So, what's next? Garage band gospel? In fact, yes. We're about to hear a 1966 LP I found in those boxes and boxes of Christian LPs at Goodwill--something I'd have passed on if I hadn't noticed the Tower Records logo. "This should be interesting," I thought. And it is. Standells lite, sort of. Highly produced, highly echo-ized, and very entertaining for a listen or two. The liner notes tell us that the the Crusaders are "five sincere young men--all of them in their teens--who have chosen the Big Beat as the means of expressing their religious faith. All five come from Southern California. All five grew up in homes of deep, sincere religious belief." The cynical sound collector that I am, when I read such predictable assurances of authenticity, I think "Gimmick." But I could be wrong--maybe there was a lot of garage band gospel going on at this time.
I don't know, though. The line-up of band originals, popular spirituals, Little Drummer Boy, two hymnal classics (Battle Hymn, Onward), and a show tune (You'll Never Walk Alone) doesn't seem like a product of natural evolution. For vintage "Jesus music," this seems only marginally spiritual, as if the Christian aspect were an afterthought. The Jesus music I'm familiar with is nothing but spiritual--or, to use the old-fashioned term, religious. But I wasn't there. (Let's see--what was I doing in 1966? Oh, I remember--watching Batman.)
Traditionally, "garage band" rock is associated with young white guys with amps and attitude, though the sound is clearly indebted to Fifties R&B--think Poison Ivy by the Coasters. With that in mind, it wouldn't surprise me at all if some kind of black, garage-y gospel preceded the Crusaders. That's where I'd look.
Good, solid musicianship, some fun lyrics, and tolerable sound of the engineered-for-AM style of the time. Forgive the terrible Little Dummer Boy version that starts things off, and especially dig the next to last track, a rocking instrumental of Onward Christian Surfers--er, Soldiers.
To the worshipful praise: Make a Joyful Noise with Drums and Guitars
The Crusaders: Make a Joyful Noise with Drums and Guitars (Tower T 5048; 1966)