Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Cliff Barrows and Billy Graham

Back in the day, before we had the interweb and such like, one of the essentials of spreading the word would be to press up a slab of vinyl containing some preaching, hymns or happy clappy pop tunes, if they were trying to reach more of their flock. This has been a source of joy for me and fellow collectors of vinyl arcana, whilst sifting through boxes of car boot horrors, though not for the reasons originally intended.

Behold! Cliff as he leads a very fresh faced, the College Chorale from Van Nuys, California along with members of the church's high school young people from it's touring Jubilaires Choir, in a number of medleys praising the good lord with all the panache of a hip friendly uncle. My copy is a U.K pressing from 1966 under the Herald label and comes under the banner of Word Records, which proudly boasts of being based near Watford, however further investigation reveals that Word are originally based in Waco, Texas. Thankfully, for this nice bunch of teenagers, the F.B.I hadn't got it's cult busting tactics sorted back then, especially as those guitars are being held in a very offensive manner! On the back there are sleeve notes provided by the one and only Billy Graham, who was 'The Don' of evangelical preaching.

This leads me on nicely to "Man in the 5th Dimension" which is a bit of a classic among the record oddity scavenging community. It's the soundtrack to his landmark 28 minute film shown at the New York World Fair in 1964/5 telling the story of mankind from the beginning of time (disclaimer: the accuracy of this history of mankind cannot be verified and may go against scientifically accepted knowledge, if you know what I mean) His message of "Peace Through Understanding" was presented in the octagonal pavilion's 400 seat theatre. Near the building was a 100 foot high tower which was topped by a brilliant sunburst, which you can see clearly illustrated on the album cover. The entrance gallery had a transparent, multi-colored globe, six feet in diameter, which was marked to show the places the minister had carried his worldwide Crusade for Christ. What a show, what a showman!

Sadly this film has been lost in time, but fortunately we have the record, providing us with a fascinating glimpse of a pivotal moment in evangelical history and American culture at large.

“Man in the 5th Dimension” (1964, USA). Shot in 70mm Todd-AO, this short film starred Billy Graham talking about the world situation and how salvation could come about through the embrace of the Bible. Designed to be shown at Graham’s pavilion at the 1964 New York’s World Fair, it never played theatrically and has not been seen since.

taken from

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