Having Fun With Amy Grant's Vinyl, I mean Cassette, I mean cd of The Collection Sound Confusing? Read all About it! By Philip Mayabb

We're doing something a little different on this week's edition of the Vinyl Revival blog.  Instead of going in to a lot of history on the songs, the artist, or the albums itself, we're just going to have a little fun with each.  So to give the details right of the top, this week's featured album is the vinyl edition of Amy Grant's The Collection.  You know everything about this album...released in 1986, the vinyl edition contained ten tracks (we'll get into that momentarily), representing the cream of the crop from Amy's first ten years in the Christian music industry.  Eight legacy songs, with two new tracks, that's what you got when you bought the vinyl edition, so now that we have that established, it's time to reminisce, and have a little fun, what do you say?

If you still remember buying music of any kind in 1986, you should remember that the compact disc was just starting to dig in as the major format of music, and why?  Very simple...vinyl's pops and scratches were a thing of the past, and the cassette's hiss and sometimes lack of dynamic range was history.  Let's face it, even with record companies touting chrome cassettes or high range dynamic tape, the cassette could never sound as good as a record on a turntable with a magnetic cartridge.  Even though the compact disc player was created by Sony, and dropped on the market in 1982, there was one major factor that kept the general public away for a few years, and that was the price of both the player ($900 for the CDP-101) and the discs themselves ($30 for the first albums).  However by 1986, enough units had been sold worldwide that the price of both discs and players were affordable.  I received my very first tax refunds in 1986, and with them, I went to the store and bought my first compact disc player, and three CDs (all by Amy, Unguarded, Straight Ahead, and Age To Age), and my love affair with the CD was in full force.

While I began purchasing almost every new album on compact disc, there was still one little problem...once a new album was released, consumers would have to wait for the CD version to arrive in the stores, mostly because of the lack of pressing facilities around the world, and the insatiable desire to buy music on CDs.  That meant that if you wanted the new album by your favorite artist right away, you would have to buy either a copy on vinyl or cassette, and play them until the CD would come out 6-8 weeks later (now are you starting to remember?).  Of course, this would be remedied in 1987, and the problem went away, however you must remember that we're talking about an album that came out before the fix was implemented, and that's what I wanted to address in this blog.  

I am certain that most of you reading this blog have this album on compact disc (if you have paid to download it from iTunes or any other digital service, I'm so sorry).  Personally I have all three formats (vinyl, cassette, CD), but that's me. and I tend to be a bit eccentric when it comes to my music.  When it was initially released in the summer of 1986, I would have purchased it on vinyl (I preferred vinyl to cassettes), but one thing stopped me...there were but ten tracks on the record, and 17 on the cassette.  For the same price ($8.98) you could either have 10 songs, or 17 songs, take your pick.  While I am happy to own a vinyl copy (and not just any copy, which I'll address in a moment), if you are one of those who initially purchased The Collection on vinyl instead of cassette, I hope and pray that your judgment has gotten better over the years, because you got ripped off!  While some of the bonus tracks on the cassette where not much to get excited about (I'm Gonna Fly, Where Do You Hide Your Heart), there were some tracks that were included on the cassette that made it a no brainer (The Ageless Medley among them).  Of course all 17 cassette tracks were also on the CD, which made me a VERY happy camper, because the aforementioned Ageless Medley had never been available in digital format before (or since, for that matter).  When the CD was released about a month and a half later, I literally borrowed the money from my dad to purchase it, because I was between paychecks at my job, and then repaid him the money a few days later.   

This is an album that ANY (and I do mean ANY) fan of classic CCM should have, plain and simple.  If we're all honest, Amy Grant is the biggest female vocalist in CCM history (sorry Sandi Patty fans, it's the truth).  Amy has had her moments, she has had controversy (plenty of it), but make no mistake, she has earned every accolade ever given to her, from the millions of albums she has sold, to her star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, to her enshrinement in the Gospel Music Association Hall Of Fame.  It is legitimate debate that a lot of her success came in the form of mainstream music, and the points are well taken, but like it or not, no other artist has done more the Christian music industry than Amy Grant.  That being said, I will admit that this is probably the only CCM recording in my collection (no pun intended) that I would NOT recommend fans to buy (at least not at first).  If you have not bought it yet (SHAME ON YOU), buy the CD, and then if you want to mix it up a little, the cassette second, and then vinyl last.  I would love to see a newly issued 180-gram edition of The Collection complete with all 17 tracks, but I am not holding my breath for seeing that any time soon, so we're going to listen to the original 1986 edition released by Myrrh Records,

Real quickly a few things about the songs...Stay For Awhile is my all time favorite Amy Grant song.  The first time I heard it, it blew me away, and the background and harmony vocals, which were provided by Richard Page of Mr. Mister, just added to the song's greatness.  I was thrilled that Emmanuel from her first (and only at the time) Christmas album was included on the vinyl copy, and I still think it's one of Michael W. Smith's finest songs.  Love Can Do, the album's second new song, did not do much for me, but it is included (obviously).  There is another major difference between the vinyl edition and the cassette and CD...on the vinyl copy, the songs are not completely in chronological order, which they mostly are on the other two formats.  I actually prefer the ordering of the record, because I have never been a big fan of putting songs on a greatest hits package in chronological order, I like them mixed up.  The very first Amy Grant song I ever heard Father's Eyes, was one of the ten that made the final cut for the record, and I was very happy about that, but not surprised.  I will say that I am very fond of my vinyl copy of this album...I found it in a used record shop in Nashville several years ago, and the reason I bought it is because on the inside sleeve that holds the record, it has been signed, and it reads Thanks for your support.  With Love, Amy Grant.  The signature is authentic, and so I was more than happy to pony up a few extra dollars to buy the vinyl copy that I own, so while I wish the record had more songs, the signature more than makes up for missing tracks.

Finally, since Myrrh and A&M Records didn't give we vinyl fanatics much to cheer about with this edition of The Collection, we here at CCM Classic are going to add our own special touch to these proceedings this week...we are actually adding a pair of cuts that were not included on the record.  They are the edited, 45 single version of Stay For Awhile, and a really cool remix of Amy's 1984 hit Angels.  Both were released on A&M, and unless you were paying attention at your local record store at the time, you missed them completely (I had no life back then...I spent a lot of time in record stores).  That means instead of 10 tracks, our version will have 12 tracks for you to enjoy.  I would not have wanted to be the individual at Myrrh that picked the ten songs to go on this vinyl edition of The Collection...that could not have been an easy job, but we are more than happy to play them for you, with a couple of bonuses of our own, as we celebrate the first ten years of CCM's most popular female artist, with the monumental collection.



Side 1 - 

1. Stay For Awhile

2. Find A Way

3. Everywhere I Go

4. Angels

5. El Shaddai

Side 2 -

1. Love Can Do

2. Sing Your Praise To The Lord

3. Father's Eyes

4. Thy Word

5. Emmanuel

Bonus Cuts - 

1. Stay For Awhile (US Single Edit and Mix)

2. Angels (Remix)

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