1. The 77’s – The 77’s

THE 77’s (1987)

The 77’s

Released within a few weeks of U2’s “The Joshua tree” on the exact same label, this album was supposed to make a rock stars out the band and make Christian Music’s finest rock band a household name. “The Joshua Tree” caught fire, became the biggest thing in the label’s history and The 77’s became cut out bin material in the mind of the label. Though nestled within the grooves of this masterpiece in the finest collection of rock songs Christian Music has ever produced. there is such diversity, creativity and originality that it stands beyond the test of time and continues to deliver the finest listening experience by a Christian band.

I have spent countless reviews discussing the fact that Michael Roe is one of the greatest treasures in Christian Music. There may be better songwriters (Terry Scott Taylor, Mark Heard) better guitarists (Phil Keaggy?) and better live performers (Bono?), but none that have the hat tricks of being amongst the very best in all categories. Roe would clearly rank amongst the best in every measurable category and on the self0titled third release it came together in abrilliant fashion.

the album also features what I believe is, by far, the finest line-up the band ever compiled. Their extensive live performances at the time allowed them to fine tune some amazing rock chops and work through the songs included on this project so that the album feels very live and frenetic while polished and perfect. Roe’s collection of songs here combines the finest in self-indulgent  experimentation and finely and perfectly crafted pop tunes in a rock setting. There is literally not a single blemish and every song is brilliant unto itself, despite the variety and limitless risks taken on several cuts.

This combination of radio friendly pop rock, acoustic tinged Americana and experimental rock and blues is appealing to both critic and “fan” alike. That is a truly rare combination.

I have dealt in detail with the history of the band in other reviews and won’t do so here. This is all about the album. I am going to guess Roe will read the review (like he did of previous ones) and tell me I am wrong about several opinions expressed.

Oh well…

If any complaint can be made about the album it is that it is too short. Recorded at a time when vinyl and cassette were still the primary formats, the length of an album was always an issue. Later releases would offer songs left off this amazing project and would prove to be worthy of inclusions of their own.

The album starts with what should have been a number one rock radio hit, “Do It For Love.” This inspiring and inspired rock song contains the bands finest and most memorable hook to that point and would offset an album filled with regret, misery, loss and confusion. But what a brilliant way to kick of such an album, with a joyous song revealing in love and experience, both emotional and spiritual. The rollicking 60’s influence guitar sound would be repeated elsewhere on the project, but here it sounds so fresh and different, which set against the backdrop of the rest of the music scene at the time.

After such a joyous introduction, Roe’s reflections of love turn darker and more internal. “I Can’t get Over It” deals with the reality of how ones own selfish decision to not forgive leaves true love behind and replaces it with regret and bitterness.  Roe’s self-realization is haunting as everyone has seen someone they love throw away something good even though they could have easily saved the situation by being honest and humble. This is a difficult emotion to overcome. Musically, it is still a very hook driven rock song, with some of Aaron Smith’s finest drum work; not for its complexity but rather for its sheer power and punch! Roe is never content to let a song rest on its own hook, but rather, he adds such passion and attitude into the performace that it breaks through where other songs would be soon forgotten.

The same aggressive rock riff follows with “What Was In That Letter.” Roe’s improved songwriting here allows for a double meaning to persists. Whether it is a real letter written from a lost love or convicting friend, or whether it is God’s letter the Bible, the song message rings true. Roes gruff vocals here stand out against a more rough edged guitar sound in the chorus. What really stands out though is the inclusion of an acoustic piano accompanying the riffing guitar. It gives the song a sound akin top The waterboys or even the Smiths, but with a decidedly heavier sound.

A long standing live favorite and utterly brilliant recording performance follows with “Pearls Before Swine.” Recorded with an “as live” soundtrack, this aggressively blues rock number shows Roe’s supremacy as songwriter and rock vocalist. But even more so it is here that the CCM world discovered that Michael roe is clearly one of the great rock guitarists that has ever graced it’s stage. The whiny and winding riffs just weave in and out and through the listener. the song starts heavy and somehow actually builds and builds. the crescendo is a pure rock orgasm. It is both painful and exhilarating. As Roe moans and then screams the words “veil of ashes” over and over the song just transcends anything CCM had ever witnessed with the band nearly out of control in some sort of progressive blues experiment. The band Veil of Ashes would take their name from this song.

After this the breathless listener is then jolted back to reality with a musical expression utterly and completely different. “The Lust, the Flesh, the Eyes and the Pride of Life” follows with what should have been the biggest hit in the bands history. The Byrds influence is unmistakable with the jangly guitar and lyrical scheme heavily influenced by the legendary band. It should be noted here that there has been some discussion about a potential Top Songs in CCM history blog. Since I would be crazy to attempt such a feat, I will let the cat out of the bag that this song would be my hands down number one. It is about a perfect rock song as has ever been written. the melody is timeless, the performance spot on, and without the aid of long guitar solos or crazy instrumentation, the band simply put together a brilliantly simple song that will remain a true classic.

Regret again takes center stage thematically with “Frames With a Photograph.” The mid-tempo rocker finds Roe in familiar territory and sounds a bit like a handful of songs from “All Fall Down.” The sense of longing Roe projects is so real and human that nearly all could relate to the message. Again here Roe makes the song more universal by allowing the listener to determine whether the one who can fill the frame is God or another person. This allows for a much more universal expression and a better song overall.

“Don’t Say Goodbye” is perfect Roe song. A cool little groove mixed a sultry vocal line that turns quickly rock and roll. Again we find Smith’s drum work driving the song onto a different level. Rather than dealing with guilt of loss Roe expresses the frustration of a loved one who selfishly leaves and has yet to find and greener grass despite the promise. Yet there is a longing from Roe for the person to stay. this conflict of frustration and love is again a more universal theme than most CCM bands would ever dare to address. Musically it is not too far removed from “Someone New” but with a much better guitar riff and solo.

A long time favorite has been the melodious “Bottom Line.” This is all about the groove. Sexy and soulful, the song just pulls the listener in. It is inescapable. The song also contains one of Roe’s finest lines with “Peace of heart is better than peace of mind.” the song never bursts into some sort of rock cliche, but stays true to itsel;f and delivers on content and performance.

The album closes with a stream of consciousness experiment acoustic folk rocker called “I Could laugh.” It is both utterly odd and utterly brilliant at the same time. many have struggled with the unconventional lyrics including lines about having a “rocket in my pocket” and “what will get me off” and the way the song just plods along with no hook and even a suitable conclusion. It just is. And it just is brilliant. But the way Roe infuses similar imagery and spins the songs into different directions by using juxtapositions and repeated themes in different settings makes it truly an original. One example of what I mean is Roe’s use of the word “right” in back to back lines. in one line it refers to the direction while it later refers to the privilege. he uses homonyms like missed and mist in back to back lines as well.

I used to believe the song did not require repeated listens. now I find myself waiting anxiously for the song to start. I grab something new from it during every listen. At nearly 8 minutes and no instrumental break it is a lyrical tour de force and yet there is not a single line worthy of dismissal.

And with this epic acoustic ballad or sorts the album comes to end.

And so does this blog…at least the countdown part.


  1. Don
    January 9, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    It is finished indeed.

    I can finally sleep! No more crushing anxiety/curiosity about the top three!

    I am not sure I would call it number one – but I have no problem with it at number one.

    And, you sir, are number one in my book, Dave!


  2. Sterling
    January 9, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    Yep, one of my very favorites…………..this is the era that gave birth to the bastard step children of The 77’s; Veil of Ashes………we took our name from that line in “Pearls Before Swine” and were fortunate enough to play many major rock clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area with our “Uncle” Mikey…………great list and thanks for including us also…….much love from me, Brian Kirsch a.k.a. Sterling, the only and ever bassist Veil has ever known…….

  3. January 9, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Funny, My friend and I were just on Saturday talking about this album. We were listening to samples from Amazon. We noticed that The CCM Book “TOP 100” had a picture of “Pray Naked” but the review was about this album. I believe that this is a good album and it seems like worthy to buy. Although the prices are high…again. Thanks for the reviews and the list. It looks awesome. I have bought many albums because it. The latest were “Meltdown” and “Satellite Sky”. I love them both.

    • Josh Simpson
      August 6, 2012 at 8:14 pm

      Thankfully you can get a lot of albums at amazon through the mp3 store. 256k isn’t the same quality as you’d get with a cd, but it’s still better than baying lots of money for one album. Many classic Christian albums are on there now.

  4. Shawn McLaughlin
    January 9, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    Well……..that’s that! Sad to see it end.
    Now I am going to try and figure out my own top 50 and send it to you. Already know my top 5. 1.DFBB – DA, 2.OVTP – Norman, 3 Dig – AA, 4. Satellite Sky – Mark Heard 5. 77’s – 77’s.

    Thanks for doing this, Dave. It was a SERIOUS undertaking and, obviously, a labor of love. Huge kudos to you!

  5. Greenchili
    January 9, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    Oh drat.. I was hoping you’d have a go at top songs.. Just pick a big number and it will be alot easier.. Maybe you could even put the songs in groups of “interchangeable tens”… kinda like the top 3 and top 10 on this list… 🙂

  6. Greenchili
    January 9, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    FWIW the reason I was hoping is cause I thought the CCM top 100 song list was rather lacking and very uneven… Although the stories that went with each song was worth a read.

  7. Nathaniel Lee
    January 9, 2012 at 11:54 pm

    The 77s are an amazing band that still rock all the way!

  8. January 9, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    Great Album! One of my favorites! A very fitting end to this countdown. Thank you for putting all the effort into it. I’ve enjoyed reading about all of the albums and your experiences.

    So what is the next thing you’ll write about?

  9. Bill
    January 10, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Thank you so much for all your work on this project. KYMS was my favorite radio station when I was at Biola. I’m amazed at how close our music tastes are in many ways. Though, I think you lean a little more punk, new wave than I do. I agree with so many of your picks. I’m also a major Bruce Cockburn fan. Regardless of whether I agree with him or not on all of his political views. He’s an amazing songwriter & musician. I have most of his albums. Thank you for introducing me to The 77’s & Lost Dogs. Have you ever had the chance to hear Daily Planet. They only put out one album that I know of (Hero). But start to finish it is my families favorite album, and we all share different tastes, so that’s saying something. I would be surprised if you’ve heard it in full & it’s not on this list somewhere. Again thanks again. I liked this project so much. This is the first time I can remember ever following a blog, much less responding to one.

    • low5point
      January 10, 2012 at 1:04 am

      I really liked the album, but many albums that would have ranked here were left out in place of albums with historical significance...

  10. January 10, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Great choice for #1, and solid work overall!

  11. Shawn McLaughlin
    January 10, 2012 at 1:13 am

    The lead singer for Daily Planet, Jesse Butterworth, is now the lead worship pastor at Overlake Christian Church here in Washington….He has put out a few albums with his worship team.

  12. TMc
    January 10, 2012 at 2:33 am

    And so it ends, sigh, at least the countdown part. Thanks for all the work and background. Your love for the music is obvious throughout. So now we get the also ran albums that were left out for various reasons? Blessings

  13. Pat
    January 10, 2012 at 4:29 am

    George Harrison could make his guitar gently weep for the the whole world to hear, Jimmy Hendrix could make his guitar an incoming barrage of WMD’s to change generation. Neil Young’s guitar could hypnotize millions playing one single note repeatedly but when Mike Roe plays his guitar ,even the Angels take notice

    • Greenchili
      February 3, 2012 at 9:59 am

      “George Harrison could make his guitar gently weep for the the whole world to hear”

      Actually Eric Clapton played the guitar lead on that song. 🙂

  14. January 10, 2012 at 5:28 am

    i absolutely love the 77s but theres no way this beats joshua tree.

  15. Bill B
    January 10, 2012 at 7:40 am

    I have enjoyed following your album countdown. Thanks for all of your time/work!! I love lists and can only hope that you will treat us to another.

  16. January 10, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Dave, this is truly an amazing compilation and well deserving of the highest praise. I loved walking through my own musical history – essentially the sound track of my life – as I read through each of your commentaries. This is truly an insightful history of music devoted to one common thread – Jesus!

    At the same time, I am a little saddened at how few people heard much of this music. Main stream radio wouldn’t touch it, and neither would Christian radio. Those of us who purchased many of these albums the week they were released, had to discover them by the “hit and miss” method. Only occasionally were we fortunate enough to find a fellow traveler who introduced us to something cool. I remember using my Buy 3 get 1 Free coupon for “with Footnotes” by 2nd Chapter. The clerk had to convince me they weren’t hard acid rock to even get me to listen. When the needle hit the vinyl and “Which Way the Wind Blows” began, I was hooked. Acid rock? Really?

    I don’t know what is involved in creating an eBook, but I definitely think this needs to be archived on something beyond WordPress.

    Again, thank you for this amazing work.

  17. Sam
    January 10, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    A true classic that should have had them selling out arena’s back in the 80’s. The best 77’s disc by the classic Roe-Tootle-Eric-Smith line up.

  18. Shawn McLaughlin
    January 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Yes, that classic 77’s line-up is still my favorite. Dave mentioned, in the review, that Roe is especially well-rounded and I very much agree with that. In fact, I may be one of the few here that actually prefers his playing to Keaggy’s.

    In ’92, I was in Nashville (only time ever) for the Gospel Music Week festivities. I went to a club one night to see the GMA-sponsored “rock” show. Holy Soldier, Legend 7, Hoi Polloi and the 77’s. I went by myself (the friends I met and hung with were more into MWS and the like) and, very fortunately, happened to sit right next to Chris Colbert (Breakfast with Amy, Blonde Vinyl Lt. and producer) and Mike Knott. Knott became very animated when the 77’s came out for the final set. Roe began the unmistakeable riff to “Nobody’s Fault but Mine” and Knott went bat crap crazy, He clearly loved Roe’s playing. Afterward, he told me that he felt there wasn’t a more emotional or under-rated axe-player in the world than Mike Roe.

    To this day, I agree with that assessment. I also think he is criminally under appreciated as a singer…he has so many textures and hues to his voice…..very versatile. While his best songs are some of the finest ever written, I think the fact that he has had a devil of a time coming up with much new material in the past 15 years works against him. He readily admits that this is a problem, often remarking that he wishes he could “crank them out like sausages” in the manner of his buddy, Terry Scott Taylor.

  19. TeddyLane
    January 10, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    What a long strange trip it’s been! Thank you so much for all the great music I didn’t know and for all the rediscoveries! And now? I hope you’ll find some time, now, to listen to what you don’t own. Wovenhand, to name one…

  20. Charles H
    January 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    As much as I listened to The Joshua Tree when it was released, I listened to The 77’s more… and I still do. Not taking anything away from either LP. Both are great works of art. I just like this LP more.
    I’m not so sure I could have made a definitive decision on the top three. I do agree that the top three you chose each have their place at the top of the list.
    Great list of history and artistry. Thanks.

  21. adam
    January 10, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Agreed with the lineup… although I still like “All Fall Down” better. It could be that it came out in high school while the self-titled came out in college so I didn’t drive around for hours listening to this release while I played the heck out of AFD. That being said, I like this album a lot as long as I don’t have to listen to Pearls. It’s subjective, but it sounds too dreary to me and goes on FOREVER. I felt the same way about “Mercy Mercy” on AFD.

    Eh, to each their own. I *do* think that as a band, the Sevens deserved the top spot!

  22. January 11, 2012 at 2:50 am

    Truly a masterpiece, I am totally cool with this being number one! The 77’s are one of my top 5 favorite rock bands of all time, and this is by far their masterpiece. “Do It For Love” “Bottom Line” and “I Could Laugh” are three different examples of Roe’s style of songwriting, a killer rock song, a killer ballad, and a stream of consciousness blues number!

    As previously stated my number one album of all time would be Mark Heard’s “Satellite Sky” but that is more for personal reasons than historical reasons.

    Thanks so much for all your hard work Dave! It was a thrill hearing all your stories about meeting and working with many of these artists while you were working at KYMS and other places.

  23. Jacob Louchart
    January 11, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks for all the work on this. I have been introduced to new music, reintroduced to older stuff I had forgotten or dismissed, and confirmed in my own favorites as well. My list will be a little different, but yours is close enough to make a killer iTunes playlist that I have rarely stopped playing the last few months. Thanks again!

    • Jacob Louchart
      January 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      I just realized I didn’t address THIS album. I agree that it is spectacular, but I still have the original 9 song album. Should I upgrade to the expanded version? Anyone have some advice on this? Thanks!

      • Charles H
        January 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

        If you’re a big fan, I think it’s definitely worth it. Then again, I’m a big fan.

  24. dale urevig
    January 11, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    🙂 I have definitely Listened to this one as much, if not MoRe than any other Album.

    including the year when it came out, incl. any other CD from 1987, incl. any other 77’s CD
    incl. nostalgia listens in the last few years.

    so, I can concur #1 ♪

  25. Tim
    January 13, 2012 at 6:56 pm

    This album is like a greatest hits album all by itself. So many of these songs appeared on future albums with different versions. Great album beginning to end, though I tend to skip ‘I Could Laugh’ most times.

  26. citywideDan
    January 14, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    Just a brief note to say how much I enjoyed this list and the articles. A lot of my favorites and artists are on the top 500. Thank you Dave for your passion, knowlege and love of CCM music and sharing this with us.

    I noticed your interest varied but your choices are in the 80′s.
    I have compiled a brief summary of the top 25 artists on the list.
    The points are a method of breaking ties of similar album counts.
    For those interested how the points are generated for each album: take
    (500 – chart Position). An example #5 Keith Green would be 495 points
    Someone had suggested songs .. Wow !! that would be fun but very contraversial
    as well

    Pos. Artist-Group Albums Points
    1 Daniel Amos 8 3024
    2 Mark Heard 8 2385
    3 Phil Keaggy 6 2135
    4 Charlie Peacock 5 1869
    5 Seventy Seven’s (The 77′s) 5 1854
    6 Randy Stonehill 5 1796
    7 Larry Norman 5 1707
    8 Steve Taylor 5 1474
    9 U2 4 1576
    10 Vigalantes of Love 4 1366
    11 Resurrection Band 4 1362
    12 Bruce Cockburn 4 1316
    13 Adam Again 4 1234
    14 Sweet Comfort Band 4 1194
    15 Undercover 4 1119
    16 T-Bone Burnett 4 990
    17 Benny Hester 3 1153
    18 Amy Grant 3 1122
    19 2nd Chapter of Acts 3 1101
    20 Russ Taff 3 1071
    21 The Choir 3 958
    22 Degarmo and Key 3 906
    23 Keith Green 3 903
    24 Prodigal 3 852
    25 Bob Dylan 3 830

    also with 3 albums are & Bob Bennett, Jon Gibson, Julie Miller, Neal Morse,
    Petra, Servant, Stryper, and Toby Mac (in alpabetical order)

    • low5point
      January 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm

      This my rank as the single coolest comment on the entire blog…next, of course, to the actual artists who dropped by to comment. It also shows you may have as much extra time on your hands as i apparently did.

    • Tim
      January 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      Great breakdown. I looked at this a bit differently, including related albums by an artist in a given group to get a total.

      Daniel Amos/Terry Taylor/Swirling Eddies – 11
      Mark Heard/iDEoLA/Infinity Plus Three/tribute album – 9
      Michael Knott/LSU and variants/Aunt Bettys/Idle Lovell – 8
      Phil Keaggy/Glass Harp – 7
      Charlie Peacock/Vector – 7
      DC Talk/Toby Mac/Kevin Max – 6
      Steve Taylor/Chagall Guevara – 6
      The 77’s/Michael Roe – 6
      2nd Chapter Of Acts/Annie Herring/Matthew Ward – 5
      Sweet Comfort Band/Bryan Duncan – 5
      Kerry Livgren/Kansas/AD – 5
      Larry Norman – 5
      Randy Stonehill – 5
      Adam Again – 4
      Bruce Cockburn – 4
      Love Song/Tommy Coomes/Chuck Girard/John Mehler – 4
      Paul Clark – 4
      Resurrection Band – 4
      T-Bone Burnett – 4
      The Choir/Youth Choir – 4
      U2 – 4
      Undercover – 4
      Vigilantes Of Love – 4

      Of Course, you could add the 2 Lost Dogs albums to the counts of Daniel Amos (13)/The 77’s (8)/Adam Again (6)/The Choir (6), though that would be duplicating the counts, whereas the above counts are all separate albums.

      Also, if you break down the albums by decade you get:
      1970’s – 78
      1980’s – 236
      1990’s – 140
      2000’s – 51
      The total equaling 505 due to multiple albums at a given position (such as the 3 ATF albums)

      The year with the most albums represented is a tie between 1982 and 1983, each with 31 albums. The year with the fewest albums is 2007 with only 2, unless you take into account that there are no albums at all from the 1960’s, which to me seems wrong.

      • low5point
        January 17, 2012 at 3:47 pm

        One of the rules was ownership. If I was about 10 years old I would probably include some from the 60’s. Upon This Rock came close and should have made it. Same with people. I did have a Ralph Carmichael album in there at one time.

      • citywideDan
        January 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        Tim … another great way to breakdown… and thank you for that summary .. if you included or looked at “accompaniment” you could add Phil Keaggy, Michael Omartian and many others to different levels. As an older baby boomer, I miss the 60’s era as well but a lot more of that was acoustic and or orchestral/band and some even pre Jesus Music. Dan

      • Tim
        January 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

        Well, for the 60’s, I wasn’t thinking Ralph Carmichael or old Imperials albums, I was thinking about John Ylvisaker, Concrete Rubber Band, God Unlimited, Moonrakers, The Search Party, and Sons Of Thunder, along with the Norman debut. No complaints about the 500 though; it’s a monumental effort and well done. Mine would just look a bit different, though I wouldn’t have nearly the justification for placement that you do.

  27. Greenchili
    January 15, 2012 at 8:39 pm

    I was gonna do a breakdown of at least the number of albums on the list by each artis. But I think citywideDan covered that in a much better manner.

  28. aka David Quinn
    January 17, 2012 at 5:47 pm


    This is the first and only comment I will likely make on your blog, but I want to offer my sincerest gratitude for you putting together this awesome list. Over three years ago, I lost my best CCM friend in a tragic car accident. What you have done with this blog almost perfectly reflected many of the discussions he and I had during his time here on earth about the wonderful world of CCM. I can’t wait to catch up with him and share this blog; I know eternity won’t be long enough to cover it all. God bless you, and I hope if you decide to tackle a greatest song list, I will be reading your reviews “religiously”. Thanks again!


  29. paulkcc
    January 18, 2012 at 2:37 am

    Dave, I’ve followed this with some impatience from the very start. What an amazing work. All I can do is echo the kudos of others and extend my thanks for all the enjoyment I’ve received from this blog and the previous one. Your writing was intelligent, informative, and entertaining. It brought back a lot of memories.
    A question that I thought of as I considered your musical tastes was this. I was wondering if you were familiar with Peter Himmelman. He wouldn’t fit the CCM mold – he’s Jewish (I guess that might make him COTM), but he writes many songs that share a similar worldview. Impermanent Things on the From Strength To Strength album is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard on the foolishness of the things we build our lives around. I think that’s his best album, but another good one is Flown This Acid World. The ending cut on that one is called Untitled and is a true story about a cab ride he once took. It shines a very bright light into the darkness in men’s hearts. Anyway, I thought it might be someone you or your readers might want to check out. Thanks again for all the hard work.

    • Shawn McLaughlin
      January 19, 2012 at 1:56 am

      Paul, I couldn’t agree with you more on Peter Himmelman. His worldview permeates his music. Another song that is great is “Only Innocent” which “may” actually have pro-life sentiment in it. I heard Himmelman perform it on Letterman…heard the lyrics and just thought “Woah! that takes a lot of guts.” Himmelman is married to Bob Dylan’s daughter. He also is the musical director on the Fox TV show “Bones”. I have been a huge fan since his days in the Minnesota indie-pop band, Sussman Lawrence. Oh,,,and I absolutely LOVE “Untitled”.

  30. shoeshineboy
    January 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    I got here very late for the party, but must echo what every one else has been saying about the effort of this undertaking. I have spent six months catching up to all the posts and all the comments, and must say I loved every minute of it. Thanks so much from one who can still remember the joy of the first time I put Songs From The Savior on the turntable over 30 years ago. I was thrilled to see artists like Galactic Cowboys, Hothouse Flowers, Atomic Opera, The Waterboys, Mason Proffit and the like included in this list.

    In the last few years, a couple of us did our own list of top Christian albums. I will list several of them that were not included here in the hopes that maybe some of you will discover these great albums. (And I would love to hear from people with their own obscure albums that you think are worth finding!)

    Lies Damned Lies- album’s : Lamentations and The Human Dress
    Barclay James Harvest- album: Time Honoured Ghosts
    Lazarus- album: Lazarus (70’s folk band led by Bill Hughes)
    Guadalcanal Diary- album: 2X4
    B.W. Stevenson – album: Lifeline
    Juliana Theory – albums: Emotion Is Dead; Love
    Arlo Guthrie- album: Outlasting The Blues (Which Side Are You On )
    Salem Hill- albums: any by this great Prog Rock band
    The Mustard Seeds- album: they have 3, and every one is great!
    Anberlin – album: Cities

    and what I think is the best album to come out in the last ten years:
    THRICE- Beggars

    Thanks again, and like everyone else, I can’t wait for the next list, and to see the compiling of everyone’s top 50 list. Tell me where to send mine…

  31. Kit
    January 23, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Excellent album, but I always felt Sticks and Stones was a cut above this.

  32. Brett C
    January 25, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I had to let this choice sit with me for a while…
    I love all things Mike Roe, solo, band, dogs etc, he is tops in my books.
    77’s, a great album and yes even a classic and probably their best, but no. 1 CCM album of all time, no not for me anyway.

  33. harvey_d
    January 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Arguably a companion to this album, Sticks and Stones is being re-released: http://downthelinezine.com/blog/2012/01/28/the-77s-announce-sticks-and-stone-re-issue-and-unplugged-tour/

  34. citywideDan
    February 3, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    While this group has not gone silent yet or until Dave starts the top 500-1000 songs (just kidding Dave), I have a request for the
    ‘following” group. I am going to California this Summer by van and would love to see any special CCM or Jesus Movement churches, tourist spots, etc. Can anyone make any suggestions here or through my email … diaczund@tbaytel.net Thanks in advance. Any special Jesus Movement groups (60-70-80’s) bands playing in July ??

    • paulkcc
      February 3, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      I don’t know if you’re familiar with this group or not, but if you’d ask the same question there I’m sure you’d get quite a response.

      • citywideDan
        February 4, 2012 at 1:11 pm

        Thanks paulkcc .. I’ll try it

  35. February 3, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    I got this album on Monday this week. I just listened to this album for the fifth time. It’s an amazing album. I would say that “The Lust…” and “I Could Laugh” are my favorites songs.

    Overall, there’s been many good albums I’ve found because of this list. So thanks again! 🙂

  36. Tim
    April 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Being able to look over the total list now, the absence of many artists makes sense for this list (e.g. Sandi Patty, Susan Ashton, 4Him, Darlene Zschech, Bruce Carroll). They are just too MOR, INSP, country, etc. But there are quite a few artists that I’m surprised didn’t make the list, including:
    Greg X. Volz
    Geoff Moore
    John Mark McMillan
    Jimmy Needham
    Bryn Haworth
    Billy Crockett
    Wes King

    Suffice it to say, I’m looking forward to the list of albums that almost made it to see if any of these artists are on there.

    • low5point
      April 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      I know some will disagree with me when it comes to Delirious, but I have found that they have a history of a few great songs per album and then some of the most forgetable music ever. Their greatest hits is awesome…but not allowed.

      Greg X. may just be an honest personal taste issue…hate his voice. made me almost not like several petra albums that I loved.

      Geoff Moore – see Delirious…though two albums were on the original list.

      Needtobreathe will show up in 8 years when I do the top 1,000…and ranked high. Their finest two releases came out after I started the journey. Same for Jimmy Needham. Though he will really need a truly cohesive project.

      John Mark McMillan – clearly on the “should have” list, though i will admit to being a little late to the party in regards to his music and did not consume enough before i started to honestly include him.

      Bryn – most definitely. Though his limited availability in the states impacted my knowledge and appreciation for his music and his best albums are the ones I have only recently discovered.

      Bill Crockett – two made the grade and disappeared or were reluctantly cut once i discovered some other worthy contenders had been left off. The debut and watermarks are fantastic.

      Wes King – total blow it on my part. Had two albums on the original list and was surprised when I noticed they somehow disappeared from all the cutting and pasting. the Robe would be a Top 200, maybe Top 100

      Even though this is not how I will eventually list the “should haves,” one of the great losses I have felt was the lack of anything from Phil and John. They are great and deserved to be included.

      • Tim
        April 4, 2012 at 7:17 pm

        Cool. Totally understand the beefs you have with Delirious and Geoff Moore, though I personally would have included one album each that had enough quality overall. Phil & John has been mentioned in previous posts by you or someone, but I almost put them on the list anyway. They have some great stuff.

  37. shawnuel
    April 28, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Yes, Wes King. I actually have The Robe at the bottom of the barrell for Wes King releases. Great, reformed theology, mind numingly commercial music, His debut and Sticks and Stones are my personal favorites.Accessible without resorting to that horrible, compressed production so prevalent in CCM (including, The Robe) releases. In that era, if Phil Naish even LOOKED at a project, I avoided it!

    • Tim
      May 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      shawnuel, I too would pick both of King’s first two albums over anything he did later, especially The Robe.

  38. shawnuel
    June 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Since this is the 77’s thread, I should mention that I am hosting Mike and David Leonhardt tonight in Olympia (Lacey to be precise) WA as the 77’s Sticks and Stones re-issue tour. Should be grand! If any of you are in the area it is just $10 at the door. Location is Community Christian Academy where I am on the faculty, and address is 4706 Park Center Ave. NE Lacey WA 98516.

  39. Tony Gunn
    July 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Mike produced our album “Rock of offense” and did it well. I believe. Strongly that the 77s and our band were let down by Exit Records. The label seemed then to be in over their heads with major distribution from A&M, Island. Seems strange choices were made that kept ALL of us off the radar instead of putting us out to sink or swim. Peacock suffered too. His music is unimpeachable. To this day there are people puzzled by Exits “strategy “. Produce albums then do not support by tour and limited distribution. Little airplay. With our band, hard rock was on the rise at that time. Missed oppurtunity. Then a tired company line was given that it takes two or three albums for a band to “break”. ANYONE that has been alive during the rock era knows that is just not an absolute. Many albums hit first time. 77s had more and should have been more famous by that logic. Alot of waste. Sad. Exit was definitely not on their toes and their demise was inevitable. Peace. T Gunn.

  40. ckuepfer
    April 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Hey, wanted to say I’m a little late to the party, but I thoroughly enjoyed the list. Just seeing some of those band names and albums covers from yesteryear made me smile. I’m currently working on a list of the 100 christian rock albums that influenced me. Cheers!


  41. J Hanson
    April 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm

    Well I guess I am doing ok – I have 7 of your top 10! Missing Peacock at #10 (never really hearduch about him – will have to give a listen) Rez band at #8 (bought one of their albums – DMZ – it sounded like just so much noise to me, never got anything else), and Mark Heard at 4 (I have everything from Ashes and Light on, never tracked down the early stuff but have a lot of it on various greatest hits albums).

  42. Peg B
    April 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Eventhough we don’t have to agree on everything, GREAT JOB!!!!!!! , this definitely took a lot of time and knowledge which pretty sure a lot of us don’t have.

  43. Tony Gunn
    June 13, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    Truth is that their island AR man said he wouldn’t spend a dime on 77s as they were only a Christian band and that’s all they will be. Sad but true. U2 had nothing to do with it. A petty AR man. That’s all. Great band in hands of lesser minds.

  44. Brent Johnson
    May 9, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    So glad this is numbe 1 and not U2, and i’m a huge U2 fan. The 77’s are the greatest rock n roll band in the world at times and this album should’ve been huge.

  45. G S Issvoran
    August 11, 2015 at 3:16 am

    This 77s album was as distinct and articulate as any that had been ever produced. I disagree about Joshua Tree being a better album than earlier U2 works such as War. War was as complete a Christian album that was ever composed, finishing with the song of salvation in “40”. There was also so much creativity out of Southern California Christian bands such as the Altar Boys and their Gut Level Music LP. It’s sad they get overlooked. As we discuss these albums 30 years later, it is a testament to the artists and their faith.

  46. Gerard Issvoran
    October 8, 2015 at 6:00 am

    It has been almost 30 years since I played this album as a DJ at St. Mary’s College. Truly this album should be brought back and the 77s given the credit they deserve in this timeless masterpiece. If only Christian music today would revisit the bands of the most creative Era in CCM history, a new generation could be inspired as those of us were during that time period.

  47. nkisaac
    May 30, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    I would like to join the chorus of voices saying congratulations on the huge amount of work put into this . . . I was very excited to find this list, because I’m always searching for new (or old) music, but I would like to be the lone voice of dissent as to the choices. I love everything from classical to hymns to metal, jazz to country, and am a guitarist and musician, but no one I even know (musicians, friends, family) would even like any group in the top 9 (with the exception of U2), and only half of the second ten (such as Peacock, Keaggy, and I guess Grant 🙂 ). Their musicianship was excellent, without doubt, but I believe the reason most of them were not popular, was because I, and apparently many others, found their music to be . . . strange . . . vocals really lacking (especially the top 4 – not even Bono can sing on key), droning simple chords repeated again and again (even if the guitar fills are excellent, it gets tiring). It’s likely a good thing that musical outliers like the 77s stretch our imagination as to what music can be . . . however, I will most likely never listen to the entire album (I can’t make it through more than a song or two, nor Larry Norman or Daniel Amos). Give me Gungor – Beautiful Things any day, or old Sweet Comfort Band with Bryan Duncan’s perfectly on pitch voice, or any of the White Heart albums that you DIDN’T mention! 🙂 The better I get as a musician, the more I realize that there is a reason that Petra, Michael W Smith, and Stryper were (and are) popular. They had an incredible understanding of what makes a song beautiful, catchy, or whatever one may call it, and the musical perfection to make it happen.
    (Oz Fox was, and is, a beast on guitar . . . just sayin’!)

    Alright, now flame away, about my unsophisticated popular view of music . . .

  1. June 30, 2013 at 4:33 am

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