Mike Johnson - The Artist/The Riddle: Legends Remastered Vol 5

Published Saturday 5th April 2014
Mike Johnson - The Artist/The Riddle: Legends Remastered Vol 5
Mike Johnson - The Artist/The Riddle: Legends Remastered Vol 5

STYLE: Jesus Music
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 148661-21618
LABEL: Born Twice Records RTR7789

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

Chicago's Mike Johnson was undoubtedly a key pioneer in the development of Jesus music but one who never found a following in Blighty largely because he never visited the UK. Mike's musical credentials are impeccable, being an original member of the Mike Bloomfield Blues Band and the now legendary bands Electric Flag and the Paul Butterfield Band before getting messed up on drugs and finding the Lord in the early days of the Jesus Movement. This 1976 album, originally released on Gary Paxton's NewPax label, is usually considered by Jesus music collectors Johnson's finest and though not quite up there with Norman's 'Upon This Rock' or Stonehill's 'Welcome To Paradise' is still a gem. Born Twice/Retroactive are to be congratulated on giving it a handsome digipack remastered re-issue. "The Riddle" has a renaissance sound with flute and recorder interweaving with Mike's nasal vocal. "Lord Doctor" is a penitent's prayer which The Encyclopedia Of Contemporary Christian Music called "a Johnson classic" and beats the version featured on his earlier 'Lord Doctor' and 'The Last Battle' albums. "I Met A Man" is a warning against drug abuse set to a happy ragtime piano. "Little Boy" is a moving tribute to the task and joy of parenting though the violins are a bit lush for my taste. And while I'm on the negative, the corny "The Sound Of His Returning" with its massed chorus vocal and cod oompah rhythm is pretty unlistenable. But nearly everything else shows a gifted lyricist at his creative height. Harmony magazine, the only magazine writing about Jesus music when it was happening, selected Johnson as Artist Of The Year on the strength of this album and indeed 'The Artist/The Riddle''s many great moments make it an enjoyable listen even 38 years on.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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