Larry Norman - Only Visiting This Planet: The Complete Trilogy Vol 1

Published Monday 17th January 2005
Larry Norman - Only Visiting This Planet: The Complete Trilogy Vol 1
Larry Norman - Only Visiting This Planet: The Complete Trilogy Vol 1

STYLE: Jesus Music
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Solid Rock SRD005

Reviewed by Dougie Adam

It was tempting to write a two word review for this one which simply read "Must buy". This 1972 album has gone down as the career best from Larry and in 1988 it was voted the best ever Christian album by CCM magazine then in 2001 when Tom Granger and friends compiled their book about the best CCM albums ever this was ranked at number two. placing it ahead of the best efforts of DC Talk, Rich Mullins, Bruce Cockburn, Bob Dylan or anyone else you care to mention... well anyone else you care to mention except, um, Amy Grant! The recipe for its success went something like this; take 10 great but very diverse songs, record them for a major label (MGM Records) in a cutting edge studio (George Martin's A.I.R. Studios) with a clued up production team (Triumvirate Productions) and an interesting cast of session musicians (Gordon Giltrap, Edwards and Hand, and members of Wizzard and King Crimson all contribute). This was probably the first Christian album which stood up well artistically and in terms of overall quality production with the mainstream rock scene of the time. In spite of everything listed above the fact remains that on its release 'Planet' didn't sell in big numbers in the secular stores and wasn't sold in Christian stores. But as well as being groundbreaking for its time 'Planet' remains one of Larry's most enduring collections and not just because it is crammed full of his best hits-which-never-were like "Why Don't You Look Into Jesus", "The Outlaw", "Righteous Rocker", "I Wish We'd All Been Ready", "Why Should The Devil Have All the Good Music" and "Reader's Digest". Though for example, Watergate, Vietnam, the tragic deaths of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix have all ceased being big contemporary issues Larry's viewpoints and critiques on the political and contemporary cultural scene of that time still translate with just as much punch today when we can sit in the comfort of our living rooms and watch laser guided missiles hit their targets in downtown Baghdad and when the politicians still seem to think "The only way to bring about the peace/Is to sacrifice your children/And kill all your enemies." 30 years on from its release 'Planet' remains an object lesson for budding songwriters in how to make very word count and how to communicate eternal truth about the world around us and about Christ through the humble medium of rock music, and if you don't believe me on that score take it from Martyn Joseph who has just included two covers from this album on his new covers project! This new CD version comes with two new bonus tracks on top of the three original bonus tracks from the first CD reissue. The new bonus tracks are an early rough mix of the fast version of "Righteous Rocker" (which comes with a gloriously loose vocal) and a band take of "The Great American Novel" which shows great promise yet sounds like it needs a few more takes before the band hit full stride (sadly a glitch on the master tape also adds a sonic hiccup on this track). The other bit of news on this one is that the CD booklet has been completely redone and now looks better than ever and comes complete with lyrics, credits and some short notes about Larry and the making of the album. Now. must go and check out Amy Grant and see how on earth she topped this album!

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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Sample Track Listing:
1. I’ve Got To Learn To Live Without You
2. The Outlaw
3. Why Don't You Look Into Jesus
4. Righteous Rocker #1
5. I Wish We'd All Been Ready
6. I Am The Six O'Clock News
7. The Great American Novel
8. Pardon Me
9. Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music
10. Reader's Digest
11. Peace Pollution Revolution (Radio Single)
12. Righteous Rocker (Hard Rock Remake)
13. The Outlaw (Roots Remake)
14. Righteous Rocker (Unreleased Version)
15. The Great American Novel (Unreleased Version)

This track data is supplied by the Cross Rhythms CD/DVD review library. Please note that CD tracks may vary according to release region or product version.

Reader Comments

Posted by Julie Scully in Hervey Bay, Australia @ 02:05 on Aug 9 2008

I had this album on cassette back in the 70's and just love Larry's music & what he stood for and would like to get some of his early stuff again. Does anyone know if I am able to obtain this on CD?

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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