Trevor Kirk looks back over the decades to highlight important Christian music events

March/April 1974

Buzz, March/April 1974
Buzz, March/April 1974

Cover story for the March 1974 New Buzz was an interview with singer/songwriter Len Magee, "an ex-addict, who travelled half way across the world before coming to know Christ." Born in England, Len was sent to a farm school in Australia at the age of seven and quit the moment he was 17. The article went on to say that Len "is certainly not gearing himself up to hit the road as a gospel singer - though he could do so." In Len's own words, "First and foremost, God has called me to preach." ... "Let's Celebrate with Choralerna at the Royal Albert Hall" said the full page adverts in the March and April issues of New Buzz, announcing that the Swedish blueeyed soul choir that had wowed everyone at Spre-e 73 were back in town in May for two concerts. The first half of each gig featured guests Malcolm & Alwyn and Kevin Gould, and the second half being the premiere of Let's Celebrate, a new musical written by members of the choir. ... Speaking of Malcolm & Alwyn, the boys had sent New Buzz "a little letter from the USA." In it they told of forming their new friendship with Barry McGuire, who they'd met at one of his concerts in San Diego, and how their album 'Fool's Wisdom' was reportedly the hottest thing on the West Coast; with some outlets selling out of tapes as fast as they brought them in. Malcolm and Alwyn were due back in the UK in April. ... Concerning Barry McGuire, his new album 'Seeds' had been released with Barry making a brief visit to the UK in February for some radio and TV interviews and a short tour of five UK cities. ... Also reviewed, The Water Into Wine Band's debut release 'Hill Climbing For Beginners' (read all about them in the reviews section in CR70, as the album is now available on CD); the reviewer particularly liked Bill Thorpe's violin. ... The latest advance in Christian music from the consumer's point of view was the increasing number of albums available on cassette. MGO's record labels Key and Dovetail were publicising the advantages of tapes over vinyl, mainly compactness and versatility, and at no more cost. Recent releases by Larry Norman, Choralerna, Canaan, Judy Mackenzie, Len Magee and The Advocates, along with Graham Kendrick's first two albums, were now in the shops in cassette format at 2.30 each. ... The choir that backed Johnny Cash on his world wide country hit "A Thing Called Love" in 1972 were in the UK in March. The Evangel Temple Choir, a 30-voice ensemble from Nashville, many of whom were professional singers and musicians in the music mainstream, had arrived for an eight venue tour of England.
March/April 1974

Contemporary Christian, March/April 1984
Contemporary Christian, March/April 1984

Cover article in Contemporary Christian Magazine in March featured Amy Grant, on the verge of a major breakthrough with her new album 'Straight Ahead', seeking to follow up the huge Grammy and gold disc winning 'Age To Age'. The 23 year old was looking to use the opportunities that her recent success had given her to take the positive message of the Gospel into mainstream American culture and use it to hold back the darkness and shine the light. Certainly, reviewers of the album opined that she had taken a step towards a more culturally relevant, rock-tinged style and away from the MOR feel of 'Age To Age', which, incidentally, had just racked up its 22nd straight month on the CCM album chart. ... Lead article in the March 1984 issue of Buzz was a profile of disco diva turned gospel singer Candi Staton. The young Canzetta had started out in the 1950s as a member of a gospel singing group, the Jewel Gospel Trio, in her home state of Alabama, but began to make serious impact on the mainstream music scene after a chance meeting with soul singing star Clarence Carter in 1968. After several mainstream hits in the 1970s, the best remembered being the UK hit singles "Young Hearts Run Free" and "Nights On Broadway", she rededicated her life in May 1982 and started to write and record gospel albums, which she has continued to do to this day - see Mike Rimmer's review of her last album 'Proverbs 31 Woman' in CR73. ... Once again, a pleasant surprise to see a home-grown British product featured in the music review pages of an American Christian magazine. Adrian Snell's album 'Midnight Awake' received a good review In CCM in March - "an album of honestly good pop music" was the verdict. And in the opposite direction, Tony Cummings' Album Of The Month in the March Buzz was 'No Longer Strangers' by the Talbot Brothers, John Michael and Terry - quoth The Greybearded One, "A mature and heart-warming album . which defies pigeon holes, confounds expectations, and never fails to bring new delights whenever returned to." ... Playing keyboards for Amy on her Straight Ahead tour was Michael W Smith, who had followed up his impressive debut 'Project' with 'Michael W Smith 2'. Smitty had graciously allowed his employer to duet with him on one track. ... Other new releases in the USA had hit the streets from Don Francisco and Wayne Watson, as well as a thunderous live album from The Resurrection Band, 'Bootleg', described in Sparrow Records' advertising as "high octane evangelism."

March/April 1994

Cross Rhythms, March/April 1994
Cross Rhythms, March/April 1994

Cover artist for the February/March 1994 Cross Rhythms was Steve Taylor, with a three page interview and a review of the 'Squint' album which waxed lyrical, Tony Cummings swooning about the "thrillingly Jesuscentred lyrics that brought balm to [my] soul." In the interview Steve spoke about his infamous duet with Sheila Walsh, "I think that, given the choice between prolonged dental surgery and hearing that particular record in its entirety, I would chose the former." ... The Acoustic Revolution, dubbed by Cross Rhythms as "British Christian music's most significant music movement since the 1960s", was continuing apace, with the release by Kingsway of 'Fields Keep Calling', the debut album by the Black Country's finest roots band Nuffsed. Others at the forefront included Eden Burning, whose new album 'Mirth And Matter' was close to release; Jonathan Day, who after the demise of his band Eye Of The Storm, was recording his second CD; and newcomers Eve And The Garden, based in Hertfordshire, and fronted by Alison Eve Cudby. In the USA, the alternative record label REX had moved into roots music, releasing albums by Eden Burning and Phil & John; and Irish American Celtic band The Crossing, part of the Jesus People USA outfit in Chicago, also home to Glenn Kaiser and The Resurrection Band, were about to release 'Dancing At the Crossroads'. ... News of Christian music artists' achievements in the mainstream included two gongs for dc Talk at the 1993 Billboard Music Awards (Group Of The Year and Album Of The Year in the contemporary Christian category), and a third place for Phil Keaggy in the Guitar Player Magazine year end awards. The only guys who finished above him were Eric Clapton and Neil Young. ... Acappella legends Take 6 were in the UK, on their Farewell Acappella Tour and at pains to point out that reports of their retirement from the acappella scene were premature. The title of the tour referred to the fact that their next album would use musical instruments - it appeared later in the year as 'Join The Band', with guest vocal appearances by Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles. ... And finally .advance notice (or warning, depending on your point of view) of a Christian rock festival due to be held in May 1994 in Sparta, Michigan, USA. Amongst the bands lined up were Crashdog, Ordained Fate and The Hot Pink Turtles, and the title of the thing was (wait for it..) The Michigan Mosh Thrash Bash Slam Jam Hard Core Spring Thing. Makes festival names like Cross Rhythms and Greenbelt seem very dull indeed. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.