Various - Strong Hand Of Love: A Tribute To Mark Heard

Saturday 1st October 1994
Various - Strong Hand Of Love: A Tribute To Mark Heard
Various - Strong Hand Of Love: A Tribute To Mark Heard

STYLE: Roots/Acoustic
RATING 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10 10
LABEL: Fingerprint 701697961

Reviewed by James Lewis

Mark Heard, as you may know, died some two years ago, leaving his wife and daughter with massive medical bills not covered by medical insurance. This album is a benefit for the Heard Family Fund made up of freshly recorded covers of his songs together with a few previously released samples of his writing talents. For your money, you get 17 tracks filling up the CD to capacity and they're all well worth it. (Confusingly, you get less tracks on the cassette version but two tracks that aren't on the CD!) Mark was acknowledged by his peers, if not by his record sales, as a master songwriter and the quality material here is given the treatment it deserves. Artists here include names familiar to CCM fans together with names you may have only heard of in Cross Rhythms. Bruce Cockburn, The Call's Michael Been, Victoria Williams, Vigilantes Of Love, Tonio K, Julie Miller, The Choir and DC Talker, Kevin Smith amongst others all contribute their versions of Mark Heard songs. Some of the versions here are faithful to the original versions, like Bruce Carroll's bittersweet country "Castaway" and some versions veer wildly away from the roots orientated sound that Mark explored every variation of, like Michael Been's heavy rock "We Know Too Much". It seems unfair to the others to single out any tracks particularly but Kevin Smith delivers a stunning mellow dancebeat-rock version of "Lonely Moon", which perhaps showcases a slightly more mature direction, and the specially reformed Chagall Guevara (Steve Taylor and co) do "Treasure Of The Broken Land" - if their one and only album had all sounded this good it might have been a classic. Buying this album will stone a multitude of birds at once - 1) it helps a bereaved family (James 1v27), 2) provides an excellent sampler of some of the talent out there for those only acquainted with the likes of Amy Grant, Petra and Michael W Smith, 3) makes a fitting tribute to a man of artistic and personal integrity. If you only buy one album this year, this one should be a strong contender for your money.

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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