Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Blast from the Christian Rock past: Sweet Comfort Band

The recent death of Christian rocker Larry Norman sent me to YouTube, looking for Christian rock (and other) artists I remember from my yoot.

One such group was The Sweet Comfort Band. Check out the musicianship (not the theology) in this clip — the song starts at about two minutes:


It does remind me of the story you've all heard, of the preacher who had a word with someone who was going to sing in the church service.

"I'll make you a deal," the preacher said. "I won't try to sing, and you don't try to preach."

Back in the '70's Christian rock was particularly new, and I think partly out of feeling apologetic for being rockers, many bands made an effort to preach and evangelize in-between songs. I don't mean to say that condescendingly. You kids won't know this, but Christian rock was a big thing, and it was rather suspect.

When I was first saved, my first regular pastor suggested that I shouldn't listen to rock anymore. So I didn't; threw out all my Chicago (snif!), stopped humming and whistling. Then I heard Bill Gothard go on about how melody appealed to the spirit, harmony to the soul — and rhythm to the flesh!

Next thing I remember is hearing the Second Chapter of Acts, when I was in (as I recall) a Logos bookstore in Westwood, SoCal. I literally gasped. The song was "The Devil's Lost Again" (from their With Footnotes album) — and, by jingo, it was rock and roll! I couldn't believe my ears.

Then later I attended a few concerts at the original Calvary Chapel, in Anaheim. They were still meeting in a tent. The concerts were wonderful. They had some amazing bands, including one called Aslan, another called Parable, and another called The Sweet Comfort Band.

Dude, those guys could rock. Well, check out the video. You'll see.

More reminiscences (or at least clips) to come, DV.

23 comments:

Stefan said...

Wow! (I mean that seriously, not in the Pagittesque sense.) Sure beats the CCM stuff coming out of Nashville.

Wyatt Roberts said...

Man, I LOVE Sweet Comfort Band! Do you remember Fireworks? The Archers? Ha! And I remember going to a Bill Gothard seminar and thinking even then hus teacgubg was a little...well...off.

Thanks for the clip!

DJP said...

Indeed, his teacgubg was definitely off.

Wyatt Roberts said...

LOL! Okay, okay...his teaching was off...haven't had my coffee yet :-)

Connie said...

Had forgotten about the Sweet Comfort band! I too, have been searching and enjoying lots of 'You Tube' videos since Larry Norman's recent death. Looking forward to more clips posted here!

Trinian said...

I thought everybody knew that God gave rock and roll to us. ;)

Mesa Mike said...

Does anybody remember that first Harvest Fair put on by Greg Laurie at the Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino? This was about 1977/78/79 or so. I wasn't really much of a believer then, but a friend dragged me to the event one night. I recall they had some pretty awesome Christian music going on there (just can't remember who was performing, though. Maybe Oden Fong was one act...)

Rhology said...

Bryan Duncan on the lead vocals!
Sweet - that guy's voice is really good. I grew up partly on him. His "Strong Medicine" is the 1st Xtian album I ever owned and it's pretty good. I always wished he'd've gone all out in his solo career with the singing ad libbing and stuff like he did when he was younger.

DJP said...

Mike, Oden Fong was (I believe) previously with Mustard Seed Faith. I think they're the one I most think of as the classic Christian rock paradigm of that time. Live, in-concert, they were pretty good: some crackle and zap, some life in their guitar solo's. But when they got into the studio, some 67-year-old producer must have said, "Nice stuff, boys, but you know what this really needs? VIOLINS! Trust me, I know this business!"

And then, voila (or viola) — elevator music.

Mesa Mike said...

Ah, yeah. That's right, it was Mustard Seed Faith. Pretty sure Sweet Comfort Band was there too.

Where (and when) was this clip recorded? Anybody recognize that Calvary Chapel descending dove in the background?

The Doulos said...

Chicago is rock? Ummm, not since the old CTA days, as far as I'm concerned. Some very good pop, yes, but rock? Nuh-uh.

Stefan said...

Dan:

I don't know anything about the "theology" of Blood, Sweat, and Tears, but what do you think of their song And When I Die?

My wife made it clear to me yesterday that she doesn't believe in heaven or hell, so my work's really cut out for me. BST's song "just happened" to be playing on the radio this morning when I woke up. (Classic Rock is the only thing that can wake me up in the morning.)

It may sound corny and "relevant" and go against every sound thing you and your blogging brothers teach us, but I wonder if there isn't some way to use that song in evangelizing...or at least the ideas behind it, on the topic of how non-believers see the afterlife (or perceived lack thereof)....

Stefan said...

Unlikely Gospel opportunities abound! She just asked me about Longfellow's epic poem Evangeline, whose main characters are named Gabriel and Evangeline. So I was able to explain what "Gabriel" and "evangel" mean in the context of Scripture!

Lord, may the day come quickly when you write the name of the woman whom you have blessed me with, into the Lamb's Book of Life.

DJP said...

I'm afraid my response won't be helpful. I always thought it was a dumb, overblown song. I did in my BC days, I still do. Just a bunch of bluster and whistling past the graveyard and nonsense. Sorry.

Stefan said...

That's fine. That's why I wanted your opinion. "BC days"???

DJP said...

Before Christ

(Never British Columbia)

Stefan said...

No, I thought maybe it meant "Baby Christian" or something. I know you're not that old! ;)

By the way, how do I convey the urgency of "getting right with God" to someone who doesn't even accept the concept of an afterlife? (Maybe I should ask that of myself: I didn't believe in the reality of heaven and hell until after I was saved.)

Stefan said...

Oh, "Before Christ" as in "before you were saved." I'm going to go and flagellate myself now.

gcb620 said...

Dan - this post envoked some great memories for me. Thanks for sharing.

Although he's left the Christian faith, I can't think of a more gutty, soulful expression of one's soul than Bob Dylan's (2) faith offerings: Slow Training Coming (1979) and Saved (1980), the former, in many best-of-all-time polls, ranks in the top 20 of contemporary Christian albums.

While the theology may have it's challenges, these 2 albums still resonates with me today.

jan@theviewfromher said...

A great clip, a great post - brought back lots of great memories. I wonder if you've seen/heard of the DVD set "First Love." It provides performances of many of these artists in a modern-day, "gaither homecoming"-type setting, with stories and highlights from the 70s. I got it for Christmas and posted about it here, if you're interested:
http://www.theviewfromher.com/index.php?/archives/
649-my-favorite-christmas-gift.html

A friend referred me to this specific post, but I'm glad to have discovered your blog!

davidbmclaughlin.com said...

ohh i love me some b-duncan! just saw him recently in tulsa and posted about the great show on my blog. (sorry for the plug).

thanks for posting this video. never thought to look up scb on youtube!

toniprc said...

Hello what a sweet surprise.
I grew as a young believer at Harvest.there was such excitment and a purity. I loved the bands on Sunday nights, never minded standing in line just to get into church. I was there when Keith Green played the guitar and tried never to miss any of his concerts. His words still break through the cobwebs in my heart.
Bryan is playing in Southern Oregon tonight, my daughter is going to see him. God bless you all
In His Grace Alone
Toni

MJ said...

Oh the memories. My uncle Chuck was the lead singer for Parable. He started out forming a group called Country Faith. His son, my little cousin, is now the drummer for the group Switchfoot. Also, two currently popular Christian artists, Phil and Evan Whickam, are the sons of John and Lisa Whickam who were the lead guitarist and backup vocals for Parable