STYLE: Jesus Music RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 81399-15520 LABEL: Solid Rock SRDX777 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RRP: £14.69
Reviewed by Dougie Adam
Broadly speaking the tracks on this album fall into three different categories. Firstly there are rehearsals and outtakes from the '70s which see Larry and Randy Stonehill working on their harmony parts for songs from Larry's seminal 'In Another Land' album and we hear Randy improvising lyrics for a song "Uptown To Burbank". These song segments might fit a studio outtakes compilation really well but probably won't be appreciated by the more casual fan. Secondly we have a few studio demos of cover versions. Here again I suspect the casual fan will find it frustrating to hear Larry shouting the chord changes to the band during "Man Of Constant Sorrow" when he released a perfectly listenable version on his 'American Roots' compilation a few years ago. "All Fall Down" as it appeared on his 'Sessions' CD was one of his greatest cover versions and arguably one of his best ever recordings yet here it just sounds rough as if Larry and the band have a lot of work left to do to polish the song into shape. Thirdly there are live tracks. A few rarities pop up in this section as Larry performs "Sonshine" with Steve Camp and recites the words to "The Outlaw" acapella. There is also a compelling live solo version of "Be Careful What You Sign", a song which rarely featured in Larry's live sets or live releases. The highlights are the four songs recorded live with Alwyn Wall and Norman Barratt on tour in 1977 and 1981. Here at last in the stunning band versions of "I Hope I'll See You In Heaven", "It's Only Today That Counts", "A Note From Mr God" and "Why Can't You Be Good" we find Larry on top form singing his own material and backed by an impressive band on some great sounding recordings and it becomes obvious why even though these are not his best known songs Norman was held in such high regard as a songwriter and as a captivating live performer. Because of the three different source types the quality of the songs and performances vary from excellent to disappointing as we journey with Larry from the '70s into this decade. Apart from the stellar live tracks I've highlighted in most cases we have most of these songs in much better quality on other releases meaning that sadly 'Colossus Of Roads' marks a slightly haphazard start to the process of sifting through Larry master tapes and releasing them after his passing. Many fans will hope that as Larry's estate and other record companies begin to re-release his music that their compilations will be a bit less random sounding than this one.
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