Monday, January 21, 2002

Mark's Contemporary Christian Starter Set. Please note, my tastes are fairly straight adult contemporary, so if you're a rock buff, I'm not your guy Michael Card- Joy In the Journey (1994) His greatest hits album, including Heal our Land, Celebrate the Child, and El Shaddai (which Amy Grant popularized). Carman-The Absolute Best(1993) This has the classic story songs Lazarus Come Forth and The Champion as well as Radically Saved and the David Foster-produced Serve The Lord. A good starter set. Heart of a Champion would be a good second album, covering the time since. Steven Curtis Chapman Heaven in the Real World (1995) The best of many good albums from Chapman, leading with the title track with the Chuck Colson intro as well as King of the Jungle, Dancing with the Dinosaur and Remember Your Chains. Bryan Duncan Mercy (1992) A good singer-songwriter writing songs of practical devotion. Into My Heart is a plea to avoid over-intellectualizing ones faith while Five Smooth Stone brings out the David in all of us. When it Comes to Love is a song that would be top-10 pop if it had Phil Collins or Michael Bolton on the label. 4 Him - Best Ones (1999) Good greatest hits set, including Center of the Mark, The Basics of Life, The Message and Real Thing. Amy Grant The Collection (1986) A good glimpse at a pioneer before she went crossover. Emmanuel, El Shaddai, Thy Word and her first pop crossover, Find a Way, are here. Ron Kenoly God is Able (1994) Kenoly's soul-tinged praise music gives new meaning to inspirational. It's hard to choose just one from a half-dozen of his good albums. You're My Everything, Jesus is Alive, The Battle is the Lord's and the tear-inducing Use Me make this a must get. Rich Mullins Winds of Heaven ... Stuff of Earth (1988) The now-classic anthem Awesome God is here, as well as If I Stand, and Ready for the Storm. A very evocative album. [Update 1/30 A greatest-hits album, Songs, might be a better fit for the starter set- saw it at Friends Group last Friday] Twila Paris A Heart That Knows You (1992) A first decade greatest songs set, including He is Exaulted, Lamb of God, Runner and The Warrior is a Child. I can tell my spiritual mood by this album-if I'm not walking close to the Lord, I'm uncomfortable with this one, since Twila's devotion will put me to shame. Phillips, Craig and Dean Lifeline (1994) The best of a number of good Southern Gospel-tinged pop albums from this trio. Toe-tappers like He Believes in Lost Causes and Can I Get a Witness are complemented with sweet ballads like I Want to Be Just Like You and Strong Determination, while the closing track, Will You Love Jesus More, was a reminder to me while courting Eileen that God comes first, not milady. Point of Grace Point of Grace (1993) While they haven't had a bad album yet, the first is still the best. One More Broken Heart and Jesus Will Still Be There are still regulars on Christian radio., while Got To Be Time will remind you not to be stuffy in your walk with the Lord. Michael W. Smith- The First Decade 1983-1993 (1993) Unlike Amy Grant, who's band he started out in, Smitty has stayed part of the CCM scene while having the occasional pop hit. The top-40 crossovers Place in This World and Picture Perfect are here, as well as Christian radio classics Friends, Give it Away and Rocketown. Michael W. Smith-Worship (2001) Smitty's new to recorded praise and worship, but he proved a master of the genre with this offering. His new composition, Above All, is an instaclassic, while he does excellent versions of Open the Eyes of My Heart, Breathe and The Heart of Worship. [Correction 1/30 Lenny LeBlanc and Paul Baloche wrote Above All-I gave this CD to Eileen for Christmas, have it playing at work today, just checked liner notes] Various Artists-I Could Sing of Your Love Forever (2000) This is a good compellation of modern praise from Sonic Flood, Passion, Matt Redman and Delirious among others. Such songs as Open the Eyes of My Heart, Come, Now is the Time to Worship, Better is One Day and the title track are staples in our worship services at New Life Vineyard. Darlene Zschech-Shout to the Lord 2000 (2000) The album includes the title track, Jesus, Lover of My Soul and The Potter's Hand, as well as guest vocals from Ron Kenoly and Alvin Slaughter. Here's a few more from the oldies bin if you can track them down Phillip Bailey Triumph (1986) The falsetto-voice from Earth, Wind and Fire, Bailey did this while EWF was on hiatus in the mid-80s. The lead track, All Soldiers, got serious airplay on Christian radio, but the album as a whole is excellent, with good ballads such as The Same Way and Bring it to Jesus and EWF-style uptempo in Thank You and The Other Side Michael English Michael English (1991) A out-of-wedlock pregnancy and substance-abuse problems cut short a promising career. English had put out two super albums, this debut effort and Hope before cratering. He popularized two classics, Mary, Did You Know and In Christ Alone, on this album and added the pop-rock radio classic Solid. I'd like to hear Gloria Estefan do a cover of Take the Time. This is as good a front-to-back album as they come. First Call God is Good (1987?-Tape's at home) Great mixed harmonies with a touch of jazz. Breaking Throughis one of my all-time favorites, while Someday, Forgiven and Parable of the River head up the rest of a solid album. Petra -More Power to Ya (1982) If your musical tastes lean towards a Journey/Rush album rock style-here's your guys. From the up-tempo rockers Stand Up and Run For the Prize to the ballady title track, this is an album that won many a teen over to Christian music. Russ Taff Medals (1985) Another great front-to-back album. The ballad Silent Love is the classic from this. Uptempo numbers such as Vision, Rock Solid and Not Gonna Bow are weaved in with ballads such as Here I Am and God Only Knows

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