Band members Related acts
line up 1 (1973)
- Shelby Rogers -- vocals, guitar
- Quincy Rogers -- vocals, guitar
- Tony Sena (RIP 2004) -- vocals, guitar
- The Archers (Tony Sena)
- Quincy Rogers (solo efforts)
- The Tyme of Day (Shelby Rogers)
Genre: psych / Christian rock
Rating: 4 stars ****
Title: God Spoke ... and Said "Lead My People"
Grade (cover/record): VG+ cover / VG+ LP
Catalog ID: --
Turns out Joshua is a pretty popular name for bands. The Rate Your Music database shows at least eight outfits. Discogs has even more.
Normally a blatantly Christian rock album wouldn't be something I had a lot of interest in, but over the years "Joshua" has regularly come up as one of "the" non-secular rock albums to check out. A couple of years ago I stumbled across a copy at a Pennsylvania thrift ship and and figured I had little to lose. Could all those other folks be wrong? Problem is I put it in my "to-listen-to" pile and sold it before I got around to checking it out. Luckily I found another copy (though not as cheap as the thrift store offering). I took it as a sign of redemption and actually checked it out.
There isn't a great deal of biographical information out there on the trio of singer/guitarists Shelby Rogers, Quincy Rogers and the late Tony Sena. The liner notes to 1973's "Joshua" provided a little bit of background on the trio. I'll also admit that the liner notes made for an interesting sales pitch.
"Joshua - Tony Seba, Quincy Rogers, Shelby Rogers - came to use not too long ago to talk to us about making a record. They took their guitars out to play and as the did they told us why they were together. They had all been working in street ministries in the Southwest and about a year ago had been led to combine their musical talents and form a group. So the three of them went out into the desert for several months to pray and wrote songs. When they decided they were ready, they came out of the desert and found their way to us. Consequently, as you hold this record in your hand and decide whether or not to take it home, you must remember two things, The first is that it is one of the or three best Jesus record albums ever produced. Some of the most powerful lyrics and music to come out of the Jesus movement are to be found on this album. The second is the name that they bear (sic). It is no coincidence that the are called "Joshua" and that God has led them out of the desert to you."
About the only thing I can add is that Shelby Rogers had previously been a member of The Tyme of Day. The Irving, Texas-based band recorded a one-shot single with producer Norman Petty that was released by Mercury:
- 1968's 'Listen To What Is Never Said' b/w 'I Wanna Know' (Mercury catalog number 72861).
I don't want to sound like I'm attacked the trio's obvious dedication to their faith. Born and raised Catholic I still take comfort in my faith and I'm okay with anyone who takes similar comfort and a sense of contentment from their beliefs. Where I get a little shaky is people trying to push those beliefs on others. Still, the fact of the matter is people buying his album knew what they were buying. I'm guessing most buyers purchased the album specifically for the Christian themes. If your leanings are more secular in nature, just be aware the content may not be to your liking. And that may be the album's biggest surprise for me. I really thought the Jesus Movement orientation would bother me. Yeah, the lyrics were occasionally a bit on the clunky side ('If He Came To Your House'), but the tunes were uniformly strong and the performances enjoyable. All my skepticism aside, working with producer Bob MacKenzie, musically 1973's "Joshua" was quite impressive. With Sena credited with penning nine of the ten songs, the results melded Crosby, Stills & Nash vocal harmonies with harder rock moves. The three principles split lead vocals, but their blended voices were very attractive. Exemplified by songs like 'The World', 'Revelation', 'Keep Your Light Shining' and 'I was Lonely' these guys could rock out and had an ear for tasty guitar riffs. Yes. I'm even surprised by how much I enjoyed the album. With the possible exception of the ballad 'If He Came To Your House' there wasn't a song that I didn't find appealing.
The LP was also released in England by the small Key label (catalog number LK014). The English pressing was entitled "Joshua." It featured the same track listing and track order, but alternative cover art. Considerably rarer the the US pressing, the UK version commands higher prices.
... and Said "Lead My People" track listing:
1.) The World (Tony Sena) - 2:09 rating: **** stars
Musically 'The Word' surprised me as a taunt rocker with nice vocals and some first rate lead guitar work. For better or worse, like the rest of the album the non-secular lyrics were fairly blatant and were likely to irritate some listeners. No idea who played the lead guitar (I'm guessing Sena), but they were good. My only real criticism was the song would have benefited from an ending that wasn't as abrupt.
2,) Revelation (Tony Sena) - 3:27 rating: **** stars
The opening combination of slashing electric guitar and strumming acoustic guitars has always reminded me a bit of 'Tommy'. With all three members sharing lead vocals 'Revelation' was tuneful with a Crosby, Stills and Nash flavor and the lyrics weren't quite as in-your-face as some of the other performances. Yeah, you could probably dance to this one.
3.) The Secret (Tony Sena) - 3:35 rating: **** stars
If CS&N, or perhaps Poco had been a bunch of born-again hippies, 'The Secret' is what they might have sounded like. Hum, I guess CS&N actually would have fit the hippy definition. Say what you will about the messages in their songs, these guys could write nice melodies and boy could they harmonize.
4.) Keep Your Light Shining (Tony Sena) - 4:25
Opening up with some impressive electric guitar, 'Keep Your Light Shining' again demonstrated how nice their voices blended together. I'm guessing the more rugged voice belonged to Sena.
5.) New Life (Tony Sena - Rogers) - 3:33 rating: ***** stars
Sporting a funky, dance-ready melody, 'New Life' underscored the trio's nifty group harmonies and a blazing guitar solo that I'm guessing was from Sena. This one's always reminded me of Poco with a Stephen Still Latin rock edge added to the mix.
1.) If He Came To Your House (Tony Sena) - 3:31 rating: ** stars
While it was wrapped in one of the trio's prettiest melodies, the acoustic ballad 'If He Came To Your House' suffered from what I thought were heartfelt, but clunky lyrics.
2.) I was Lonely (Tony Sena) - 3:50 rating: **** stars
Built on a bouncy guitar riff and sporting a lyric that was a bit less blatant than some of the others, 'I Was Lonely' was one of the album highlights. The song also sported one of Sena's best solos.
3.) Catepillar (Tony Sena - Rogers) - 3:50 rating; *** stars
'Catepillar' opened up with a pastoral country-tinged arrangement that picked up considerable energy when the harmonies kicked in.
4.) Free Me (Tony Sena - Rogers)- 4:42 rating: **** stars
'Free Me' started out as a pretty, but seemingly forgettable ballad making me wonder why it was tapped as a single. And then about a minute in the song kicked into another gear - more CS&N with the edge that Still brought to many of their best songs. This one had the added advantage of a lyric that was relatively low-keyed in terms of the preachy scale. Extra star for the killer guitar solo.
- 1973's'Free Me' b/w 'The Secret' (Impact catalog number R-5137)
5.) I Wish We'd All Be Ready (Larry Norman) - 3:28 rating: **** stars
The late Larry Norman was one of the first true Christian rock stars and someone I'll have to investigate. Apparently a contemplation of End of Times, 'I Wish We'd All Be Ready' appeared on his 1972 album "Only Visiting This Planet" and was originally recorded as a heavily orchestrated pop tune. Joshua's version stayed true to the original melody but lost the orchestration in favor of some sweet three part harmonies. (It's amazing how many covers of this song exist in the contemporary Christian music world.)
Quincy Rogers live in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania where he continues to record and perform as a solo artist.
Sena continued to work in Christian music circles, including a brief stint recording with The Arches. Only 53, he suffered a sudden and fatal brain aneurysm in August, 2004.
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