Larry Norman - Only Visiting This Planet

Thursday 1st February 1996
Larry Norman - Only Visiting This Planet
Larry Norman - Only Visiting This Planet

STYLE: Jesus Music
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 10700-10700
LABEL: Solid Rock SRD005
RRP: £15.99

Reviewed by Dougie Adam

For my money this must be one of the most impressive albums ever made. With this concept album Larry wrote about contemporary issues and the Son. One glance at the contents reveals the quality of this album; it reads like a genuine 'best of collection with 'The Outlaw", "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus", "Righteous Rocker No.1", "I Wish We'd All Been Ready", "The Great American Novel", "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music", "Readers Digest" all on the original 1972 release, whilst the first of the four CD bonus tracks is the 1971 single "Peacepollutionrevolution". There's not a weak song to be found amongst these 15 tracks and as usual a number of different styles are explored from the lush orchestral ballads "I've Got To Learn To Live Without You" and "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" to the haunting and provocative "Pardon Me" to the primal 50's rock'n'roll of "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music", the countrified "Righteous Rocker" and the blues/rap of the Dylanesque "Readers Digest". The themes explored also show a breadth of interest, thus legendary evangelistic anthems such as "The Outlaw" and "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus" rub shoulders with songs about Larry's unhappy first marriage "I've Got To Learn To Live Without You"; sexual harassment in "Pardon Me"; the media's coverage of the Vietnam War in "I Am The Six O'clock News". In the two big socio-political songs on the album "The Great American Novel" and "Readers Digest" Larry comments or alludes to issues as diverse as the McCarthy witch hunts, the Klu Klux Klan, the Korean and Vietnam wars, the influence of TV, radio and rock'n'roll, the space race before returning the listeners to the 'answer' to all our problems; "Don't ask me for the answers/I've only got one/That a man leaves his darkness/When he follows the Son". Perhaps more than any other album '..Planet' demonstrates Larry's gift as a lyricist. Taking "Readers Digest" as an example there is some characteristic sly humour as he pokes fun at the Beatles; 'The Beatles said "all you need is love" and they broke up...Dear John/Who's more popular now? l've been listening to Paul's new records/Sometimes I think he really is dead". This fun happens alongside the sober retelling of recent rock star fatalities "Jimi took an overdose/Janis followed so close" and perhaps the saddest and most hard hitting of all is the image "the flower children are pallbearers". '..Planet' is an album that takes its listeners on an emotional rollercoaster provoking anger on "I Am The Six O'Clock News", inspiring thoughtful analysis of developments around us in "The Great American Novel", introspection on the haunting "Pardon Me" followed by sheer joy on the sassy "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music" before the final gamut of feelings that bombard the mind a^ "Readers Digest" tears along dialoging with, then ridiculing and sympathising with the luminaries of the contemporary music scene (Bowie, Alice Cooper, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Hendrix and Joplin). 20 years on only a few of the songs sound dated though the sound is unmistakably 70s while the lyrics have a continued relevance. In 1996 this album still hits home with power, a true testament to the quality of the songwriting, performances, arrangements and production. Perhaps one of the most impressive things about '..Planet' is the fact that it was recorded and released by a large secular label (MGM) and saw Larry recording at AIR studios with top session players and former Beatles producer George Martin working alongside the team from Triumvirate Productions on an uncompromising set of Christian songs. Congratulations are also due to those at Phydeaux and Street Level who have obviously taken a great deal of care, in putting this package together. A 12 page CD booklet contains the original liner notes and lyrics, plus a song-by-song commentary and a note about the album and how it was made. There is also a short biographical article relating some of the major points in Larry's eventful life. Shame that few of the bigger secular and Christian record companies seldom put in this amount of attention to detail in their re-issue packages. An album which tore up the rule book and expanded the boundaries of Jesus Rock.

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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