121. Songs From the Earth – LYRIX
SONGS FROM THE EARTH (1982)
The Mark Williamson Band released in the UK virtually same album, sans a different name, cover and very different mixes. The album was released as a “Larry Norman Presents” project which really caught my eye when it was released my Junior year in High School. The MWB version lacked the crisp production and punch the same songs delivered here. The nearly space age backing vocal production (think ELO) really creates a unique and original sound throughout.
Though the most notable name to come from the group ended not being Mark Williamson, but rather Chris Eeaton, all four band members seemed to really know what they were doing in the creation of great “new” music with a decidedly pop edge. the only real drawback to the album is that “back in the day” artists could get away with an 8 song release.
Eaton and Williamson were responsible for the songwriting, though it would be Williamson that would carry most of the lead vocal responsibilities. Several of the songs would be covered by others and the band would break up right about the time of this release.
If Christian radio had progressed to where it is now, this album would have been a monster release with a ton of radio singles! Sheila Walsh would score a hit a few years later with a cover of the lead track, “Don’t Turn Your Back on Jesus.” The original here is vastly superior.
Initially sold into America as a British “New Wave” band the only song that fit that bill was the lead track. The rest id strong pop/rock with a soulful influence vocally. Big production with great backing vocals. In fact, the album may contain as many ballads as rockers. The ballads are stellar, emotional and run very long (five to six minutes).
One of the best of those ballads is “Susanne.” The song details the wavering of an individual when it comes to share the Gospel with a friend and sharing the love of Jesus with them. This theme runs throughout “Somebody Told me” and the albums closer “I Would have Listened.” This thought is an apparent theme that run from one song and through the next. The closer steals the show and has the album best vocals, shared here with Eaton.The change midway to a funkier rock groove really sets it apart. The song (and album) closing with the bright guitar riff after the vocal is just perfect.
This is a very hard to find AYSO if for no other reason that the historical implications. Fortunately it is clearly a great album that was a bit ahead of the CCM industry in the US and was missed by way too many. If any of the albums from the era deserve a CD release, the production and song quality of this one makes it a top deserving release.