Reviewed by Philip Woodward
When Christian pioneer Larry Norman finished his visit early last year, he left behind a music world that had been greatly touched by his presence. His was a life that accomplished much, and that undoubtedly brought many people to Christ. Here then, is 'Only Visiting This Planet', a 1972 re-release of what is considered by many to be Norman's magnum opus, the first of his 'trilogy' of great Christian rock albums. The question is - as with all re-issues - has 'Only Visiting This Planet' aged well? There was no doubting its popularity in the mid-'70s, but does it still carry weight? Unlike his hair on the cover sleeve, the answer for Norman is a resounding yes. His lyrics are biting, garbed in truth and delivered with a real punch, and could well have been written this millennium. Songs about media exposure ("I Am The Six O Clock News") and drug-addled pop stars ("Why Don't You Look Into Jesus?") are just as relevant as they were in Norman's heyday. Which is not to belittle the music. The production at London's Air Studios is wonderful. Norman's songs are timeless, akin to those of Neil Young, Bob Dylan or The Beatles, but crucially, never falling into pastiche. "I've got to learn to live without you", Norman wails on the opener, in a manner reminiscent of his protégé, The Pixies' Frank Black, a lament that millions will find themselves howling back at the much-missed icon.
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