Where our intrepid editorial team take an askance look at the weird and wonderful world of music and media.
Steven Nixon, British producer and sanctified dance man, has now resettled in California with Scott Blackwell's N Soul Records. He tells an intriguing tale as to how clearance was obtained on a most unlikely collection of samples - parts of a message by Billy Graham on a dance concept album by The Raving Loonatics. A guy walked into Scott Blackwell's studios one day and mentioned in passing that he was from Billy Graham's hometown. He knew Billy's personal chauffeur. Scott phoned the chauffeur and explained his need to get his seemingly unclearable samples through to the three people at the top of the Graham organisation. Soon permission was obtained!
It seems Cross Rhythms editor and occasional producer Tony Cummings wasn't so blessed back in '85. Cummings and fellow journo Dave Roberts produced possibly the first ever house gospel tracks, 'Say Yes' by House Of God. The 4-song cassette was issued by Kingsway within a month of recording and sold well on "the underground'. Cummings, troubled by the fact that the eight or nine preachers sampled had not given their permission, wrote to them all enclosing copies of the House Of God offering. Most wrote back giving their blessing (one or two couldn't - they were dead!) but a crisis blew up when a solicitor from the Billy Graham Organisation wrote back demanding that all copies of the tape immediately be withdrawn from circulation and destroyed. After prayer Cummings wrote back to the solicitor saying that he was prepared to do this but only on condition that he could have some evidence that this ruling was from Dr Graham himself. The solicitor never wrote again. . . and Say Yes' remained on sale!
In answer to all those who keep enquiring, yes we know that on the recent Marc Catley album 'Hot Air For Jesus' there is a track listed called "Tina Matthews" and that no such track is actually on the album.
Publicity pack for First Call's new album 'Sacred Journey' is into jargon which seems far from sacred. Today's marketing speak for top-of-the-range American CCM albums seems by degree incomprehensible, laughable and repellent. One expensively designed and printed press kit after informing us that the album is to receive a "national public relations campaign by New York Madison Avenue PR firm" promises "heavy promo to AC, CHR and Inspo radio". (Eh?) But most eyebrow raising of all was the 'Key Selling Points'. Among them was "straight-ahead, no-doubt-about-it Christian lyrics." It seems in the strange hinterland of American Christian Publicity no one has heard of the "offence of the Cross".
If you happen to be around Sparta, Michigan in May we recommend you attend a Christian rock test that not only sports hot bands like Crashdog, Ordained Fate and Hot Pink Turtles, but also makes names like 'Cross Rhythms' and 'Greenbelt' seem stale indeed. The organisers are calling their event Michigan Mosh Thrash Bash Slam Jam Hard Core Spring Thing'.
Testimonies of encounters with God don't come much stranger than that
of country superstar Dolly Parton reported recently in an American
newspaper, "I was so self-pitying. Every day I thought, 'I just wish I
had the nerve to kill myself.' I wanted some good dope, or some good
drugs so I could go out in peace or find Dr Kevorkian. I really wanted
to be able to do it. But then I realised I didn't have the guts. I was
just dying slow. I asked God for some answers. I said, 'Look, either
you're gonna help me or I'm jus' gonna kill myself and it's gonna be
your fault.' And the answer just kinda came to me with the voice of
God himself: 'Get off your fat butt and get on with life. Or go ahead
and blow your brains out.'"