Top Five Most Influential Christian Albums of All Time
I love lists. I’m fascinated anytime I see one of those top places to live in America, and always wonder why my home town isn’t ranked higher. I have spent hours reading Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of all Time. So I decided I would compose a list of my top 100 Christian Contemporary Albums of all time. This is not that list. Some of these records would surely be listed among my favorites, but I quickly realized that putting together a list of my top 100 would take some time, and I wanted to think about it. So this list is really about the records that did more than have critical or commercial success, but in some way changed the face of Christian music. See if you agree.
5. Sonicflood –Sonicflood Released in 1999, this is the first record that I associate with modern praise and worship music. It spent 72 weeks in the top ten on the Billboard Christian Album chart. It had two number one hits, “I Want to Know You” and “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever.” The latter, written by Martin Smith of Delirious?, is probably the most covered song in all of Christian music. Surely the most listened to version though is this one by Sonicflood, sung as a duet with “Lisa Kimmey of “Out of Eden.”
4. Age to Age – Amy Grant This is the record that introduced me and apparently a lot of other people to the idea of listening to Christian music outside of church. Released in 1982, it stayed at the top of Billboards Christian album chart for 85 weeks, and was named Gospel Album of the 1980’s by Billboard Magazine. It became the first Christian album by a solo artist to be certified gold (1983), and had two singles reach number one on the Christian Radio-Adult Contemporary charts, “Sing Your Praise to the Lord” and “El Shaddai.”
3. God’s Property from Kirk Franklin’s Nu Nation – Kirk Franklin & God’s Property Stomp! I was blown away when I heard “Stomp”. Who wasn’t? This was some crazy gospel, funk/rap amalgam that made you want to get up and dance. Released in 1997, it climbed as high as number 3 on Billboard’s top 200 album chart, at the same time reaching number one on the top hip hop/R&B chart, as well as the top spot on the Gospel album chart.
2. The Beautiful Letdown – Switchfoot I don’t know how it happened, but I started listening to Switchfoot right from their first record The Legend of Chen. So I was anticipating the release of this record. Released in 2003, it spent most of 2004 at the top of the Christian album charts. It climbed to number 16 on the Billboard Top 200 albums, on the strength of its 2 crossover hits “Meant to Live” which reached number 6 on the Top 40 radio chart, and “Dare You to Move” which made it to number 9 on Billboards Modern Rock Tracks. Lots of Contemporary Christian artists go on to have crossover success. “The Beautiful Letdown” placed Switchfoot at the forefront of modern rock, and contemporary Christian music at the same time.
1. Jesus Freak – DC Talk Released on November 21, 1995 and debuting at number 16 on the Billboard 200, Jesus Freak sold 85,000 copies in the first week. It was a critical and commercial success from the beginning. Six of the album’s singles became number one hits on the various Christian charts. “Just Between You and Me” had some crossover appeal reaching number 29 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album was stylistically a departure from previous DC Talk albums, incorporating elements of pop, rock, grunge with their traditional hip hop sound. This was the album that made it cool to listen to Christian music. I listen to it every now and then, and it still feels fresh after all these years.
Well there it is. My top 5 most influential Christian albums of all time. It may come as a surprise to the people who know me best that David Crowder Band isn’t featured here, and I must admit at first I was at a loss to explain why. Sunsets and Sushi stayed in my CD player for months and even now I like to ride down the road and contemplate life listening to it. I remember texting people when DCB released Church Music, trying to explain the brilliance of that record. After some reflection, I realized that for me personally, this whole list could have been comprised of DCB records, and in the end that might have worked against them. Everything they did was influential and revolutionary. Agree, disagree, I’d love to hear what you think. @eddupuy
Music Review: From the Ground Up, John Fullbright
By now you’ve noticed that the popularity of folk music is again on the rise. In case you haven’t been paying attention, the evidence can be seen in the fact that groups like Mumford & Sons, and The Avett Brothers are headlining sold out shows, and “Barton Hollow”, the excellent album by The Civil Wars recently peaked at Number 10 on the Billboard Top 200 chart. If you like any of the aforementioned groups, or you just like folk music, let me be the first to introduce you to “From the Ground Up”, a new album from 24 year old singer songwriter John Fullbright. It’s hard to put a label on this record because it’s not strictly country, folk or pop, but it draws strength from all those genres. It’s definitely a record that will take several listenings to fully appreciate.
Right from the beginning one notices the spiritual overtones on “From the Ground Up” with song titles like “Gawd Above”, Jericho, and I Pray at Night”. After reading this, one might be left with the impression that Fullbright is deeply religious, but that may not be the case, as he recently told Pop and Hiss, the LA Times music blog;
“My mom was pretty biblical, that’s kinda how I was raised, but for me it’s more of a tool in writing. It’s a very strong way to get a point across.”
There are some hopeful songs on “From the Ground Up” but they are scattered among the more lonesome. The liveliest are “All the Time in the World” and the Dylanesque “Moving” which could have come right off of “Highway 61 Revisited”.
By far the most powerful moment comes in the stripped down “Me Wanting You” which some have said reminds them of another famous Oklahoma born singer, Merle Haggard. Fullbright sings mournfully over a softly strummed guitar;
This is not reflection, reflection is true
This is just me, me wanting you
Sweet silver memories I can’t undo
This is just me, me wanting you.
John showcases his piano playing and his songwriting in a beautifully written lullaby called “Song for a Child” that evokes the unbreakable lifelong bond that exists between a parent and child;
“Little boys grow up to be their daddies
That makes mamas love them even more
And even though the world may treat you badly
You’ll be daddy’s child forevermore
You’ll remain a child forevermore”
John Fullbright shares more than a hometown (Okemah, Oklahoma), with Woodie Gurthrie, He has a penchant for writing songs that are classically American, and with “From the Ground Up” John adds his name to the list of this year’s best new artist.
Give it a listen.
America’s Ruling Class —And the Perils of Revolution
In the latest issue of The American Spectator, Boston University Professor Emeritius of International Studies Angelo M. Codvilla, has written an in depth treatise on the differences between the elites, and what he calls the “country class”, what gave rise to each, and the possible results of their struggle;
The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”