The Wilson McKinley Sound Samples Page

Comments and Sound Restoration by Timothy Smith, Tanignak Productions

Revised Combined File in 2022

Wilson McKinley Sound Samples and Stories

Rarities, Unreleased Tracks, and “Tim’s Mixes” (Experimental Re-Edits)

This “Rarities and Unreleased” article has complete songs available nowhere else, released with the band’s permission. The files are COMPLETE. There are concert recordings, practice tapes and interesting studio tracks. Some are samples elsewhere on this site. All have interesting history. The files are .mp3.

Check Out a Preview of “Tim’s Remixes” near the bottom of this page:

An A-B comparison of favorite Wilson McKinley tracks, with samples of the original versions and re-edited experimental remixes, for a fresh take on the originals. The complete remixes may become the Wilson McKinley’s first “streaming only” album.   

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The Wilson McKinley before conversion, 1969-1970:

Randy Wilcox, Mike Messer, Tom Slipp, and Don Larson

Lift Your Eyes to the Never Ending Light   COMPLETE

This 1969 demo recording was produced by Terry Sheets, who also recorded the Spirit of Elijah album.This track joins the first version of “Got a Feelin’ ‘bout This Morning” (below) as a hint of the spiritual journey they were about to undertake.

The Wilson McKinley as new believers, Summer of 1970:

Randy Wilcox, Mike Messer, Tom Slipp, and Jimmy Bartlett

Coming to Take His Children  COMPLETE — Restored On Stage LP version, with the old horrible tape break edit corrected! This is a “Tim’s mix,” bringing up the instruments where possible. This version is from Rolled Away the Stone!

He is a Friend of Mine  COMPLETE — Restored On Stage LP version, newly posted complete for the first time, in the new Rolled Away the Stone! mix. It’s an old folk song via the Byrds, with new lyrics by the band. I boosted low bass, cut the congas and the mid-high screechy vocals, and coaxed a little high hat and sibilants into the mix. The actual performance on the LP is spotty at best, with a slide guitar and congas played by friends of the ministry, not the band members, and various singers missing lyrics: “took” and “got” sung at the same instant, etc. Yet this was the most influential Wilson McKinley song of my early years as a Jesus person. The lyrics are meaningful and the tune is singable. It was the first song I sang in public, in the summer of 1971.   

The On Stage album was an embarrassment to the band because of its poor recording quality, and especially for the fact that the band (with Jimmy) was only a couple of weeks old when it was recorded, without their knowledge.  With all these factors against it, the LP still went on to shake Christian music to its very core, and is the first “Jesus Music” LP by a rock band according to the Guinness Book of World Records.  

These two complete tracks show both the album’s deficits and charm. The full-on fervor of the newly-converted band members is in evidence, and their first attempts at songwriting and reworking existing songs in this new genre of Jesus Rock are certainly interesting. But as was noted elsewhere, it would be hard to find any other officially-released album by any other artist that has more auditory deficits and drawbacks. Somehow many of the songs from On Stage still manage to bless! See below for the “Tim’s Remix” tracks, featuring a radically repaired version of “The Love of My Saviour,” not on any CD.

Got a Feelin’ ’bout this Morning  COMPLETE


This very interesting Randy Wilcox solo also appears on a practice tape from before their conversion. It took very little in this 1970 remake to change the lyrics to reflect their new faith in Christ. As Mike Sheets (who provided this track from a practice tape) states, their songwriting in the months before conversion demonstrates that they were “being drawn by the Father.” It is sad that the balance and distortion are so bad on this track, but you may agree it is one of WM’s finer songs.

Below: The Wilson McKinley, 1970, joined by Lou St. Cyr, congas (left).

Above: the graphic for an article on the Wilson McKinley in the Truth paper, published by Voice of Elijah, around the time of their second LP’s release.

Sounds from live appearances, 1970-1971

From a concert at Gonzaga University in late 1970:

Coming in the Clouds  COMPLETE  (Found on Rolled Away the Stone!)

This distorted and only slightly stereo track is still a lot of fun to listen to. The band all had colds that night.  After listening to the entire concert, it is clear that they had a hard time tuning their instruments as well, but none of the songs reflect that. The Gonzaga tracks are the Wilson McKinley’s first stereo recordings as a Jesus band, and whoever was watching the meters had it set for the solo acts that proceeded them, so the distortion comes from the red-lined reel to reel tape! (Gonzaga University, 11/1970)

Two tracks from James Zehm’s 1971 recording of a concert in the small town of Kellogg, Idaho (the Silver Valley). Witness with a punch! Live stereo from reel tape:

I Need a Saviour  COMPLETE — Working out a track for Spirit of Elijah

I’m So Glad I’m Saved   (edited from a medley) COMPLETE

James Zehm also recorded two appearances at the “Moby” concerts in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho. This was a “secular” venue, and they were told not to preach, but of course they could introduce the songs, so they slid their testimonies in that way. The Wilson McKinley participated in many “battle of the bands” events over the years, and more than held their own. After listening to the Kellogg and Moby tracks (recorded/provided by Jim Zehm) I can verify that they never compromised their message, but seemed to try to make the Gospel as clear and attractive as possible. The great music didn’t hurt their cause either!

Two tracks from James Zehm’s “Moby” recordings, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, 1971:

Who are You Foolin’?  COMPLETE

This World is Not My Home  COMPLETE Old hymn done Country-Rock.

(These four tracks from James Zehm are not on Rolled Away the Stone!)

The Wilson McKinley were in a “songwriting frenzy,” as one band member related, during those early days (the above four songs date from 1971). Only a few of those early songs made it past inclusion in a few concerts. A good many worthy songs were simply forgotten in the flood of new compositions. “Who Are You Foolin’?” has apocalyptic lyrics and an in-your-face honesty that was typical of those early days. I played several songs from the Moby and Kellogg concerts for one of the band members and he could not remember the songs at all, and couldn’t help me with the titles. This is evidence of the sheer volume of their songwriting.

The Wilson McKinley as the “I Am” House Band, 1971-1972

The Wilson McKinley’s recordings from their performances at the “I Am” are well covered, because over 45 minutes are on their Rolled Away the Stone! album. But there’s one aspect of their playing that is not well covered. They were the backup band and studio musicians for guest singers at the coffee house and the recording session presented below. Posted below are two tracks from You Can’t Disguise Religion, by Frank Starr, with Niel Livingston on pedal steel and the Wilson McKinley doing everything else. Their work on the Frank Starr album probably makes it the rarest of all Wilson McKinley LP’s.

Incidentally, this was recorded shortly before the band used the very same studio for the Heaven’s Gonna Be a Blast sessions in late 1971. I selected the two most interesting tracks.  “I Felt His Love” features nice instrumental breaks by Mike and Randy (on piano) while “Jesus” is the only track that comes close to being Jesus Rock. His daughter provided the color photos from that session that were used on the inside fold of Now I’m a Jesus Freak.

I Felt His Love  COMPLETE  — Frank Starr with the Wilson McKinley and Niel Livingston, steel guitar, 1971. Check out Randy’s piano playing!

Jesus (mixed in original mono) COMPLETE  — Frank Starr with the Wilson McKinley and Niel Livingston, steel guitar, 1971.

Below: The Wilson McKinley at Sound Recordings Studio working on the Frank Starr LP, You Can’t Disguise Religion.

These are also the only color photos of the members of the band that have come my way. Left to Right: Randy Wilcox at the piano he played in Heaven’s Gonna Be a Blast, Tom Slipp at the drum set, Mike Messer with an acoustic guitar for the session, and Jimmy Bartlett with his electric bass. Jimmy told me that he always wrote his songs while playing bass!

What is Man?  COMPLETE Leroy Blankenship with the Wilson McKinley at the “I Am” in 1972

The above track is released with the blessing of Leroy Blankenship, who was still active in ministry in 2010 when this was originally posted, and remembers his tour through Spokane when this concert was recorded. He was a friend of Carl Parks, was invited to sing at the “I Am,” and the Wilson McKinley provided a quick backup band for him (probably early 1972).

Below: Randy, Jimmy, Tom, and Mike on stage at the “I Am” in this montage from 1971. Photos are from Dave Joern.

The Wilson McKinley Studio and Practice Tapes, 1970-74

Gettin’ to the Kingdom/I Guess We’d Better Follow   COMPLETE 2-song medley — practice tape, summer 1970 (NOT on CD). The second song is found in stereo from 1971 on Rolled Away the Stone.

The Misty Shroud  COMPLETE — practice tape, summer 1970

The first song medley is unreleased. “Misty Shroud” is on Now I’m a Jesus Freak, and you can check out five tracks from that session on the CD. In late summer, 1970, the Wilson McKinley pulled out a few of the many songs they had been writing and laid them down, in highly overdriven and distorted mono, into an open reel tape recorder. Then they mostly forgot about the recording, singing less than half of the selections in their later live appearances. Thankfully, Mike Sheets had a copy of the tape, and like his wonderful stereo recordings at the “I Am,” these tracks have made it to a wider audience. Besides being killer songs, this session also marks the first “studio” (not live) recordings of Jimmy Bartlett with the band. And of course, many are his songs.

Country in the Sky  practice tape   COMPLETE — not on CD, from 1973, with the band working out the arrangement for the title track of their next release. The instrumentation and overall approach are sufficiently different to make this an interesting track. (See below for a sample of the released version)

Angel’s Song  COMPLETE Buzz Vineyard singing lead on his composition, with the Wilson McKinley playing along. This song, recorded with only the band, was one of two Country in the Sky tracks that the band didn’t write. You may notice more instrumentation in this version, not on CD.

Come By Here  COMPLETE — an instrumental track from the ill- advised Yesterday / Forever album of 1974. In another article I refer to this song: “Yes, the great Wilson McKinley actually did an instrumental version of Kum Ba Yah!” Why should anyone make an instrumental out of a throwaway track from On Stage? The band wonders why they were “asked” to do this tape!

“Come By Here” has been shortened by over a minute for your listening survival! The original ending, heard here for the first time, shows the band basically falling apart as they struggle to complete a project they really hated doing. The last few seconds shows Randy and Tom breaking into a ridiculous riff, and ending abruptly, with Jimmy saying, “Hey, wait a minute!” If anyone needs to know why the band still loathes this album, this never before released track tells you everything! Only the instrumental version of “Jesus Jesus” (Can I tell you how I feel…) was cleared to release on CD.

Almighty God  COMPLETE — an instrumental track from the ill- advised Yesterday / Forever  tape of 1974, showing the band’s blues-y, jazzy skills.

We’ll end the “rarities” section on a high note.

The Tanignak Remixes: A-B samples (original and remix)

The complete tracks may soon be released as a “streaming/download” album, pending band approval. There will be more examples soon!

After three albums of reissued and rescued material from the Wilson McKinley, I decided to go a different direction with a few of their released tracks. On CD, I tried to stay as close as possible to the original sound that the equipment was trying to capture. But with this project, I use every tool in my box to repair mistakes, restore balance, and bring the track to life. The samples below are A-B comparisons, about one to two minutes per pair. A: The released version, and  B: The 2022 experimental remix. I geeked out and described what I did to each one to make it “different.” I hope you find them an improvement on the originals. And I’d like your feedback. Contact me at with your comments. I’d love to see these as an online-only “Revisited” album.

Standin’ At the Crossroads - (A-B sample) the first track from Heaven’s Gonna Be a Blast suffered from multiple flaws, but energy isn’t one of them. I equalized and balanced the bass, cymbals, electric guitars and vocals separately. Every phrase and instrumental break got different EQ. I used light reverb and compression to punch up the sound, and I think the song also benefits from a narrowing of the stereo field to bring the instruments up. Compared to the muddy original LP, it seems like a different song. But listen for the variations in the melodies, including a chorus of “King of Love.” By the time the first verse repeats at the end, it’s almost a surprise!

I See With Different Eyes - (A-B sample) in my opinion, this is the standout track of Country In The Sky. Here it got a new balance, to bring up the lovely 12-string acoustic guitar work, and it sparkles with carefully layered harmonies. For a project that was supposed to be dialing back the drums, it’s surprisingly rhythmic, with interludes of dramatic intensity. This one will grow on you!

The Love of My Saviour - (A-B sample) The original take from the On Stage LP, with as many problems edited out as I could. The false start at the guitar break has been filled in with licks from other places in the song, the start of verse two has been cleaned up, and the vocals and instruments were equalized separately for clarity. The unintelligible lyrics in the second line of verse two were left alone, since I had no replacement sections to dub in. I also left it in original mono. Even with its flaws, this is perhaps the most powerful of the band’s first Jesus Rock songs.

It’s  Alright, It’s Jesus Christ - (A-B sample) A track first released on Now I’m a Jesus Freak - from 1970 practice tapes. I used my own clone of the old Capitol Records “Duophonic” fake stereo process, most often heard on early Beach Boys (and a few Beatles) songs, to widen the sound. The song seems to have even more energy. But having started with a distorted recording, there was not much for me to work with. Crank it up and see what you think!

His Eye Is On The Sparrow - (A-B sample) the masterpiece from Spirit of Elijah LP, edited here with only a touch of reverb. I brought up the right channel rhythm guitar and harmonies, boosted the bass, and used light compression to bring up the softer passages. I couldn’t reduce the thin mix on Jimmy’s vocal without losing too much of the surrounding instruments.

I Wish I Had the Words to Tell You - (A-B sample) one of the three tracks from the Heaven’s… LP that had mono backing tracks. Since it wouldn’t affect the wide vocal mix, I used the “Duophonic” process again to spread out the instruments. The vocals and percussion are true stereo, but the other instruments are “stereo-effect.” I also used light compression to intensify the overall effect. I think it works.

Come On Home - (A-B sample) Randy’s standout composition from Spirit of Elijah, heard here with a similar treatment to “Sparrow.” I eliminated the garbled tape and pitch variations from the opening lick to make a really different mix.

Saviour Changed My Life - (A-B sample) a very early composition, this song was resurrected and softened up for inclusion on Country In The Sky cassette release. I made a stereo dub from the 4-channel master tapes back in 1999, but had mixed the percussion a little high, and almost lost the electric piano and guitar. I think it had something to do with keeping the vocal blend. So for this remix I cut and boosted here and there to create an all-new sound, with the instruments more in balance, and the vocals spread out. Light compression helped to intensify the harmony-rich, right on the edge of rock overall sound. Better than you remembered it from the cassette or even from our first CD.

He’s Coming Soon (Vote for Jesus) - A scorching rocker with splendid instrumentation, this track recorded at Highbridge Park in Spokane suffered from all the PA troubles that could be imagined. By aggressively boosting the vocal frequencies and narrowing the stereo field, the vocals can at least be understood. With no better recordings of this song, we have to make do with this, but it is surely one of the Wilson McKinley’s most satisfying rockers!

Country in the Sky (studio) - The title track of the oft-maligned fourth album, released on cassette, was originally a 4-channel reel master, and as the sample shows, is an epic, emotional track. The instrumental work and vocals are among the most carefully crafted in their canon. I fixed some balance issues, and used a little compression to bring everything up - it’s impressive in headphones!

I’m Only Smilin – One of the three tracks from Heaven’s Gonna Be a Blast that features a mono instrumental track. I balanced the vocals over a “Duophonic” split-track center channel, equalizing to accentuate the stereo separation. This track has splendid energy, but also some hard-charging words.

Deep in the Arms of My Lord - In the run up to recording the Country in the Sky cassette, the band wrote many soft ballads, a few of which survive on a mono practice tape. This one is spectacular. I boosted the bass, did the “Duophonic” clone treatment, and the song seems to float around you. Musicians, this one (among many others) needs a good cover version!

Spirit of Elijah - The title track of the band’s second LP is what some consider the Wilson McKinley’s “magnum opus”. The track is plagued with tape hiss, the low-frequency “whump” of a bulk erased reel tape, and some major balance issues. I equalized up the lead vocals, low bass, and high hat, balanced the harmony parts as best I could, used both limiter and compression, and added back a little reverb (the original LP was slathered with it). This sample is one of the places where it is vocal heavy.The overall sound is more immediate in the vocals and intense in the instrumentals.


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