A Goodwill Surprise Just For You: By Philip Mayaab
This week's Vinyl Revival blog is the most unusual I have written yet, and let me explain...I LOVE going to thrift stores, Goodwill stores, etc. looking for classic Christian music. In fact several of the albums you have heard over the last 17 months were actually purchased at those kind of stores. There's just something about the feeling that I get when I walk into a thrift store, and find an album that I can add to my collection, that I simply cannot get enough of. A few weeks ago, I was visiting the local Teen Challenge Thrift Store (my hometown is Teen Challenge's world headquarters), and I found an album called Hosanna USA Live. Sadly, the former owner must have had a little rugrat that didn't appreciate classic CCM, and they took an ink pen, and mercilessly doodled all over the front cover, which didn't make me happy, but I digress. It was released by Maranatha! records, which instantly made me stop and take a look, and I recognized some of the artists pictures on the front, particularly Leon Patillo and Kelly Willard. After seeing the horrible condition the front of the jacket was in, I prayed Lord, PLEASE let the record inside of this be in decent shape, and He answered my prayer...the record was in great shape, so I obviously bought it.
Which now brings me to the dilemma we face with this week's blog...I had never even heard of this album prior to discovering it in the thrift store, and there is literally next to nothing about it on the internet, which stuns me! If you read these weekly blogs, you know that I enjoy writing about these records. Sometimes, I get to interview someone involved with the album, might be the artist or the producer, and I love doing that, because I can get information from them that sheds light on the whole experience of making the record, which I then incorporate into the blog. When an interview is not possible, for whatever reason, I do my best to make the reading experience as interesting as possible, and many times, I will do some research on an album to learn more about it than I already know. Well this week, that isn't possible, because A: I know nothing about this album, and B: there is nothing online to conduct research on, so what am I to do? Simple answer - we'll talk about the artists featured on the project.
Before we get too far into the artists and songs, let me give you what little information I have on the record...it is the first live album we have featured on Vinyl Revival, and it was released 40 years ago, in 1979, by the aforementioned Maranatha! Records, a pioneering label of the Jesus Music era. Hosanna USA Live was recorded on September 29, 1979 at the Anaheim Convention Center, and it was done in conjunction with Calvary Chapel (not a surprise). While that may be all of the factual information that I can give you about this album, I would like to say this...this concert and album were a first class production all the way. As you listen to the music, it seems as if this was almost like having a studio vibe set to a live recording. There was a brass section, a string section, and an entire band of musicians backing each of the artists who performed on the album, making each one of these live performances every bit as good as their studio counterparts. The song selection was very good, especially when you consider that the only artist who had released more than one album at this point in their CCM career was Benny Hester, and he had two. That means that each of the other artists chose the best material from their debut albums for inclusion on Hosanna USA Live. The other thing to keep in mind is that in 1979, the CCM industry was just starting to solidify itself, breaking away from the Jesus Music era that had preceded it, however Maranatha! was still producing music that held on to the early vibe, making this one of the last albums of Jesus Music. Having said all that, now let's get into the artists and songs of Hosanna Live.
LEON PATILLO - At the time of this recording, Leon had just released his debut CCM LP on Maranatha!, called Dance, Children Dance. He had only been out of Santana for approximately three years, and was still a relative newbie to CCM. Now if you have heard Dance, you know that it is a sensational debut album, and being the first artist introduced at Hosanna by M.C. Tom Stipe, Leon Patillo wanted to put his best foot forward for this performance, and that is exactly what he did. Opening the concert with Born Again was a masterful choice, because it got the crowd into the music right out of the gate. The exciting, up-tempo song ensured that the concert and album was going to be special. Patillo's second number is not only one of my personal favorite songs of his, it happens to be the very first song that I ever heard him do on CCM radio, and it's called Temple To The Sky. The live horn section kicks in during the intro, just as they did on the studio version of the song, making the music sound as if it had been taken right off of Dance, Children Dance, and when you can replicate the studio recording that closely in a concert setting, you have something really special, and I totally love this performance of one of my favorites.
DARRELL MANSFIELD - Even though he will forevermore be remembered as one of the hottest blues harmonica players of all time, Darrell Mansfield had a remarkable set of pipes on him as well, and he proves it with his lone performance on Hosanna, with a song called The Prize. Originally released earlier in 1979 on his debut album Higher Power, this power ballad is pure joy to listen to on this album. With a vocal style remarkably similar to that of another CCM legend, B.J. Thomas, Mansfield tears through this song with a power and bluesy feel in his voice that few others could match. While listening to this live recording of The Prize, I began to wish that Maranatha! had made this a double LP, so that we could have gotten more live performances from Darrell Mansfield, because as you will find out, one song on this LP was not enough, and it truly was a huge injustice to limit such a fantastic artist to one song. You will, however enjoy listening to The Prize, I promise you.
BENNY HESTER - Benny Hester holds the distinction of having his two songs on this album separated, instead of back to back (why the record company did it that way I don't know, but any Benny is good Benny). His first song ends side one of the project and it is Jesus Came Into My Life, which had been recorded on his self-titled LP a year earlier. One side note, I'm guessing Benny Hester's inclusion on this project had to be based on an association with Calvary Chapel, because neither of his two albums at the time had been recorded for Maranatha!, in fact the self titled LP (which would later be reissued as Be A Receiver by Myrrh Records) had originally been recorded for Spirit Records, which was a short-lived label in the Sparrow family. Anyway, Benny was present at Hosanna, and Jesus Came Into My Life rocked the house to the ground! The band was as tight as could be, and as he always does, this fan favorite delivered a stunning vocal performance. The other Benny Hester track on Hosanna appears on side two, and it is familiar to the fans - the song is We All Know He's Comin' from Hester's 1972 debut album. This song (and Benny's entire debut LP, for that matter), are perfect examples of what the Jesus Music era of CCM sounded like, and even though that era was starting to fade away at the time this concert was recorded, this song still sounded good, and the fans totally enjoyed hearing it, as I'm sure you will too.
KELLY WILLARD - Okay, this is the BIGGEST problem I have with Hosanna USA Live...they gave Kelly Willard one song!! In my humble opinion, she is one of the finest female vocalists in CCM history, and if you have heard not the album Blame It On The One I Love, shame on you!!! It is one of the best CCM debut albums of all time, and I'll debate that point with anybody, anywhere. I still enjoy listening to Kelly Willard's music, and probably will until the day I go to be with the Lord. So imagine how I felt when I discovered that the producers of this album included just the title song from Kelly's debut. Now, that happens to be my favorite track on Blame It, but the fact is that there were so many wonderful songs on that album, and the fact that she is the lone female artist on Hosanna, should have gotten her more than just the one track As I said before with Darrell Mansfield, it would've been great if this album were a double LP, but since it is only a single disc, I'll take this terrific performance of one of my all time favorite CCM tracks, because Kelly nails this one cold, as you will hear this week.
DENNY CORRELL - The late, great Denny Correll was not only a great songwriter, but a doggone good singer as well, and this concert just happened to be his first major concert appearance as a Christian music artist. Not that he was a rookie...Correll had substantial musical experience, as a member of two different mainstream bands in the earlier part of his career. Two different terms with Blues Image (where he met Skip Konte, the producer of Hosanna), and in between, a run with a band called Manna. A recent convert to Christ, Correll had started writing and performing Christian songs (he wrote a little ditty for The Imperials called Higher Power), and had released his debut solo LP for Maranatha! earlier that year. His pair of tracks kick off with Living Water, a high energy song that is a true story about his grandfather. The crowd at Hosanna showed Denny lots of love, and clapped along as the band and horn section jammed on stage. For his second number, Correll slowed it down, and played one of the most powerful tracks from his debut called The Witness, a song thanking the individual who witnessed to him about the love of God. If you have never heard this song, it is worth listening to the entire album this week just to hear it. What a message it packs, in that we should never hesitate to tell the lost about the Lord, and Denny's performance is so good, you will love hearing it!
The only thing left on Hosanna USA Live is a short visit from Calvary Chapel pastor Chuck Smith, who leads the crowd in a short chorus, and then the album comes to an end. I must say that I was very impressed by this album, and as I said earlier, the song selection is one of the best aspects of the recording. When you add that to the outstanding performances, this album was a very pleasant surprise, and one that I am happy to have in my CCM vinyl collection. So happy in fact, that I am now pleased to share it you on CCM Classic's Vinyl Revival this week. So get ready to enjoy some wonderful live performances by some legendary artists, as we all enjoy Hosanna USA Live.
1. Introduction - Tom Stipe
2. Born Again - Leon Patillo
3. Temple To The Sky - Leon Patillo
4. The Prize - Darrell Mansfield
5. Jesus Came Into My Life - Benny Hester
1. Blame It On The One I Love - Kelly Willard
2. We All Know He's Comin' - Benny Hester
3. Living Water - Denny Correll
4. The Witness - Denny Correll
5. Last Times Update - Chuck Smith
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