In 1988, master guitarist Phil Keaggy released an album giving full rein to his McCartneyesque power pop tendencies often hinted at in previous outings. Titled Phil Keaggy and Sunday’s Child, the album was a catchy, joyous romp from start to finish. Newly rereleased through Keaggy’s Bandcamp page, the ensuing 34 years have done nothing to diminish its lustrous glow.
The album was, and is, Christian rock for people who hate Christian rock. Every, as in every, song is packed with hooks and brio channeling the uninhibited enthusiasm of early ’60s Britpop’s jangling guitars and irresistible dance beats, as evidenced by the album’s more-or-less title track.
Despite the album’s title and cover photo, there was no band named Sunday’s Child. Keaggy used his touring band at the time on many of the tracks, along with a plethora of compatriots on vocal and songwriting assistance duties.
As Keaggy himself reminisces:
It was a big venture, but we were young and had the energy.
When the album was finally finished, I got “word” that RCA Records was interested in releasing the album….but such was record company politics, and that prospect was abandoned. I was pretty keen on the idea that the Nipper would be my label mascot.
Friends were very encouraging about the album! It seemed to resonate with musicians and British Rock fans. It was probably difficult for my new record label to know how to market Sunday’s Child to the CCM market. Still, it was a fun album to tour.
Looking back, I see how special it was to work alongside some amazing talent — and the very gifted Mark Heard was truly a great asset to this album with two of his incredible songs, “I Always Do” and “Everything Is Alright.” (His wonderful demos are on the bonus discs, as well as a version of “I Always Do” with his vocal.)
We used vintage gear — old guitars and Vox amps. You can really hear and feel the heat of the tubes in those amplifiers.
So, now it’s been about 34 years since we made this project together and the music still stands and resonates.
Ah, but there’s more. Did you catch the reference to bonus discs? Along with the original album’s rerelease comes two newly available bonus discs, conveniently named Bonus Disc [A] and Bonus Disc [B]. Each is chockfull of song demos, tunes that didn’t make the final album but are still more than worth repeated listening, plus different arrangements and mixes of album tracks. This can easily turn into self-indulgent excess, but here, Keaggy’s craftsmanship in all parts of the creative process shines all the more. The exuberance permeating the album reigns with full force throughout the bonus discs, making them mandatory listening not only for hardcore Keaggy fans but for those seeking some pure, uplifting music in their lives. One highlight is the late Mark Heard’s demo of “I Always Do,” showcasing his songwriting brilliance.
In a world where recipe formula pop is called art, it is beyond refreshing to hear the magic of talented artists working together with purpose and light once again. For those of us who were there at the time, Phil Keaggy and Sunday’s Child makes a welcome return to our playlist. For those of you hearing it for the first time, I almost envy the newfound delight awaiting your ears, mind, and heart.