Home > Uncategorized > 88. Gentle Faith – Gentle Faith

88. Gentle Faith – Gentle Faith

GENTLE FAITH (1976)

Gentle Faith

Formed in 1974 and using the name “Jubal,” by the time the band got around to working out a record deal with Calvary Chapel’s Maranatha Music it was discovered that another local band had a similar name, Jubal’s Last Band. In order not to confuse listeners it was decided that actually both bands would change their name. The Darrel Mansfield lead Jubal would become Gentle Faith while the other band would choose the moniker, Daniel Amos.

The later would go on to record a library filled with amazing music while the former would release just one, self-titled, album. But what a great album that one was. Lead by vocalist Darrell Mansfield, guitarist and vocalist Henry Cutrona joined Don Gerber, Paul Angers and Steve Kara to form Gentle Faith.

Musical styles range from rock to country with the latter being dominate. This was not unusual as many Jesus Music bands merged to the genres, perhaps to be a bit more palatable to the Church at large. But there is plenty of rock here, mixed with great banjo and fiddle driven county and Dixie. Ultimately this album would launch Mansfield’s 30 plus year career.

Many consider the album one of the definitive Jesus Music albums with its unbelievably strong production given its unbelievably small budget and its combination of Jesus People themes and evangelical zeal.

The album starts with an acoustic and string driven ballad, “Simple Song,” that sounds quite a bit like something from Love Song’s debut. Cutrona even sounds a little like a cross between John Mehler and Chuck Girard. This soft opener set the lyrical theme of of the album as it contains simple, up front messages regarding the Gospel in a very listenable setting.

The musical sound shift immediately, though, with “Living in the Sunshine.” This is a rollicking rocker voiced by Mansfield and sounds like something from his debut release. Mansfield was already an accomplished singer, performer and harmonica player at this time and the harmonica takes center stage here. But there is also a small brass section creating a fuller sound than many of the albums released at the same time. It would also be here that the Rapture would be mentioned the first of several times on the album, continuing a popular Jesus Music theme.

A more “southern” banjo driven country rocker follows with “The Whole Lump of Dough.” The style is not too far removed from what was also heard on the first two Daniel Amos releases, especially “Meal.” The problem of expanding sin is the theme here.

Mansfield returns to the lead vocals on the mid-tempo rocker “It’s So Good to Know.” Not as country oriented, the song does have an Eagles vibe to it. The song describes God’s faithfulness in light of our faithlessness.

The highlight of the album – and one of the ten best Jesus Music songs of all time – is “Jerusalem.” Mansfield would cover this on a solo album several years later. Starting as a slow, acoustic rocker, the song builds and builds into a great blues based rocker with an amazing guitar solo. Every verse builds with added instrumentation and Mansfield’s voice is just flawless. The song is call for Israel to repent and embrace their long-awaited Messiah. The song should have been about twice as long (which it was live when Mansfield later performed it). If any song could have been Jesus Music’s “Stairway to Heaven” it was this amazing song.

“Noah” is a song for its time and now sounds a little more like something that could have been on the first Psalty the Singing Songbook album. The song is a banjo driven toe-tapper that does not stand the test of time as much as the rest of the release.

The pop rocker “My Love For You” also can be compared to the better rockers on “Shotgun Angel,” but with a touch of jazz. Perhaps David and the Giants is a better comparison.

The best of the country rockers is the great “Goin’ Back Home.” Here is the perfect blend of fun and funky southern rock. Mansfield sounds uncannily like BJ Thomas on this song for some reason. This would have fit right in with what Mylon LeFevere was recording at the time. It also became a popular youth group sing-a-long at the time.

Cutrona and Mansfield vocal duties on “Turnaround,” a great rocker more akin with ELO, Alan Parsons and Supertramp than anything resembling country. It may also be why I find it to be one of the two best songs on the album. The diversity never bothered me (and still doesn’t) I only wish there were more songs like this one given just how good of a song it is.

The album closes with “Home,” a great power ballad, before they were called that. Seriously, it a bit more like The Eagles than anything on the album and would have fit perfectly on Desperado or On the Border. The song deals with the internal struggle to find a resting place (home) and the idea one can only find that in Christ. This is actually a compelling theme from Hebrews 4. It also worked as a great song before or during an altar call, a common evangelical practice in certain circles.

Easily one of the best and most important “Jesus Music” albums of all time, Gentle Faith provides a great glimpse into both the simplicity and power of the music being created at the time and an important landmark in the history of Christian music.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Don
    April 9, 2011 at 3:37 am

    I suppose back in the day it was great. It sounds pretty good today – if you like the soft country rock sound, maybe still great.

  2. April 10, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I had more fun than a barrel of monkeys working on this project with – Virgil Beckham – Henry, Darrell, Don, Steve, and Paul. One of the highlights was recording a live rainstorm with a large diaphragm condenser tube-mic at Buddy King’s home studio in Huntington Beach … this brought “Noah” to life in the third dimension.

    When I began working my way through the mixing process – I believed that I could “see” the music better if a state-of-the-art studio could be obtained – one within our budget constraints – (which at that time with Maranatha was well below the modest line). So my quest was pretty much an impossible task. But, I went to North Hollywood anyway after being told of a studio with an English console made by Trident – the “B” range board. Art Garfunkel had recorded his first solo L.P. there – austere sounding.

    When I arrived – it was early and the place was dark – but the door was open. The tech showed me the control room door and said “go ahead and look around – the previous session has been in there all night – so I don’t think they’d care if you have a look.”

    I walked in – all the lights dimmed nearly completely down. I could hear the faint voice of someone sort-of singing and mumbling and noticed that several people in the room were passed out – on the floor – couch – and chairs. I kept hearing this little voice singing in between exclamations of “hey … hope you’re getting this,” in an English accent that sounded weirdly familiar. This place was HUGE. And, as I finally focused in the dim light, I could see at the other end of the main room a man wielding a bottle while sitting on a stool in front of a Telefunken M251 tube mic.

    It was apparent that a cassette recorder had been capturing these antics – but then while I was standing there – the tape ran out. Fearing that this would ruin the inspiration generated during the overnight session, I tried to find the talk-back mic to no avail. Within a few seconds – I found the door – ran through it and quietly exclaimed, “the cassette tape has just run out.”

    The face at the other end of the room, becoming more apparent with every step, spoke again in this concocted Beatle-esque English accent, “well get another cassette – there’s too much going on here to miss!” While closing in on the man wielding what was now apparently a bottle of Scotch whiskey, I said, “uh, I’m just coming in to have a look at the studio – everyone in the control room is passed out!” The face was becoming clearer with every step – a very familiar face. I was stunned and the words blurted out, “Harry Nilsson? … Wow.”

    He reached out his arm to gather me and whispered in my ear, “don’t wake them up, that way they won’t know they’ve missed anything!” I laughed and barely missed being nailed by the bottle as he swung it up for what appeared to be the final “glug.” Then – acquiescing – Harry exclaimed drunkly, “well – I guess all good things must come to an end.”

    I reached out to steady him and we walked back into the control room, while I described my plight – needing a top-shelf studio with pretty-much no money. I suggested that perhaps we could use the “mid-night to morning” hours after the night session quits (if it would) – and perhaps I could pay “cash” – and be able to use this great room. Harry said “what kind of project is this – a band or what?” to which I proudly stated, “it’s a Christian music project with a band called “Gentle Faith.” His eyes widened quite a bit – as if he were peering at the burning bush or something … then blurted out “give me a minute” in a coarse whisper, laying an index finger aside his nose.

    I followed him stumbling down the hall where he disappeared in the manager’s office. When I showed my face in the doorway, the manager, who had been expecting me – said quickly, while nervously shutting his top drawer, “uh, hold on – I’ll be right with you – go back and have a look around and I’ll call for you – or just wait in the hall.”

    Having seen a mirror on the Trident console with white stuff smeared around on it and a few editing razor blades haphazardly laying about, I kinda got the picture that they all had been doing something that “might be related to drugs.” And that’s probably why they shut the office door. I could hear laughing and “snorting” going on – which was intriguing – but made me a little sad – and scared. I mean – I was 19 – fresh into Jesus Music at 16 when I got “saved” and had no idea about the heavier things beyond pot.

    I just lingered … and a few moments later – I could hear Harry talking about my plight and me. The door popped open with Harry’s head looking around for me – he said, “come here … I am going to be your attorney and represent you.” I was astonished – it seemed so much like a carnival approach to what I needed. But shook my head “yes” saying “okay.” He then said, “now this band of yours, General Flake – uh Gentle Flutes … what was it?” I corrected, “Gentle Faith.” Harry said, “Ah …” and tucked his head back in the door, closing it slightly.

    Another moment later he poked his head out again and asked, “what do you propose paying to rent the place?” I said, “well, we pay $55 per hour at Mama Jo’s … and that’s the most I can afford.” He quickly shut the door again, mumbling in loud whispers to the manager. His head popped out again, exclaiming, “it’s a deal if you pay cash at the end of each session.” I said, “yep, I can do that.”

    Harry opened the door and invited me in. Once again I noticed that the top desk drawer was being carefully closed, and they were both sniffing and wiping their noses, finger and thumb. The manager stated, “well, Harry here has convinced me that this is a good deal and I should take it. So – if you bring me cash – I can give you the rate of $55 an hour – as long as you can wait for the night session to be done … deal?” I was elated, “deal.”

    In the following control-room encounter, I discovered that the Trident console had “quad” pan-pots. An instrument could be patched into them to give it “motion” that was unlike merely panning left and right in the stereo field. Have a listen to “Turnaround” – which cross-fades in as “Noah” fades out. This is a “favorite moment” during my early production and engineering career in L.A. – JDB 1976.

    © 2011 Hole In The Sky Productions.

  3. April 10, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    P.S. I was actually “20” years old – misstating “19” – this happened during the summer – some months prior to my 21st b-day.

  4. April 10, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    P.S. #2 … David mentions “Alan Parsons” in his review. Alan had mentored me during Ambrosia’s first self-titled L.P. and again on their second recording, “Somewhere I’ve Never Traveled.” With “Turnaround” completed on the Gentle Faith recording, I told Alan about this room with its Trident “B” console. He immediately wanted to see the place, and I drove him there, introduced him to the manager, and played what I had done on “Turnaround.” Afterward – he booked the studio for a mass of hours on the Al Stewart project, “Year of the Cat.”

  5. Shawn McLaughlin
    April 10, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Very cool stories, JDB, especially as a HUGE Nilsson fan. That was one interesting, tragicomic cat.

    • April 10, 2011 at 9:28 pm

      Thanks Shawn … thing that is most astonishing is that Harry had never met me prior to this – and yet acted as if we were great friends from the git-go. He was quite the adult child.

  6. don
    April 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    How embarrassing – to give a measured stupid “review” of a disc I have never fully listened to, and then have JDB come on next and reveal himself to be the producer. And then to top it all off with a great story involving Nilson and craziness.

    Thanks for the background, Jonathan. I remember looking at a lot of albums back in the day that I liked and trying to figure out who produced them. Many times it was you or Jack Puig (was that his name?) a protege of yours, I think. What would Christian rock be without you? Probably still great, but you did a great job, man!

    • low5point
      April 10, 2011 at 10:51 pm

      Jack Joseph Puig was a great producer of keyboard oriented music, but his mixes of guitar stuff was weak. One example of this is the mixes of Leslie Phillips great Beyond Saturday Night…the keyboards are way and up some amazing guitar work is totally lost in the mix and nearly indecipherable

      • April 11, 2011 at 12:44 am

        P.S. Jack Puig was 2nd engineer on several M!M projects for me – especially while working at Martinsound – where he and I both kinda hung our hats for a while. Jack had good ears – and was quite analytical. I’ve missed him over the years as we had a load of fun.

    • April 11, 2011 at 12:40 am

      Not a prob bro … actually – I migrated into “producer by default” sometime during the project, as was common on a number of recordings back in the day. I am listed as engineer. The Gentle Faith record was “produced” by Virgil Beckham – who had worked with a number of high profile artists such as Richie Furay and Freddie Field. Virgil and me both shared a working relationship with Al Perkins (Stephen Stills Manasseh and Flying Burrito Bros) on various projects. I cannot recall the exact circumstances that led to me carrying the weight of the Gentle Faith recording, except I have a vague recollection that somehow Virgil had other things going on – and I offered to just “do the work” for him. He must have trusted that I would finish it right, although I might have twisted his arm a bit. My passionate personality had the potential to railroad people when I’d get on a bandwagon. 😉

    • April 11, 2011 at 6:37 am

      Don, the paragraph that starts below with “not a prob bro” was meant to answer yours – don’t know how I got the wrong button! Thanks for the encouraging remarks. Be Blessed … JDB

  7. April 11, 2011 at 12:51 am

    P.S. #3 – It’s “My Love For You” that cross-fades following “Noah” !!! “Turnaround” was two cuts later – and standalone. That is indeed the tune that I demoed for Alan Parsons … but my placement had lost it’s place. 😉 Had to go back and listen – years later!

  8. April 11, 2011 at 6:40 am

    Strange things happen with this page! My post in response to Don still didn’t appear under the correct one – and I’m sure I hit it correctly this time. Reminds me of an early version of Cakewalk I tried to use – once. 🙂

  9. Don
    April 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Thanks, JDB – I figured it was for me

    I noticed the album is available for download at amazon as well.

    • April 12, 2011 at 4:46 am

      Yeah – I had to grab it – just to bring it back … that’s why I was even able to make a correction about the sequence I had incorrectly merged in my head. We were really trying to make big records with squat – sometimes it nearly happened! lol .. For me it was such a great blessing to be part of M!M during that era. I get a rush thinkin’ about it – and appreciate the reviews and comments here greatly.

  10. John Ward
    April 12, 2011 at 4:06 am

    Hey, just found the site; great work! I grew up in Dallas TX. …. mid 70s thru mid 80s …. listening to KPBC, & other early CCM/Jesus music stations. I notice that their were some tremendously popular artists & bands: such as, Reba Rambo,(Lady/The Prodical According To….etc.) Lamb,(Lamb I/II/III et al) Larnell Harris, (Give Me More Love In my Heart, etc.) David Stearman, (Together Forever) The Wall Brothers, (In Your Light, etc.) Nutshell, (Begin Again, Believe It Or Not, etc.) Ken Medema, (Through The Eyes Of Love, Sunday Afternoon, etc.) Andrus, Blackwood, & Co. (Live, Soldier Of The Light/Step out Of The Night, etc.) Albrecht, Roley, & Moore, (Starlighter, etc.) Andrae Crouch, (Take Me Back, Keep On Singing, etc.) Were these artists only regionally significant?? I thought you might be stearing clear of Miss Rambo/Mrs. McGuire Because of her marital troubles {which at the time, shocked many a Pharisee,} but you’ve covered Knapp, Phillips, & the whole “Chidren Of The Day thing. What if any thoughts do you have on these Artist/Ministers? To borrow a phrase from one of my best loved bands… “Awaiting Your Reply.” {:-)> In His Mercy: JOHN

    • low5point
      April 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm

      One of the rules I placed upon myself was that I had to own the album. In most cases, the above mentioned artists are in my catalog but not all. Another rule was that a title could be “dated” but that the albums needed to withstand the test of time. Now it completely subjective I understand, but many mentioned di not make it while there are those yet to be listed.

      I will also finish this blog with a list of albums that I wished I would have included. Some were flat out mistakes while others were lost in the shuffling of cutting and pasting. others were just based on bias’ against the artists entire catalog. It will also be there that readers can list those titles they would have liked to have seen included.

      Finally, I mentioned in the beginning a general dislike of “Inspirational” and “Southern Gospel” and, as a result, there is very limited numbers represented. In fact, Sandi Patty’s one album included may be the only “Inspo” album on the list.

  11. Don
    April 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Good questions, John!

  12. Greenchili
    January 12, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Cool to hear the story from people involved (JDB).. Oh and thank you low5point for NOT including “Inspirational” or “Southern Gospel”. 🙂

  13. Kenny Allen
    August 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    One of my favorite albums. Period. Blessed to see Mansfield several times the last few years. Still rockin’ it with a heart thirsting for Creator.

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