Larry Norman - Stranded In Babylon (re-issue)

Published Tuesday 8th November 2011
Larry Norman - Stranded In Babylon (re-issue)
Larry Norman - Stranded In Babylon (re-issue)

STYLE: Jesus Music
RATING 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9 9
LABEL: Solid Rock SRDX007
RRP: £14.69

Reviewed by Dougie Adam

Throughout the 1980s Larry's fans had become accustomed to a steady stream of patchy releases which fell well below the quality of his trailblazing '70s output. There were lots of live releases and compilation albums where half-finished demos and instrumental electronica pieces would rub shoulders with rock opera recordings with People sourced from scratchy vinyls and cover versions of other artists' songs and unreleased songs from the archives and remixes and re-recordings of his earlier work. Then at the tail end of 1991 Larry took everyone by surprise and released a normal studio album: that is, 10 self-penned songs and three bonus tracks which had never been on a previous Larry Norman album, all recorded in the studio and with the exception of "Oh Lydia" (which is deliberately cut short after a few seconds) all properly produced by Larry with the help of his younger brother Charles. Furthermore most of the songs showed that Larry was back on form as a songwriter and after a decade or more of dabbling in new musical directions, Norman was back playing to his strengths. "God Part III", "Step Into The Madness", "All The Way Home", "Let The Rain Fall Down" and "Under The Eye" all stood comparison as songs and studio recordings with the best of Larry's previous work. The album was recorded by Larry and Charles working with drum machines, sequencers and samplers to fill out their own guitars, basses and keyboards and achieved a contemporary sound at the time. 20 years later not all of the album has dated well and some fans will also feel that if some songs had been given a gentler, simpler, sparer treatment or used more acoustic instruments instead of so many layers of overdubs they may have drawn more plaudits and the album as a whole might have had a more varied sound. Happily the 'Totally Unplugged Vol1' CD captures Larry performing some of the 'Babylon' songs solo and accompanied only by his own guitar for those who would like to contrast the simple live versions with the full on studio versions. 'Stranded In Babylon' saw Larry write about a cavalcade of big subjects again and after years in the musical wilderness showed he was still capable of writing and recording some of the best songs and most striking and quotable lyrics in Christendom when he put his mind to it. Worth buying in its own right for some of Larry's best work from the second half of his recording career.

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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