by Kevin Burton
Some contemporary Christian music is more contemporary than Christian. I’m not naming names, you know it when you hear it.
The Imperials lineup I grew up listening to had a super mix of southern gospel, rock and roll, country, even the faintest hint of disco.
Best of all, they never strayed from the gospel message or made you wonder what they were talking about.
This is my 11th album challenge post. Today I highlight “Heed The Call” by the Imperials, the greatest of the Christian bands around in the late 70s early 80s.
Living simultaneously “in the heavenlies” (as described in Ephesians) and “under the sun” (as described in Ecclesiastes) is no mean trick I assure you.
“Heed The Call” didn’t introduce any truths I hadn’t gotten already from the Bible. But this record was a major encouragement and reinforcement. In all, the eleven songs in this set are stronger spiritually than they are musically.
Jesus never promised us a smooth, easy ride on earth. This record starts with that reality and points the way forward.
Start with “He Didn’t Lift Us Up to Let Us Down.” The title itself tells you there will be rough patches. This song is a reminder that God is still on the job, in charge and working things out for our best.
It’s like Vicks Vapo Rub for the soul. You can just smell the healing. We all need reminding that “He didn’t build his home in us to move away…”
“Growing Stronger” speaks to some of the same themes as the singer is, “learning to depend on You and how to use my faith.”
You could look at “Let Jesus Do It For You” as the gospel boiled down to a phrase when it asks us in the bridge to “just let Him clean up the mess you made.”
“Whenever I Speak His Name” asks the rhetorical question, “If God is for me, who can be against me?” and goes on from there “Whom shall I fear with God on my side?
You see, Jesus and me, we are a majority
And no matter how big the mountain, it’ll have to leave,”
“Overcomer,” is a more up-tempo song the slams home the same message from the standpoint of a mature Christian. “We’re no longer children that are driven by the wind,” is a lyric that comes from Eph. 4:14. The song is triumphant, but never forgets the source of victory.
“Praise The Lord” is the song that would leap out to A&R types who are trained and well paid to “hear a hit” on a record. It’s the song that asks the most of lead singer Russ Taff. It rose to number one on the Christian chart as did “Oh Buddha.”
I wonder if people are still writing songs like “Oh Buddha.” I wonder if you can get them onto the radio today. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ is the only way to God and heaven. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 KJV).
Jesus didn’t shrink from that, the Imperials didn’t either. But remember, even as they called out false religions, they also called out those who slap a religious logo on themselves but never go deeper to true salvation.
“First Morning in Heaven” is a celebration, an imagining of what that day will be like. The fact that Heaven is never-ending is reinforced in the chorus “I can’t wait till that first morning in Heaven, over and over and over and over and over and over again.”
The title tune “Heed The Call” is about being spiritually sensitive, listening to God.
One thing I like about the Imperials is they shared lead vocals. Taff was the nominal lead singer. But Armond Morales (bass) Jim Murray (tenor) and David Will (baritone) all took the lead at times.
They all had the message right and were a great help to those living in the heavenlies and under the sun.