What Does Final Touch & Mamma Jo's Have in Common? Answer is Love Song Raed all About It!!! By Philip Mayaab

 I am so happy to be back doing what I enjoy, and that is playing the music I love, and writing about it as well.  I hope that everyone had a tremendous Christmas season, and that you're off to a great start in 2019.  I missed a couple of weeks due to some health issues (I'm not as young as I once was), and having to move (please don't get me started), but I am ready to roll with our first Vinyl Revival blog of 2019.

This week, we're going back...WAY back, some 45 years for our feature LP.  I still remember a few things from 1974, I was 7 years old, I started the second grade at Meramec Heights Elementary school in my hometown of Arnold, MO., and that year I received one of my all time favorite Christmas gifts, a Mickey Mouse watch with the vintage red leather band, which I still have, although it needs to be repaired.  I might be able to recall some more things if I thought about it long and hard enough, but I do not wish to bore all of our readers to death.  1974 just happens to be the year that LoveSong, considered by many to be one of the greatest bands in the history of CCM, recorded their second, and last studio LP, appropriately titled Final Touch.

That title was far more than a mere afterthought...the members of LoveSong had already decided that they would soon disband, even after the tremendous success of their iconic, self titled debut album.  Even though they had fancied that first LP as a concept album, the second was not to have a running theme, providing extra possibilities for the band, and for the music. One of the biggest was that they would be able to record some songs that had been written initially for the first album, but didn't make the final cut.  Several of those songs were brought in, plus more brand new material written for the sophomore effort.  Also, original LoveSong drummer John Mehler had rejoined the band, so no studio drummer was needed to fill out the rhythm section.  Finally, strings and some horns were added to the sessions, to accentuate the band's musical M.O.

According to the band's official website* Final Touch was the very first session at the now legendary Mama Jo's Studio in North Hollywood.  The story is told that several members of LoveSong picked up hammers and nails, and actually helped build the studio, which at the time was owned by the head of their record company,  Freddie Piro.  Not only did they get to be the first artist to record at Mama Jo's, their hard work provided them some sweat equity, and a break on the price to book the studio, which can be VERY costly.  So the band finally went to work on the album, and since they were employing different techniques in the production of their second LP, the sessions took quite a while to finish, according to keyboardist Chuck Girard, but when all was said and done, LoveSong had added another fantastic LP to their short resume.

Anyone who has listened to both of the band's studio recordings will instantly recognize the musical differences between the two.  Where the debut album put the spotlight on the band's vocals and writing abilities, with an almost minimalistic approach to the musical tracks, Final Touch upped the ante by adding the aforementioned string and horns, making it very distinguishable from their first album.  The fact that they called in some extra musicians to play guitars, flutes, and other instruments instantly meant that the second album would sound a bit different.  While that may not be big deal for most artists, the problem was that LoveSong, the band's 1972 debut had been so well received, that it had essentially set the standard for how a CCM band should sound in the early 70s, and the differences in Final Touch's finished product were not as well received by the fans, and ultimately the second LP did not sell as well as the first one did. However, that is not to say that Final is a bad album, because it is still has the signature country rock style that won LoveSong an adoring legion of fans just two years earlier.  The band's tight harmonies, which in my opinion are Christian music's equivalent to Crosby, Stills, and Nash, are front and center on each of the album's 11 tracks, and though musical styles range a little, Final Touch is still a top notch recording for its time.  The country rockers are very reminiscent of mainstream rock bands like the Eagles and Doobie Brothers, and even with the extra strings, the album's ballads soar beautifully over those tight harmonies and hard hitting lyrics.

In short, while it may not be the ground breaker that the band's debut album was, Final Touch was a more than capable follow up to one of the greatest classic CCM LPs of all time. From Michelangelo's classic painting The Creation Of Adam on both the front and back of the album jacket, to the 11 wonderful songs on the vinyl inside, this is an album that I believe most classic CCM fans should have in their music collection, along with the band's debut also.  It has often been said that the Jesus Music era began out of the need for Christ centered pop and rock music to minster to newly converted hippies in the late 60s, and if that is indeed correct, LoveSong completely got it right. Although they will still perform occasionally, it is what they did in three short years (1972, 73, and 74), and with only two studio LPs that have forever made the band's mark on what we now know as Contemporary Christian Music.  Many of the artists who became household names in the 80s and beyond list LoveSong as a major influence on their music, and when you hear either of their two studio albums, you will understand why.


Side One - 

1. Since I Opened Up The Door (Chuck Girard & Fred Field)

2. Joyous Lament (Chuck Girard & Fred Field)

3. Jesus Puts The Song In Our Hearts (Chuck Girard & Fred Field)

4. The Cossack Song (Tommy Coomes & Tom Stipe)

5. Think About What Jesus Said (Chuck Girard)

6. Short Allelujah (Tommy Coomes)

Side Two - 

1. Living Water (Chuck Girard & Jay Truax)

2. Sunday Afternoon (Tommy Coomes, Fred Field & Chuck Girard)

3. Book Of Life (Tommy Coomes & Chuck Girard)

4. Don't You Know (Chuck Girard)

5. Little Pilgrim (Chuck Girard)


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