Anybody remember the group Truth? I see that hand! Well, Truth came before I was born and (eventually) went before I knew they existed, but now the wonder of digital media allows me to enjoy their music (well, some of it anyway… ). Recently I dug up a classic 80s oldie from them featuring none other than James Andrew (“Andy”) Chrisman of 4Him (who made up the male half of Truth’s roster for an exhausting three years before they spun off and took off on their own). When I was a little tyke, my ears would always perk up when a 4Him song featuring Andy came on the radio. His clear voice is so distinctive I could recognize it immediately. I remember getting particularly excited whenever my local station would play “Where There is Faith,” both because it’s a great tune and because Andy just sounds flat-out good on it. It was one of my favorite songs before I was even old enough to understand how good it was.
Later I listened to more of 4Him’s stuff and got familiar with the other guys too (especially Mark), but Andy has always remained my favorite. I guess I’m just a sucker for clean-cut dudes with pure tenor voices (see also Wes Hampton, Steve Green, et. alia). At his very best, I have difficulty imagining a purer one than Andy’s. What’s unfortunate is that he didn’t always take care of it that well. One moment it would be sweet and angelic, like liquid gold, but the next moment he’d be deliberately roughening it up, sometimes practically tearing his throat out. So even though he’s a great tenor, one of Christian pop’s all-time finest, I wouldn’t rank him as highly as some of my other favorites because he suppressed the full beauty of his gift. (I was discussing this with Wes Burke recently and discovered he feels exactly the same way.)
However, “Holy of Holies” is definitely one of his absolute best vocals, recorded when he was in his early 20s. I didn’t embed his live performance with Truth because he plays up the rock angle and growls waaaaaay too much. His studio vocal may not have as much “oomph,” but it’s MUCH cleaner and is the version I’ve chosen to embed here. (By the way, I can’t seem to find out the name or release date of the project this originally came from, so if somebody out there knows, please leave a comment. I know it had to have been between 1987 and 1990, but I don’t have anything more specific. Update: Ha! I found a recent tweet from Andy Chrisman where he mentioned the date, and it was 1988. My, my, only 22…)
The production obviously wears its age on its sleeve, but it’s a classic song and seems tailor-made for a southern gospel translation to me. At one point, I was leaning towards a Brian Free & Assurance interpretation. It seems to fit their style, and Andy is Brian’s favorite singer anyway, so that would make it doubly fitting (though Brian is virtually incapable of growling, which is just fine and means good things for the longevity of his voice). But at the moment I’m thinking I’d really like to see what Wes Hampton could do with it. Some of Andy’s high notes here actually remind me of Wes. Only thing is, it might not quite mesh with the GVB’s current sound. But supposing he were to record another solo album? ‘Twould be a highlight, yes?