One of The Most Important Men In Christian Music This Era Andrae Crouch; By Philip Mayaab
1973 was a year of big events. The Vietnam War was still two years from ending, the trials for the Watergate Scandal began, and Roe V. Wade was passed. On the musical front, Stevie Wonder cleaned up at the Grammy Awards, winning 4. The Oakland A’s won the World Series, the Miami Dolphins went undefeated to win the Super Bowl, and the New York Knicks won the NBA Championship, with Wilt Chamberlain playing his final game. It was also the year that saw the release of one of CCM’s all time greatest live recordings, which just so happens to be our Vinyl Revival feature this week…Andrae Crouch And The Disciples “Live” At Carnegie Hall.
At that point, the Jesus Music scene was just getting into high gear. Most of the Christian radio stations in the U.S. were still Southern Gospel, but Andrae Crouch had built a solid, steady following on S.G. radio, mostly through the songs “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” , “I’ve Got Confidence”, and “Through It All”, the latter of which was a GMA Top Ten Song from 1972. So, it was quite a big deal when Andrae and the Disciples played at New York City’s famed Carnegie Hall, a place that had not hosted many gospel acts over the years. The concert was sold out – not a single available ticket left, but there were fans who still wanted to see and hear the Disciples perform live. According to the liner notes on the back of the record, the group actually played a separate concert in a church across the street from the famous venue, and over 1,500 people showed up for that performance. The group members left the church, and ran over to Carnegie Hall, where the sold out crowd was waiting, and as this album proves, Andrae and the Disciples did not disappoint. The concert was (thankfully) recorded by Light Records, and the result is pure gold. On this album, you will find 37 minutes of classic music, which consisted of 3 songs from the group’s first 3 LPs, 3 brand new songs written by Andrae, a traditional gospel standard, a great cover of a Southern Gospel classic, and “Andrae Preachin’”. When all the parts are assembled, you have a wonderful album, that stands to remind fans of the musical genius that was Andrae Crouch.
The fans in New York were ready to have church, and they got exactly what they were looking for. The album opens with a group of ladies leading the sold out crowd in a cheer, in which they spell out the greatest name in Heaven and earth. The emcee opens the introduction with this line…”ladies and gentlemen, Carnegie Hall will never again be the same”! After the introduction is completed, Andrae sits down at the piano, and begins to play the opening notes of “I Don’t Know Why Jesus Loved Me” from the group’s second album “Keep On Singin’”, followed by another familiar tune, “You Don’t Know What Your Missing” from their latest album “Soulfully”. After opening with 2 upbeat songs, the tempo is slowed down, with Dottie Rambo’s classic “He Looked Beyond My Faults”, and I believe you will feel the Holy Spirit as you listen to this iconic song, done as only Andrae and The Disciples could do it. Then it’s on to the album’s first new song, as the crowd gets back on its feet for the R&B infused “I Didn’t Think It Could Be”, which includes full audience participation, singing the last line of the chorus. It’s a fun song, and you just might feel like getting up and grooving along (just not in your car, please).
Side two of the album opens with one of the most simplistic, yet powerful Christian choruses ever written, the traditional classic “Hallelujah”. It is hard to listen to this song, and not feel as if you are sitting at the throne of God worshipping Him, and once you add a large crowd singing along, it brings out a whole new dimension to an already powerful song. Andrae then goes directly into another new song called “Jesus Is The Answer”, which of course we now know as a CCM staple. At a time when so many things were happening in the world, the lyrics are powerful…”Jesus is the answer for the world today, above Him there’s no other, Jesus is the way”. This is one of those rare songs that can still be sang today, 45 years after it was first written, and the lyrics are just as true and timely today as they were then. After the song finishes, that’s when the REAL fun begins. They named the next track “Andrae Preachin”’, which is a perfect description! History tell us that Andrae Crouch went into the ministry after his musical career slowed down in the 80s, and was a co-pastor of the New Christ Memorial Church with his sister Sandra (a member of the Disciples herself) for many years. This track on the album gives a very short example of the future pastor’s style of “preachin’”. That is followed up with another new song, called “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus”, and it is 3 and a half minutes of pure joy. Chances are, you have probably heard someone sing this somewhere…it is now considered a classic, and the recording on this album is a big part of the reason. Pure energy and pure soul make the song so enjoyable for people of all ages. The album closes out on a serious note, as Andrae begins to talk about why he and the Disciples made the long trip from California to the Big Apple…to offer those who have never accepted Jesus Christ as their savior to give their heart to Him, and to drive the point home, they conclude the LP with another song from the album Soulfully called “It Won’t Be Long” that delivers the message that the Lord will one day return to earth to take His children home to be with Him.
That is the album, from start to finish, and if you have never heard this iconic LP, you are in for a treat this week. The live album is a lost art nowadays, and few artists even attempt it anymore, but back in the 70s, live albums were a big deal, and recordings like this one show why. This is not just a concert, it’s more like a church service, and that is very evident, even from the opening of the album. One part of the liner notes on the back of the album jacket says “this is not a slick, or watered down album, it’s rough and honest”, which is 100% true. There weren’t many studio corrections made in post production, which leaves most of the performance intact. You have great songs, great vocals, the Disciples were in top form, and great musical performances as well (most notably Andrae’s piano playing), and all of those elements combined to create a masterpiece of an album. Even as a kid growing up on Southern Gospel music, I fell in love with this album the first time I heard it, and that admiration continues to this day. In my opinion, few if any, live Christian albums can match the excitement that was captured at Carnegie Hall all those years ago.
Andrae Crouch is probably the most iconic African American artist in the history of Christian music. Many artists list him as one of their influences, and when you listen to this album, you will discover why. Andrae and the Disciples brought a youthful sense of excitement and joy to their performances, and where they went, the Spirit of God went with them. There was no showmanship to this performance, the plan was to go out on stage and have church, and on this night, in the city that never sleeps, that is exactly what Andrae Crouch And The Disciples did! I am beyond delighted to share this album with all of you this week.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. I Don’t Know Why
- 3. You Don’t Know What You’re Missing
- 4. He Looked Beyond My Faults
- 5. I Didn’t Think It Could Be
- 6. Hallelujah
- 7. Jesus Is The Answer
- 8. Andrae Preachin’
- 9. Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus
- 10. Invitation
- 11. It Won’t Be Long
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