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Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music [With CDROM] (Recent Releases) Paperback – June 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
Powell is nothing if not critical. "Opinionated" was the word the store clerk used. So are all the great rock writers; so are all the great rock books, and despite its encyclopedic format, this is a great rock book. Surprisingly, the author is Professor of New Testament at Trinity Lutheran Seminary; not surprisingly, therefore, he argues with the theology in some songs. For instance, he doesn't agree with the idea of "the rapture" popularized by Hal Lindsey's book, The Late Great Planet Earth, and the "Left Behind" series, and prevalent in numerous Jesus Movement-era songs. Most significantly, he takes these artists and their music seriously. This gives the whole genre of gospel rock more signficance than it is often felt to warrant, and certainly more than the tag "ccm" suggests.
If rock rings true, it's because it's about real life. CCM, on the other hand, often sounds phony, stressing the ideal over the real, and marketing over the music. This has left many artists confused, angry and disenchanted. Powell deftly captures the undercurrent of alienation, and the love/hate relationships many artists have with their labels. He also graphs the rise of independent labels like Tooth'n'Nail, and the backlash against business-as-usual "corporate rock.Read more ›
It is surprising, however, that there isn't more negative feedback (among other reviewers) regarding Powell's inclusion of personal opinion along with the facts. In that sense, this isn't an encyclopedia at all, but a series of artist reviews with an inordinate amount of fact and trivia included.
No matter what the reader's theological persuasion, it soon becomes irritating to see, time and again, Powell chide musicians for taking a particular theological stance with which he disagrees. Dismissive at times, and occasionally insulting, Powell tarnishes his own wonderful work by castigating those who do not fall in line with his theology. His strong theological opinion is not completely surprising, since Powell is a Theologian, but it is unwarranted and unwanted in such a work. It begs the question - what might this encyclopedia have been like if the labor had been shared and a team of writers had combined their effort?
The trivial minutia keeps me interested, but the repeated intrusion of castigating annotations forces me to skip sections until I get past them and return to the nuts and bolts. I certainly have no regrets that I purchased this book, but unfortunately it isn't the masterwork it could have been and will remain a good first effort. If we are fortunate it will be followed by better works to come.
From Transformation Crusade to Tourniquet to Twila, they're all here. I was hard pressed to find a single act not given a mention here. Powell does a good job of devoting the right amount of space to acts depending on the impact and longevity.
Every now and then, Powell allows more of his commentary to come through than one would expect in an "Encyclopedia." In my opinion he was unfair to certain artists (especially Petra).
He loves to throw in comparisons to certain bands, especially U2. Comparisons are vital in such a tome and this is fine regarding say, DC Talk's "The Hardway," but seeing it with bands such as East West gets, as he would put it, tiresome.
The thorough and well-crafted writing more than makes up for these minor drawbacks, and ECCM gets an easy 5 stars for effort.
Another plus, the CD Rom is a keystroke of genius. Entries are linked with official web sites, and cross references are linked to their own entries.
The huge variety of the artists contained in this book is a testimony to the diversity within the body of Christ.
The breadth of differing approaches of musicians to their art runs the gamut from those who use music as a purely evangelistic tool to those who do music for it's own sake. The author seems to have a problem with bands who have an "altar-call" mentality, and more than once refers to individual salvation experiences as "individualistic", as if it were some kind of disease. The fine distinction between "evangelical" and "fundamentalist" seems to be lost on the author as well, as it is on many who occupy the more mainline religious traditions. Just because I'd much rather listen to U2 than to Petra doesn't mean I don't appreciate what Petra is trying to do with their music and their ministry. It is the nature of a reviewer to be opinionated, but some readers of a more conservative bent might get a little irritated at how the author continually wears his theological biases on his sleeve.
The bottom line is this: this is a must-own for Christian music fans, as one could lose him/herself in this massive book for days on end. On it's comprehensiveness alone it deserves 5+ stars, but I have to dock it a star because much of the tone toward artists that don't happen to share the author's theological orientation is needlessly perjorative.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Other reviewers have said it well. This book offers an entertaining journey down memory lane for those of us who have loved Contemporary Christian Music for decades. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Very complete description of many Christian bands/artists. RecommendedPublished 18 months ago by Christine Myers
As I write this, I'm hosting a weekly Classic Christian Rock program on a shortwave radio station and playing music from my personal collection. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Bruce Baskin
I looked a long time for a complete catalog of Christian Music. I have been a fan of the music since my early teens. It was good to find such a large volume. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Scott W. Talbert
If I could give multiple ratings, I'd give this one a 5 star for the delivery.
As for the product itself, while it has helped me discover some links and answer questions... Read more
Powell offers up a landmark work; make no mistake. Anyone who loves Christian Music will enjoy thumbing through it for hours. Read morePublished on May 22, 2013 by R. Berman
informative and eye opening overview of the beginnings of modern Christian (Jesus) music. A "must have" for those of us wishing to know the songs and the stories behind... Read morePublished on April 10, 2013 by curtis
I thought it would have more 'internet' pointers/information about the songs also. My wife said she liked it (it was a birthday present for her). Read morePublished on January 14, 2009 by John