Agape - Gospel Hard Rock (1971)
The first album from the pioneers of the harder edge of Jesus rock music. (amazon.com)
This early attempt to fuse the popular sounds of artists like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience with an evangelistic Christian message comes off as ham-fisted and naïve, but undeniably genuine. Agape doesn't quite live up to the "hard rock" portion of their album's title, filling most of the tracks on this debut with watery blues, lightweight guitar textures, and clumsy, half-spoken vocals. Still, they do find a few excuses to freak out on side two; "Freedom" contains some lengthy, double-tracked fuzz guitar solos and "Choose" features a thick, galloping Grand Funk Railroad-style approach during the instrumental sections. The album's closer, "Rejoice," begins as a disturbing reading from Revelations set to eerie psychedelia -- all discordant strings scrape over a slinky, sinister vamp, eventually bursting into heavy riffing and a rousing chorus of "Read your Bible!" Singer/songwriter/guitarist Fred Caban was definitely preaching to the converted, delivering frankly simplistic testimony and borrowed Biblical passages stitched together with awkward sincerity. In the turbulent era that Gospel Hard Rock was recorded, it might have helped the group's cause to directly address some of the spiritual crises that their youthful audience was facing rather than just parroting doctrine and language that hippies had already decided they couldn't accept. Perhaps because of this veneer of innocence, original copies of Agape's albums are highly sought after by record collectors, sometimes commanding up to 300 dollars apiece from entirely secular fans. (Fred Beldin, allmusic.com)
Agape - Victims Of Tradition (1972)
"Victims Of Tradition" is the second album from this early 70s Christian psych rock group. Agape was from California and preaching the gospel using a psych rock format and musically it's pretty good. Fred Caban wrote the lyrics, music and supplies the vocals on all the tracks. Fred was a young guitarist from Azusa, CA, who became a born-again Christian shortly after graduating from high school in 1968.
In an effort to help evangelize his peers, Caban formed the band with bassist John Peckhart and drummer Mike Jungkman. They were one of the earliest Christian rock bands, established in a time when the music they played was still being shunned by established churches (the few they approached for concerts rejected the loud music they played, despite the message).
Agape performed wherever they could, on beaches, in schools, and in parks, and released their debut album "Gospel Hard Rock" in 1971.
The band added keyboardist Jim Hess and released "Victims of Tradition" in 1972, which featured a more progressive approach, as well as a front cover that pictured the group performing in a graveyard.
Their second album is more laid back than the first but both are equally sought- after.
Fred Caban - Lead vocals, guitars
Mike Jungman - Drums, percussion,vocals
Jim Hess - Keyboards
Richard Greenburg - Bass
1. Voyaging Pilgrim
2. Walking Over The Hill
3. Wouldn't It Be A Drag
4. Jazz Jam (Part 1)
5. The King Of Kings
6. The King Is Christ
7. Change Of Heart
8. You Reap What You Sow