The Rock & Roll Preacher Chuck Girard Read All About It; by Philip Mayaab
A few weeks ago, we featured the farewell studio recording from one of the best known bands of the Jesus Era, LoveSong. During their brief three year career, the band released a mere two studio albums, and later recorded a double album live recording called Feel The Love, but they are still regarded as one of CCM's all time greatest bands to this day. They were inducted into the Gospel Music Association Hall Of Fame in 2012, an honor that was long overdue.
One of the key members of LoveSong was keyboardist Chuck Girard, who had become one of the leaders of the band, but when they disbanded in 1974, Chuck decided that he wanted to continue on in Christian music, and launched a solo career, and three years later, released a self-titled debut album, which we are featuring for you on Vinyl Revival this week. Like the other members of LoveSong, Girard had came out of the Jesus Hippie movement in Southern California in the early 70s. They had all started out playing rock music initially, but after finding salvation at Calvary Chapel, each man turned their talents to the Lord, and in doing so created one of the first Christian Rock bands in history. Their sound was pure Southern California, a country rock fusion similar to that of the Eagles, but with Godly, Christ centered lyrics. Once the band went their separate ways, Chuck decided to create his own sound, instead of trying to make his solo work sound like LoveSong.
His debut solo LP accomplished that goal quite well, and even though there are a couple of tracks that a reminiscent of his work with the band, Girard manages to carve out his own groove, as far as the music is concerned. He signed on Good News Records, the same label that had released both LoveSong studio albums (and their live LP as well), and he went into Mama Jo's studios in L.A., again where LoveSong had recorded their albums. The difference was that Chuck opted to bring in some of L.A.'s best studio musicians to provide the tracks for the album, and a quick check of the credits reveals that all four members of the 70s rock band Ambrosia (How Much I Feel, You're The Only Woman, Biggest Part Of Me) provided a large portion of the music for the album. Along with Ambrosia, members of Toto, The Disciples (Andrae Crouch's group), and the 2nd Chapter Of Acts also make appearances on Girard's self titled debut. The result is an outstanding LP, that holds up well with any other recording from 1977, mainstream or Christian.
Girard comes out firing on all eight cylinders with the album's opening track Rock And Roll Preacher, which has a distinct rock beat and sound that is heavier than what fans were used to hearing from him. Asking the question who ever thought I'd be a rock and roll preacher, the song contains some superb guitar work by Ambrosia's David Pack, and with the horn arrangement that accompanies the track, it is a more than fitting kick off to the album. From there, the album goes from one great song to the next, all with the same fervent message and ministry that dominated so many early CCM albums from the time period. Even though a good portion of the album clearly differentiates Girard's solo work from LoveSong, there are several nods to the band's sound on the album, and you can't help but wonder if some of those songs might have originally been composed for one of the band's albums. Two of the tracks in particular, named Evermore and Quiet Hour pay tribute to LoveSong's distinctive blend of harmony, mostly because Chuck provides all of the background vocals. Another standout track is probably one of Girard's most popular songs ever Sometimes Alleluia, which actually closes the album, and although I have always been partial to the Imperials' version of the song, I have to give credit where it is due, because the recording of it here is outstanding!
The shift in musical direction came at a good time, because by this time many of the artists who provided the soundtrack of the Jesus Era were getting away from the music business, and what we now know as the early days of full blown CCM were just getting started, with artists now attempting to create sounds that matched up closer to their mainstream counterparts. As you listen to the album this week, you will see that goal was met, quite possibly due to the large number of musicians from rock bands who played on the record. Whatever the reason was, Chuck Girard turned out a recording that sounded more modern and contemporary that some of the artists who were working in Nashville at the time, and it is still a breath of fresh air today. It is obviously a change of pace from what everyone had come to know of Girard during his years with LoveSong, but I still enjoy listening to the record, and I believe that each of you will too. So join us in celebrating Chuck Girard's 1977 debut solo recording this week on CCM Classic's Vinyl Revival.
Side One -
1. Rock And Roll Preacher
2. You Ask Me Why
4. Quiet Hour
5. Everybody Knows For Sure
Side Two -
3. Lay Your Burden Down
4. Slow Down
5. Sometimes Alleluia
All songs written by Chuck Girard, except Everybody Knows For Sure which was written by
Chuck Girard and Denny Correll.
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