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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

One Accord-Something to Give Away

Today's selection is a true rarity. It may end up being the rarest album I share on this blog. This comes from my father's collection of tapes. To the best of my knowledge, this is a demo for an unsigned band from Minnesota. The tape below is all I have on this record (along with a hand written insert in the cassette case with the song titles.) No year, no band members, but I was told this was a band that features Lyndon Finney, who also was featured on the ABI Quartet tape I shared in the last blog post.  So that puts this album likely somewhere in the late 80's or the early 90's.  I just don't know if it predates Lyndon's work on the ABI Quartet or comes after.

(So, for those keeping track, that makes this tape three degrees of separation from David Huff. Lyondon Finney was in the ABI Quartet with Scott Hackler. Scott Hackler is the brother of Aaron Hackler, who is in The Upper Room Experience. Many of The Upper Room Experience albums have been produced by David Huff.)

This tape also features a song written by David Huff, "I'm A Fanatic."

And, because the only copy I have of this is the tape pictured below, I designed the cover used for this blog post. I hope you enjoy.

To the best of my knowledge, this album never made it to a label and never saw an official release. Which is a bit of a shame. This isn't revolutionary music, by any means. Unearthing this lost tape isn't likely to bring fame and fortune to the members of this group. If I were to guess, this probably won't get downloaded too many times because it's not an album by anybody really well known in Pentecostal music. But this is a good tape all the same. I've certainly heard worse in gospel music. This is a "easy kind of feeling" music with some southern gospel touches. It's good for a road trip compilation or for an afternoon prayer session.

Enjoy the album HERE!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

ABI Quartet-Close Enough to Touch

Last blog post, I wrote about the Upper Room Experience and their close association with David Huff.  This time, I bring a group that is one degree of separation from David Huff.

In later incarnations of the band, Aaron Hackler joined the group for several recordings. His brother, Scott Hackler, wrote several songs for the band. Those albums, of course, were produced by David Huff and recorded at the Huff Recording Studios in Forest, MS.

This album is done by the Apostolic Bible Institute Quartet under the direction of Scott Hackler.  Some of these songs were also performed by The Upper Room Experience under the production of David Huff.

I am not sure of the year on this album, but my guess it came out sometime around 1992-1993. As far as I know, this was only released on cassette.  It was recorded at Studio M in St. Paul, MN under the engineering direction of John Scherf. The line up of this group included Scott Hackler (piano, bass, and vocals), Nathan VanEngen (drums), Chad LaKing (bass), Jeff Cates (vocals), Lyndon Finney (vocals), and Dan Flemming (vocals). Chad LaKing contributed bass guitar, but is not pictured on the cover nor does he contribute vocals to this recording.

The cover was designed by Scott's wife, Ann Grant.

Download and enjoy HERE.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Upper Room Experience

The Upper Room Experience may be to United Pentecostal music what The Rolling Stones are to secular music.  That's not saying I am comparing styles, just longevity and name recognition. This album (I assumed their self titled debut) came out in 1982.  They released their most recent album in 2013.  Thirty plus years is impressive for any band, let alone in Christian music where older releases are out of print and generally forgotten about or overlooked.

And, like with the Richard Gazowsky album I shared last week, David Huff is involved with this project. I am not sure if he played any instruments (the lack of liner notes and all) but he wrote two tracks on the record.  I also know many of their projects were recorded at David's Giant Records Studio and he and his brothers play on many of their albums. He's also produced many of their albums.

Another driving creative force on this album and many more to come is David Potter. He was active in two Pentecostal bands over the years: this one and The Apostolic Voices. He went to be with the Lord on August 28, 2013.

The longevity of this band has allowed them to be exposed across generations. For me, this is one of the first records of UPC music I remember listening to in my dad's record collection, along with Tupelo Children's Mansion and another yet unnamed artist (stay "tuned" to future blog posts to find out my other childhood favorite!)  The music was always joyous, insightful, and worth repeat listening.

You can download or stream their freshman release.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Richard Gazowsky & the Redeemed-Gold

I love all kinds of Christian music. From early church recordings, the Jesus Music era, CCM, and even today I find something to love.

I also have an affinity for Pentecostal Music. Yet the music rarely takes chances. They serve a purpose, not art. They exist to raise money, support churches, and evangelists. Which I love, do not get me wrong. But compared to "Xian Rock" and "Xian Psych" I hoped it would take more chances.

Then I came across this album. How I found it is a bit of a testimony. I decided to search for "Gazowsky" on Ebay for the first time. I already had music by him on some Harvestime compilations but never searched for music just by his name.  My first ever search on Ebay brought up this listing.  What are the chances I would decide to search for his name during the short period this album was for sale?  Some might say it was God. I will leave that for you to decide.

This record came out in 1979. It stands out from the standard United Pentecostal releases of the day. It is unique to anything that came before and after. This is also a product of its time. I hear influences from Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, and Fleetwood Mac here. That is not a bad thing, either. All music belongs to God. Richard is taking ownership of these styles and incorporating them for the glory of God. The result is one of the most genuinely unique records I have come across in quite some time.

Richard Gazowsky is a polarizing figure in the United Pentecostal Church. I will not get into the details here, but it seems he's taken his church into more a more Charismatic style. There are stories online he's been asked to surrender his minister's license but he refuses to do so.  He also infamously claims God told him to start a TV network. He feels God called him to produce, write, and direct an epic movie that would blend The Ten Commandments with Star Wars.  He feels God told him to colonize other planets.

You can read more about his movie project here.

The TV network never came to fruition. The movie was never made and bankrupted him. All we got was a documentary  that chronicled his mad quest to make it. Is he a misguided soul who heard the voice of the One True God? Is he self deluded? Crazy? Insane? Brilliant and ahead of his time? Time (and God) will judge, I am sure. I choose to focus on the work he did for God.

Be it as it may, this record is a glimpse at a creative mind running fast and furious. This is a concept album, not just a collection of various songs. There are snippets of odd sound effects in the mix. There are audio clips from what I assume were short films made by Richard. It evokes the concept albums Roger Waters produced with Pink Floyd. It sounds like he had a movie in mind while making it. If you use your imagination, you can almost "watch" the movie in your head while listening to this.

This record is also remarkable because it was not released in a record sleeve. It is white vinyl released in a padded envelope. The title is individually stamped on the cover. The back cover is a piece of paper with artwork (with an Archie comics style) mounted to the envelope. The gold seal bears the mark of the Voice of Pentecost Church. I don't know if there was a general release to record stores in a traditional sleeve. I suspect it was only sold by mail order.

This album also features contributions by members of David and the Giants, the Christian rock band. The track "Till I Came Around" features vocal testimony from David Huff. David and his brothers have a long history with various Pentecostal musicians. For upcoming post I am going to share more music that is a "degree of separation" from David Huff and his brothers.

EDIT UPDATE: A reader shared these images from his personal collection!  This record also came out in a regular record sleeve! Thanks to Allen M!

Please download and enjoy this unique record HERE.