The Holy Ghost Reception Committee #9

By Rob Goss
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Psychedelic Christianity

Christianity expressed through popular music is nothing new - early blues both called on the Lord and reviled the church in equal measures, while Christian rock has established itself as a genre all of its own.

Christian Psychedelia, however, is different, and psychedelic is exactly what The Holy Ghost Reception Committee #9 were.

Formed at Regis High, NYC, back in 1966-7, this group of high-schoolers cut two albums that are remarkable not only for the quality of their original material, but also for the story behind them.

Bringing Mass to Life

The intention of the Mark Puleo (Lead Guitar and Mouth Organ), Bob Kearney (Guitar), Larry Johnsen (Bass, Organ and Guitar), Rich Esposito (Guitar), Dennis Blair (Guitar) and Norman Grossman (Guest Percussion) was to find a way to alleviate the monotony of weekly mass by writing and singing their own songs.

The result was Songs for Liturgical Worship and Torchbearer - two albums that both belie the bands age and manage to avoid most of the staid clichés one has come to associate with Christian rock.

From The Kink's sounding He's a Christian to straight forward rockers like Them's a Comin' and The Resurrection the music flows nicely.

There may not be any single classic psychedelic tracks here, nor is there any of the especially inspired musicianship or vocals (in fact, at times the singing can be rather whining) one comes to associate with the era, but the albums gel well to from beginning to end making a completed package that is deserving of its place in psychedelic history.

That a band of high-schoolers could record and release such albums as part of a school project seems almost inconceivable in today's over-hyped, under-talented music industry. I guess that just speaks volumes for the openness and creativity of the sixties recording scene.

Get Yourself a Copy

Original copies of Songs for Liturgical Worship and Torchbearer can occasionally be found, albeit for $100-200 a piece (in mint condition) due to their collectibility. The good news is that both albums are available on a double-CD from Hallucination CDs. They are well worth a listen.

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