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Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music [With CDROM] (Recent Releases) Paperback – June 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
In what may be the first-ever reference work of its kind, the 1,000-page Encyclopedia of Contemporary Christian Music profiles Christian musicians, songwriters and producers, in addition to secular artists whose faith has influenced their music. Author Mark Allan Powell (who is actually a New Testament scholar of considerable repute) says he wandered into a Christian bookstore five years ago and discovered that more than a quarter of the shelf space was devoted to contemporary Christian music. There was not, however, a single book on the subject a lacuna that will be amply corrected by this enormous, funny, informative tome. Powell is a man of considerable opinions, whether he is defending Amy Grant's album Behind the Eyes as possibly the most painfully honest recording ever produced by any artist or arguing about the impact of Rich Mullins's tragically short career. On a basic level, the book will be utilized as an encyclopedia by people who confuse Jars of Clay with Point of Grace. But in a more profound way, readers who appreciate Powell's assertion that contemporary Christian musicians are actually amateur theologians whose perspectives are helping to shape Christian history will marvel at this book's stunning combination of breadth and depth.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
A prominent theologian whose work usually focuses on the historical Jesus, Powell (New Testament, Trinity Lutheran Seminary) has compiled an exhaustive opus on popular Christian music dating from the 1960s to the present. Included are 1700 alphabetical entries on well-known singers, songwriters, and bands (Stryper, Amy Grant, BeBe and CeCe Winans, and Petra), newcomers (P.O.D., Creed), and more peripheral figures (Bob Dylan, Kansas, and U2). Each entry features personnel, a discography, a link to the official/endorsed web site (when available), a critical and biographical essay, a list of Christian radio hits (if any), and awards. Although entries on artists who have experienced personal tragedy or controversy sometimes contain a hint of "kiss and tell" tabloid flavor, the essays are thorough and generally superbly written. In his introduction, Powell also does an excellent job of defining Christian music. Rather than relying on the content of the music (which is often ambiguous) or the performer's faith (which is even more so), he leaves the act of classification up to the fans, observing that "such labels are always audience-driven and are based unapologetically on perception." To add even greater value to the modest retail price, a CD-ROM with audio clips, links to artists' web pages, and album information accompanies this volume. The only reference book of its kind, this is highly recommended for all public libraries and for academic libraries with contemporary popular music and/or sacred music collections.
James E. Perone, Mount Union Coll., Alliance, OH
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Encyclopedia of CCM is not solely about Christian rockers, of course, and it's not even limited to so-called "Christian artists" (those who record music on Christian labels expressly for Christian audiences). Along with Amy Grant, Stryper, Michael W. Smith and the Winans, you'll find listings for U2, Van Morrison and other secular acts with Christians leading them. It's a vary large book, with over 1,000 pages with hundreds of artists reviewed, including more obscure artists than you'd expect. Some are reviewed extensively and for pages at a time, others rather briefly. This isn't like one of Joel Whitburn's Billboard books, where you only get lists and bare-bones bios of artists (if that). You really do learn about who these people are and how their career arcs went. Powell is a very good writer, and an opinionated one who does not always seek neutrality even if what he says goes against the grain among the stodgier CCM purists in both the industry and audience. Some may find what he says "offensive" but I find it honest and more interesting reading.
The only other caveat I would give is that the Encyclopedia of CCM was written in 2002, so it's a bit dated. A newer version would be great. No problem for my purposes, since my program covers music from 1980 through 2003, but you won't see the more recent artists listed here. If you can appreciate the book for its historical aspect, you'll be fine. Just don't expect sanitized and airbrushed text about the artists that might have been written by their labels. You deserve better and that's what you'll get. Any longtime fan of CCM, Christian rock or modern Gospel music really should have this book...there's an accompanying CD-ROM that's easy to download to your computer, so make sure you're buying a book that still has it if that matters to you. This is easily the best (and perhaps only) volume of its kind out there and it's very inexpensive to pick up nowadays.
So buy it, already.
The guy is opinionated, but that's a good thing, 'cause he's a consigliere here (gives you the straight-up, 200 proof, no holding back), and that makes this book useful, especially if you're a vinyl junkie outsider who doesn't know, isn't a true believing fan of, well, this kinda pop. Up front he lists his methodology, which is some fairly thick (as far as what press you can find on cream puff pop-lite for the most part) trade magazines, CCM charts, etc... research. The listings feature critical reviews (in the best sense of the word, meaning actually loaded with information, not "anti-" information) and reference fairly deep on his sources. Per the book introduction where he lists out his research, it states he took a sabbatical from his academic work and worked on this book with research assistants, and it shows. Additionally, at the front of the listings he provides, well, semi-useful discography information --I would have preferred fuller listings with artist, title, and full record release numbers, but he gives enough info to find the titles fairly easily, if you're inclined to compile a "want list" and search them out--, and from my cursory inspections note that he actually listened to what he documents, and not necessarily as a fan. The only real downside to this reference is the lack of Billboard trade magazine references, specifically Billboard's 1980+ TOP INSPIRATIONAL ALBUMS charts (published once a month in the '80s when Amy Grant and Petra monster hits sold about 50,000 copies of each release), but otherwise, a minor issue that maybe Joel Whitburn will rectify in a few years (?).
It's a brick, but it's a very useful brick if you're interested about the CCM artists, recording and sales history, and the most useful discography source on the subject in book form. This and Jeffrey Lee Brother's two books on the CCM radio charts, and you've got most of CCM through 2000 or so well covered at your fingertips, at least enough to get some idea what that weird flower power hippie album by some guy named Phil Keaggy, WHAT A NEW DAY on New Song at the thrift shop (75-cents, still in the shrink), actually might sound like. (I caught the same sound: soft-serve Beatles, great guitar work, 1973 mostly acoustic hippie singer-songwriter fluff that reminds me of America ["Ventura Highway" and "Sister Goldenhair" George Martin, the Beatles' guy behind the glass, producer.], too!)
(Note: Glen Campbell: it's NORWOOD, not NORWICH, page 135.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As for the product itself, while it has helped me discover some links and answer...Read more