A Man Dies (Columbia  33SX 1609)  1964  UK *

The first Christian rock album? Mmmmmmmmm could be! That 1964 date on this baby shaves a good two years off of shortly-to-follow entries from The Concords, The Crusaders and Joy Strings. A Man Dies was written by Ewan Hopper and Ernest Marvin for the teenagers of St. James’ Presbyterian Church at Lockleaze, Bristol. “It is an attempt to present the Bible story in the modern idiom – in the music and dancing which teenagers love so much and can do so well”. This is definitely an electric album and it’s got the early UK ‘60s written all over it. The main performers are identified as Valerie Mountain, Ricky Forde and a group called The Strangers. Swinging pop, jangly beat, slow blues rock, Hard Days Night-era Beatles, talk-singing over a beat – it’s all here spanning twenty-six tunes that feature titles like ‘How Long, Lordie?’, ‘Do Us A Favour’, ‘What’s The Use?’, ‘Look In The Paper’, ‘Ding Dong’, ‘Riding On A Donkey’, ‘Who Is My Neighbour?’, ‘Gentle Christ’, etc. Even a couple surfy twangin’ instrumentals in classic Ventures/Shadows tradition (‘Dominator’ and ‘Jack Knife’). No keyboards from what I can tell – just revved-up drums, bass and raw electric guitars. Cover says it was first performed in 1960. I’m surprised this isn’t more widely known, especially given that it’s on a major label. Seldom has early Jesus music sounded so alive and bursting with energy as it does on A Man Dies.      (The Archivist, 4th edition by Ken Scott).

This one was on the Heavenly Grooves blog.

 

Tracks:

01. How Long Lordie

02. So Tired

03. Do Us A Favour

04. Split The Trumpet

05. What’s The Use

06. Look In The Paper

07. Ding Dong

08. Riding On A Donkey

09. Gentle Christ

10. Just Look At Him

11. Who Is My Neighbour

12. Go It Alone

13. Gentle Christ (Reprise)

14. Oh He’s Alright Jill

15. Blues In The Night

16. Gentle Christ (2nd Reprise)

17. Dominator

18. You’ve Never Had It So Good

19. Blues Won’t Leave Me Now

20. He’s A Big Man

21. Strangely Warm

22. Jack Knife

23. Gentle Christ (3rd Reprise)

24. 16th Birthday

25. Go It Alone (Reprise)

26. The Lord’s Prayer

 

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