In the world of recorded music, few things are more classic than a good vinyl LP.  Vinyl brings up memories of days gone by for older generations, and feelings of nostalgia for the younger folks, and those are some of the reasons that vinyl is enjoying a resurgence in popularity worldwide.  That upturn in LP sales also brings up the long time debated question which is better, CDs or vinyl?  Most serious music lovers have a passionate opinion on the matter, and some have pretty good arguments to back said opinions, but one thing is certain, VINYL IS ALIVE AND WELL!!

Whether you are hearing Amy Grant's 1977 debut album on vinyl for the first time, or you regularly put your worn out copy of the Imperials One More Song For You on the turntable, there's just something magical about listening to classic music on an LP.  The music sounds warmer than it does on CD, even with the constant pops and occasional scratches that come with the territory, and that is why music lovers of all ages love vinyl so much.  Not only does it sound different, it is now considered hip to own a turntable, and some records to play on much so that fans of all ages are more than willing to shell out more money for a vinyl copy of their favorite artist's music.  Teenagers are now going through mom and dad's record collection to see what classics they bought back in the day, and parents find it delightful that their children actually enjoy listening to the music that they once enjoyed when they were young.

We here at CCM Classic feel a sense of responsibility to connect fans of all ages to the timeless songs of days gone by, as well as the legendary artists who performed them.  With that in mind, we want to present a new program called Vinyl Revival, that focuses on not only the classic vinyl recordings of the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but also on some of those rare albums that older fans may have forgotten, and younger ones have probably never heard of.  Each album will be played in its entirety, with all of the quirks left in place, meaning you hear it the way it sounded when it was first released.  This will give the full vinyl experience to fans of all ages, recapturing the analog magic that is classic CCM in a way that CDs and digital formatted music just cannot deliver.

For our first program, we decided to go about as classic as it gets...we're going back 50 years, to the Imperials iconic 1968 release entitled New Dimensions.  Most everyone knows who the Imperials are, at least if you're a fan of vintage CCM.  They are one of the most awarded artists in the history of the genre, and one of the pioneering artists of the early days of contemporary Christian music.  After recording an unheard of 12 albums in their first four years of existence, the Imperials rebooted in late 1967 after four of the original five founding members (including founder Jake Hess) had left, and came out firing on all eight cylinders with a new lineup that included a new, young lead singer by the name of Terry Blackwood (yes, THAT one), and a new sound that was chronicled to perfection on their first album together, the aptly titled New Dimensions.  They began to gently pull away from the country, southern based gospel sound that they had perfected from 1964 to 1967, adding more strings, and electric guitars to accompany their tight, four part harmonies.  The newer, more modern sound left many southern gospel radio stations and DJs between a rock and a hard place, and since there were no contemporary stations at the time, the Imperials began to see less airplay in the markets and on the airways that they had ruled during their days with fan favorite Jake Hess at the helm.  But the group was determined to make a go of their new musical direction, and persistence would pay off eventually, although there were several lean years to endure.  One huge fan of the Imperials new sound was a singer from Memphis named Elvis Presley, so much so that he invited the group to sing backup for him in his live shows, which of course they did for a few years in the early 70s, much to the dismay of traditional gospel music fans, who felt the group was too worldly for their musical taste.  But after some lineup changes that would bring in familiar names like Larry Gatlin, Sherman Andrus, and Russ Taff, the Imperials became the biggest name in the contemporary Christian music industry by the early 80s.  The road to that success began with our first feature album New Dimensions.

The harmony here is impeccable...the lineup featured founding bass singer Armond Morales, tenor Jim Murray, baritone Roger Wiles, lead singer Blackwood, and pianist/emcee Joe Moscheo.  This was in fact, the same personnel that would sing with Elvis in Las Vegas, and are shown in the movie That's The Way It Is.  The set list of 12 songs was a rather diverse offering of tunes penned by writers familiar to southern gospel, such as Dottie Rambo and Bill Gaither, and some not so familiar, such as Ralph Carmichael.  But one of the biggest surprises was the last song on side one, a cover of The Impossible Dream which had been popularized in the Broadway musical Man Of La Mancha.  This only solidified the notion that the Imperials were changing direction musically, and would move farther and farther away from the signature sound of their southern gospel days.  Not to completely leave their original sound behind, the group decided to bring in Jake Hess to sing the lead on I Know Who It Is (And I'm Gonna Tell On Him).  It would be his final appearance on an Imperials album.

This album is truly a fact a chapter in the story of a group that would endure years of ridicule and scorn among the gospel music elite, yet come out on top to rule the emerging contemporary Christian music genre some ten years later.  They say the road to anywhere always starts somewhere, and for the legendary Imperials, this is somewhere.  Their first album without Jake Hess, first album with a modern sound, and our first album in our new Vinyl Revival series, we invite you to enjoy 1968's classic New Dimensions in all its vinyl glory...


Released - 1968

Label - Impact Records / The Benson Co.

Producer - Bob MacKenzie

Track list -

1. So Many Times

2. His Name Is Wonderful

3. (We've Got A) Great Big, Wonderful God

4. Walk With Me

5. He's Everything To Me

6. The Impossible Dream

7. On The Other Side

8. Marvelous Grace

9. Exodus

10. I Know Who It Is (And I'm Gonna Tell On Him) - featuring Jake Hess

11. (I Will) Lean On His Arm

12 . I'm Gonna Be There

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