The Top 100 Christian Rock Albums (1980-2019): Part Five

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series The Top 100 Christian Rock Albums (1980-2019)

In a memorable episode of King of the Hill, Hank Hill’s son Bobby gets involved with a Christian rock group. I won’t recap the entire episode, but there is a key scene where Hank confronts Bobby about his involvement with the band. In this scene, Hank delivers this classic (and hilarious) line to the lead singer/pastor – “Can’t you see you’re not making Christianity better, you’re just making rock and roll worse?”

Unfortunately, many people both inside and outside the church would agree with Hank Hill’s assessment of Christian rock music. Sadly these critics are not entirely wrong. Much of what has been released under the broad heading of “Christian Rock” over the years is uninspired, copy-cat, second-rate, music.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there. There has also been plenty of great rock and roll music made by Christians over the years and we have attempted to highlight some of it in this series of articles.

Thank you all so much for taking this journey with us. We know there will be disagreements with the list and that is great. Feel free to comment here on what we should have included, or what we ranked too low or too high. Before we get to the top 10 here is a recap of 100-11. Be sure to check out parts 1-4 of this series if you want to see our thoughts on each of these albums.

  1. Anberlin – Never Take Friendship Personal
  2. Mastedon – Lofcaudio
  3. Bloodgood
  4. The Call – Reconciled
  5. Dimestore Prophet – Fantastic Distraction
  6. Delirious? – King of Fools
  7. Sleeping Giant – Kingdom Days in an Evil Age
  8. Whitecross – Triumphant Return
  9. Whiteheart – Highlands
  10. The Violet Burning
  11. John Mark McMillan – Mercury and Lightning
  12. Bride – Show No Mercy
  13. Demon Hunter – War
  14. Emery – In Shallow Seas We Sail
  15. Switchfoot – Oh! Gravity.
  16. Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
  17. Nouveaux – And This is How I Feel
  18. Caedmon’s Call
  19. Relient K – Mmhmm
  20. Vigilantes of Love – Blister Soul
  21. Grammatrain – Flying
  22. The Brave – Battle Cries
  23. Small Town Poets
  24. Five Iron Frenzy – Upbeats and Beatdowns
  25. Steve Taylor – I Predict 1990
  26. Vigilantes of Love – Audible Sigh
  27. DeGarmo & Key – Commander Sozo and the Charge of the Light Brigade
  28. Tourniquet – Vanishing Lessons
  29. Phil Keaggy – Find me in These Fields
  30. Joshua – Intense Defense
  31. House of Heroes – The End is not the End
  32. The Waiting
  33. Poor Old Lu – Sin
  34. Mylon and Broken Heart – Big World
  35. Holy Soldier
  36. Audio Adrenaline – Some Kind of Zombie
  37. The Call – Into the Woods
  38. 63 John Mark McMillan – Economy
  39. The Prayer Chain – Mercury
  40. Room Full of Walters – Sleepyhead
  41. Shout – In Your Face
  42. King’s X – Gretchen Goes to Nebraska
  43. Honey – Lost on You
  44. The Listening
  45. Luxury
  46. Galactic Cowboys
  47. Thrice – To be Everywhere is to be Nowhere
  48. Newsboys – Going Public
  49. Dimestore Prophets – Love is Against the Grain
  50. Plankeye – The One and Only
  51. Anberlin – Cities
  52. Steve Taylor – Squint
  53. Shaded Red – Red Revolution
  54. DeGarmo & Key – The Pledge
  55. Guardian – Miracle Mile
  56. Future of Forestry – Awakened to the Sound
  57. Third Day – Conspiracy No. 5
  58. The Choir – Chase the Kangaroo
  59. Audio Adrenaline – Bloom
  60. All Star United
  61. The Supertones – Supertones Strike Back
  62. The 77s – Drowning with Land in Sight
  63. Sixpence None the Richer
  64. Adam Again – Perfecta
  65. Switchfoot – The Beautiful Letdown
  66. DC Talk – Free at Last
  67. The Supertones – The Adventures of the O.C. Supertones
  68. Petra – On Fire
  69. Bride – Drop
  70. Jars of Clay – Good Monsters
  71. Jars of Clay
  72. The Elms – The Chess Hotel
  73. The Waiting – Blue Belly Sky
  74. Switchfoot – Hello Hurricane
  75. Petra – More Power to Ya
  76. Whiteheart – Tales of Wonder
  77. Josh Garrels – Love & War & the Sea In Between
  78. Fleming and John – Delusions of Grandeur
  79. Plankeye – Relocation
  80. The Prayer Chain – Shawl
  81. Adam Again – Dig
  82. Chagall Guevara
  83. Uthanda – Believe
  84. Reflescent Tide – Spring Catalog
  85. John Mark McMillan – Borderland
  86. Stryper – To Hell with the Devil
  87. Dryve – Thrifty Mr. Kickstar
  88. DC Talk – Jesus Freak
  89. The Violet Burning – Demonstrates Plastic and Elastic
  90. NEEDTOBREATHE – Rivers in the Wasteland

Now let’s get to the top 10: 

10. NEEDTOBREATHE – The Outsiders (2009)

The Bona Fides: 1 top 10 vote, 4 top 15 votes

From the review I wrote earlier this year: “Musically and thematically, The Outsiders was a declaration that the band had no intention of fitting in, being labeled, or taking the easy road. Their music had never sounded this fresh, authentic, or natural. This was the music that had been flowing in their blood from the beginning; it only took three albums to get it out.”

Honestly, I don’t have much to add to what I’ve already written. This is a great album. Period. It’s not a pretty good album or even a very good album. It is a GREAT album and it cemented NEEDTOBREATHE’s place in the pantheon of some of the best Christian bands of all time. There is a confident maturity in every note, every line. When a band is operating at the peak of their artistic abilities, it is a beautiful thing to hear. The Outsiders is a perfect example of that. (Phill Lytle)

Essential Tracks: The Outsiders, Through Smoke, Stones Under Rushing Water, Something Beautiful, Let Us Love

9. Bride – Snakes in the Playground (1992)

The Bona Fides: 1 top 5 vote, 2 top 20, 4 top 25, 5 top 30, and 6 top 50 votes. 

This is definitely the “loudest” album to land in our top 50, I am a bit surprised that it ended up as high as number 9, but six of our ten voters placed in on their list and with good reason. This record flat out rocks. Vocalist Dale Thompson (the best “screamer” in rock music history) led the way in this pounding sonic attack. The band was not afraid to tackle social issues. With prophetic clarity and urgency, they took on topics like abortion, gang violence, drug abuse, illegal immigration, and suicide. Two ballads brought a much-needed change of pace from the rest of the album. Bride had several excellent records (a couple of others even made our top 100 list) but this one is special and definitely the best place to start for anyone wanting to explore their sound. (Michael Lytle)

Essential Tracks: Rattlesnake, Would You Die for Me, I Miss the Rain, Psychedelic Super Jesus, Goodbye  

8.  Plankeye – Commonwealth (1996)

The Bona Fides: 2 top 10 votes, 3 top 15, 4 top 25, and 5 top 30 votes. 

I hope you know and love this album!  Plankeye wasn’t as well known as some other bands of their era but they recorded some of the best rock of the 90s. Commonwealth is too original to compare. You will hear distorted guitar elements as well as high soaring melodies. It’s a mix of hard-hitting rock tunes alongside reflective and resonant tracks. Scott Silletta’s scratchy voice is the perfect sound for both kinds of songs. They capture an intimate feeling with a production that almost seems live. Everything came together to make this one of our favorites. Commonwealth is timeless and at the same time distinctly 90s. Plankeye had solid albums before and after this. However, this is a band at its un-self-conscious pinnacle. (Brandon Atwood)

Essential Tracks: Whisper to Me, B.C., Push me Down (Veiled), Beautiful, Who Loves You More

7. NEEDTOBREATHE – The Reckoning (2011)

The Bona Fides: 1 top 5 vote, 2 top 10, 4 top 20, and 5 top 30 votes. 

This is the band’s best album. Well, that’s my opinion but since I’m writing this blurb we are going to stick with that. It’s more mature, more confident, and more fully realized than any of their other albums. It’s a 14 song tour de force that 99% of bands could only dream of pulling off. It has all the signature NEEDTOBREATHE elements but it adds complexity and depth to every song, every arrangement, and every lyric. From the fiery opening number, “Oohs and Ahhs”, to the contemplative closer, “Learn to Love”, the band delivers an album with no cracks and no weaknesses. To my ears, the band clearly set out to create their masterpiece when they wrote and recorded The Reckoning. Regardless of the behind-the-scenes tensions the band has admitted to since the release of this album, the music is what matters most. And in The Reckoning’s case, the music is better than any fan had a right to expect. Which is saying something as their prior album, The Outsiders is a masterpiece as well. Somehow, NEEDTOBREATHE improved upon perfection.

It’s long been my contention that creating crowd-pleasing rock and roll that doesn’t pander is a much tougher task than most people realize. NEEDTOBREATHE do that and so much more and The Reckoning is the crowning jewel in their catalogue. (Phill Lytle)

Essential Tracks: Oohs and Ahs, White Fences, The Reckoning, Tyrant Kings, Devil’s Been Talkin’

6. Cush (2000)

The Bona Fides: 3 top 5 votes, 4 top 10 votes. 

The band Cush is comprised of various members of other bands: The Prayer Chain, Honey, and Michael Knott’s LSU to name a few. The music is what matters so they never tell us who plays what. And that’s fine by me. The music works. It’s all ethereal vibes and effortless jam sessions. I find something new to enjoy every time I hear it.

I have always struggled with fully articulating what I love about this album. You either hear it or you don’t. It’s beautiful stuff to me, though. From the opening note, I am transported. Musically, this album defies easy labeling. It’s dreamy guitar-driven rock and roll, with just enough punch when needed. My abilities as a writer are not sufficient to do this album justice. I think the best thing I can do is to attempt to convey how I feel when I listen. There is an overwhelming sense of contentment that permeates everything. That’s not to downplay the rock elements of the album. Those are fantastic and work as well as anything else the band attempts, but as a whole, Cush creates a space of peace and contemplation. My soul is refreshed every time I spend time with this album. Does that sound a bit melodramatic? Fair enough, but that doesn’t make it any less true. (Phill Lytle)

Essential Tracks: Heaven Sent, Arching Heart, Shining Glory, Good Times, Angelica

5. The Choir – Speckled Bird (1994)

The Bona Fides: 1 top 5, 2 top 10, 4 top 20, and 6 top 30 votes. 

Most Choir fans rank Circle Slide or maybe Chase the Kangaroo as their best album. While both of those are great, Speckled Bird will always be tops in my book. In 1993 the band independently released an 8 song record called Kissers and Killers. It was the loudest and most raw the band had ever sounded. They took 7 of those 8 songs, polished up the rougher edges, and added 5 new tracks to create the masterpiece that is Speckled Bird. The music combined the more grunge influenced sound they developed on Kissers and Killers with the dreamy, ethereal sound that they are known for from their other records. The lyrics were an honest look at the strain marriages can sometimes come under, while still maintaining hope that they could come out stronger on the other side. There have been many high points in the 35+ year history of this band, but this record stands above the rest for several of our voters and it deserves a top 5 spot on our list. (Michael Lytle)

Essential Tracks: Love Your Mind, Amazing, Yellow Skies, Never More True, Speckled Bird

4. Petra – Beyond Belief (1990)

The Bona Fides: 1 first place vote, 2 top 5, 4 top 10, and 5 top 15 votes. 

Here is part of what I wrote for our top 10 Petra albums that REO published in 2019:

I did not grow up in the United States so finding and purchasing music, especially Christian music, was often difficult. I had become a Petra fan during the mid to late 80s and had borrowed a few of their albums from friends and copied them onto cassettes. The sound quality of those cassettes was often terrible, but it was all I had and I loved it. In 1990 my family traveled to the USA for a couple of months during the summer. We met up with some friends at the airport and I was informed that Petra was releasing a new album in late June/early July called Beyond Belief. I convinced my dad to take me to a Christian bookstore the week of July 4th and I paid my hard-earned $10 to purchase the Beyond Belief cassette. I listened to it nonstop. I let my brothers and friends borrow it, but with strict guidelines on how many times they could listen to it because I did not want the cassette to wear out. (I promise that cassettes wearing out was a HUGE concern back in the day). It wasn’t the first or last Petra record I ever heard, but it will always be my favorite. 

The band is clicking on all cylinders for this album. The same lineup and the same producers had been together for several records at this point and it showed. The album was certified gold and is still one of the bestselling Christian albums of all time.  

The only thing I will add to what I wrote last year is that the guitar intro to the song “Beyond Belief” is absolutely perfect. It is timeless and more than holds its own with any iconic guitar hook from any era. (Michael Lytle)

Essential Tracks – Beyond Belief, I Am on the Rock, Creed, Seen and Not Heard, Prayer

3. The Choir – Circle Slide (1990)

The Bona Fides: 2 first place votes, 3 top 5, 4 top 10, and 6 top 50 votes. 

Although it could be argued that other of The Choir’s albums are better in terms of the individual songs, Circle Slide stands out as their thematic masterpiece. Dan’s swelling saxophone sirens, the calm tenor of Derri’s vocals, and the precise and downright classy drumming of Steve Hindalong all mesh together perfectly. Thematically, they step into some interesting areas, juxtaposing a track with children laughing up against a final song of restoration. This is a top-tier, artistic album of the kind of Christ-centered hope that the world needs to see. A few years ago, I was able to see them play the entire album live in its entirety. I didn’t know at the time that it would be a memory I will cherish for the rest of my life. (Daniel Speer)

Essential Tracks: Circle Slide, Merciful Eyes, Tear for Tear/About Love, Sentimental Song, Blue Skies

2. Whiteheart – Freedom (1989)

The Bona Fides: 2 first place votes, 4 top 5 votes. 

I’ve written well over 2,000 words about this album already for Rambling Ever On. I’m not sure what else I can say. Actually, that’s not true. I could talk about this album all day. Freedom is my album. It’s my go-to anytime I need encouragement, recharging, or just to enjoy some absolutely pitch-perfect rock and roll. I will go to my grave firmly believing this album is perfection. It is the collective masterpiece of six incredibly talented musicians and one amazing producer. It (along with Circle Slide) received more number-one votes than any other album on our list, which says something. If you enjoy late 80s rock, with a strong emphasis on melody, and a rhythm section you can feel in your bones, this is the album for you.

Find a group of Christian rock fans online. Pose the question, “What is the best Christian rock album of all time?” You will get a number of great responses. You’ll even get some repeats like Larry Norman’s Only Visiting This Planet. But, don’t be surprised if the album that gets mentioned most often is Whiteheart Freedom. It happens every time I see this question pop up. If you know, you know. And for those of us who know Freedom, there is no other album that can stand up to it. (Phill Lytle)

Essential Tracks: Sing Your Freedom, Let the Kingdom Come, Over Me, The River Will Flow, Invitation, Let It Go

1. Common Children – Delicate Fade (1997)

The Bona Fides: 4 top 5 votes, 5 top 15 votes, 6 total votes. 

The album begins with a melancholy weight that transcends its era. It miraculously maintains this vibe throughout 15 beautiful songs. Common Children’s second release is certainly a product of its time (1997), but the emotions captured belong to all time. I think we are a bit shocked that this album conquered all others on this list. While this probably says something about the mean age of the contributors, it also speaks to the impact this record has had on our souls. I truly do mean souls. When I listen to this album, it is as if it skips my ears and intellect and passes straight to my inner being.

Some of the contributors to this list ran into Marc Byrd (singer, guitar, songwriter) at the 2000 Cornerstone Festival. I am sure that I was a pathetically annoying admirer. Marc was gracious and talked to us about the band and their music. (He also introduced us to Cush. Praise God for Marc!) Marc told us the story of Delicate Fade. It was an album born out of the pain of his first wife leaving him. It was a lament that occasionally waived into rage (listen to “Burn,” and “Pulse”). Overall, however, the album puts life in divine perspective, “The Eyes of God.” All our pains, plans, and joys are seen for what they are–small realities that an infinite God, scandalously, still cares about.

Aside from the band’s willingness to lay their soul bare, they also played some amazing music. I have no complaints about how the album begins, but the reality is that it gets better as it goes. Each song doing something more than we had previously heard. The magic crescendos with the acoustic love song “Drift” and the epic and ethereal “Blue Raft.” As “Blue Raft” floats you through the recklessness of life, you will know that you are listening to a truly great album. (David Lytle)

Essential Tracks: Stains of Time, Indiscreet, Drift, Blue Raft, Whisper, Pulse, Storm Boy, Delicate Fade 

Final thoughts

As we have stated repeatedly, we fully expect disagreement with our choices. Each of our voters disagrees with some of this list. Each of us has our personal Top 100. None of us agree on our rankings. This list is a result of ten very different people putting their musical tastes together to come up with as comprehensive a list as possible. We are confident we missed some great albums – we all have our blind spots. If one of your favorites didn’t make the final cut, please let us know so we can track it down and give it a spin. This is and has always been about the music. That has been our driving passion from day one – over six months ago. We truly hope that this list will be an inspiration. Seek out albums you don’t know. Go back and find some albums you haven’t heard in a long time. Simply put, listen to as much music as you can. Contrary to what Hank Hill believed, not all Christian rock made rock and roll worse. A lot of it elevated a musical genre, adding layers of spirituality, creativity, and spark. We hope you feel the same.

Finally, we created a Spotify playlist with songs from every album that was available. Unfortunately, a good number were not, which is disappointing. Still, there’s a ton of great music included and we hope you will enjoy it.

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40 thoughts on “The Top 100 Christian Rock Albums (1980-2019): Part Five

  • December 30, 2020 at 11:04 am

    I read this last installment with racing heart and quite a bit of anticipation, even though I wasn’t familiar with all the groups (Petra and White Heart, a definite yes; love them), and it isn’t my go-to music. Thank you again, folks!

  • December 30, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Love this! NEEDTOBREATHE for life!! ❤️❤️❤️

  • December 30, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Wow! I am pretty shocked about the top 10. A lot of justified praise for Needtobreathe but 3 in the top 15 caused me to raise an eyebrow, as great as they are. As always I enjoyed the list even if I disagree on a lot of it. They are recent discoveries for me as well but I’d encourage you to go and listen to Daniel Amos and The Lost Dogs…specifically Motorcycle, Darn Floor Big Bite by DA and Little Red Riding Hood and Scenic Route by Lost Dogs. Other misses to me were the exclusion of Into the Sea by Attalus (2015) Keep Quiet by SONS, and Behold by My Epic.

    Also, I’d love to see y’all’s individual lists that you used to compile this ultimate one of you were up for sharing. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

    Lastly, did I miss a sixpence inclusion? What the what?!

    • December 30, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      Sixpence made the list.

      There was some love for My Epic but not enough to make the cut.

      NEEDTOBREATHE was the rare band that made it in many of our lists.

      Daniel Amos is a definite blindspot for our voters. We fully recognize that.

      Thanks for following along.

      • December 30, 2020 at 2:48 pm

        DA is a band that I feel like I should love because of my love for the choir, Adam again and 77s, but I’ve never fallen in love. Maybe one of these days I’ll see the light.

        • December 30, 2020 at 4:40 pm

          Ditto on Daniel Amos.

          Also, I like Lost Dogs, and I definitely recognize that they are comprised of guys that can rock out (see below), but the actual Lost Dogs catalog feels a bit too folksy/bluesy/country for this list.

          That said, I was at a The Choir + Mike Rowe concert a couple years hence where Derri and Mike were doing some acoustic stuff, including some Lost Dogs methinks, and were getting drowned out by metal band next door. They finally said screw this, plugged in, let Steve loose on the drums, and I never heard a sound from that other band the rest of the evening.

        • April 7, 2021 at 5:53 pm

          I’ll take Horrendous Disc over 90% of your top 100. Great album with powerful lyrics.

          • April 7, 2021 at 7:10 pm

            If we are technically accurate, it was recorded in 1978 so it wouldn’t qualify.

  • December 30, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    I appreciate this list. It gives me a bunch of new artists to explore. I am, however, surprised and a little sad that Skillet and Disciple didn’t make the list.
    I know Disciple flies under the radar a lot, but they’re seriously one of the most amazing bands I’ve ever had the pleasure to see. Unapologetic in their beliefs and unstoppable in their rock. If you took the time to read this comment, please take some time to check them out.

    • December 30, 2020 at 3:09 pm

      I will give them another spin.

    • December 30, 2020 at 4:32 pm

      I voted for Skillet. More than one album, IIRC. But I think I was the only one; and, honestly, they were pretty far down on my list.

      I’ve certainly listened to Disciple a fair amount but never really got into them. I’ll give them another shot though.

    • February 4, 2021 at 5:17 pm

      One word: MewithoutYou

      That is all!

  • December 30, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Great List! Although I’m 51 now, some of these bands in the 90’s I had heard of but was still going through my 70’s & 80’s CCM phase (still am actually). I WAS big on Jars Of Clay (Got the interactive debut CD) and “The Eleventh Hour” (2002), Six Pence, Dogs Of Peace and a few others. Nowadays I find myself going back and looking at the 90’s.

    A FEW of my favorites not here but are still worth noting:

    Burlap To Cashmire’s “Anybody Out There” (1998)…I absolutely loved this album and so did my oldest daughter who was two years old when this came out!

    Whiteheart’s “Powerhouse” (1990) A great follow up album after “Freedom” (1988).

    Whiteheart’s “Redemption” (1997) Musically and lyrically masterful to me…got it and wore it out while deployed to the middle-east.

    Phil Keaggy’s “Sunday’s Child” (1988), “True Believer” (1995) and “Crimson And Blue” (1993).

    • December 30, 2020 at 3:11 pm

      Burlap got some votes. Not enough, unfortunately. It’s a really good album.

      My personal list would have included most Whiteheart albums!

  • December 30, 2020 at 6:24 pm

    I agree with additions of VOL on the list. It was some of the best CCM in the 90’s.
    I agree as well with Sixpence non the RIcher.

    Some clear bands missing from the list that should be there like Daniel Amos Alarma or Doppleganger, LSU- Grace Shaker, Leslie Phillips and Over the Rhine.
    You have been panned for some of the choices like Need To Breathe overkill in voting and the barely known choice at #1.
    Overall, a difficult list to generate as the decades are so different in regards to Christian music.

    • December 30, 2020 at 6:34 pm

      We have been panned? Good to know.

      • December 30, 2020 at 6:41 pm

        Well, yes a few people commenting have questioned NTB placement and frequency in the top 15.

        • December 30, 2020 at 6:47 pm

          A few. Out of 1,000’s who have read it. We’ll take that ratio.

          Thanks for the comment. I will definitely give Daniel Amos another chance.

          • December 30, 2020 at 6:52 pm

            I place DA kind of in a category of people love them or not. They were unique in style. They may be in a category like Frank Zappa, unique enough you either like them or not.

          • April 7, 2021 at 5:51 pm

            Add another from me! 🙂 Way to much NTB…they are good, but not that great.

          • April 7, 2021 at 7:07 pm

            Our voters disagree, obviously. Thanks for the comment!

  • December 31, 2020 at 4:08 am

    This series was fun to follow! I enjoy seeing what albums stand out to fellow listeners. With over half of your selections coming from the 90s that was definitely your panel’s definitive era. We older folks would likely have a few more 80s albums on our personal lists.

    I like to compare lists like this to HM’s Top 100 from 2010. While some of their picks were likely excluded for their secular market focus I was surprised at the overlap of only 16 albums. A couple of selections on their list that I prefer are King’s X “Faith Hope Love” over GGTN and Bloodgood “Detonation” over S/T. I also would have included some Deliverance (either S/T or Weapons of Our Warfare), Undercover “Balance of Power” and Allies “Long Way from Paradise”.

    As a Needtobreathe fan, I applaud their inclusion but feel they are over represented (as others have pointed out). I personally wouldn’t have included more than 2 albums from an artist unless they were a pillar of the genre with work that spanned several decades.

    Some albums I was glad to see included on your list were Freedom, Chagall Guevara, HoH The End Is Not the End, and King of Fools. There were many I was unfamiliar with and will definitely be checking out!

    • December 31, 2020 at 10:26 am

      Long way from paradise was on my list. I’m bummed it didn’t make it.

  • December 31, 2020 at 12:47 pm

    Great list. I have at least two thirds of the albums on the list. I’m a fanboy of Gene Eugene and Adam Again and many of the bands he produced. John Mark McMillan is a recent find for me, and I love his artistry. I’m glad he is represented multiple times on the list. Your list makes me want to go through my CD’s and tapes and make my own Top 100. Because of my ADD, my family may not see me for a couple of days and may have to bring food to me in the basement.

  • December 31, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    Nothing by Rez, or Keaggy, Mark Heard, Ashley Cleveland or Larry Norman.

    • December 31, 2020 at 4:08 pm

      Keaggy made the list.

  • January 3, 2021 at 12:46 am

    Jesus Freak should be top five.

    Only one Third Day?

    I need to listen to Whiteheart, The Choir and Petra.

    • January 4, 2021 at 11:07 am

      Thanks for the comment, Doriano! I think Third Day received more votes for other albums but not enough to make the top 100.

      Yes, you need to listen to those bands. Start with the albums on our list.

  • January 5, 2021 at 4:50 pm

    I have some “honorable mentions” I’d like to list:

    (Since you’re including King’s X) – Collective Soul “Hints, Allegations, & Things Left Unsaid” (1993/1994) I know they later indicated they weren’t really Christians and kind of went out of their way to make that clear in their next album, but Ed Roland’s Christian upbringing comes through in the lyrics of this album. Most people know the leadoff hit “Shine” (due in part to the blistering lead guitar solo), but this album has many other great songs too: “Love Lifted Me”, “Reach”, “Breathe”, and “Burning Bridges” stand out.

    Superchick “Regeneration” (2003) You may need to be a fan of the band’s other work to fully appreciate this one, but my jaw hit the floor when I heard how Max Hsu changed “So Bright” into “Stand Up”. The reimagining (remix is too confining a term for what he did) of that song sounds like a cross between Linkin Park and Evanescence. Most fans of modern Christian Rock at the time were familiar with “Barlow Girls”, and they remixed it nicely into an acoustic number with an assist from KJ-52. Another standout from the album is the remix of “Hero”, which tackles the uncomfortable topics of bullying and school shootings.

    PFR “The Late Great PFR” (1997) I really got into PFR in high school with the “Goldie’s Last Day” album. I know the title track is a campy song, but I enjoy bands who don’t take themselves too seriously. Listen to the leadoff song “Walk Away From Love” (also present on the greatest hits album I’m listing) and tell me they’re not a rock band! Other notable songs are “Great Lengths”, “Forever”, “Spinnin’ Round”, “Pray For Rain”, “The Love I Know”, “Do You Want To Know Love”…I could go on & on!

    Thousand Foot Krutch – Any album. Notable songs: “Supafly”, “Unbelievable”, “Rawkfist”, “Move”, “Welcome to the Masquerade”. They really need a greatest hits album!

    Hawk Nelson “Letters to the President” (2004) I’ll the be first to agree that this is not their tightest album musically, but I think it is their best when you add in the lyrics. It starts off on a fun note with “California”, brings in some social commentary in “Things We Go Through”, talks about a restored relationship in “Every Little Thing”…I could explain every song but will move to the end in the interest of space…and wraps it up with the heartfelt “36 Days” about the difficulties of a life’s dream of being on the road. I think of “Long and Lonely Road” as more of an epilogue/hidden track-type song.

    I’ll probably have more to mention with more time to think. I have to say that I like the Needtobreathe mentions but feel the album places should be reversed. I saw the band on tour for both albums (House of Blues-Myrtle Beach for “The Outsiders” & Gardner-Webb University for “The Reckoning”) and thought “The Outsiders” was their best effort at the time–and still do.

    • January 7, 2021 at 11:20 am

      Good comments, Joel. “Hero” – the remix is a really good song.

  • April 7, 2021 at 5:48 pm

    I appreciate the effort it must have taken to put this list together. Thanks for doing that. Curious omissions though. Curious as to why you don’t have any Daniel Amos, Servant, Rez Band. Also, DigHayZoose, Dakota Motor Company, Flyleaf. And only 1 Keaggy album? Thanks again for doing this though. it brings back lots of memories.

    • April 7, 2021 at 7:06 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Those bands received votes but didn’t make the cut. Daniel Amos is the band we have received the most pushback about, fwiw.

  • April 7, 2021 at 5:56 pm

    One more: no Margaret Becker? Soul (album) was amazing.

  • June 6, 2021 at 8:26 am

    Thanks for putting together the list! As always, these should generate great conversation and opportunities to discover new music. I was born in 1972. Own 10,000+ CDs and have passion for these genres. Surprisingly I didn’t have 13 of the titles on your list. I kept your rules…therefore no U2 – Joshua Tree or Amy Grant – Lead Me On. However, I had to include Michael W. Smith – I (2) Eye…a classic rock album. I’ll let list below speak for itself…but notable artists that were missing include AD, Daniel Amos, David Meece, Deliverance, Glenn Kaiser/Rez, Mark Heard/Ideola, Neal Morse, Steve Camp, Theocracy and Undercover.

    Loved to see White Heart – Freedom at #2. A great album that is criminally under rated by most critics.

    In no order…and 5 over my limit:
    AD/Kerry Livgren – Seeds of Change
    AD/Kerry Livgren – Time Line
    Adam Again – Dig
    Affector – Harmagedon
    Altar Boys – Gut Level Music
    Anberlin – Cities
    Arkangel – Warrior
    Ashley Cleveland – Big Town
    Attalus – Into the Sea
    Avion – Avion
    Barnabas – Approaching Light Speed
    Barren Cross – Atomic Arena
    Bloodgood – Detonation
    Bride – Snakes in the Playground
    Caedmon’s Call – 40 Acres
    The Call – Reconciled
    Chagall Guevara – Chagall Guevara
    The Choir – Chase the Kangaroo
    The Choir – Circle Slide
    Chris Eaton – Vision
    Crowder – Neon Steeple
    Daniel Amos – ¡Alarma!
    Daniel Amos – Darn Floor, Big Bite
    Daniel Amos – Doppelgänger
    David Meece – Candle in the Rain
    David Meece – 7
    DC Talk – Jesus Freak
    DeGarmo & Key – Commander Sozo and the Charge of the Light Bri…
    Deliverance – Deliverance
    Deliverance – Weapons of Our Warfare
    Demon Hunter – Summer of Darkness
    Disciple – Disciple
    The Elms – Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll
    Fair – The Best Worst-Case Scenario
    Falling Up – Falling Up
    Fleming & John – Delusions of Grandeur
    The Front – The Front
    Galactic Cowboys – Galactic Cowboys
    Geoff Moore – Foundations
    Glenn Kaiser & Darrell Mansfield – Trimmed and Burnin’
    Guardian – Fire & Love
    House of Heroes – The End is Not the End
    iDEoLA – Tribal Opera
    Jars of Clay – Jars of Clay
    Jennifer Knapp – Kansas
    Jerusalem – Warrior
    John Elefante – On My Way to the Sun
    John Mark McMillan – Mercury & Lightning
    Josh Garrels – Love & War & the Sea in Between
    Joshua – Intense Defense
    King’s X – Gretchen Goes to Nebraska
    King’s X – Out of the Silent Planet
    L.S.U. (Lifesavers Underground) – Shaded Pain
    Leslie Phillips – The Turning
    Lost Dogs – Scenic Routes
    Mad at the World – Mad at the World
    Mae – Everglow
    Margaret Becker – Immigrant’s Daughter
    Mark Heard – Satellite Sky
    Mark Heard – Second Hand
    Mark Heard – Victims of the Age
    Mastedon – Lofcaudio
    Matthew Ward – Armed & Dangerous
    mewithoutYou – Brother, Sister
    Michael Anderson – Sound Alarm
    Michael W. Smith – I 2 (Eye)
    Neal Morse – One [Morse]
    Neal Morse – Sola Scriptura
    Neal Morse – ?
    The Neal Morse Band – The Similitude of a Dream
    Needtobreathe – Rivers in the Wasteland
    Over the Rhine – Drunkard’s Prayer
    P.O.D. – Satellite
    Petra – Beat the System
    Petra – Back to the Street
    Petra – More Power to Ya
    Rez Band – Colours
    Rez Band – Silence Screams
    Rick Elias – Rick Elias and the Confessions
    Russ Taff – Russ Taff
    Scaterd Few – Sin Disease
    Seventy Sevens – All Fall Down
    Seventy Sevens – Seventy Sevens
    Sixpence None the Richer – Sixpence None the Richer
    Steve Camp – Fire and Ice
    Steve Camp – One on One
    Steve Taylor – I Predict 1990
    Steve Taylor – Meltdown
    Stryper – To Hell With the Devil
    Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
    Switchfoot – The Beautiful Letdown
    Switchfoot – Vice Verses
    Theocracy – Mirror of Souls
    Thieves & Liars – When Dreams Become Reality
    Third Day – Conspiracy No. 5
    Thrice – Vheissu
    Undercover – Balance of Power
    Undercover – Branded
    Vengeance Rising – Human Sacrifice
    The Violet Burning – Strength
    What If – What If
    White Heart – Don’t Wait for the Movie
    White Heart – Freedom
    Whitecross – Whitecross
    4-4-1 – Mourning into Dancing

    • June 7, 2021 at 11:08 am

      Thanks for the response and including your list. I really like your list, even if I don’t agree with all your choices. Good variety of styles and artists.

      Out of curiosity, which albums did you not own?

      • June 7, 2021 at 3:19 pm

        Actually had never even heard of your #1 choice. Will add the titles below to the collection….

        Audio Adrenaline – Some Kind of Zombie
        Common Children – Delicate Fade
        Drive – Thrify Mr. Kickstar
        Future of Forestry – Awakened to the Sound
        Honey – Lost on You
        Luxury – Luxury
        Plankeye – Relocation
        Phil Keaggy – Find Me in These Fields
        Nouveaux – And This is How I Feel
        Reflescent Tide – Spring Catalog
        Room Full of Walters – Sleepyhead
        Shaded Red – Red Revolution
        Uthanda – Believe

        • June 7, 2021 at 3:31 pm

          A few of those are among my favorites on our list. I hope you enjoy them, if you can track them down.

          I would love to see your Top 100 in order at some point. You can email it to us or post it here – your call.

  • June 29, 2021 at 4:31 am

    I could cut and paste all day long…but have to stop at some point. Below is my list of top 100 albums. Not simply a list of my favorites…but I tried to merge objectivity with subjectivity. Albums ranked based on musicianship, lyrical content, originality, impact on industry, cover art, etc.

    My favorite of this time period was left off the list….Neal Morse Band – Similitude of a Dream.

    Too many great ones were left off the list…

    Hope there’s a few that you can discover or give a closer listen!

    1. Daniel Amos – ¡Alarma!
    2. Petra – More Power to Ya
    3. Neal Morse – Sola Scriptura
    4. King’s X – Out of the Silent Planet
    5. Thrice – Vheissu
    6. Seventy Sevens – Seventy Sevens
    7. White Heart – Freedom
    8. The Choir – Circle Slide
    9. Jars of Clay – Jars of Clay
    10. DC Talk – Jesus Freak
    11. Switchfoot – The Beautiful Letdown
    12. Stryper – To Hell With the Devil
    13. Steve Camp – One on One
    14. Affector – Harmagedon
    15. Steve Taylor – I Predict 1990
    16. Daniel Amos – Doppelgänger
    17. Deliverance – Weapons of Our Warfare
    18. Leslie Phillips – The Turning
    19. L.S.U. (Lifesavers Underground) – Shaded Pain
    20. Mark Heard – Victims of the Age
    21. Michael W. Smith – I 2 (Eye)
    22. DeGarmo & Key – Commander Sozo and the Charge of the Light Brigade
    23. Theocracy – Mirror of Souls
    24. The Call – Reconciled
    25. Neal Morse – ?
    26. Russ Taff – Russ Taff
    27. The Violet Burning – Strength
    28. Thieves & Liars – When Dreams Become Reality
    29. David Meece – 7
    30. Undercover – Branded
    31. Fleming & John – Delusions of Grandeur
    32. Josh Garrels – Love & War & the Sea in Between
    33. Bride – Snakes in the Playground
    34. Rez Band – Silence Screams
    35. Altar Boys – Gut Level Music
    36. Chagall Guevara – Chagall Guevara
    37. The Choir – Chase the Kangaroo
    38. AD/Kerry Livgren – Seeds of Change
    39. King’s X – Gretchen Goes to Nebraska
    40. Glenn Kaiser & Darrell Mansfield – Trimmed and Burnin’
    41. Galactic Cowboys – Galactic Cowboys
    42. House of Heroes – The End is Not the End
    43. Scaterd Few – Sin Disease
    44. The Front – The Front
    45. Barren Cross – Atomic Arena
    46. P.O.D. – Satellite
    47. Steve Taylor – Meltdown
    48. Neal Morse – One
    49. Deliverance – Deliverance
    50. Caedmon’s Call – 40 Acres
    51. John Mark McMillan – Mercury & Lightning
    52. Ashley Cleveland – Big Town
    53. Adam Again – Dig
    54. Crowder – Neon Steeple
    55. Geoff Moore – Foundations
    56. iDEoLA – Tribal Opera
    57. Daniel Amos – Darn Floor, Big Bite
    58. Jerusalem – Warrior
    59. Bloodgood – Detonation
    60. Petra – Beat the System
    61. Undercover – Balance of Power
    62. Third Day – Conspiracy No. 5
    63. What If – What If
    64. John Elefante – On My Way to the Sun
    65. Needtobreathe – Rivers in the Wasteland
    66. Rez Band – Innocent Blood
    67. Joshua – Intense Defense
    68. Anberlin – Cities
    69. Mark Heard – Satellite Sky
    70. Avion – Avion
    71. Seventy Sevens – All Fall Down
    72. Mastedon – Lofcaudio
    73. Rick Elias – Rick Elias and the Confessions
    74. AD/Kerry Livgren – Time Line
    75. Petra – Back to the Street
    76. Switchfoot – Vice Verses
    77. Steve Camp – Fire and Ice
    78. Attalus – Into the Sea
    79. Whitecross – Whitecross
    80. Sixpence None the Richer – Sixpence None the Richer
    81. The Elms – Truth, Soul, Rock & Roll
    82. Mae – Everglow
    83. Margaret Becker – Immigrant’s Daughter
    84. Mark Heard – Second Hand
    85. Stryper – Soldiers Under Command
    86. mewithoutYou – Brother, Sister
    87. Vengeance Rising – Human Sacrifice
    88. Arkangel – Warrior
    89. Chris Eaton – Vision
    90. Fair – The Best Worst-Case Scenario
    91. Falling Up – Falling Up
    92. Jennifer Knapp – Kansas
    93. Lost Dogs – Scenic Routes
    94. Matthew Ward – Armed & Dangerous
    95. Demon Hunter – Summer of Darkness
    96. 4-4-1 – Mourning into Dancing
    97. Michael Anderson – Sound Alarm
    98. Mad at the World – Mad at the World
    99. Guardian – Fire & Love
    100. Barnabas – Approaching Light Speed


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