Thursday, May 29, 2008

My Top Ten Christian Albums

10. Petra- More Power To Ya

My sister had this on tape when I was a kid and I remember riding in her car listening to it. I also remember riding around on my bike with the song "Stand Up" playing over and over in my head. This is Petra's best album to me and is the pinnacle of what I call their "trilogy" in the early 80s when they were at their best musically and Greg X. Volz was the lead singer. "Rose Coloured Stained Glass Windows" is still my favorite Petra song and one of the best hard rock songs ever made in Christian music.

9. Degarmo and Key- D&K

After Degarmo and Key tried a "crossover" album with Street Light which seemed to get good reviews by critics but had several songs about nothing they decided to go completely in the opposite direction with their next recording, D&K. They returned to the catchy melodies that had made them popular and no-nonsense Christian lyrics which dealt with real world subjects like the song "Teenage Suicide". In the liner notes were scripture references and questions for each song. It was obvious that this was not just another album but an intentional evangelistic tool. And it was the best work they had ever done with very memorable songs like "Out of the Danger Zone", "Under The Son" and "When The Son Begins To Reign".

8. Phil Keaggy- Crimson And Blue

Phil was at his most ambitious with this project in my opinion. The variety of styles on the album are broader than anything he had done before, with blues, gospel, a Van Morrison cover ("When Will Ever Learn To Live In God") a Beatles homage ("Love Divine") and some of the best fretwork in his illustrious career ("Doin' Nothin'", "John The Revelator", etc.) This album even spawned two bonus CDs the shorter version Blue and the EP Revelator with an amazing imprompu jam with former Glass Harp drummer Jon Sferra called "The Further Adventures Of..."

7. Whiteheart- Freedom

Whiteheart has had many incarnations over the years but Freedom is the artistic culmination of the most talented era of the band with Tommy Sims on bass, Chris McHugh on drums and Gordon Kennedy on guitar. The three of them departed after Freedom and became Nashville studio musicians appearing on the albums of many Christian artists. The songwriting and production (Brown Bannister) made this a top notch Christian recording.

6. Randy Stonehill- Return To Paradise

Randy Stonehill's debut album in the early 70s Welcome To Paradise has been considered one of the greatest in Christian music but fifteen or so years later he created his masterpiece with Return To Paradise. A soulful acoustic and stripped down country album full of amazing lyrics and a few Mark Heard songs this one is raw and wonderful.

5. Scaterd Few- Sin Disease

This is a creative and artistic masterpiece by a thrash/punk band that "makes Ozzy Osbourne sound like the Smurfs" as an old aquaintance once said. Scaterd Few never recaptured the sound that made this one so great and the production by Daniel Amos' Terry Taylor had much to do with that. Powerful and convicting lyrics abound. "Later (L.A. 1989)" and "Look Into My Side" are still my favorites.

4. Seventy Sevens- Sticks and Stones

The best album by the band I like to call "The greatest unknown band in the world" was actually just a collection of unreleased songs and rarities but became the best-selling of their career. It even outsold their 1987 Island release The 77s. Sticks and Stones showcases some of the band's best writing on songs like "Don't This Way", "This Is The Way Love Is" and "You Walked In The Room". My favorite song of all "God Sends Quail" nearly broke up the band because it was so "depressing". Whatever, Mike Roe's guitar is awesome. They are still around but you won't find any of their music in the Christian book stores or in music stores anywhere. Mike Roe (now past the half-century mark) and company can only be found on the internet, but they are still making music.

3. Phil Keaggy and Sunday's Child

Phil was obviously very influenced by The Beatles growing up and his uncanny vocal similarity with Paul McCartney destined him to make Beatlesque music. Sunday's Child is his masterpiece and it has all of the production value of a good Beatles record. With assistance from Randy Stonehill and Russ Taff there are many catchy tracks on this album including my favorites "Tell Me How You Feel" and "I Always Do".

2. Daniel Amos- Shotgun Angel

The undisputed kings of Christian alternative music, Daniel Amos have many admirers who would say all of their albums are the best in Christian music, but more than their New Wave output in the 80s I have been impressed with their ethereal Eagles-like rock and country from the 70s. Shotgun Angel is sort of like the Dark Side of the Moon of Christian rock with it's apocolyptic rock opera on side 2 flowing from one song into the other. Talk about creative and artistic, this is as good as it gets. "Father's Arms" is still a classic and the title track with it's eery steel guitar is unforgettable.

And now my number one favorite Christian album of all time!

1. Keith Green- For Him Who Has Ears To Hear

Many moons ago when I was in Texas at Y-WAM a buddy from California was looking at my music and saw my Keith Green collection. He said "Keith Green, man, that's all you need." He was right. If Larry Norman is the "Father of Christian Rock" then Keith Green is the heart. When his debut album came out in 1977 it was like a breath of fresh air, with passionate vocals and instrumentation not seen before or since. From the stoccato crispness of the first song, "You Put This Love In My Heart, (still one of the best Christian rock songs ever written) to the beauty of "I Can't Believe It" which still brings tears to my eyes, to a remake of 2nd Chapter of Acts' "The Easter Song" (which is far superior to the original), there is not a bad song on the album.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day: Favorite War Films

It is Memorial Day and in honor of all who have given their blood, sweat, tears, and life to give us freedom I wanted to dedicate this list of my favorite war films.

10. Where Eagles Dare- Action-packed Alistair McClean-penned rescue mission with perfect pairing of Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood infiltrating an Alpine German stronghold. Never gets old!

9. Patton- Excellent performance by George C. Scott who famously refused the Oscar for best actor in this biography of the toughest general of WWII.

8. Apocalypse Now- Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece about the madness of war has great performances by Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and Martin Sheen. The "Flight of the Valkries" sequence is still one of the best in movie history.

7. Tora, Tora, Tora!- Don't waste your time watching Pearl Harbor, this is the best and most accurate film version of the December 7, 1941 attack. With both the Japanese and American accounts of the day this is an excellent historical piece of filmmaking even though it may bring tears to your eyes.

6. We Were Soldiers- After reading the book I was even more impressed with this film and it's honest portrayal of the United States' first combat in Vietnam. This is the first film about Vietnam that does justice to the brave young men who died on that battlefield.

5. All Quiet On The Western Front- Best Picture 1930. A stark view of WWI from the German side, this sobering anti-war film is among the best ever made.

4. Sergeant York- Gary Cooper is excellent as WWI's greatest hero. A wonderful story from beginning to end and another perfect example of valor and the sometime necessity of war.

3. Glory- The best film by director Edward Zwick with an Oscar winning performance from Denzel Washington and other great ones from Matthew Broderick and Morgan Freeman. Powerful battle scenes show The Civil War in all of it's gruesomeness. This one moves me every time I see it.

2. The Longest Day- Like Tora, Tora, Tora!, this historically accurate film shows all sides (German, British, and American) during the invasion of Normandy, D-Day, on June 6, 1944. An international cast which included John Wayne, Richard Burton, Henry Fonda, and Robert Mitchum makes this one of the best war films ever made.

1. Saving Private Ryan- What has quickly come to be regarded as the best war film of all-time, Saving Private Ryan puts the viewer in the middle of WWII like no other film, because every shot is from eye-level. Besides Schindler's List, this is Spielberg's greatest work and in my opinion should be mandatory viewing for high school seniors to understand what our "Greatest Generation" endured and accomplished to give us our freedom.

God bless all of our veterans and all of those men and women serving our country today! Happy Memorial Day!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Sci Fi Quiz 2

Match the sci-fi villain with the movie they appear in. Once again, some of these are mucho simple.

Here are the movies:

1. Star Trek II
2. The Phantom Menace
3. Time Bandits
4. The Fifth Element
5. Toy Story 2
6. The Last Starfighter
7. Tron

Here are the nefarious ones:








Monday, May 19, 2008

Quiz Answers

We have a Weiner! Congratulations Mr. Anonymous "Buckets of blood" you have successfully connected the bots...heheh. And so you will be receiving a free oven mitt! Not really, but that would be a great addition to your new kitchen wouldn't it?
Here are the correct answers:

1. Star Wars- A. R2-D2
2. The Day The Earth Stood Still- F. Gort
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey- G. HAL 9000
4. Silent Running- E. Dewey
5. Forbidden Planet- B. Robbie the Robot
6. The Black Hole- C. VINCENT
7. Logan's Run- D. Box

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sci-Fi Quiz

Test your android and robot knowledge. Match the following movies with their corresponding robot. You can post your answers in the comment section or e-mail them to me. The winner gets a special prize.

Here are the movies (a couple of these are easy!)

1.Star Wars
2. The Day The Earth Stood Still
3. 2001: A Space Odyssey
4. Silent Running
5. Forbidden Planet
6. The Black Hole
7. Logan's Run

Here are the robots: