This LP is was the first of the next four God Unlimited releases to be issued on the GIA Records label.
It is unknown to this site just exactly what "GIA" stood for, or if the label was unique to only God Unlimited LPs
or if other artists were issued on the GIA label.
The catalog numbers started with an "m/s" designation and "Joy" was GIA catalog number: m/s 120. The LPs
were also labeled: (Stereo - playable on mono) and it is not known if any true Mono LPs were produced. No
promotional copies are known to have been pressed either.
Doubtless the LPs that God Unlimited produced could be obtained from the artist, or likely at live performances
by the choir/band. It could have been possible the LPs were available in religious bookstores but we cannot
confirm that information or any other possible means of distribution. It is enough to say that enough of the LPs
were pressed that they are still to be found many years later in all the places that a collector would frequent to
go "digging" for vinyl gems - flea markets, used bookstores, thrift stores and yard sales. We discovered our first
God Unlimited record "Love Knows No Season" (for 50 cents), in a small flea market in Scottsburg, Indiana.
You never know where they will pop up.
If you don't mind paying a "premium price" you can also bid against other collectors for the LPs at your favorite
online auction, or pay outrageous "buy now" prices if you are willing to do so.
Now, having strayed from the subject of the second LP; lets get back on track, shall we?
It is probably safe to say that "Joy" represents the early God Unlimited sound at its very best. The tracks here
repeat many of the first albums efforts but with added instrumentation, slicker production values, and a tighter
choral section. The album cover by Francesca Woolf is a visual delight - a minimalist splash of desert-hued
color, but expressing a more complex meaning - the totem-like "many-headed central sun" speaks to us that it
is representative of the album's main message of "community", the idea of many individuals acting with one
mind, one purpose.
An interesting aspect of God Unlimited is that throughout the course of the band's history, its leader and the
author of most of it's musical and lyrical material, Tom Belt, will reach back to previous albums and pull many of
the seminal God Unlimited tracks; bringing them forward on other LPs with fresh arrangements and new faces.
So, on "Joy" we are treated to the "resurrection" so to speak of a total of (5) five tracks from the first
album...The Lord is Come, Blow Wind, Sing Freedom, Joy and of course the signature tune, God Unlimited.
For the most part the songs are not radically different in their basic structures, the tempo on some is more
upbeat and the previously a' Capella "Blow Wind" has full instrumentation. Here, also, "Sing Freedom" differs
from it's original form in the way the choir sings, "Freedom, freedom". If anything these tracks are not rehash
but conversely, (because of the scarcity of the first album) they are possibly the versions that best define the
earliest sound of God Unlimited as a studio group.
Following are some descriptions of the remaining tracks: (our favs listed first ; )
"Joy, and other Aspirations" contains much more than improvements on the original LP. Seven more inventive
and original songs are included here and will not disappoint. The short a' Capella opening of "Love Divine" with
its Gregorian tones hardly hints at what comes next, an excellent combo sound: electric guitar/bass guitar,
organ, drums - even a saxophone solo by Belt, as the song unfolds over the next three-and-one-half minutes.
The resonant "alleluias" alone in this track will convince experienced and novice listeners alike that Belt's
mastery of choral direction is only equalled by his acute songwriting talents.
Also defining the "new" sound of the God Unlimited is "Streams in the Desert", its title taken from a Biblical
passage, but aptly suited to God Unlimited by the environs where the band was based, the dry Arizona territory.
The sweet insistence of the choir accompanied by the echo of Belt's haunting recorder work in this piece make
this song truly a refreshing and rejuvenating experience for the soul. Belt's thoughtful and meaningful lyrics
abound in this piece and lines like, "Solemn faces resound, where God's glory is found", are fresh, insightful
The upbeat "A New Song" contains female solo performed verses alternating with choruses sung by the full
choir. "The Sun & The Sea" blends acoustic guitar, recorder & a female soloist with beautiful effect.
"Break Loose", is a short soft-rock arrangement with an evangelical message; Belt's saxophone punctuates the
piece at appropriate intervals to spice up the number, though he never quite "breaks loose" with the instrument.
"Songs from my Heart" is another upbeat track on the album. Starting out with a simple guitar riff, drums and
vocals this track fleshes out gradually as combo organ and additional voices are added before its conclusion.
A cover tune is also included on the album. George Summers, "Where the Children Run Free" provides a stark
contrast to the other tracks on "Joy" and hails back the previous LP; with a lonely acoustic guitar, solo vocal
performance by Belt and a mournful, wordless accompaniment by the full choir being the only musical elements
embellishing the track.
All in all "Joy, and Other Sublime Aspirations" was a phenomenal accomplishment for
God Unlimited, setting the pace & paving the way for the fine albums to come.
NEXT: Explore God Unlimited's extraordinary versatility on their ground-breaking LP.... Ride On
A NEW SONG
STREAMS IN THE DESERT
Clicking a Track Listing opens
a new Window containing the
Note - We cannot absolute
assure accuracy of the Song
Lyrics. If you think they are
different, let us know! Some
lyrics maybe incomplete or
unavailable until later.