The Holy Ghost Reception Committee #9 — “What Do You Ask of Me”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — October 9, 2022


604) The Holy Ghost Reception Committee #9 — “What Do You Ask of Me”

‘69 Christian psych by kids from NYC’s Regis High School, written to be performed during Mass — and it ROCKS. It’s a miracle!

Jason Ankeny gives some history:

Christian psychedelic quintet the Holy Ghost Receptive Committee #9 was the brainchild of Anthony Myers, a teacher at New York City’s Regis High School — assigned circa 1967 to work with students to write and perform contemporary minded songs that could be played at Mass. He assembled guitarists Dennis Blair, Rich Esposito, Bob Kearney and Mark Puleo, along with bassist Larry Johnson. The project proved so successful that Myers landed the group a recording contract with ecumenical publisher Paulist Press, and in 1968 the Holy Ghost Receptive Committee #9 (so named by a fellow student) issued its first LP, Songs for Liturgical Worship. After a 1969 follow-up, The Torchbearers [from which today’s song is taken], the group dissolved; Blair later enjoyed a career as a stand-up comic, opening for . . . George Carlin for over a decade.

And Psychedelic RocknRoll says:

Their intentions was to find a way to alleviate the monotony of weekly mass by writing and singing their own songs.
They started writing and playing their own music at daily Catholic masses.
Somehow convincing Jesuit Anthony Myers and school administrators to support their Rock Star visions, they ended up with a recording contract with the Catholic “Paulist Press”.

The official story is slightly different. UnderappreciatedRock tells us:

The music came about when one student at the Catholic Regis High School . . . wrote a song that he wanted to sing at their weekly Mass meetings in place of the boring traditional hymns. Others soon followed and (as the CD liner notes proclaim): The result was a revival, a whole new spirit with music, a kind of song prayer. The words were loud and clear. The beat made sense.” . . . The students were encouraged in this work by one of the teachers, Anthony Meyers (who is a Jesuit). He assembled a group of musicians from the school to be the Holy Ghost Reception Committee #9 . . . . The liner notes describe their sound as “unique, Christian yet with a Beatle-esque psychedelic sound.” . . . The Holy Ghost Reception Committee #9 did so well that they were signed by the Paulista Press to produce an album in 1968. primarily a publisher of religious books and was clueless as to what to do with this music; they gave the album a description rather than a name,Songs for Liturgical Worship. The album is primarily songs of praise, with some retelling Bible stories. The music though is straight psych. . . . Two years later, a second, tougher album, The Torchbearers, followed . . . .

And the man Tony Meyer himself tells us:

Two years ago, I decided that we wouldn’t have songs at Mass unless the kids wrote them themselves. I forced a few out of them by assignments, then it got to be the thing — so-and-so’s song for Mass this week. A few good writers emerged, and I relied more heavily on these. I hunted up a few good guitar players and got something going there. By the end of last year, we had forty songs. We put on a concert at Regis chapel to lick the best ten. I taped these. We got a name for the group — a student made it up – -“The . Paulist Press heard the songs we taped and decided to go into the record business. Elmer Jared Gordon got the kids ready for the studio and was in charge of production. He was great. Many of the good things on the record are due ot him. By relentlessly demanding perfections, he got peak performances from the kids.

Original liner notes to The Torchbearers.

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