Welcome to LEGACY: CCM’s Greatest Albums!
Over ten years ago I started a little blog counting down my favorite 50 albums of all time. As the list progressed, I decided, with such a small number (50), to limit the number of releases per artist to just one. I quickly realized this would make the list incomplete and that certain artists most likely deserved more than one album in the top 50. So, immediately after finishing that blog, I expanded the list to 500 and the whole thing just kind of exploded. The blog became quite popular and people started linking the reviews to Facebook and other social media platforms.
Over the last ten years my music collection has greatly expanded. Not only from a decade’s worth of new material, but also getting ahold of many albums I had lost or never owned ten years ago and therefore did not make the list. I later included a post called “Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda,” to discuss artists and albums that should have been included in the Top 500 countdown, but were left off for various reasons. It became obvious that 500 was not enough!
With that in mind I am excited to announce the launch of “LEGACY: CCM’s Greatest Albums,” a countdown of 1,001 albums spanning six decades with a much greater diversity of musical styles. Along with this expanded list and new blog comes a podcast in which the albums found here will be discussed, reviewed and previewed with musical snippets and artist/industry interviews.
Now some readers may wonder if there are even 1,001 albums worth discussing. Well, it should be noted, my first run through of those albums that I wanted to include on the list added up to 2,114 albums. The rich history of Jesus Music/CCM, mainstream artists with Christian followings and the explosion of diverse musical styles made this list, in many ways, more difficult to create. So, I stared at twelve pages of album titles.
Time to start cutting!
I whittled, cut, recut, and moved albums up and down and on and off the list over months of listening, researching, and seeking guidance from friends in and out of the industry that share my passion. I eventually arrived at 1,000. Then I found an album that simply could not be left off. So, I bumped it to 1,001. Then spent the next several months once again moving and removing, cut, and pasting, setting it aside for weeks and then returning with energy and determination. And the list finally shaped up after the first of the year. The total time from inception to completion (If I am actually really done) was just under 18 months.
But before beginning it is imperative that the reader understand exactly what this list is and what it is not. Why are certain styles under-represented? Why is “that” artist included? What do the numbers mean? What is included and what is not? That is the purpose of this pinned, opening blog.
First and foremost, this is my list!
WHO AM I?
The name is David, but my friends call me D Lo. I have almost exclusively in the Christian Music industry for the last 40 years. I have worked in retail, radio, record company representative, writer, reviewer, concert promoter and marketing. And I have been a fan for even longer.
I compiled and created the list. I used several other similar lists for ideas, comparison, evaluation and expertise in those areas that never fit well into my wheelhouse. But ultimately the list belongs to me. I live and die by the placements. But even I had to set some groundwork and rules for what would be included and excluded from the list. There are several facets to this and it is important the reader understands going in that they will be wasting their breath with comments like…
“Why is __________ ranked higher than __________ “
“They’re not Christians”
“Why did you leave out _________?”
But there were rules I created for myself…and rules I broke because I can.
- I have to own the album. In most cases that may seem a limiting factor, but the reader should know that I own over 10,000 Christian albums. If I don’t own the album, I simply cannot honestly include it in the countdown. This rule was not broken.
- The genre of the commonly understood definition of CCM is too limiting for this list, but makes for a good general identification purpose. There are albums and artists that will cause readers confusion as to the inclusion. So, first off, please understand the doctrinal and theological brush this blog/podcast paints with is quite broad and no theological standards were forced upon an artist to be considered for inclusion. If I limited the list to only those with whom I share theological purity, the list could revert back to a Top 50.
- ASTERISK ALBUMS. Throughout the blog the reader will find an asterisk next to certain titles. These titles are included NOT because of any personal commentary, profession or support of Christianity by the artist in question, but rather are included because those artists and albums were widely embraced by the young Christian rock/alternative culture (especially in the 1980’s). There is a scene in the movie, “Electric Jesus,” that does a great job of describing the albums and artists in question. Again, these albums are included because of the fan base embracing these titles more than any attempt to make the artists be something they are not.
- Best Of albums are not included. This should be a no-brainer as to why.
- Live albums are not included…sort of. Quite often a live album worked as a different form of “Best Of.” But a very small handful of live albums are included when they were such outstanding albums, or made such a significant lasting impact on the industry, that there inclusion was necessary.
- No traditional Southern Gospel is included. The goal was to keep the list as “contemporary” as possible and given my limited exposure and appreciation for the style, it would be unfair to include a style I am not familiar enough with to honestly review.
- No traditional Black Gospel in included (see point 6).
- Here’s the controversial one. No Modern Worship music is included. As so many of the albums in this category are filled with songs that appear on multiple albums by multiple artists, the inclusion simply would not work. There are artists in the countdown that are classified as “modern worship” artists, but the albums included branch out way beyond the style as currently defined.
- The placement in the countdown, though important, is not as radically or firmly defined as many similar lists. It cannot be said that number 944 is any better than number 945, or even number 856 for that matter. Placement until we reach the Top 300 or so is rather fluid. To put it easiest to understand, those albums within dozens of spots of each can easily be switched and not impact the value or stature of that release. They are a general listing as best as I could. Please understand this has taken well over a year to compile and even I am not totally satisfied with the placement of every album.
- An amazing song does not mean an amazing album. Many readers will probably be quite surprised to discover some of the biggest albums, with the most popular songs in history either not included or not ranked especially high. The purpose of this list is to discuss the best albums, not necessarily the most popular albums or those possessing the biggest singles. I can only imagine what readers are thinking now.
The real and ultimate purpose of this blog and the corresponding podcast is to celebrate the amazing art, musicianship and creativity of Christian worldview music. The author of the Book of Hebrews talks about a cloud of witnesses that have gone on before us, setting the table and preparing the way. Isaac Newton borrowed similar imagery when talking about “standing on the shoulders of giants,” celebrating and recognizing the great accomplishments of predecessors who broke barriers, built bridges and created sustainable art for generations. This endeavor looks back joyfully and reverently at those artists and the amazing LEGACY they have left in their wake.
These reviews will also be available in a podcast with music samples, artist interviews, stories and discussions with industry leaders and other fans. The name of the podcast will be the same and links will be provided here.
So, with all that in mind, let us begin to discover, remember and celebrate “LEGACY: CCM’s Greatest Albums!”