At a dollar apiece, unfamiliar CDs found at Deseret Industries are worth taking a chance on, and I did exactly that in the days when I was obsessed with building my own musical collection, before most of it was lost to hard drive failure and I became obsessed instead with building Spotify playlists. Spotify has none of the following albums. YouTube does, thanks to me. They aren't earth-shaking masterpieces or anything, but having music that most people don't know exists makes me feel cool. Some entire blogs are dedicated to obscure music you didn't know existed because lots of people are into that sort of thing. This isn't one of those blogs because I'm not that cool.
Cecilia J. Benson - A Time and a Season (1995)
This is clearly an amateur production, but Cecilia J. Benson does have a lovely voice. Based on the content of the songs, it's pretty obvious she was a stay-at-home mom. (I assume she's an empty-nester by now, wherever she is.) Other voices present seem to be those of her husband, children, and maybe mother? She probably just made a few copies of this CD and distributed them to her friends. It would have been forgotten forever by the human race had I not come into possession of a copy and uploaded its contents to YouTube, where admittedly it has continued to attract very little attention for five and a half years but at least it's available to future historians who want to know what life was like before viruses and Trump worshipers (but I repeat myself) destroyed civilization. In "You Don't Have to Can to Get to Heaven", she reassures other stay-at-home moms who feel guilty for not doing a hundred things perfectly all the time.
Going through the list again, I just found this comment on my video for "Walk With Christ and Feast Upon His Words", which I missed eleven months ago. It reads: "This song brings me such great memories. A good friend of mine gave me a cassette that included the music only as well as the words and music long time ago when I was not able to understand English properly, but for a reason, it got my heart. Since the cassette is already worn out, I tried to find this song in internet for years. What a blessing it is having the opportunity to enjoy it again. Thank you for posting it." D'awwww, that makes it all worthwhile.
Mormon Youth Orchestra & Chorus - Nauvoo Brass Bands (1997)
The only album on this list produced by professionals, performing "the music that thrilled and inspired Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the early Saints." I must say it would be nice if we as a people had kept the early Saints' fascination with brass bands instead of deciding that God only approves of pianos, organs, and occasionally violins. There's some standard nineteenth-century stuff here and it's all well and good, but the track that really stands out, and the impetus for me uploading the album, is "A Song of 1857". The lyrics were available online, and one site had a MIDI of the melody, but I could find no recording of an actual performance, and that was a travesty that couldn't stand. It's a satirical song that mocks the US Army's spectacular failure to march to Utah and crush a nonexistent Mormon rebellion. It's funny and it plays into our beloved cultural narratives of persecution and triumph. It demonstrates our pioneer predecessors' ability to laugh at adversity instead of just feeling sorry for themselves. Why, then, has it fallen into such obscurity? Maybe because it references polygamy?
ONE - Worlds without end (1998)
Though entirely in English, this album was produced in Germany by the duo of Andreas Behr and Jochen Knapek with lots of friends helping on instruments and backup vocals. The singing style and unique sound may not appeal to everyone, but just think of it as hipster music. The back of the album includes a request to "support ONE - spread worlds without end". By uploading it to YouTube, I did exactly that, in a way that the artists probably didn't anticipate. YouTube launched in 2005 and streaming videos wasn't the norm in 1998. Typically you would download them as QuickTime or Windows Media files and play them on your own computer. Wanting to make Andreas Behr and Jochen Knapek aware of what I'd done, I asked around for them in a Facebook group of German Latter-day Saints, and they weren't in it but Brother Knapek's wife and a guy that Brother Behr baptized on his mission were. The Church in Europe is a very small world. I didn't pursue my inquiries further because I only knew like twenty German words back then.
It's hard to pick a favorite between the title track and the dreamlike instrumental "Still to come" that closes out the album.
Cindy Anderson - The Fields are White (2005?)
I can't be bothered to try to find where this album resides in my stash, but I read the liner notes once upon a time and I wanna say maybe Cindy Anderson is from Oklahoma. Maybe. I don't remember why I thought but wasn't sure that the album is from 2005. In any case, I don't think she's a Latter-day Saint because there's no indication of that in the songs she sings - the lyrical content lacks anything distinctively LDS, and her performance is much too upbeat. Almost like she thinks the gospel is good news or something. The opening track is as good as any to showcase.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender male and a Latter-day Saint, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic, so you can't. Unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.