To understand the impact of the Resurrection Band on Christian music, consider the landscape in 1978, the year the band's debut album, Awaiting Your Reply, was released. Many conservative pastors and evangelists still thundered from the pulpit about the evils of rock music and satanic rhythms, and the fledgling Contemporary Christian Music industry carefully shied away from controversial themes or raucous musical accompaniments. The album, where it was sold at all, was frequently sold behind the counter of the local Christian bookstore, away from the impressionable eyes and ears of young children.

Music to Raise the Dead (5 stars), a 3-CD/1-DVD box set and retrospective that encapsulates the band's 25-year career (they formed in 1972 as Charity and officially disbanded in 1998), provides a convincing argument that husband-and-wife team Glenn and Wendi Kaiser and company formed the most influential band in Christian music history. The music, a rough triangulation of Led Zeppelin blues licks, AC/DC power chords, and unflinching commentary on a broken world and its need for Jesus, still startles in its power and intensity. The 68 tracks, slightly skewed toward the band's first five albums, offer ample evidence of what this band could do. Taken together, the collection is a wondrous thing, raw and urgent, literate and poetic, and it stands as a remarkable testament to the power of three chords, a banshee wail, and the truth.

The songs address the devastating effects of divorce, racial discrimination, drugs, and casual sex, always with a message of compassion and hope. There were admissions to struggle, doubt, and an acknowledgment of the weight of the world. This was music made by real human beings. But always, always, there was hope. There were minor tweaks to the formula—a brief dalliance with New Wave synth in the '80s, a few quieter acoustic moments. But Rez did what they did without apologies for a quarter century: They rocked, and they rocked hard, for Jesus. And they did this better than anyone. Nowhere is that more evident, in all its variegated, feedback-drenched glory, than here.

(The set's DVD includes over an hour of previously unreleased concert footage. Available at

Andy Whitman, senior contributing editor for Paste magazine.

Related Elsewhere: also reviewed the box set.

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