The following is an Email from Ken Lysen which I received this gives additional information on the group and their activities.
I happened to Google Spiritborne today and found your blog. I found your review of the Prepare Ye album, downloaded the .rar file and I’m enjoying listening to it right now. Time warp…
I was in that group. I played much of the bass and most of the second guitar work and sang baritone. I don’t know your level of interest in the details around this group — but here is some stream-of-consciousness about Spiritborne:
The group started in 1971 as “The Joyful Noise” from Pacific Lutheran University. It was not an official school team, but we were all students there under the direction of John Burch. John was in the Masters program (ca. 1971 – 1973) in the school of music studying Guitar Performance and Composition. He did much writing and almost all of the arranging for us. Prepare Ye was the third album recorded by this group (BTW, I really enjoyed playing the bass lines on Prepare Ye). The first two records (under the name Joyful Noise) were “One Way” and “Designer”. I joined The Joyful Noise in 1973 as a Freshman at PLU. I was on the Designer album, but not the One Way album. In 1974/1975 the group took its first full-time tour for a year (53 weeks on the road). We changed the name of the group to Spiritborne at the beginning of that tour because there were dozens of groups all around the country called “Joyful Noise”. We did the “Prepare Ye” recording near the beginning of that tour so that we would have something more current and with the “Spiritborne” name on it. So this record was actually done in the fall of 1974. We recorded it at Bethel Lutheran Church in Long Beach, CA over the span of one week. Al Giles from Capitol City Studios in Olympia, WA drove down to engineer for us. We set up in the choir room with lots of blankets on the walls to control the acoustics. Reverb was all natural, but controlled. We used the church sanctuary for a reverb chamber. We ran two channels across the courtyard to a couple of Macintosh power amps driving our JBL main PA speakers aimed at opposing sanctuary walls (an “A” frame shape). A couple of Sony condenser mics were up in the balcony collecting the reverberant sound and returning those signals back across the courtyard to Al’s recording mixer to be mixed in as required. All reverb was mixed live. Nothing was added or modified later. Reverb levels of, say, voices (more reverb) versus instruments (less reverb) were controlled by how much of each recording input channel was sent over to the sanctuary. Since I was not in the quartet that sang “I Believe”, I recall going over to the sanctuary and listening to it being recorded from inside the reverb chamber (the sanctuary).
One of the highlights for me was recording “Fortress”. We did it in one take. We didn’t even try a second. We had just arranged the instrumental a few weeks before. John had been working on it himself in the key of G. I had been working independently in D. We didn’t even know we had each been working on the same tune. We discovered the synergy at the wedding reception (summer 1974) of one of the couples who would go with us on tour. We got guitars out at the reception, John capo’d to the seventh fret so his ‘G’ would come out ‘D’. We each modified a few cords to match things up. Then we worked out the opening two-beat cannon, and by the end of the reception we had the arrangement that we went on to use for another three years or so.
Your review included a comment about the ‘fuzz’ guitar on “It Should Have Been Me”. That was the bass running through a Peavey bass amp with the preamp overloaded. It worked much better live than it did on the recording. The distortion was intended to illustrate the fact that the song was about the crucifixion. John EQ’d the bass so heavily on that tune (and really on much of the album) intentionally for the really big and meaty stereo systems of the day.
The group went on to record and produce other albums – “Glory to God”, “Jesus Style Songs Vol. II” for Augsburg Publishing House (Volume I had been recorded by our good friends, Joyous Celebration from The Lutheran Bible Institute in Seattle), a Christmas compilation, “Get On Board”, and others. I was in the group four years: 1973 through 1977. Spiritborne went on the road again full-time in 1977-1978. I decided to stay behind and finish my last year of my Secondary Choral Education degree. My brother and his wife went on that ’77/’78 tour.
Many of the people in the group were music or music education majors at PLU. But we also had a couple from the nursing school, at least one from the business school, others studying religion and going on to seminary in the Lutheran Church, as well as others. I don’t recall exactly how long the group went on, but I think it was until about 1982 or so. John Burch took the name and incorporated Spiritborne Productions in Olympia, WA. I just looked at his web site (http://home.earthlink.net/~spiritborne/about.html) and noticed that he still uses the ‘dove’ logo from the front of the “Prepare Ye” album.
I was 19 years old when we recorded this record. I turned 20 on the road. It was one of the best years of my life. I just turned 53 and am obviously very nostalgic.
Anyway, thanks for doing this work of reviewing the “Jesus Music” of the time and making it available for download. Today I’m part of “The Church of the Beloved” in Edmonds, WA. See http://www.belovedschurch.org/. Here’s a tune we recorded in December during Advent: http://www.belovedschurch.org/podcasts/til-Kingdom-come.mp3. I’m still playing bass… The fun thing about this tune is we didn’t even know we were being recorded. Our sound guy just set it up on his computer and pretty much just hands-off recorded it. Came out pretty nice. I also sit in with the band at Church of the Apostles in Seattle (http://www.apostleschurch.org/) and other churches in the Seattle area. Some of the Spiritborne folks formed a group after college called “Manna”. We still sing occasionally.
Some of our kids have gone to PLU and formed a group called “Legacy”. It seems to be in the genes.
Again, thanks for what you do,
— Ken Lysen