326. Bethlehem – Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM (1978)

Bethlehem

I am full convinced that more than even the Beatles, the most influential band on Jesus Music was The Eagles. The Way, Parable, Daniel Amos and countless others always seem to be compared to The Eagles. My thesis is that they country/folk/rock was considered “safer” within Church walls than the Beatles, Beach Boys and Rolling Stones.

That being said the band that pulled off the comparison best was easily Bethlehem. The songwriting seems legitimate and band leader, Danny Daniels, had the perfect voice for the job. The band released one album on Maranatha Music in 1978 and disbanded shortly after. One reviewer noted that “Desert Song” was a dead ringer for “Peaceful, Easy Feeling” and he was right on.

The band separated itself during its short tenure by incredible musicianship, wonderful harmonies and very memorable songs. The album also sported some of the finest production for the time with Jonathan Brown, Tom Stipe and Al Perkins.

Side One is more melodic and pop/country influenced while side two demonstrates a bit more rock and creative influence. This is most notable on the album closer, Pilgrim, which features lengthy instrumental breaks, a wall of backing vocals and a more progressive arrangement. Side two also contain a personal and fan favorite, Night Rider, which has more in common with The Outlaws than the Eagles with a great story telling vocal and big chorus.

Themes on the album are very consistent with music from the era with songs of repentance, community and more than a few obligatory “end times” songs. Of all of the bands from that era, Bethlehem was a notch above most on nearly all fronts from songwriting and production to musicianship and performance. Daniels went on to a great solo career as many of his solo albums are worth owning.

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  1. ted patterson
    November 2, 2010 at 3:50 am

    Also heard that another album was completed but never released.

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