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Heaven's Gonna Be A Blast! - Wilson McKinley

Heaven's Gonna Be A Blast!

Wilson McKinley  

Format: 1 Vinyl

Genre: pop, rock

Barcode: 0778578315511


37.10€ Shipping:



Randy Wilcox, Tom Slipp, Mike Messer, Jim Bartlett

From Spokane, Washington, the first Christian rock band to be known throughout the Pacific Northwest. The Wilson McKinley Band is the first known band to come out of a secular rock and roll background and into the Kingdom of Heaven, name and all, bringing their instruments and rocking style with them.

In early June of 1970, a local minister with a heart for street ministry, Carl Parks, participated in a series of street meetings that caught the attention of band members. Several of them went to the park and over the course of a couple of visits, ended up getting saved. What’s more, they stashed their instruments and joined with Carl Parks in the street ministry in Spokane. The Wilson McKinley essentially dissolved at this point, one member leaving the group outright or the others leaving to join the believers.

The new believers felt strongly that the club scene and the rock culture was incompatible with their newfound faith. They left everything to follow Jesus. The individual members took up their duties in the street ministry led by Parks and lived communally with the other Christians in the Voice of Elijah Ministries. Although they all participated informally in the music, none expected to ever be on stage as a rock band again. The rest of the story began one day when Parks asked the guys to put together some music for a street meeting he was planning. With their simple acceptance and faith that their commitment to Christ would come through in the music, the Wilson McKinley's role as pioneers in a new genre began.

At first, the songs they came up with were rock arrangements of folk spirituals and rewriting of popular rock numbers with Christian lyrics but it wasn’t long before original Christian rock compositions joined their repertoire. Mike Messer and Randy Wilcox of the original band were both talented songwriters as was new member Jimmy Bartlett. When the band members realized they needed to form a group again they immediately thought of Jimmy, whom they had met in Idaho. He gladly joined the band as both a bassist and one of the lead vocalists and soon became a major songwriter as well.
Photo from: Tanignak Productions

The band was essentially a drawing card for the rest of the ministry team. Their music was loud and attention-grabbing and their message was very clear thanks to increasingly competent songwriting. But to the band members the real ministry was in the one to one witnessing and counseling being done by the others in the crowds as they sang. This attitude may explain why no album has artist credits or personalized recording information and why, at about this time, they turned down an opportunity to audition for (and undoubtedly sign) with a large secular record label. The label signaled that they wanted the band to tone down the Jesus stuff, and that just wasn’t what they were about.

In the summer of 1971, the band released its second LP, the critically acclaimed "Spirit of Elijah." Once again, self-production was the rule of the day but this time the album made a stab at studio production values and featured a nice stereo mix. The band had almost no budget for recording but had been practicing daily at the House of David where the single guys in the community were staying.

Barely six months later, in February 1972, the Wilson McKinley released their third and final Jesus Rock LP, a soaring achievement called "Heaven’s Gonna Be a Blast." The fact that a studio was used and that Sound Recordings, Inc. helped in the production didn’t actually keep the LP mix from major flaws: huge dropouts in the keyboard tracks, a bass track that overpowers the other instruments and weird EQ on the (sometimes distracting) vocal overdubs. There is a reason for this: the producer at Sound Recordings had never done a rock session before and had no idea how to equalize an aggressive electric bass or to mix tracks for the best blend. When the time came to do the mixdown, the boys realized that none of them had editing experience. They also could not undo what the engineer had done to the equalization. The band members felt that the production snafus were partly a result of their attempts at learning on the fly. Nevertheless, as songwriting, this is their most consistently satisfying LP, showcasing some mature lyrics and passionate performances.

Even that isn't really the end, for there was at least one live concert, recorded just before the band's break-up in 1979 with Barney Dasovich on drums, that needs to be heard, if only for the nine previously unheard Wilson McKinley songs in the set. They went out blazing, with absolutely wonderful, vital songs. The band sounds a little more like a late-70s group, with elements reminiscent of Orleans, Boston, Kansas and others all uniquely blended into that famous Wilson McKinley style.

The story of the Wilson McKinley is the story of some remarkable brethren who were willing to be used and who bloomed where they were planted. And because they were instrumental in bringing new believers into the Kingdom their legacy will never fade away because it's of eternal consequence


A1  Standin' At The Crossroads 

A2  I'm Only Smiling 

A3  He Made Us Free 

A4  Then I Fell In Love 

A5  I Wish I Had The Words To Tell You 

B1  Heaven's Gonna Be A Blast 

B2  Never Cry No More 

B3  A Warm Summer Day 

B4  Almighty God 





Lion Productions, The Voice Of Elijah


United States of America


1972, 2015


Mike Messer (2),Randy Wilcox,Tom Slipp,Jimmy Bartlett

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