The Wilson McKinley Sound Samples Page

Comments and Sound Restoration by Timothy Smith, Tanignak Productions

Revised Combined File in 2020

Wilson McKinley Sound Samples and Stories

A 20-song Downloadable Album of Rarities and Unreleased Tracks!

This “Rarities and Unreleased” article has many complete songs available nowhere else, released with the band’s permission, and you are welcome to download them. The files are COMPLETE twenty full songs! There are concert recordings, practice tapes and interesting studio tracks. Some are posted elsewhere on this site, and a couple are also on CD, but have interesting history. All files are .mp3.

The graphic below is a link to the Wilson McKinley Info Page

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” 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, not available on CD, with the old horrible tape break edit mostly corrected!

He is a Friend of Mine  COMPLETE — Restored On Stage LP version, newly posted complete for the first time. 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!

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

Coming in the Clouds  COMPLETE  (Found on Now I’m a Jesus Freak)

This distorted and only slightly stereo track is still a lot of fun to listen to. The band all had colds that night, and it was chilly.  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)

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

I’m So Glad I’m Saved / One In The Spirit  COMPLETE

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)

Who are You Foolin’?  COMPLETE

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

Vote For Jesus / He’s Coming Soon   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!

The Wilson McKinley were in a “songwriting frenzy,” as one band member related, during those early days (this dates 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 fifty minutes-worth will be on their Rolled Away the Stone album soon to be released. The other articles have many song samples. But there’s one aspect of their playing that is not well covered. They were the backup band and studio musicians on the nights 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 (originally mixed in 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!

The Wilson McKinley Accompanies at the “I Am” 1971-1972

Who is that Crying in the Garden?  COMPLETE — Buzz Vineyard with the Wilson McKinley at the “I Am” in 1971. (Found on Now I’m a Jesus Freak)

Buzz Vineyard was an early ministry leader with Voice of Elijah, and was a singer and songwriter in his own right. He also provided the beautiful “Angel’s Song” to the Country in the Sky album. His (demo) version with the Wilson McKinley is also available on this page.

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

It’s Alright, It’s Jesus Christ  COMPLETE — practice tape, summer 1970

The Misty Shroud  COMPLETE — practice tape, summer 1970

The above two songs are from Now I’m a Jesus Freak, but if you like these, go back and get the rest! 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 only about 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,” the tracks have made it to a wider audience. Besides being killer songs, this session also marks the first “studio” – as in not live – recordings of Jimmy Bartlett with the band. And of course, many are his songs.

Country in the Sky   COMPLETE — practice tape, 1973, with the Wilson McKinley working out the arrangement for the title track of their next release.

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.

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 album of 1974.

This track does better than most, due to its jazzy original version. We’ll end this article on a high note; great musicianship is still in evidence on this selection.


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