Rich Mullins, A Ragamuffin Band - The Jesus Record

Thursday 1st October 1998
Rich Mullins, A Ragamuffin Band - The Jesus Record
Rich Mullins, A Ragamuffin Band - The Jesus Record

STYLE: Roots/Acoustic
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Myrrh 080688559229
RRP: £4.99

Reviewed by Mike Rimmer

Nine days before his death on September 19th 1997, Rich Mullins popped into an abandoned church with a cassette recorder and pounded out nine songs on a piano and his guitar. It was supposed to be a rough recording of his songs for his record company to hear before he started recording properly. Rich was excited about the project saying it was an album he needed to make. A fatal road accident robbed him of the opportunity. Instead, his backing band the Ragamuffins have completed the task with some help from Rich's friends. Got to say I've been listening to a pre-release of this album for three months before writing this review and the focus of the songs is so strongly fixed on Jesus, they continue to minister to me. Poetic and deeply moving musical snapshots of Christ's life and character, these recordings are split into two discs. The first disc is stark in its simplicity. Rich's original rough demo tape - made more emotive and significant by his death, stands as a memorial and an inspiration because even in their unpolished surroundings, the power of these songs shines through. The second disc features the songs from the demo plus the Rick Elias song "Man Of No Reputation" which Rich loved. Elias's tune is firmly in the flow of the whole album which is a radical portrait of Christ. These songs cut through the religious picture it's so easy to fall into when thinking of Christ and give a down to earth refreshing glimpse at Jesus. The first single off the album was the anthemic "My Deliverer" sung by producer Rick Elias and included a fine string arrangement from Tom Howard. Destined to be a classic! I'd give the wrong impression if you read this and thought the whole thing was a bit heavy! There are flashes of lyrical humour on "You Did Not Have A Home" and "Surely God Is With Us" and the occasional one liner that makes you smile when you listen. For me the highpoint of the project is Ashley Cleveland's rendition of the song "Jesus" - understated and strongly emotional. Other guest appearances from Phil Keaggy, Amy Grant and Michael W Smith manage to not overwhelm the project with their celebrity. In fact, in the light of the power of the project, they seem positively subdued. These final songs of Rich Mullins point our hearts heavenwards and remind us how frail is human existence. A dignified finale. Let's pray that this coda to a wonderful body of recorded work will be the last word on Rich's musical life and that the Nashville industry can avoid the grave robbing and barrel scraping that followed the death of Keith Green.

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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Reader Comments

Posted by Don in state of Delaware @ 02:28 on Oct 3 2010

CCM Radio played a song by Amy Grant that was new to my ears. Well, it wasn't on a new cd of hers, but on a 2 cd set of Rich Mullin & his band entitled "The JESUS Record". Rich recorded the tunes in a nice fundamental way; just 9 days prior to his passing!! In late November of 1997 the band recruited ccm artists to sing the songs, Amy Grant was one of those artists. What a wonderful recording she did of Rich's song "Nothing is Beyong YOU" I simply luv it!!; how powerful & thought provoking are the words that Rich wrote!! I luv Rich's recording of "That Where I Am, There You..", & new recording as well. Michael W Smith did a nice job on "Heaven in HIS Eyes" as did Ashley Cleveland on song "JESUS". The band did a wonderful job as well on the music scores and adding their vocals! It was nice to hear ccm vet Phil Keaggy also. What a fantastic job everyone did on the songs of Rich. Rich's songs still make great impact!! GOD Bless! -Don

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