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

Time Tunnels: A journey through the history of Christian music

March/April 1972
Things seemed to be livening up on the UK Christian Music scene in the spring of 1972 - perhaps the presence of Larry Norman on a nationwide tour was part of the reason, along with his appearance with Judy Mackenzie on BBC TV and at a big all-day festival gig in South West London. Anyhow, amongst the music-related material getting into print in Buzz magazine was former Peter Paul & Mary member Paul Stookey relating how he was evangelised by a "cat who's got this Mexican fabric kind of dress on" after a concert in Abilene - the result being a born-again Paul and a life turned upside down. - Key Records were also getting into their stride, with a UK release for the aforementioned Mr Norman's classic album 'Upon This Rock' (Radio 1 presenter John Peel's advice: "Make sure you hear it"). However, it was reported that Key Records received a note from a Christian bookshop saying "We are returning this record as we feel unable to offer it to the public"! - Also new from Key, a bargain price sampler (£1 plus 15p post and packing) of tracks from their first dozen the musical talents of bassist Chris Lawrence and guitarist Gordon Giltrap. An upcoming event for Graham would be his own gigs at Westminster Central Hall on the afternoon and evening of June 3rd, tickets 60p each. Two other bands due to be on the bill were "the exciting new close harmony countryfolk group" Canaan (they became a little more rocky/poppy later in the decade), and Malcolm & Alwyn from that hotbed of Jesus Music, Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, who were soon to unleash 'Fool's Wisdom' on an unsuspecting world. - And a strangely titled half page advert in the March Buzz - "The Case For Cliff: Include It In Your 1972 Holiday Plan" - but fans of Mr Richard need not have worried, because it was promoting Cliff College, the legendary Methodist conference centre in the Derbyshire Peak District. "Cliff At Cliff", now that's another matter.

March/April 1982
Buzz reported in March that the search for new Christian music talent that had been launched by Cliff Richard at the Arts Centre Group's 10th birthday bash the previous autumn (see TTs in CR65 -incidentally called Opportunity Rocks - sorry for the misprint) had run into problems. It had been due to take place at the Rainbow Theatre on May 8th, but the company that owned the theatre had gone bust. Complicating things further, the title chosen for the event was already being used by the National Association of Boys' Clubs, so a new title was also needed. ACG, on behalf of co-sponsors Buzz magazine, Greenbelt and Marshalls record company, announced a postponement until the autumn, to get it all sorted. - Under the arresting headline "Awopbopaloowopawopbam-filth?", Kingsway Records' ministry manager Dave Roberts took an in-depth look in the April Buzz at the continuing controversy about "Satanic" contemporary Christian music. Writing a series of open letters to anti-rock "experts", cool Christians, good-timers, Christian head-bangers and the genuinely confused and undecided, he castigated believers for having vinyl blasphemies in their record collections and robustly defended Christian rock music against fundamentalists who seemed intent on turning us all into hermits. His concluding plea was for all parties concerned to look at the facts before reacting with misguided emotion and prejudice. - Albums reviewed included offerings from Cliff Richard, Al Green (the first Buzz review penned by Greybeard Cummings), Barry McGuire, Steve Camp, Adrian Snell, Larry Norman & Friends (the "friends" being Norman Barratt and Alwyn Wall), and Dion DiMucci, his first CCM album 'Inside Job'. Quote Of The Month from Tom Morton, who reviewed the album, "Dion's voice is superb ... [he] could probably sing the Glasgow telephone directory and make it sound convincing." - Congratulations were offered to Mark Williamson and his wife Christine on the arrival of their daughter Victoria. However, the happy event had more than its fair share of drama for our blue-eyed soul man. In the delivery room, things became a little too much for Mark, and he fainted, hitting his head as he fell. The next thing he knew was waking up with a splitting headache in the maternity ward bed next to Christine and their newborn!! Fortunately, he was only kept in for observation.

March/April 1992
Cross Rhythms was continuing its fight for survival and in fact issue 11 of Cross Rhythms magazine didn't hit the streets until July 1992. However, America's CCM magazine and Word's Premier advertorial gave buffs plenty of news, mainly about the new release from First Call, entitled 'Human Song'. Marty McCall, Bonnie Keen and new member Marabeth Jordon, who had replaced Mel Tunney at the start of 1990, had by all accounts produced a classic. Produced by Michael Omartian, who also helped write most of the material, the track list also included covers of songs by Stevie Wonder, Chris Eaton and Bob Dylan. When it finally reached Cross Rhythms' review pile, Tony Cummings' verdict was "classy inspirational pop". - CCM magazine in April ran a feature on Faces To Watch for 1992, suggesting 12 bands and singers that we should keep an eye on. A decade later, however, only three of the dozen are still around. Cindy Morgan is going strong with her classy Nashville pop, Scott Blackwell continues to strut his stuff behind the mixing desk and on the dancefloor, and Two Hearts, alias Michael and Carrie Hodge, are in demand as sessioners and songwriters, even though they've stopped making albums in their own right. As for the others, Maia Amada made one very good album which was never followed up; Vince Ebo tragically took his own life; Magdallan (Ken Tamplin and Lanny Cordola) did their thing together for a while and then went back to their solo careers; Rhythm House, Mortal and Legend made some interesting sounds and then sank without trace; and Patsy Moore, Lisa Bevill and Angelo & Veronica have recently been very quiet indeed. Sic transit gloria? - Meanwhile, back in the UK, a major new release by Adrian Snell, 'Kiss The Tears', was Premier Contemporary Album Of The Month for March. 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.