Jerusalem - Volume One (Retroactive) 1978
Jerusalem is a Swedish rock band founded in 1975 by Ulf Christiansson. In general they are credited as one of the first bands to combine Christian lyrics with a hard rock and heavy metal sound. Some might say that Resurrection Band beat them to the punch, but it's really a judgement call since both had their first albums released in 1978. Regardless if they were the first, they are definitely one of the first. Their lyrics described the band's deep relationship with God and often were evangelistic in nature. Their concerts were seen as revival meetings which included altar calls. As such the band was considered quite controversial. Many of their fellow Christians didn't want to accept them due to their hard musical approach while mainstream rock fans were cautious of the band due to their Bible-based lyrical approach. Despite the controversy the music is straight-up, guitar-driven rock and roll.
Jerusalem's first album was released in 1978 and featured lyrics in their native Swedish tongue. The Swedish version was released on Prim Records. In 1980 the album was renamed as Volume One. The music was remixed and the vocals were re-recorded in English and released on Lamb & Lion Records in the United States and on Word Records in the UK. The U.S. version of the album is the only version of the album I have ever heard but I have read that the original album was produced with a bit more grit than the 1980 releases which are more polished. In 2018 Retroactive Records, in cooperation with Jerusalem, finally put out the first five Jerusalem album onto compact disc as part of their Legends Remastered Series. All five albums were remastered. Volume One sounds as good as it ever has. The jewel-case CD reissue also contains a 12-page booklet containing lyrics, liner notes and exclusive photos from the band's own archives.
The band consisted of Ulf Christiansson - lead vocals & guitars, Bertil Sörensson - bass guitar & background vocals, Dan Tibell - keyboards and Dan Gansmoe - drums.
Jerusalem - Warrior (Retroactive) 1982
1. Constantly Changing
Originally released in 1982 of Lion & Lamb Records, "Warrior" did not see a proper CD release until 2018 on Retroactive Records.
"Warrior" is one of the few true classic rock & roll albums from a Christian band. Back when I was in college in the 1980s, one of my roommates had this LP. He thought the album was weak, as it was being marketed at the time as a heavy metal album. While Jerusalem do have a hard rock sound on some songs, they are no where near what metal was by 1982, and even by 1970's standards the album as a whole is fairly tame. The album opener "Constantly Changing" is a smokin' hard rocker that features some guitar work that is reminiscent of classic Thin Lizzy. Likewise the title track rocks fairly hard 'n' heavy. However other songs like "It's Mad" push closer to the early 80's new wave sound with those unmistakably 1980's sounding keyboards and a be-bop that reminds me of The Cars. So Jerusalem are not Judas Priest or Black Sabbath but that doesn't mean the album is weak either. It was just marketed improperly. "Warrior" is a solid, melodic rock album with great musicianship and straight-forward, grab you by the heartstrings lyrics. Jerusalem's "Warrior" may not appeal to everyone, but for me it is one of those albums that I hold as a classic.
The 2018 reissue is mastered to perfection and includes a 12-page booklet with photos and readable lyrics. Also came with a 4.75" square album cover sticker.
Jerusalem - 10 Years After (Refuge) 1988
Jerusalem are one of Christian rock's oldest bands, as this disc is a testimony of. I use to own a few other albums and cassettes by Jerusalem besides this "best of" collection, but traded them off and have yet to replace them all with CD copies. One that I miss the most is "Warrior." "10 Years After" contains a few songs off that classic record so this compilation will have do for now. This disc is actually a decent retrospective of one of Christianity's earliest and longest running hard rock bands. The single disc CD version contains both of what was a two record set. Record once consisted of "The Early Years," record two was "The Latter Years". The band's early material is a mixture of keyboard and guitar oriented hard rock, while the latter material seems to have the band searching for a style. Some of this material is keyboard laced 80's new wave rock, while the material off "Dancing on the Head of the Serpent" is more guitar fronted heavy metal. The track listing on the back of the CD and inserts is incorrect. "Covered by Blood" is not included on this compilation at all, while track 15 "Rebels of Jesus Christ," one of the band's hardest rockers, is not listed at all. Also the time listings are inaccurate.
Jerusalem - Prophet (VIVA) 1994
1. "City On Fire"
Man, it's been a long time since I have heard this name. Jerusalem are one of Christian rocks longest running bands, whose history dates back to the 70's. That can't really be said about many Christian bands. In any case, I am not that familiar with the band's catalog with the exception of "Warrior" "Dancing on the Head of the Serpent" and "10 Years After". However, I do know that Jerusalem have always been a band to try to stay current and more or less they follow the trends in music. Some of their music has an 80's new wave sound, while other albums have a more heavy metal approach, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. Most people classify Jerusalem as a heavy metal band, but the music contained on this disc has more in common with U2 than it does with Judas Priest or even Led Zeppelin. As a matter of fact, the guitar sound on this particular album sound very similar to U2. It is quite obvious that the band was heavily influenced by Bono and his bunch, although I can't say they sound like a carbon copy. One first listen I didn't hear much I liked and was a bit disappointed. However, there is something compelling and emotional about this disc that held my attention and drew me back for yet another listen. "Prophet" isn't the hard rocking album that I was expecting, but it's still a good album with a great message and some very emotional songwriting. Pop this one in while your kicking back late in the evening, laying in bed. It's actually a good listen.