Reviewed by Jamie Hailstone
I'll be honest and say that this is the first time yours truly has actually sat down to listen to something by the Norman-meister. You will have to blame it on a university friend who used to rave about him ad infinitum, and used to mention him in the same breathless sentence as Bob Dylan - and I never liked Dylan. 'Underground Manouevers' is a 22-track compilation of assorted live recordings and studio rarities. If you are a big fan, and many are, of Mr Norman, then you will not need to know any more and will no doubt be hunting this down already. But if, like me, you are not an aficionado of this particular artist, you could do worse and make this your first foray into the Larry Norman record collection. The recordings in this CD all date back some time, but they have stood the test of time and aged remarkably well. The opening track, "Jon's Blues/Stop This Flight", was recorded live with the Young Lions and passes the Spinal Tap patented 11-plus test. As the exhaustive liner notes by Larry explain, "Stop This Flight" was written as a damning commentary on the Christian music scene, and it remains as potent today as it ever was. Other tracks include a solo version of "The Outlaw" and a highly entertaining jam version of "Crossroads" and "Johnny Be Goode". The latter is particularly entertaining, as Larry gets the lyrics all mixed up and goes off at several tangents and lands somewhere between Robert Johnson, Chuck Berry and James Brown. All in all, it's a good testament to the enduring power of a man, his guitar and the simple message of the Cross. Now, if only I good get my head around listening to some Bob Dylan.
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