Idol Chatter

Sparklealbumcover.jpgInfuze magazine has been running a fun Christian music retrospective over on their website called “The Top Twenty Underappreciated Christian Albums.” As I looked over their choices, I began to reminisce about some of my favorite, more eclectic, Christian music choices from years past. Here are my own top 10 albums that I think you should definitely try to find in a used record store–or, if you’re lucky–over at iTunes. (Infuze and I are in agreement on a couple of artists, as you’ll see.)
What are your favorite, but perhaps not famous, Christian albums of all time? Use the comments box below to let me know.
10. Chris Eaton: “Vision”
Better known as a songwriter for people like Amy Grant and Cliff Richards, “Vision” is a disco-y guilty pleasure of mine.
9. Sarah Masen: “Sarah Masen”
She was one of several female artists who had a brief run of success in the 90s. I revisited this CD recently and was joyfully reminded how good the song “Fly, Baby” is.
8. Bryan Duncan: “Mercy Me”
Underrated as a live performer as well as a musician , it was tough for me to decide which recording of his was most underappreciated. This is one of his more reflective efforts, but his powerhouse vocals made all of his work worth a listen.
7. Sarah Jahn: “Sparkle”
In the category of “whatever happened to…?”, Sarah Jahn had a brilliant debut CD on Warner Alliance and I never heard her on the airwaves after that.
6: Tonio K : “Romeo Unchained”
I honestly know of only two other people who own this recording, so it definitely qualifies as a cult classic. Some of the lyrics may seem a little outdated, but I love his twisted sense of humor on songs like “Living Doll” and “I Handle Snakes.”

5. The 77s: “All Fall Down”
Funky and edgy, I haven’t stayed with their career over the years, but I remember being deeply affected by the disturbing images in songs like “You Don’t Scare Me” and ” Your Pretty Baby.”
4. Gary Chapman : “Shelter”
Regardless of what did or didn’t happen in his marriage to Amy Grant, Chapman was once a talented songwriter with an amazing voice who never found his own niche. These songs are some of his best.
3. David Edwards: “David Edwards” / “Get The Picture”
To some, he might have been just a version of “Elvis Costello-lite,” but I was definitely a fan who always wished he had a bigger, longer career. I love Edwards’s version of the Paul Revere song “Kicks,” off his first album, but he is also a talented songwriter which shows on “Get The Picture.” (His album based on the fantasy tales of of C.S. Lewis and others, “Dreams, Tales and Lullabies,” is completely different but impressive, as well.)
2.Kendall Payne: “Jordan’s Sister”
Sure, songs off this recording made it into movies like “Never Been Kissed” and TV shows like “Popular,” but she never got much respect in Christian circles. “Closer to Myself” is a staple on my iPod.
1: Ashley Cleveland: “Bus Named Desire”
Everything about Ashley Cleveland’s smoky, passionate vocals and soul-searching lyrics have been underappreciated for years by the traditional Christian marketplace. Officially, she’s really only released two recordings on a Christian label, and “Bus” was definitely the better of the two, with its rich tapestry of stories and spiritually powerful ballads.

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