Larry Norman

Upon This Rock Capitol 1969
 Sweet Sweet Song of Salvation
 Forget Your Hexagram
 Pardon Me
I believe the first thing he did after leaving People. A secular release for sure. A bold move. Not sure how Norman convinced Capitol to do this but you need to remember that this was released in the chaotic creative 60's when anything was possible. It's a nice pop lp on the surface. Quiet, prim and proper with some quirky production and stylish songs. But if you dig a bit deeper it's a terribly convicting project that really grabs your spirit with precise images ('Walking Backward') and an aching need to share Christ (most tracks, especially 'Postlude'). Conceived, written, and performed by Larry. Another complete project. Often called the Christian Sgt. Pepper. BF Released on CD a few years ago in the UK but mega hard to find now.

Street Level One Way 1970
Side one in concert in Hollywood, solo. Opener is a killer poem with Brit accent and slang :'First Day In Church' - a very poignant look at how the "unchurched" could see a Sunday service. Also a touching version of 'I Wish We'd All Been Ready'. Side two with a group called White Light. Studio stuff with Uncle Randy Stonehill on harmony and second guitar. Excellent rockin' 'Blue Shoes White' suggests we get our "souls re-healed". Bluesy solo piano 'No More LSD For Me' ("I met the man from Galilee") and 'Jim Ware's Blues' which is really 'Why Don't You Look Into Jesus'. Special note - always check the dead wax on his albums. Lots of cryptic (and not so) stuff. Both this and Bootleg show Larry live and in studio, honing his skills and perfecting his songs, many of which appear on later albums. Released with several cover/label variations. BF

Bootleg One Way 1971
 I Think I Love You
 Ha Ha World
 Blue Shoes White
 666 (The Anti-Christ)
 TV Interview
 Without Love You Are Nothing
 Why Don't You Look Into Jesus
A double lp documenting Norman's previous four years. Compiled from private recordings it says. Side A - Early tapes - 1968. Several tracks are different versions of songs that appear on Upon This Rock. Nice take of 'I Don't Believe In Miracles'. The forgotten Christmas song 'The Day That A Child Appeared' showcases Larry at his very best accompanying himself on piano. Side B- The One Way Sessions - 1969. 'A Song Won't Change The World' is just a gem. Kickin' acoustic live 'Blue Shoes White'. Seminal version of '666 - The Antichrist'. 'Takin' My Time' is a song snippet that sounds like it might have mutated into 'Baroquen Spirits'. And an early take of 'I've Searched All Around' - less precise, more garagy sounding. Side C - Mixed Media - 1970-71. Interviews from TV and different speeches full of humor and compassion. Good preaching and teaching with a bit of music thrown in. Side D - Maranatha - 1971-72. Most current stuff that Larry was working on. A few that don't appear in any form anywhere else. Very special is 'Even If You Don't Believe'. A couple neat love songs. First 'UFO'. A lyrically different 'Small Circle Of Friends'. More excellent messages and drawings in the dead wax (they aren't on the 1989 gatefold re-issue). Released with several cover/label variations. BF

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Only Visiting This Planet Verve 1972
 Why Don't You Look Into Jesus
 I Wish We'd All Been Ready
 Why Should the Devil Have All The Good Music
OK, let's get something straight right away. This is not meant to be a Larry Norman discography. I am not a LN expert. I don't know how many different versions of these lps there were/are. I'm not sure where these fit in "Larry time". Tri-fold, gatefold, bi-fold, Verve, MGM, Capitol, Street Level! Does anybody know for sure? That's a book in itself. But here's what I do know. It starts with this guy. Want to make a Christian lp - 1972 or 2002? Listen and learn. This is what Christian music is capable of being. Wonderfully melodic, lyrically genius, great playing, excellent urgent vocals, impeccable song order and production with a few tricks. Overall, a thoughtful, touching presentation. Miles and miles ahead of any "Christian" album of the time (and years after). Best thing: go and listen to it right now. Satisfaction guaranteed. 20+ years old but timeless. First class reading of 'Wish We'd All Been Ready' - the classic Christian song. Scathing as Dylan ever was with 'Great American Novel' and 'Reader's Digest'. Perfect pop ('I've Got To Learn To Live Without You'). Touchingly personal ('Pardon Me') plus being great classical rock. The hard-rocking 'Why Should The Devil' is still a definite answer to Christian R 'n' R naysayers. Grandfather of Christian contemporary music? This is one major reason for the moniker. "Dear John, who's more popular now?' - Indeed. Released with several cover/label variations. BF Available on CD.

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So Long Ago The Garden MGM 1973
 Fly Fly Fly
 Baroquen Spirits
 Nightmare #71
An album full of finely crafted songs. All are lyrically quite delicate - full of autobiography, insight, warning, and passion. Seems more personal than Only Visiting This Planet. Not overtly Christian, but Jesus, conversion, need for a Savior, and Biblical allusion permeate the lyrics and overall feel of the album. Great melody hooks scattered throughout, especially 'Same Old Story', 'Baroquen Spirits', and 'She's A Dancer'. Song order is well thought out, complete. Another lp recorded in England and it sounds it. Help from Randy Stonehill with liner notes by Larry. Very friendly, familiar sounding. "Hey, this reminds me of ... I can't remember who - you know? That guy? I like it. No, not them, but someone like that...". BF Available on CD.

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In Another Land Word 1976
 Th Rock That Doesn't Roll
 One Way
 I Am A Servant
This is the one that introduced most Christians to Larry. It's the finish of what Larry called "The Trilogy". Intended to be spiritual triptych, starting with Only Visiting This Planet 1972, So Long Ago The Garden in 1973, and this representing the past, present, and future of the theme of love running throughout the three, using 'Righteous Rocker' as the connection. This lp launched Solid Rock records, a label Larry started to reach the non-Christian, but for lots of 60's generation Christians this is it. Every song is exceptional, unique, engaging, and will become your best friend. For satisfaction, fulfillment, and enjoyment get to know this one. Yep, I love it. I am taken away from the mundane with the 15-second lead guitar break on 'I Love You' - Jon Linn, thanks. 'Shot Down' is still unmatched for me. It is the answer to ever persecuted R'n'R Christian anywhere. And the last chord is classic rock. There is a very unifying quality to In Another Land as well. Have you ever felt that from a Christian album? Few and far between I'd bet. It's wonderful to be part of the "children of the sky". You sense we will be together in another land. This album leaves you with an otherworldly victorious presence and a real sense of purpose and direction. In many ways much more than just an album. BF Available on CD.

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Larry Norman Starstorm 1977
This album is actually one of his that is worth the hunt. Released only in Australia (on either Starstorm or Rhema labels) it has different versions to some of the songs from 'So Long Ago The Garden' and a long version of 'If God is My Father.' DS

Larry and Randy

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Streams of White Light Into Darkened Corners AB 1977
 Spirit In The Sky
 Presence Of The Lord
 Stranger In A Strange Land
 Prince Of Peace
 Final Words
A satirical look at the religious trend in pop music 1970-1974. 'Spirit In The Sky', 'Let It Be', 'Bridge Over Troubled Water', etc. all brought to you by The Surf Duke (Randy Stonehill) with some pretty witty and biting commentary - "let's listen to a trilogy a songs about faith, hope, and royalties". As for Larry's version - some are funny tongue in cheek style. Others are actually pretty good. I like the disco bass riff on 'My Sweet Lord'. 'Presence of The Lord' has some smokin' lead work probably by Jon Linn. And Larry can really interpret Randy Newman well. Liner notes state this record stemmed from a newspaper article that no one would publish. Interesting. BF

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Something New Under The Son Solid Rock 1981(1978)
 Hard Luck & Bad News
 Watch What You're Doing
 Let That Tape Keep Rolling
After the dissolution of the Solid Rock Artist troupe this album stayed in the can for several years until finally released in 1981. Thematically the album focuses on rejection and alienation as the 'pilgrim' struggles along life's journey. Though he denies it, the album should be viewed as autobiography since Norman was struggling through his own divorce and identity crisis at the time. Musically reminiscent of The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street (1972) the blues guitar work of John Linn makes this an absolute classic. The album's artwork is an excellent attempt to parallel Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home (1966). "Nightmare #97" makes excellent use of Stagger Lee intro (cf. "Bob Dylan's 115th Dream"). With the song "Let That Tape Keep Rolling" Norman pays homage to Mick Jagger and Van Morrison. "Born to Be Unlucky," "Watch What You're Doing," and "Leaving the Past Behind" are Norman at his best. DS

Concert flyer May 1974
(from Bill Hoppe's Jesus Music collection & archives)

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