Larry Norman - The Vineyard: A Larry Norman DVD

Published Thursday 3rd November 2011
Larry Norman - The Vineyard: A Larry Norman DVD
Larry Norman - The Vineyard: A Larry Norman DVD

STYLE: Jesus Music
RATING 7 7 7 7 7 7 7
LABEL: Solid Rock SRVX009
FORMAT: DVD Music video
RRP: £15.99

Reviewed by Dougie Adam

In my opinion the 1990s were an interesting decade to follow Larry's output. The decade began with Larry having a new perspective on being a Christian after realising that God loved him unconditionally and with his creative juices flowing again following his healing from brain damage. 1991's 'Stranded In Babylon' album had demonstrated his craft as a songwriter and had suggested he would return to releasing high quality studio albums again. Then in the spring of 1992 a near fatal heart attack cut short Larry's comeback. Strong new compositions continued to emerge with 1993's ballad "Goodbye Farewell" ranking among Larry's best and in 1994 a new album of rocking blues tunes on 'A Moment In Time'. 1998 was the year which would showcase the most new songs albeit spread across four releases and one critic enthused: "The strange but good year 1998 introduced half a dozen new classics that were unfortunately spread out over four discs. . . 'Heaven Wants To Bless You' and 'Oh, Little Sister' sound like classic Dylan songs - the first a beautiful affirmation of promise in the midst of pain, and the second, a confessional apology for wrongs unwittingly done. 'Protect My Child' is no-holds-barred rock, giving voice to every parent's desperate plea. Had the new songs from 'Shouting In The Storm', 'Copper Wires' and 'Breathe In, Breathe Out' all been placed on a single-disc album, Norman would have had another project of similar stature to 'Only Visiting This Planet' or 'Something New Under The Son'. Even as it is he probably had three of the 20 best Christian songs of the year for 1998." (Mark Allan Powell, Encyclopaedia Of Contemporary Christian Music). That same year Larry played a concert at a Vineyard church where he played songs from throughout his career including lots of the new material which impressed Powell. True to form he often needed lyric sheets to help him remember the new songs and even then he might have problems reading his own handwriting! In 1999 a double CD of the concert was released and now more than 10 years later we have a four-disc DVD version of the same concert. The audio comes from the soundboard while the picture quality is taken from one static camera. The DVD version includes a song which was deleted from the shorter two-CD version of the concert as well as a number of stories not featured there either. It's a good release for fans of Larry's solo concerts even though some of the performances are patchy or played for laughs. If asked to choose between the CD version or the DVD I would say I personally find the CD more enjoyable as it has been crisply edited and flows well. The fact that the picture is only sourced from one camera angle and that the backdrop is Larry performing in front of the church's worship band's unused instruments and with a few plants at the side of the stage means that visually the DVD isn't that interesting to look at and the main point of interest is Larry himself and his performances of his songs and storytelling between songs. Thankfully, for fans, usually Larry and his songs and stories are enough to sustain interest across all four DVDs and there are a few things he shared at this concert which even arch fans may not have heard him talk about much before. One for collectors, and even then it may not get many repeat plays.

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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