Sacred Cowboys: Xian Cosmic American Music

Over the past couple of years I’ve been putting together a series of mixtapes that have coupled together some genre faves from one corner of music or another. Some of my favorites have been explorations of new and old Cosmic Country and this mixtape follows suit. After talking with Bobby Lee, who’s tape Shakedown in Slabtown explores the ambient arm of the genre with glowing results, he proposed putting together a mixtape of ’70s Christian Country for the site. Having found some favorites in spiritual jazz, and gospel blues I was interested with the strain that Lee was describing. Check out the first guest mixtape for the site below along with a bit of background from Lee. And since its a Bandcamp Friday, you can head to pickup his latest while you’re at it.

Sacred Cowboys: Xian Cosmic American Music
Just as musicians and artists began getting it together in the country at the dawn of the 70s, many of the young seekers and dreamers who headed out West during the Summer of Love began getting turned onto Jesus. Some found peace in rural communes, macrobiotic food and free love, others got their daily dose of good vibes from some of that old time religion and the original long haired, sandal wearing, peacenik. The Jesus movement, as it became known, came into existence at the same time as the first wave of Cosmic American Music and there was some natural overlap between the two scenes. Labels, such as Marantha and Myrrh, emerged to cater for the growing demand for “Jesus Music”. Some secular artists and session guys dipped their toes in the holy water, (Al Perkins of The Flying Burrito Brothers is a common feature on many of these records), whilst others, such as The Talbot Brothers, formerly of Mason Proffit, moved permanently into Christian music.

Sacred Cowboys is intended to document that time. Stylistically, there’s CSN-alikes doing harmony drenched folk rock, Eagles-y country rock, Our Ladies of the Canyon and Old Testament Yacht Rock.It’s not just happy-clappy amateurs singing around the campfire that “Jesus Music” can conjure. Paul Clark’s “Don’t Judge Your Brother By His Face” leans heavily towards On The Beach with it’s stringing guitar and undeniably Neil-like vocal. Daniel Amos’ “Don’t Light Your Own Fire” is mid-70s sleek, studio perfection; part Steely Dan groove, part Pure Prairie League smoothness. Selah offer up the spooky vibrato-drenched “In Jesus’ Name” which would be right at home on some obscuro acid-folk compilation. I don’t have to share these artists’ faith to dig the music they were making.

The mix was recorded from the original LPs onto cassette and then digitised, therefore the quality varies somewhat.

A big thanks to Keith How for hipping me to a lot of the artists here and Nick Taylor for the artwork. – Bobby Lee

Side A:
1. TV Intro
2. Gentle Faith – The Shepherd
3. Canaan – I Will Return
4. Paul Clark – Don’t Judge Your Brother By His Face
5. The Way – If You Will Believe
6. Children of The Day – Holy Spirit Song
7. Paul Clark and Friends – Under His Grace
8. The New Folk – Love Comes Down
9. Road Home – Since I Met Jesus
10. Larry Norman – I’ve Searched All Around
11. Gentle Faith – Jerusalem
12. Honey Tree – Clean Before My Lord
13. The Talbot Bros – Come and Gone
14. Paul Clark – Behold The Messiah

Side B:
1. Paul Clark and Friends – Which One Are You?
2. Daniel Amos – Don’t Light Your Own Fire
3. The Way – Have You Ever Heard
4. Selah – In Jesus’ Name
5. Talbot Bros – And The Time
6. Canaan – Peace On You
7. Paul Clark – Sacred Cowboy
8. Honey Tree – Only God
9. Mustard Seed Faith – All I Know
10. Larry Norman – Why Don’t You Look Into Jesus
11. Country Faith – Two Roads
12. Daniel Amos – William
13. John Michael Talbot – How Long

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