An obscure band that has nonetheless attracted attention from record collectors (more for the fact of their obscurity than any other reason), Agape was a hippie-era psychedelic hard rock act that used the music of youth rebellion to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Fred Caban was a young guitarist from Azusa, CA, who became a born-again Christian shortly after graduating from high school in 1968. In an effort to help evangelize his peers, Caban formed the band with bassist John Peckhart and drummer Mike Jungkman. They were one of the earliest Christian rock bands, established in a time when the music they played was still being shunned by established churches (the few they approached for concerts rejected the loud music they played, despite the message). Agape performed wherever they could, on beaches, in schools, and in parks, and released their debut album (Gospel Hard Rock) in 1971. Their sound was typical of the era, blues-based hard rock in the tradition of Cream, though the group's garage band level abilities lent the music a raw, clumsy appeal that nicely matched their lyrical sincerity. The band added keyboardist Jim Hess and released Victims of Tradition in 1972, which featured a more progressive approach, as well as a front cover that pictured the group performing in a graveyard. Several lineup changes occurred as the years progressed, but Caban kept Agape going in one form or another throughout the decade. Original copies of Agape albums are very rare today, and can fetch as much as 300 dollars from collectors due to the unique appeal of their "hippies at Sunday school" vibe. In 1996, Hidden Vision Records released a CD, called The Problem Is Sin: Live and Unreleased, that compiles demos for an unfinished third album, live performances taken from a promotional eight-track cassette that was distributed to local radio stations in 1973, and a brand new instrumental track performed by a reconstituted version of the band.
by Fred Beldin