Thursday, December 7, 2023
CHRISTMAS BOOK REVIEW - THE REFINER OF THE REALM (THE CELTIC CROSS BOOK 3) & AN ALL CONSUMING FIRE (MONASTERY MURDERS BOOK 5) BY DONNA FLETCHER CROW
Tuesday, December 5, 2023
|Back side of Common Bond's '83 custom debut album; band members Doug Doyle and Ken Riley pictured in upper left and upper right corner.|
It all started last year. Someone posted in the Daniel Band group I'm in that it was the 40th anniversary of their debut project "On Rock." That got me thinking about other albums and musical experiences I enjoyed that were released that year. And at that point, I planned to do the same thing annually. Almost forgot.
The next thought was realizing if any albums reached the 50 mark. Not so with musical experiences - we're talking about when I was 14 in a small town. There are some mainstream albums that I liked from that were released '73 or earlier: Soundtracks of "Wizard of Oz", "Hey There, It's Yogi Bear," "Mary Poppins," and "The Jungle Book"; "Everything's Archie" and "Jingle Jangle" by ... no, I'll let you guess who did those two albums; "The Chipmunks Sing The Beatles Hits;" "The Partridge Family Notebook" by ... no, you can guess this one as well; and "The Beatles 1962-1966" and "1967-1970,"
However, most of my favorite albums are Christian. There weren't many Jesus Music/CCM projects out then - my only favorite prior to '73 was '71's "The Everlasting Jesus Music Concert." '73 saw three more of my favorites come out (though it was 6 years before I heard them): "What A Day" by Phil Keaggy, "Fool's Wisdom" by Malcolm & Alwyn, and "Laughter In Your Soul" by Jamie Owens. (Possibly an unnecessary note for me: the list above and those below are in alphabetic order.)
This brings me to '83. Two important things. First, I didn't have as many musical experiences or favorite albums as last year, and my favorite concerts happened to be, with only one notable exception, related to 1983 artists. So I'll mention the albums first and then mention the unrelated music event.
Second, I got married in '83, and that diminished especially the number of albums I bought, which means there will be fewer in the coming years.
So you ready for this year's list?
Pete Carlson, "Dreamer's Dream." Technically, this is a '82 album, but I didn't pay attention to Pete till '83. This album is a good adult contemporary project, with several good songs like "What A Friend," "The Love Of God," "Thanksong," and "Let Him Hold Your Heart." However, few songs have made the impact on me as the title track, with lines like "The questions I've been told before don't apply to questions asked."
Common Bond, "Common Bond." Several years ago in the group "Discussion Board for Jesus Music 1969-1989" one asked for list of our 100 favorite albums. After submitting mine, a lot of people were trying to convince me Common Bond's first album was "Heaven Is Calling." First national album, yes, but before that came this custom project. The first concert I heard in '83 was Common Bond doing a four song set of songs from this project (I'm guessing, maybe 1:00am, Jan. 1st?). Lead singer/bassist Kenny Riley, sang "Song For My Wife" from this project at Becky's and my wedding. Guitarist Doug Doyle moved to the production chair on the nationally released projects. Favorite songs? Title track, "Heartbeat Away," "It Don't Come Easy," "Remind Me Of Your Plans," "Your Life" (I helped with the lyrics on that one), "The Party's Over," "New Beginnings," "Christ The Cornerstone," "Late For Life," "Song For My Wife," and "For You" (which was re-recorded on "Heaven Is Calling."
Daniel Band, "Straight Ahead." I got hooked on Daniel Band hearing a concert played live on the radio, and that set combined songs from their debut "On Rock" and this project. Favorites on the project? "You're All I Need," "Here I Am," "Reality," "Come Into My Life," and "Coming Home."
DeGarmo & Key, "Mission of Mercy." I've heard of D&K for years, but I didn't start getting interested in them until this project came out. Includes "Let The Whole World Sing," "Ready Or Not," "When It's Over," "All The Loser's Win," and "You Can't Run From Thunder."
Teri DeSario, "A Call To Us All." Some might recognize her name from a duet she did with K.C. and the Sunshine The Band (uh-huh, uh-huh). Her Christian debut is music the way I like it (uh-huh, uh-huh). I had the honor of hearing her at Jubilation '83 at Knott's Berry Farm. On the project she had "Jesus Feed Your Lambs," which later was a single with Sheila Walsh and Cliff Richard. Other songs that blessed me were "Thank You," "Battleline," "I Dedicate My All To You," "Dig A Little Deeper," "All I Need," "Clouds Without Water," and "I'll Carry On."
Lifesavors, "Dream Life." I had "Us Kids," in which the lead vocalist and main songwriter was Mark Krishak. After recording that, Krishak left and co-founded "Labor of Love" (an album I always wanted to hear) and their other guitarist Mike Knott took over lead vocals. (I heard the Knott fronted version at a beach concert with Undercover, the Chosen Ones, and the Lifters.) About a year later, I heard them again, with Brian Goins doing lead and Kirk Heiner on guitars, and absolutely loved it. This line-up recorded "Dream Life," which consisted mostly of Mike Knott written songs and three from "Us Kids." Favorite songs? "Christian Army," "Physical," "False Identity," "I Won't Give In," "The One," "Dream Life," and "Watch Nowhere."
Petra, "Not Of This World." Petra's sixth project, and third since Greg Volx became lead vocalist. I was aware of them for years, but this is the point that I really started liking them. Songs that helped make me a fan featured "Graverobber," "Blinded Eyes," "Not By Sight," "Lift Him Up," "Occupy," and "Godpleaser." The last project featuring John Slick as keyboardist.
Leslie Phillips, "Beyond Saturday Night." I got introduced to Leslie via her track "Bring Me Through" from the first "Back To The Rock" compilation and unplugged concerts at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa (with her on either guitar or piano). In '83, she released this project. Two intersting facts about it: 1) unlike other "Back To The Rock" artists whose debut album version of their contributions were identical to the compilation, Leslie's was definitely a fresh version, and 2) she wrote all the songs on this project except the title track (written by John Fischer) and the first single (Mark Heard's "Heart of Hearts)." Favorites from this disk were "Hourglass," "Put Your Heart In Me," "I'm Finding," "Bring Me Through," "He's Going To Hear You Crying," and "Let Me Give."
Steve Taylor, "I Want To Be A Clone!" I was going to list that last year till I checked and realized it was an early '83 release (kind of the opposite of "Dreamer's Dream," mentioned above). As unforgettable musically as the cover is. Songs like the title track, "Steeplechase," "Whatever Happened To Sin?" (a song that needs to be revived), and "Bad Rap (Who You Tryin' To Kid, Kid?)" (the song that caught my attention).
Undercover, "God Rules." I got to hear them twice live in '83: first at Exit Festival '83, following the previously mentioned Steve Taylor and Leslie Phillips and preceding the Seventy Sevens; also at Jubilation '83 at Knott's Berry Farm. Included were great songs like "New Creation," "Closer To You," "He Takes Care Of Me," "I Never Knew," "His Love," "God Rules," and "I Love God." One thing I always loved about early undercover was the unbridled joy of lead vocalist Bill Walden.
Sheila Walsh, "War of Love." Speaking of Jubilation '83, I also heard Sheila perform there, backed by the Norm Barrett band (he played guitar for the Alwyn Wall band. Second year I heard her there, the previous year backed by uh, anybody hear of the Phil Keaggy Band?). It starts of with her cover of the classic "Turn, Turn, Turn," and concludes with the ultra-powerful "God Put A Fighter In Me." Also includes "Mystery," "Sunset Skies," "Fooled by a Feeling" (written and originally recorded by Jamie Owens-Collins), "Star Song," and "Sleepwalker."
The Imperials, live at Melodyland Christian Center. No corresponding album. Michele Pillar and Lenny LeBlanc opened for her. You might remember that Melodyland is a theater in the round. Like Amy Grant, The Imperials handled it like pros. The instruments were all off the stage, and each member sang to a fourth of the audience, trading places after each song. They did great songs like "What Can I Do For You?" and "Praise The Lord." When they received a standing ovation, their encore was an aca pella rendition of the chorus of the hymn "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." (Maybe they did the verses. But remember that was 40 years ago! Uh huh, uh huh.)
Sunday, December 3, 2023
|An African Nativity Scene, with a frame borrowed from Facebook.|
I spent the first 30 years of my life with an absent Advent. In the hymnal I'm most familiar with, I noticed a handful of Advent hymns and designated separately from the Christmas songs, but I still didn't really get it. I was more familiar with Lent (by reputation, not by practice) than I was with Advent.
Recently, some of the churches I've attended have the advent candles. Also, at Arlington Avenue Baptist Church, I've seen two different breakdowns of the four weeks of Advent: Prophets/Angels/Shepherds/Wise Men and Hope/Peace/Joy/Love. The last couple of years, I've been going through the latter (last year, combining the Advent theme with my Sunday Psalms series).
This year, I've decided to take a more creative approach, and pick out four themes on my own for this Advent series. I'm picking four topics - okay, each theme has two related topics - that both we have through the First Coming of Christ and desperately need to live out.
Today, I'll start with an Advent of Gratitude (Thanksgiving) and Encouragement. I consider them related: Gratitude is being appreciative of what others do, and encouragement is motivating others to keep it up.
Do we have thankful hearts? Do we have minds trained to encourage?
And do I need to elaborate more than just asking the two questions? I don't think so, but let me know if you disagree.
Thursday, November 30, 2023
Who kidnapped Rebecca Salmon's autistic son Austin at a theme park, and why? Can she, with the help of family friend (and F.B.I. agent) Jake Foster, decipher the clues her brother wrote aimed at Austin?
Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Sunday, November 26, 2023
|Yavapai County Courthouse, Prescott, Arizona|
1 Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the assembly of saints.
2 Let Israel rejoice in their Maker;
Let the children of Zion be joyful in their King.
3 Let them praise His name with the dance;
Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation.
5 Let the saints be joyful in glory;
Let them sing aloud on their beds.
6 Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,
And a two-edged sword in their hand,
7 To execute vengeance on the nations,
And punishments on the peoples;
8 To bind their kings with chains,
And their nobles with fetters of iron;
9 To execute on them the written judgment--
This honor have all His saints.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 149:1-9, New King James Version
- Verse one tells us to sing to the Lord a new song, and to sing it to the assembly of the upright. What is meant by a new song? I'd love to hear the above mentioned 6-12 friends give me their interpretations, and I'm sure at least one would give the meaning of the original languages and the cultural setting, but I'll suggest it might include those that God has given the talent to write songs may compose new songs. I also love the concept of the assembly of the upright.
- Verse four is an encouragement - that the Lord takes pleasure in His people and will beautify the humble with salvation. Isn't that a wonderful hope?
- The passage that I want to discuss with those 6-12 friends (could they be considered an assembly of the upright) is the last half of the Psalm. It starts out with them receiving glory and singing praise to God. But then in verse 6, it mentions letting the high praise of God be in their mouth (which is typical in the Psalms) and a sharp two edged sword in their hand (not typical for the Psalm). It goes on to say that they'll punish the nations, bind the kings and execute on them the judgment. It then adds, "This honor have all the saints. Praise the LORD."
Thursday, November 23, 2023
|Cedars of Lebanon State Park, Lebanon, TN|
A couple of days ago, Becky expressed her sadness about not taking the time to go to a Veteran's Day service. That got my attention. I had the day off from work, because this year it fell on a Saturday. Maybe part of it is that Becky's father was a veteran. Neither my father nor my paternal grandfather were (I have no idea about my maternal grandfather).
This blog is being posted on Thanksgiving Day, 2023. You can say the same thing. It seems the day has morphed from Thanksgiving to Turkey Day. It used to be a day when all the stores were closed; now, several are open for pre-Black-Friday deals. :'( I think the day should be a little more, uh, sanctified (set apart), but is my heart focusing on giving thanks any more than any other day? Or am I too excited to turn on the TV for the big sports event of the day: America's Dog Show on NBC?
Allow me to use that introduction to suggest that our special days can fall into three categories: holy days, holidays, and hollow days. And I also want to make it plain that each have their place. Let me take them in reverse order:
- Hollow Days. Someone I know used that term for what they considered pagan holidays (e.g. Christmas, Easter), to reflect the emptiness. Let me look on the concept more positively - there are days we need to be off from work, have a cook-out with friends, and watch a fireworks show after dark. (What I've just described can be how we celebrate Memorial Day, Independence Day, or Labor Day.) Anything wrong with that? Nope. We need time to rest.
- Holidays. These days are ones we celebrate via traditions. We wear green on St. Patrick's Day. We eat turkey and watch football (or in my case, the dog show) on Thanksgiving. We dress up for Halloween. We decorate a tree and deck the halls for Christmas. And we wait with apprehension to see if Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow. Each are fun events that occur once a year that make the day stand out from a day off. In the past (not true now) I would have that mentality for the Oscar's, the baseball All-Star game, and the then-annual showing on CBS of "The Wizard of Oz." None of them change the world, but it gives the year a little variety.
- Holy Days. Holy means set apart, and a holy day is set apart. There is a solemnity to that day, like the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) in the Bible. We could have that sanctified approach to major holidays we have off (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day for families where a member made the ultimate sacrifice) or days that are special to us. In my case, this would include Reformation Day, All Saints Day, World CEF Prayer Day, International Day of Prayer For The Persecuted Church, and World Refugee Day.
Confession time. These days I mentioned usually are just a normal day. I want that to change. Reformation Day and All Saints Day are ones that currently are something I quietly acknowledge, but I really want to celebrate it with others! True, it might be overdoing it to have a Reformation Day party one day and follow it up with an All Saints Day party 24 hours later. But you get the idea.
Can I summarize? We need days to rest. We need days to have fun and break up the routine. And we need days to reflect.