229. Benny From Here – Benny Hester
BENNY FROM HERE (1985)
If Benny Hester released “Benny From here” with only one song on it, it would still be included on this list as long as that song was “When God Ran.” When the single was released it made an immediate impact on Christian radio and went on to be the longest running number one song in CCM history.
Fortunately for Hester and the listening public, the rest of the album is filled with some of Hester’s finest songwriting and was a major departure from his previously more AC/MOR sound. Much edgier and vocally more forced and rock driven, this album marked a marked departure from Hester’s previous work.
Though never really considered a Jesus Music artists, Benny began his Christian music career in the early 70’s with a very rare self-titled album in 1972. The warehouse where the album was being stored burned to the ground the label it was released on mysteriously disappeared and the album received little, if any, distribution. Six years later he would release another self-titled album, this time for the CCM market and it would contain several classics on for the time.
After several years as a radio darling and consistent seller Hester released BFH and shocked the industry. Much less Christopher Cross and more Phil Collins, BFH became Hester’s best selling album. The album is filled with great songs, killer production and a lyrical content that strayed from the normally safe CCM standard. The lead track deals with emotional and physical infidelities that start in the mind and echoes Christ’s word regarding our hidden thought lives which could include pornography, lust or any other physical or emotional attachment. Other songs deal with the Gospels reach into darker places (Streets of Las Vegas), relational evangelism (Susie said, Yeah), loneliness, spiritual seeking and a host of other topics. All rolled into strong musical canvases of rock and ballads. A special note of consideration for the great guitar work on several songs.
But ultimately the album is remembered for the classic, When God Ran. The retelling of the Prodigal Son told in the first person at first listen almost sounds shocking as the chorus refers to God as “running.” This is after a verse in which Hester declares the eternal, powerful and majestic qualities of God. When the revelation of the chorus reveals God, playing the part of the father in the Biblical tale, is running to meet His prodigal the song becomes intensely moving and unforgettable. If this blog ever counts down the greatest “songs” in CCM history this will undoubtedly be in the Top 5.
Hester would follow with a much too similar, but no where near as good release and two releases for Frontline records. But for some time Hester was the biggest name in CCM.