Butch Yelton and Upbound (partially found recordings from Christian country music band; 1970s)

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"Swing that Gospel Axe" album cover.

Status: Partially found

Butch Yelton and Upbound were a Christian country music band based out of Bardolph, Illinois that was active throughout the 1970s. Members of the band included producer and bandleader Butch Yelton, vocalists Mary Foley and Nina Weaver, pedal steel player Danny Weaver, bassists Jim Rowland and Bill Friday, drummers Gary Kruzan and Jodi Seward, guitarists Joey Maxwell and Lonnie Perez, and pianist Eddie Crook. The band remains best known today for their LP Swing that Gospel Axe, which is often featured on many worst album covers lists online due to the unintentional serial killer imagery given off from the photo. What differentiates Butch Yelton and Upbound from many of the other artists featured on these lists however is that, while many of these other artists and their work can be found online through a simple Google search, Butch Yelton and Upbound and the majority of their discography appear to have vanished into the ether, with little information on them resurfacing online since they stopped recording.

Songs and Albums

The band is known to have recorded at least two full LPs; Cookin' Country Gospel and Swing That Country Axe. Cookin' Country Gospel was self-released in 1976 and was produced by Butch Yelton himself, who also wrote five songs for the LP. The LP also featured a song written by Mary Foley, a track entitled "Amazing Grace, No. 3" by Danny Weaver, a cover of Tom T. Hall's "I Love," and various other covers of artists such as Andre Crouch and Gary S. Paxton.[1] The tracklist[2] is as follows:

  1. Don't Worry About Tomorrow
  2. Praise The Lord All Night Long
  3. I Love
  4. Amazing Grace No. 3
  5. Jesus On Your Trail
  6. Hallelujah Song
  7. From The Barroom & The Bottle
  8. Watcha Gonna Do
  9. Heaven's Just A Prayer Away
  10. Orange Blossom Special
  11. He Was There All The Time

Swing That Gospel Axe was released in 1977 by Eddie Crook Productions out of Nashville, Tennessee. Most of the songs were written by Yelton. The tracklist[3] is as follows:

  1. Swing That Gospel Axe
  2. God Will
  3. Upbound
  4. Homesick For Heaven
  5. Plenty of Time
  6. Columbus Georgia - Gospel Style
  7. My Sweet Lord
  8. A Whole Lot More of Jesus
  9. Nothing But the Blood of Jesus
  10. The Conversion of Amos Moses
  11. Runaway


As was the case with most religious music in the pre-internet days, the work of Butch Yelton and Upbound was likely released by independent record labels in limited supply in local areas only, making their outreach small and their impact even smaller. Due to this, it seemed inevitable that the band's discography would fall out of the public eye, and by the time the band had gained notoriety in the online space, an LP already released in small quantities by a virtually unheard of band would likely have been out of print for decades, making the chances of finding a copy even smaller. This means that, unless someone were to get in contact with one of the band members themselves, the chances of any of the band's material resurfacing online seems slim to none. However, in October 2021, ThriftStoreFinds uploaded the title track from the infamous Swing That Gospel Axe album to YouTube.

The titular track from Butch Yelton and Upbound's Swing That Gospel Axe (1977).

Bassist Bill Friday passed away in March 2016[4].