Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Top 200 CCM Rock Albums of All-Time

HM magazine recently put up their list of the top 100 CCM rock records of all-time, and quite frankly, I thought it was horrible. And so, in response to that (even though I almost never listen to CCM anymore), I started my own list, in the spirit of the wonderful Rolling Stone Magazine Top-500 Albums of All-Time list put out quite a few years ago. This is currently a rough draft, is VERY subjective, and probably has a lot of holes in it, as well as a few artists that were over-represented. For those of you interested in this sort of thing, let me know what you think, what I left off, all that good stuff. I tried to keep this in the CCM pop/rock/metal arena, and with a very few exceptions, stayed away from the "Christians in the mainstream" artists. The exceptions here (Kansas, U2, King's X, etc.) are artists and/or albums that were exceptionally popular among the CCM rock listening audience at the time. there are also a very few albums that I personally don't care for, but a slice of objectivity made it into my decision and I tried to recognize a few albums that are generally considered classics among fans (ex - Prayer Chain). but I still refuse to put Audio Adrenaline on here! You'll also have no problem recognizing which decade(s) I grew up in and/or thought had the best music. This isn't really in strict order, though the top 50 are probably in the ballpark, and the top 10 are pretty solid for me personally. it gets less prioritized the farther down it goes, till the last 100 are just a sloppy mess of titles that I think should be in there somewhere. and so... my nomination for the Top 200 CCM Pop/Rock/Metal Albums of All-Time:

1. Kansas – Drastic Measures
2. Sweet Comfort Band – Perfect Timing
3. The Daniel Band – Straight Ahead
4. Undercover – Balance of Power
5. Sixpence None the Richer – This Beautiful Mess
6. Petra – Not of This World
7. Amy Grant – Lead Me On
8. Rez – Between Heaven N Hell
9. Margaret Becker – Immigrant’s Daughter
10. Undercover – Branded
11. LifeSavers Underground – Shaded Pain
12. Resurrection Band – Colours
13. Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
14. The Violet Burning – Chosen
15. Altar Boys – Gut Level Music
16. Michael W. Smith – Eye 2 I
17. Jerusalem – Live In His Majesty’s Service
18. Larry Norman –Only Visiting This Planet
19. Daniel Amos – Doppelganger
20. Idle Cure – Tough Love
21. Jennifer Knapp – The Way I Am
22. Sarah Masen – The Dreamlife of Angels
23. Mylon & Broken Heart – Face the Music
24. Amy Grant – Straight Ahead
25. Whiteheart – Freedom
26. Stryper – To Hell With The Devil
27. King’s X – Gretchen Goes to Nebraska
28. Adam Again – Dig
29. U2 – The Unforgettable Fire
30. The 77’s – Pray Naked
31. Bride – Snakes in the Playground
32. Daniel Amos – Horrendous Disc
33. Michael W. Smith – The Big Picture
34. Amy Grant – Age to Age
35. Degarmo & Key – D&K
36. Whitecross – (1987)
37. Shout – In Your Face
38. Barren Cross – Rock for the King
39. Kim Hill – Brave Heart
40. Out of the Grey – (debut)
41. Charlie Peacock – The Secret of Time
42. Mad at the World – Flowers in the Rain
43. Sacred Warrior – Rebellion
44. The Choir – Chase the Kangaroo
45. Bloodgood – Rock in a Hard Place
46. Mylon & Broken Heart – Sheep in Wolve’s Clothing
47. Daniel Amos – Alarma!
48. The 77’s – All Fall Down
49. Undercover – God Rules
50. Stryper – The Yellow and Black Attack
51. Holy Soldier – Holy Soldier
52. Resurrection Band – Mommy Don’t Love Daddy Anymore
53. Guardian – Fire and Love
54. Mastedon – It’s a Jungle Out There
55. Adam Again – Ten Songs
56. The Daniel Band – Run from the Darkness
57. Steven Curtis Chapman – More to this Life
58. Petra – Beat the System
59. Mad at the World – Seasons of Love
60. Saviour Machine – 1
61. Altar Boys – Against the Grain
62. Steve Taylor – Meltdown
63. Mortal – Lusis
64. Darrell Mansfield – Revelation
65. Bloodgood – All Stand Together
66. Margaret Becker – The Reckoning
67. The Choir – Circle Slide
68. One Bad Pig – Smash
69. Mad at the World – Boomerang
70. Resurrection Band – D.M.Z.
71. Mike Stand – Do I Stand Alone?
72. Bryan Duncan – Holy Rollin’
73. Whitecross – Hammer and Nail
74. Messiah Prophet – Master of the Metal
75. Rez – Silence Screams
76. Barren Cross – Atomic Arena
77. Greg X. Volz – The River is Rising
78. Matthew Ward – Toward Eternety
79. Larry Norman – In Another Land
80. Amy Grant – Unguarded
81. The 77’s – The Seventy Sevens (Exit)
82. Russ Taff – Russ Taff
83. Vector – Mannequin Virtue
84. Barnabas – Little Foxes
85. Rez – Innocent Blood
86. Dead Artist Syndrome – Prints of Darkness
87. Stryper – Against the Law
88. Kerry Livgren / A.D. – Timeline
89. Randy Stonehill – Equator
90. Daniel Amos – Mr. Buechner’s Dream
91. Vengeance Rising – Human Sacrifice
92. Steve Taylor – I Predict 1990
93. Mylon & Broken Heart – Crack the Sky
94. Geoff Moore & The Distance – A Place to Stand
95. Petra – More Power to Ya
96. Holy Soldier – Last Train
97. Whiteheart – Tales of Wonder
98. Margaret Becker – Simple House
99. Terry Taylor – Knowledge and Innocence
100. Rich Mullins – A Liturgy, A Legacy, and A Ragamuffin Band
101. Out of the Grey – The Shape of Grace
102. Charlie Peacock – Love Life
103. Keith Green – For Him Who Has Ears to Hear
104. Mortal – Wake
105. The 77’s – Sticks and Stones
106. Prodigal – Electric Eye
107. Barren Cross – State of Control
108. The Crucified – The Crucified
109. Resurrection Band – Awaiting Your Reply
110. Pray for Rain – PFR
111. Kim Hill
112. In 3-D – No Glasses Needed
113. Liason – Liason
114. Jacob’s Trouble – Knock, Breathe, Shine
115. The Prayer Chain – Shawl
116. 4.4.1. – Mourning into Dancing
117. Servant – Light Maneuvers
118. Rez Band – Bootleg Live
119. Circle of Dust – Circle of Dust
120. Barnabas – Approaching Light Speed
121. L.S.U. – Wakin’ Up The Dead
122. Altar Boys – When You’re a Rebel
123. Daniel Amos – Vox Humana
124. Tourniquet – Stop the Bleeding
125. Bloodgood – Detonation
126. Hoi Polloi – Happy Ever After
127. Deliverance
128. Edin Adahl – X-Factor
129. Imperials – This Year’s Model
130. Saint – Too Late for Living
131. Bride – Silence is Madness
132. The Choir – Wide Eyed Wonder
133. Russ Taff – Medals
134. Jerusalem – Warrior
135. Sacred Warrior – Wicked Generation
136. Barnabas – Feel the Fire
137. The Front – The Front
138. Newsboys – Hell is for Wimps
139. Steven Curtis Chapman – Real Life Conversations
140. David Zaffiro – The Other Side
141. Mad at the World – Mad at the World
142. Leslie "Sam" Phillips - The Turning
143. One Bad Pig – Swine Flew
144. Michael W. Smith – Project
145. Idle Cure – 2nd Avenue
146. Fireworks - Live Fireworks!
147. Lifesavers – Kiss of Life
148. Sacred Warrior – Master’s Command
149. Ken Tamplin – An Axe to Grind
150. Believer – Extraction from Mortality
151. L.S.U. – The Grape Prophet
152. Daniel Amos – Motorcycle
153. Mad at the World – Through the Forest
154. Crumbacher – Thunder Beach
155. The Lead – Burn this Record
156. Deliverance – Weapons of Our Warfare
157. Jerusalem – Prophet
158. Mortal – Fathom
159. The Violet Burning – (1996)
160. X-Sinner – Get It
161. Angelica
162. Scattered Few – Sin Disease
163. Michael Knott – Screaming Brittle Siren
164. The Choir – Kissers and Killers
165. Kansas – Vinyl Confessions
166. Sweet Comfort Band – Hearts of Fire
167. Iona - Beyond These Shores
168. Randy Stonehill – Welcome to Paradise
169. Larry Norman – Stranded in Babylon
170. Whitecross – Triumphant Return
171. Margaret Becker - Falling Forward
172. Idle Cure – Idle Cure
173. Sacred Warrior – Wicked Generation
174. Undercover – Boys and Girls Renounce the World
175. Mike Stand – Simple Expression
176. Pray for Rain – Goldie’s Last Day
177. Uthanda – Groove
178. Rage of Angels – Rage of Angels
179. L.S.U. – Cash in Chaos: World Tour
180. Brow Beat: Unplugged Alternative (various)
181. Deliverance – Stay of Execution
182. Tourniquet – Vanishing Lessons
183. Steve Taylor – On the Fritz
184. Ojo – Relative
185. Terry Taylor – A Briefing for the Ascent
186. A.D. – Art of the State
187. Steve Camp – One on One
188. Margaret Becker – Never for Nothing
189. Starflyer 59 – (silver)
190. Bride – Kinetic Faith
191. Michael Gleason – Children of Choices
192. D.A. – Darn Floor, Big Bite
193. The Choir – Diamonds and Rain
194. Rick Cua – Wear Your Colours
195. Whiteheart – Emergency Broadcast
196. Petra – Beyond Belief
197. Kansas – Leftoverture
198. The 77’s – More Miserable Than You’ll Ever Be
199. Mylon & Broken Heart – Big World
200. Phil Keaggy – Sunday’s Child


LittleBird said...

As someone who's always thought that if there's two words that shouldn't go together it's 'Christian' and 'industry', this is somehow still fascinating .
seems i've done quite well in avoiding CCM rock. i only own 2 of the albums on your list, and only heard of 10 or so of the artists/bands.

i did a search and found the HM list. seems it was a bit controversial - esp the #1 spot going to the joshua tree. i can kind of see why. that said, i recognise many more names on the list and have heard more of the albums. and i own 3 of 'em.

granted, this from the other side of the pond but a couple of things come to mind:

1. sufjan stevens: HM putting him on the list was unexpected given he's said in the press he didn't want to be co-opted as CCM. furthermore, how the heck did they then deign to put it only at #80? having heard several of their top 100 that placement is nothing short of laughable if quality of music, composition and lyricism is anything to go by.

2. Criteria. i would have assumed that to be classed as a CCM artist one would have to be signed by a CCM label and marketed specifically and primarily to that audience. so i find artists like stevens or U2 unexpected.

(btw, as an aside, I just discovered that The Joshua tree only reached 36 on the Christian US chart.)

3. "cross-over". i raise Sixpence None the Richer. this has been bug bear of mine for years (with all due respect to them, it's not personal, i'm sure they are very nice people. this is about the CCM industry and i'd love your take on this as someone who knows a lot more about it than me. SNtR are a prime example of the cross-over phenomenon)

SNtR are in my experience hailed by many who know CCM as exemplary for 'crossing over' into the 'mainstream' market.
In the UK, they had 2 popular singles neither remotely spiritually themed. Now, they've had more success in the US, but even so, the idea that they 'crossed over' & are thus hailed as having achieved something as 'CCM artists' has always struck me as disingenuous:
it's not that I think Christian artists should always sing Christian themed songs but that to be CCM artists in the first place they had to do so to get signed and songs have to be classed as 'Christian enough' even by established CCM marketed artists to be played by CCM radio stations.

my issue is that most cross over success in the mainstream is not with 'Christian music' nor are they marketed to the mainstream market as Christian artists. at most it's a footnote in bios.

i question the overt exploitation of faith as a way for companies to make money.
i've heard too many stories of just how shallow the CMM industry's criteria for signing people is. artists being Christian has very little to do with it if their 'image' isn't 'marketable'.

i see several 'had cross-over success' acts on the
HM list. at the end of the day,making money from the mainstream market is yet another marketing tool to impress the CCM audience. "hey non Christians like this band!" that seems to be a twisted irony.

it's interesting to see several acts only had limited success outside of CCM and have remained/returned back into the fold once mainstream interest faded.

anyways feel free to push back on any of that. i find the difference between your list and theirs fascinating. to my eyes your criteria appears to have been quite different to HM mag's.

given it's a market you know a heckuvva lot more about than I, I'd love to know your own reasons for avoiding "Christians in the mainstream" in your criteria for who made the grade.

wish this conversation was around a dinner table. something tells me it'd be a good one. :)


jaem said...

what about iona?

Brook said...

Cary -
more of an answer coming later when I've more time, but for right now, let me direct you to 2 blog posts I wrote a while ago that may answer at least your questions on my take on the CCM industry. it's an odd thing, and suffice it to say I mostly agree with your take. and at the risk of being thought less of by you, I mostly do not agree with your assessment of Sufjan! the guy's voice (especially in concert - seen him twice) makes me want to run screaming while poking sharp sticks in my eyes. there, I said it. anyway...
Confessions Of A CCM Junkie:

and part 2:

I find it very interesting to read what I wrote about Jennifer Knapp back in 2006, and happy to see I documented that prediction somewhere!

and jaem - *slaps forhead* IONA! I will rectify that glaring oversight shortly with Beyond These Shores. I kept telling myself that too while making this list, and it kept slipping my mind...

LittleBird said...

hey brook,

we'll agree to disagree on Sufjan. :) but no worries, my friend. i don't think an ounce less of you. subjective taste is something i think rarely worth contesting. although i'll admit it's also what makes top 100 lists so incredibly compelling. the Observer newspaper did one on best british albums - must be 6 years ago now - that i still haven't forgiven them for i was so enraged by their choices. :)
i have noted our disagreement however, and in the hopes Joel and I will one day have you as a guest at our table, i'll make sure to keep Mr Stevens off the stereo. or at least before ensuring all sticks and cutlery are out of your reach. ;)

and anyway, peace is brought about by a technicality because i don't think he should've made the HM list due to not being a 'rock' artist. albeit by my own subjective definition of what constitutes 'rock', let alone CCM.

anyways, have just read the first of your pieces - liked it a lot. it sheds some light on your criteria.

i was reading an article on Jennifer Knapp recently - on the Patrol magazine site i think. some of the comments from readers in response (who were not happy that the editorial line wasn't one of condemnation) i frankly found horrifying.

kind of like the musical ghetto you describe, there's a sense in which i think the evangelical subculture is like being kept in a cultural and socio-political closet. but that's for another day.

am reading through the second piece, which i'm loving. anyways, wanted to come back over here and send you continued props. and peace.


Brook said...

Cary -
I am first of all a bit concerned as to how little you claim to know from my list! curious which ones those are. there are more than a handful here that hold up quite nicely to the test of time and integrity for me, and I'd even go so far as to say that one cannot be a whole person without having enjoyed a few of these. (*ahem*)

I kept "christians in the mainstream" off the list partly out of respect for them, but also because this list is, as you indicate, more about a market than about a religious belief. specifically, this list is about a subculture, and I didn't encounter the music of many Christian artists (like Innocence Mission) until I left that subculture and widened my view of the landscape. the ones that made it into the list are ones that were being listened to heavily by those of us in the subculture, despite the fact that they weren't marketed as CCM.

The crossover excitement makes perfect sense if you understand the mindset of the xian subculture, which is one of "us-vs-them". think Stephen King's The Stand. and so any "infiltration" by our side into the "enemy's" camp is seen as something of a victory, regardless whether it was under the disguise of a "non-religious" song or not. (this mindset, btw, is one of those odd aspects of the subculture I was talking about). Artists like Sufjan or U2 make it onto these lists, often, to somehow add credibility to the list. they aren't the oddballs, they are the cornerstones of such lists, raising the "relevance factor" of the other groups on the list by mere association.

and finally, yes... the CCM industry is just that, a business, an industry who's sole purpose is to make money. I would never have believed this 20 years ago, but the dawning realization of this fact is one of those factors that made me run away from the scene. though it was a minor factor. the things that industry did in order to increase sales was probably a much bigger factor.

and yes, a dinner table would be nice. but till then, "will have to do for now" (to quote one of the artists on this list) ;-)

Rekko said...

This is a great list. It's much much better than HM's top100. I'm planning to make my own top100 someday. Extra points for having Larry Norman, Daniel Amos and Rich Mullins in your list! God bless you!

Scott Bachmann said...

A few comments on some of your Top 50 choices...
2. Sweet Comfort Band at #2? Nice. They've always been one of my favorite bands (along with D&K).
6. Petra's Not of This World ranked ahead of More Power To Ya? Interesting.
8. Between Heaven N Hell by Rez... Yes! An underrated album that just might contain their best song ever - Shadows.
18. Only Visiting This Planet this low on the list? Are you CRAZY?!
24. Amy Grant – Straight Ahead. Another underrated album. Good to see it get some love.
35. Degarmo & Key – D&K. Glad to see them on the list but I think Straight On, No Turning Back Live & Streetlight were better records.
Enjoyed reading your list!

Brook said...

Scott - yeah, this is a very subjective list to my own life, and if I were to do a more objective list, Larry would definitely be in the top 5. I came to CCM rock around 1984, and so it's going to skew heavily toward albums in the later prime of that era, ergo D&K got tons of play by me, but those others barely got scratched by the needle, although unlike Larry, I think I can objectively argue that D&K was their greatest album.