Friday, 20 November 2009

"Why should the Devil have all the good music?"

Today's christian teens have access to a wide choice of God-honouring music. Thirty-five years ago, this genre was in its infancy. LPs by a handful of Christian rockers were often found only in a few specialty record shops. Apart from Sweathog and Ocean, the latter being a pop group, I heard no Christian acts on the local rock station. Through the Edmonton Public Library's record collection and a friend I met through the Full Gospel Fellowship International, I discovered that there were artists and groups who really rocked for the rock. Here are just a few of these pioneers.

Larry Norman, who passed away in February of 2008, has a website where his CDs are available for purchase. The stock keeps changing as his organization has limited editions of his albums pressed or burned to CD-R. Even so, Larry's music was ground-breaking and unique. He often received criticism from older Christians for his songs due to the popular belief that the beat was a Satanic influence on teens.

Resurrection Band, also known as Rez Band and Rez, started out as part of a larger band called Charity in 1972. When the Jesus People community in Milwaukee split into four groups, the members moved to Chicago. As rock music was thought of as the Devil's tool by many Christian record companies, they had difficulty finding one that would sign them. They released two independent cassettes of hard rock before being signed to Star Song Records four years later. After going through stylistic and personnel changes, they broke up in 2000. The Resurrection Band site is inaccessible to screen readers but it has pictures of the group and audio of the band's music.

Stryper burst onto the music scene in the mid-eighties as a "white metal" overtly Christian band. Dressed in yellow and black, they often tossed Bibles into the audience during concerts. The group broke up in 1992, reforming and touring in 2003. Two years later, they recorded the album called Reborn and in 2009, they released Murder By Pride. Stryper, at the time of this writing, is still performing and touring. Samples of the two newest album tracks can be heard at the Stryper site. Information and photos of the band are also there.

Daniel Amos Band, also called D.A. or Da, formed in southern California, playing acoustic guitar music at coffee houses during 1974. They released their self-titled album two years later. Their 1977 LP, Shotgun Angel, showed the band's shift from country to rock stylings. The band went on to record rock albums such as Horrendous Disc and ¡Alarma! until some of the members started a side project called The Swirling Eddies in the late eighties. Daniel Amos came together again in the nineties for several more albums and concerts. Their music is still available at the Daniel Amos site.

In my upcoming memoir, How I Was Razed, I tell of how the cult church elders criticized me for the music I loved and how a handful of Christian rock records strengthened my faith. I also mentioned my passion for secular rock music in my Deliverance From Jericho (Six Years in a Blind School) memoir. More information about it can be found at the Inscribe writers group page.