Pressure" became a big hit in clubland with its lyrics "When I need relief, I pray to help me fight the pressure."
Tony Cummings

977. GRAHAM KENDRICK - KNOWING YOU JESUS, 2010. From the album 'The Very Best Of Graham Kendrick: Knowing You Jesus', Kingsway Music.
Graham is unquestionably the founding father of Britain's modern worship movement. He wrote his haunting "Knowing You Jesus" in 1993 but it was Graham's later recording of his classic song, with fine production from Nathan Nockels, which best brings out its beauty.
Tony Cummings

Bloodgood
Bloodgood

978. BLOODGOOD - BATTLE OF THE FLESH, 1987. From the album 'Detonation', Frontline.
California's Bloodgood were pioneers of Christian heavy metal and The Encyclopedia Of Christian Music has since called their second album 'Detonation' a "legitimate masterpiece". "Battle of The Flesh" is a fast and furious affair with Les Carlson's shrieked vocals and David Zaffiro's frantic guitar making for an exhilarating attack on the enemy that lurks within.
Tony Cummings

979. GOLDEN GATE JUBILEE QUARTET - GOD TOLD NICODEMUS, 1941. From the album 'Complete Recorded Works In Chronological Order Vol 4 1939-1943', Document.
In the years of the 2nd World War the Gates were at the top of their game. Recording regularly, broadcasting on CBS and playing nightclubs where they sang a mixture of gospel and mainstream material they were as much admired as the Ink Spots and the Mills Brothers and paved the way for all the black vocal groups who first with doowop, then with soul, were to go on to success in the '50s and '60s. I don't know whether they ever performed "God Told Nicodemus" in the nightclubs - the recording remained unissued for decades - but maybe its uncompromising "you must be born again" message was felt a bit too challenging for nightclub sophisticates, but it's still an acappella gem of syncopated rhythm.
Tony Cummings

980. AMY GRANT - WISE UP, 1985. From the album 'Unguarded', Myrrh.
Amy took CCM to unprecedented sales heights in the '80s before becoming a bona fide pop star and then as her career trajectory began to dip embraced a more country-influenced sound. The one thing Amy seldom touched on though was music that could even remotely be described as "funky". But it was a strong dash of R&B that made "Wise Up" - written by Wayne Kirkpatrick and Billy Simon - such an arresting track with a nod going to the rasping bvs of sessioner Tommy Funderburk.
Tony Cummings


...to be continued

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The Complete Spirit Of Rock And Soul As So Far Published In Chronological Order
As published in CR1, 1st May 19
Well known American music journalist Dave Marsh has recently had a book of reviews
published by Penguin. It's called The Heart Of Rock And Soul. What you get are Dave's reviews of a thousand and one tracks hyped on the book cover as 'the greatest singles ever made'.

All lovers of pop music should investigate the book. Though there's just a touch of the portentous about some of Dave's writing, and he restricts his choice to successful singles and doesn't comment on the thousands of creatively fine but commercially unsuccessful ones, let alone album tracks, its a fascinating read. But what is sorely missing in Dave's tome, as the author himself admits, is gospel music. "There are no gospel singles in The Heart Of Rock And Soul quite simply because I could find no way of contextualizing them without trivializing them," he writes.

Dave is right in admitting his omission. Like just about every other rock music historian, he has little or no familiarity with the thousands of post-war black gospel records, which not only represent one of the richest veins of music but are also a root source of the rock and roll beat and the southern soul music Dave loves with such passion.