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This Year's Model

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Album Review

When This Year's Model appeared in 1987, there was considerable buzz in the CCM world about the "new" Imperials. Setting aside their image as neatly coifed purveyors of conservative inspirational music, the band's four male vocalists (Ron Hemby, Jimmie Lee, David Will, and Armond Morales) donned leather jackets, laced their hair with styling gel, backed their act with all the musical technology available in the '80s, wrapped it up in shimmering space-themed art direction, and generally sent the message to church youth groups nationwide that this was not their fathers' Imperials. The ultra-sleek pop production, replete with sweeping synthesizers, gritty bass runs, and rockin' electric guitar solos, was courtesy of Brown Bannister, who brought the same big, electronic sound to other '80s CCM records like Michael W. Smith's The Big Picture, Amy Grant's Unguarded, and Charlie Peacock's Secret of Time. As it turned out, This Year's Model was aptly titled. By their next album, the new Imperials had gone the way of the moonwalk, as the band turned in the styling gel and retreated to the safer, church-friendly vibe that made them famous. The album was probably destined to be a period piece, but some of the songs, like the opening "Holding On (First Love)" and the breakdanceable "Fallin'," hold up surprisingly well over the years.


Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s

The Imperials have been making music since 1964 and have in that time undergone many personnel and stylistic changes before returning to the close harmonies and straight Southern gospel songs that originally made them popular. As of the mid-'90s, Armond Morales is the only charter member of the Imperials; he and Jake Hess founded the quintet. Over the years, 18 different singers have come and gone, including such legends as Russ Taff, Paul Smith, and Gary McSpadden. Other CCM pop performers such...
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This Year's Model, The Imperials
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