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Top 15 albums

    "As a huge fan of Christian music since I came to the Lord in the early 90's, Christian music has been a big part of my walk and my life in general. As such, I've found, after compiling this list, that most of my favorite records were birthed out of the nineties. While it probably has a lot to do with how these records affected my life during a critical growing period through high school and even college, these are all records I stand by as being quality albums. The phrase "They just don't make them like they used to" came to mind more than once while I compiled my list and there probably is some truth to that as the music industry was in a much healthier state ten-plus years ago. And although I could probably make a list of 25, maybe even 50 top albums, here are my cream-of-the-crop... fifteen albums I have loved and still do." - John

This list is in a sort of, but not an official, order...
John DiBiase
1 Audio Adrenaline, Lift (2001) -
"It's no secret I'm an Audio Adrenaline fan, but their underrated 2001 album, Lift, includes what are some of my all-time favorite worship songs including my all-time favorite worship song, "Tremble." All are originals and I don't think I'd ever want to hear anyone else do these songs. Other spiritually charged highlights include "Glory," "Speak To Me," the title track, and "You Still Amaze Me."
2 Family Force 5, Business Up Front, Party In The Back: Diamond Edtion (2007) -
"At GMA 2005, at Gotee Records' showcase, I saw this crazy new band live that I'd never heard of before called Family Force 5. They seemed ridiculous from the moment they started playing, but by the end of their set, I was a believer of what is easily one of the best - if not the best - live shows around today. This record not only introduces this great crunk rock band, but its Diamond Edition release includes three additional songs. Only thing that could have made this 15-track album better? The reinstating of the cut track, "Color Of Water"
3 Jars Of Clay, Jars Of Clay (1995) -
"I first experienced Jars Of Clay in the Spring of 1995 opening for another favorite band, PFR. Their live show left an impression and it set into motion an impatient series of weeks waiting for this record to hit the stores. I remember calling my local bookstore nearly every week (sorry guys!) asking when the record would finally release. It was long anticipated and well worth the wait. An amazing debut that impacted music not only in the Christian music but the mainstream as well. It's a shame not many other Christian market releases have had such a widespread impact."
4 DC Talk, Jesus Freak (1995) -
"1995 was a history-making year in Christian music. Pop-hip hoppers DC Talk released a pop rock record boldly titled Jesus Freak in November that year. Its genre-bending collection of songs gave rock music a place in the Christian market, and the mainstream took notice as well. Then, of course, less than a year later, its inspiration would birth the very site you're looking at, so DC Talk's impact lives on long after the trio has parted ways..."
4 Dakoda Motor Co., Into The Son (1993) -
"It's funny... I hated Dakoda Motor Co. at first because of the "Grey Clouds" video and later ate my pride when the beauty of Davia Vallesillo's voice sank in and I saw the light. Into The Son is a fantastic surf rock record with memorable tracks like "Need A Love," Ocean Seems," Wind An' Sea," and "Sondancer." And it's this record that instilled the desire to wish to learn the drums that has yet to be completely fulfilled."
4 Third Day, Conspiracy No. 5 (1997) -
"It's strange that some of the best records a band can release will be the most out of character for them. For Third Day, the band had some kind of identity crisis with their sophomore album that they have since, in some ways, have written off themselves, but it's hard to dismiss an album like Conspiracy No. 5 that produced such songs like the beautifully dark "I Deserve?", the worshipful "My Hope is You" and "Your Love Endures"... and even the song from which the band's fan club derived their name, "Gomer's Theme!" A solid album through and through... even if I personally could have done without "Have Mercy"..."
4 Project 86, Drawing Black Lines (2000) -
"In 2000, when Project 86 released their incredible sophomore album Drawing Black Lines, I had liked hard rock music, but listening to the angst and scream-ridden sounds of this album was a stretch for me. Little had I imagined the band would go on to become one of my all-time favorite acts. While succeeding albums have produced some of my favorite songs from the band, this album is near perfect from beginning to end. One of the best hard rock albums I've ever heard."
4 Common Children, Skywire (1996) -
"Speaking of incredible rock records... Common Children's Skywire earned the band an unfair association with Nirvana thanks to the vicious anti-sin anthem "Hate," but what's often forgotten is Marc Byrd's lyrical and musical brilliance on the rest of the album (y'know, that guy who wrote "God Of Wonders?"). Skywire is thoughtful, poetic, artistic, beautiful, and rocking! The title track is among the highlights, as well as "Dual Lens," "Last Time Out," "Broken Smile," and the redemptive "Treasure."
4 Newsboys, Take Me To Your Leader (1996) -
"Newsboys have always gotten a bum rap for being written off as just a youth group pop band. However, their raw pop rock 1996 album Take Me To Your Leader is no joke. Take the closer "Lost The Plot," or the painfully honest edgy "Breathe," not to mention the unashamed album opener or the tender "Let It Go." But this is also the album that gives us some truly memorable fun tunes as well -- from the title track to the wonderfully fun, "Breakfast," this album proves Newsboys were more than just a pop band for kids. This was one - among a few others (Going Public, for example), to be truly proud of."
4 Guardian, Buzz (1995) -
"I used to watch Christian music video shows all the time, and one band I could not get into was the light metal sounds of Guardian. However, like the Newsboys, when artist/producer Steve Taylor got his hands on them, they made musical gold. Buzz took Guardian into the mid-90's with a solid modern rock record that was moody, catchy, dark, and real. The Civil War-themed "Hand of the Father" is a chilling gem, while "Are You Gonna Keep Your Word?" is a beautiful anthem for staying true in marriage. The throwback "Psychedelic Runaway" as well as the depression-themed "State Of Mine" are also highlights that are well worth a mention. This was the highlight of Guardian's career."
4 Eric Champion, Transformation (1996) -
"Speaking of musical reinventions, Eric Champion just might take the cake with his 1996 Essential Records debut, Transformation. The electronic dance pop pretty boy grew a goatee and roped together a band for this truly unique electronic-rock offering. Mixing attitude with intriguing song compositions, Transformation never seemed to get the attention it deserved, but it has remained a favorite of mine for well over a decade."
4 Audio Adrenaline, Don't Censor Me (1993) -
"It was almost painful having to choose one other Audio A record over others. On the one hand, bloOm remains to be a solid rock album while Underdog was a pop rock record that rekindled my love for this band. But Don't Censor Me was my first love. In 1994, I was finally won over by the music video for "Big House" on a video show called "Signal Exchange" (hosted by Hoodwinked director, Cory Edwards!), where the band was also being interviewed. I eventually picked up Don't Censor Me, and the rest is history. I still love "We're A Band," the title track, "Let Love," and how can I not love the fact that my wedding party danced to "Rest Easy?" Oh, and I can't forget that "Scum Sweetheart" got me through some tough high school years!" ;)
4 Grammatrain, Lonely House (1995) -
"Lonely House was my personal introduction to Seattle's grunge. Grammatrain's debut is another underrated rock release. It's kind of amazing to think that Forefront Records put a record like this out (but it's not a surprise they released the more watered-down follow-up, Flying, two years later), but Lonely House is a dark and poetic journey with a surprising amount of depth. Highlights include the anti-abortion anthem, "Execution" (aptly titled, indeed), the strange title track, but most of all, the worshipful ballad of surrender, "Need."
4 Bride, Snakes In The Playground (1992) -
"I almost didn't put this record on my list, but I realized it might be a travesty not to. Snakes In The Playground may be one of the greatest metal records around, and Dale Thompson's incredible wailing vocals are unbeatable. On Snakes..., the songs are deep and catchy while being brutally honest as well. Another record to expose the horrors of abortion, "Picture Perfect" is a highlight, while the title track and "Would You Die For Me," among others, equally stand out. And we can't forget the gorgeous piano ballad "I Miss The Rain."
4 PFR, Them (1996) -
"Picking a favorite PFR album is probably like trying to pick a favorite child. Drastic, yes, but I defaulted to the band's first final record (ha!) in 1996, Them, because it's a bit more timeless than the equally memorable but a bit more dated Great Lengths. Them showed some rock teeth that the band hadn't previous exposed fully before with the killer opening track, "Pour Me Out," but in true PFR fashion, they knock a few out of the park in the ballad department with the fantastic prayer anthem, "Fight," and the teary closer, "Garden." I really miss these guys."
"Man, it's SO hard to narrow these albums down. I really wanted to be able to include records like Switchfoot's The Beautiful Letdown (2003), especially before "Monday Comes Around" was cut from the list, but I also had a hard time axing albums like Poor Old Lu's amazing A Picture Of The Eighth Wonder (1996), Audio Adrenaline's blo0m (1996), Seven Day Jesus's underrated debut, The Hunger (1996), Bleach's Again, For the First Time (2002), Sixpence None The Richer's self-titled record (1997), and the Rock N Roll Worship Circus' Listening EP (2004), particularly for the song "I Love The Rain." But, alas, we've only chosen 15... so I can't mention them." ;)

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