CCM Classic Blog

So Many Memories Rewind; by Philip Mayabb


This week on Vinyl Revival, we're something a little bit different, and for multiple reasons.  Like most music fans, I am mostly positive when it comes to the subject of "greatest hits" albums, and we play a lot of them on CCM Classic.  When I was a kid however, my mom and dad were not fans of them at all...no, they didn't go through my music collection, and then give me the third degree about what I was listening to (thank the Lord, my mother might have had a coronary back then), but they knew what greatest hits albums were all about, and this was their general argument..."why do you want to buy an album full of songs that you already have?  It's a waste of money!"  If you went through that when you were younger, I have felt your pain.  However, in late 1981, a greatest hits compilation was released that I simply HAD to have, and although it took several months for me to sweet talk mom and dad into getting it for me (after all, at 14 years old, I had no voice when it came to finances), I finally succeeded, and this week, we're going to share said album with you, of course I'm talking about "The Very Best Of The Imperials."

We don't play a lot of hits compilations on Vinyl Revival, in fact in the nearly two years that VR has been a weekly feature, the only greatest hits collection we have played thus far is the one by Isaac Air Freight.  So it is unusual to do this, but as I said earlier, I have multiple reasons for going this route, and we will get to that as we go along here.  The first reason is the many, many memories I have associated with this album, and its music.  The Imperials were one of the first CCM artists that I ever listened to, and to this day, over 40 years later, they remain my all time favorite CCM act.  I need but six albums to complete the group's complete catalog of work, and all six of those are from the Jake Hess era (1964-1967).  Unfortunately for me, those albums are not cheap to acquire, so I get them as I can, but I digress.  The moment I dropped the needle on "One More Song For You," which was my first Imperials album, I fell in love with the group, and it's music, and that love affair is still very much alive and well.  I have followed each incarnation of the group since, and have learned everything I can about the lineups before the Russ Taff era began.  

Most of the tracks on "The Very Best" holds some sort of a life memory for me, and I guess most of that is due to the fact that when I listened to them, I felt more "mature," almost like getting to eat at the adult table during the holiday meals.  After spending the first 12 years of my life listening to absolutely nothing but southern gospel, I was finally getting a "real" taste of what Christian teenagers were listening to, and I ate it up!!  Don't get me wrong. I never stopped liking southern gospel, and still do to this day, but there was something about listening to songs that were not just about going home to Heaven, and walking the streets of gold that appealed to me (both then and now), and I believe that was the reason that artists like The Imperials, and most of their early CCM compatriots, attracted my attention, and mom and dad's money.  As far as those memories go, I'll share one with you...every time I listen to "The Trumpet Of Jesus," I am reminded of a trip to New Orleans in the spring of 1981.  Not a vacation or luxury trip, this was big business.  My junior high school concert choir had been chosen to perform at the National Choral Director's Association national convention, and when the time came, 72 kids and 8 chaperones (brave souls, weren't they?) loaded onto 2 buses, and left Arnold, Missouri (my hometown) for the long drive to the Big Easy.  To defray some of the cost, all of us had sold candy bars, and so the deal was that every time we would stop along the way for food, each of us was given $5 apiece to eat (it was 1981, a Big Mac value meal was only $2.99).  I knew that we would be going on a sightseeing tour after our performance at the Howard Johnson's Hotel, and so I intentionally skipped two meals, to have $10 worth of spending money in my pocket.  Sure enough, we hit a mall in the New Orleans metro area, and they had a Musicland record store, I marched in there, and dropped the money to purchase an album called "Priority," which had just been released a few weeks earlier.  I simply had to buy the album that contained "The Trumpet Of Jesus," which was a HUGE hit on the radio.

I have so many other memories and stories like that one, and if the truth be told, several of you could tell me stories about the music on this album, and if you would like to, please drop me a line on CCM Classic's Facebook Messenger...I would love to hear your stories.  Unfortunately, there is only a limited amount of time and space associated with this blog, so we'll move on.  The second reason I chose this record to share on Vinyl Revival this week is that it captures an era of The Imperials' existence that has not been duplicated since, and that is the amazing popularity that this particular lineup (Armond Morales, Jim Murray, Russ Taff, and David Will) still have today, nearly 40 years after it ended.  Each time we play one of their albums on the air, we get a tremendous amount of response on our Facebook page.  I have spent time trying to figure out what it is about this particular quartet that makes me like their music so much, and while I have not (and probably won't) be able to figure out that main reason why, I do know this...when I hear a song, ANY song, from the Taff era, it makes me smile instantly.  "I'm Forgiven" is one of my five favorite CCM songs of all time, "Oh, Buddha" and "Sail On" are STILL played on southern gospel radio to this day (just a side note, both of these songs hit #1 on the Singing News Southern Gospel Chart, but "Buddha" spent ten months on top of said chart, and is still one of the longest tenured songs at the top of it), "Eagle Song" was interesting, because it was nominated as one of the GMA's top ten songs of 1981, but when the top ten album was released, they had removed the synthesizer ending from the song (it really sounds ridiculous to listen to), and there are so many more things that can be said about the music contained on "The Very Best Of The Imperials."

The next reason we are playing this is a very serious one, if you follow us on Facebook (and why wouldn't you?), you probably saw the post that we shared a few days ago, asking for prayer on behalf of Armond Morales.  For those of you who are not Imperials' superfans, Armond is the bass singer of the group, and he has been with the Imperials since its inception in 1963. He actually left a very prestigious job with The Weatherford Quartet to join Jake Hess in a group that would change many, many things about the Christian music industry.  Armond is not a young man these days, he will be 88 years old on his birthday this year, and he has endured several  issues with his health over the last 20 or so years.  He has survived cancer, and has experienced several other situations, but has stood victorious, by the grace of Almighty God.  Things are once again rather serious for Armond, and if you find the post, I encourage you to click on it, but make sure that you read the latest update, which has been provided by Armond's wife Bonnie.  He has had to deal with some problems from skin wounds (most likely surgical, but not 100% certain) that are not closing properly, and there are some other issues which she alludes to in this latest update.  The bottom line is this...as you begin to progress in age, your body does not always treat you right, and this is soldier in the army of the Lord.  Truth be told, there are MANY souls that have changed course for eternity as a result of this gentleman's service, which brings me to my last reason for playing The Imperials this week...I am asking each and every one who reads this blog to begin to pray earnestly for Armond Morales.  Put his name on your daily prayer list, and ask God to work a miracle on his behalf.  I can promise you, if you were in this position, and you and your family (because the family suffers too) had to deal with these kind of issues on a daily basis, you would be begging folks to pray for you, so please do the right thing, and pray for you brother in Christ.  Folks like Armond Morales have ministered to us, the fans, for so long, and their music has ministered to each of us in might ways, and often there seems to be so little that we can do to say "thank you" for their service to the Lord - well here is your chance to do so.  For those of us who can afford it, there is also a Go Fund Me page set up to help Armond and Bonnie as they continue to fight the good fight, and medical bills are not cheap, by NO means, so if you can afford a few dollars, please consider helping them out as well, but if not, please keep the Morales family in your prayers...only God can heal, and He still does, thanks to what the bible refers to as "the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous."

In closing, I hope that you will enjoy listening to "The Very Best Of The Imperials" this week, there are 11 tracks on the album, recorded from 1977 to 1980.  The classics are all there, we've mentioned some of them already, and there was one "new" (LOL) track on the album, called "Same Old Fashioned Way," which was written by baritone Dave Will.  I chuckle a little now, since I know that track had been recorded for what we now  know as "The Lost Album," which is the recording that was supposed to be the group's debut project for DaySpring Records, but the record company rejected it,sent the group back to the studio, this time with a young producer named Chris Christian, and a few months later, a little album named "Sail On" was released.  Just as a side note, I love "The Lost Album," and was delighted when Word Records FINALLY released it several years ago, but as you listen to it, it becomes obvious why the label put the album in the vault...it sounded far too much like the albums the group had recorded with Sherman Andrus and Terry Blackwood at the Benson Company, and DaySpring wanted something fresh and new - kudos to whoever it was at the record label who made the call.  Anyway, if you have any stories to share about this album and its music, please let us know, we love to hear from you, and I hope those memories flow like a river as you listen to "The Very Best Of The Imperials," because the title is spot on...this is the very best collection of songs from one of the very best artists in the history of Contemporary Christian music.  Enjoy the music, and please pray for Armond and Bonnie Morales.

TRACKLIST

Side 1 - 

1.  Living Without Your Love

2.  I'm Forgiven

3.  I'd Rather Believe In You

4.  Bread On The Water

5.  Praise The Lord

Side 2 - 

1.  One More Song For You

2.  Oh Buddha

3.  Same Old Fashioned Way

4.  Sail On

5.  Eagle Song

6.  The Trumpet Of Jesus



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