Idol Chatter

ashleycleveland.jpgI had so much fun creating my Top Ten Songs I Hate To Love list with some friends of mine, that I became nostalgic and decided to sift back through my archives one more time and pick out some of my favorite vintage artists of CCM days gone by.
It has a few similarities to a top ten list I did a while back about underappreciated Christian music. But this time around, I wanted to focus on Christian artists whose body of work still holds the test of time and can still be discovered by a new generation on iTunes or similar sites. I’ve also included my favorite album by the artist/band–one I suggest you check out if you aren’t already familiar with them.
As always, feel free to mention any gems you think I might have overlooked by commenting in the box below.
Ashley Cleveland, “Big Town”: I put Ashley on every music list I do , just because I am afraid Idol Chatter readers haven’t gotten the message yet on how incredible she is. “Big Town” was once ranked by Billboard magazine as one of the Top 100 overlooked rock albums and all I know is when I die, the anthem-like “Walk to the Well” better be playing somewhere.
Charlie Peacock, “West Coast Diaries”: : Peacock influenced the numerous CCM artists who came on the scene after him including dc Talk who covered his music on their albums. “West Coast Diaries” has so many of my favorite songs of his, including the haunting “Down in the Lowlands” and the sassy testimony of “Big Man’s Hat.”

David Mullen, “Faded Blues”: Probably not many people are aware that Nicole C. Mullen’s husband once had his own recording career. “Faded Blues” is an eclectic mix of funky and fun with moments of deep reflection as well.
Daniel Amos, “Doppelganger”: I admit that I didn’t really appreciate this band’s music when it first came out, but their quirky genius started to grow on me a few years later.
Burlap to Cashmere, “Is Anybody Out There?”: This group did not have a very long CCM career, but every song they recorded was memorable for its plaintive simplicity.
Leslie Phillips, “The Turning”: This was Leslie Phillip’s swan song before she left the CCM world and became Sam Phillips, tres chic folk-rock singer. For many, it was a spiritual manifesto way ahead of its time and gave inspiration to many– including myself.
Mark Heard, “Victims of the Age”: Like Charlie Peacock, Mark Heard also influenced many CCM artists who came after him, including Phillips and Bruce Cockburn. He had a Dylan-esque tendency toward prophetic lyrics such as “Everybody Loves a Holy War.”
Jennifer Knapp, “The Way I Am”: I don’t know if Knapp can really be considered vintage– her last CD was from a live concert a few yeas ago– but she hasn’t produced any new material in some time and her audience is the poorer for it. I can remember when her “Kansas” CD played on the air constantly, to the point of overkill. However I still like her sophomore effort the best for its honesty and edge.
Steve Taylor, “Meltdown at Madame Tussaud’s”: Though the musical arrangements on his 80s punk rock screams of being outdated and a little cheesy, his lyrics were–and are–some of the best Christian satire around.
Bruce Cockburn, “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaw: “ Bruce Cockburn had a hard time bringing his acoustic pop into the CCM world and this album was perhaps his only real success in that arena for the hit single “Wondering Where the Lions Are.” Of course, I think his music has only improved with time and his last mainstream effort “Life Short Call Now” was a musical masterpiece.

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