Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Wilson McKinley : Spirit of Elijah

The Wilson McKinley

LP-- Spirit Of Elijah

Side one [27977]
1 He
2 It's Up To You
3 Come On Home
4 One In The Spirit
5 Tree Of Life
Side two [27978]
1 His Eye Is On The Sparrow
2 All My Life
3 Crown Of Glory
4 I Need A Saviour
5 Spirit Of Elijah

Left to right :Jimmy Bartlett, bass ; Randy Wilcox, rhythm guitar and keyboards,
Mike Messer, lead guitar, Tom Slipp, drums

Jesus-rock pioneers Wilson McKinley are a fascinating footnote in the annals of psychedelia--minor legends in their native Pacific Northwest, they are generally considered the first secular band to forsake the ample pleasures of the flesh in favor of forging lives and music devoted to spreading the Christian gospel.
The Wilson McKinley formed in Spokane, Washington in 1968, originally comprising singer/guitarist Mike Messer, singer/bassist Don Larson, guitarist Randy Wilcox and drummer Tom Slipp; at its inception the group played secular psychedelia very much in the spirit of its times, earning a regional following on the strength of their layered harmonies and folk-inspired arrangements.
Through circumstances unknown, they earned the notice of record exec Al Sherman, whose Alshire label made its living via budget-priced copycat LPs of Sixties pop hits, all recorded by prefab studio groups. Virtually all of the bands in question--Fats and the Chessmen, Los Norte Americanos and the Bakersfield Five among them--were helmed by producer and songwriter Gary Paxton, best known for composing the novelty smash "The Monster Mash." At Sherman's request, Paxton put together a group dubbed the California Poppy Pickers to capitalize on the growing country-rock trend; there were four Poppy Pickers LPs in all, each made up of covers and thinly-veiled rewrites, and for reasons unknown, the fourth and final album Honky Tonk Women was recorded without Paxton's involvement, with the studio musicians populating the previous three replaced by the members of the Wilson McKinley.
The Wilson McKinley often headlined a Voice of Elijah-owned Spokane coffeehouse called the I Am, testing out new material in front of their most fervent fans--they also played the occasional secular rock festival, albeit usually in the hopes of attracting new members to the flock. The Wilson McKinley's sophomore album Spirit of Elijah appeared in the summer of 1971--recorded during a single overnight session sans editing or overdubs, the album suggested secular antecedents like Moby Grape and the Moody Blues (whose "It's Up to You" appears in modified form). Sold exclusively through advertisements in the Voice of Elijah's free newspaper the TRUTH
Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

Much more about this band can be found at the web home of the Wilson McKinley Jesus Rock

No comments:

Post a Comment