122. Body & Soul – Jon Gibson
BODY & SOUL (1989)
Jon Gibson would score higher sales (Jesus Loves Ya) and radio success (Forever Friends) elsewhere, but his true artistic triumph came on this sweet little record, Body & Soul. Combining an obvious Beatles influence with his Stevie Wonder grooves helped Gibson create an utterly unique and never duplicated release.
The album would also feature Gibsonsd most transparent, thoughtful and poignant songwriting. The soulful crooning and Gospel infused Church Anthems still remain, but there is a distinct musical quality, a fresher, more earthy appeal, that sets the record apart. It also remains the finest production work in Bill Baumgart’s career.
The sub-three minute Beatle’s directed “Heart of Gold” kicks off the album with a great Abbey Road era sound to the opening strings followed by Bill Baumgart’s great piano that would prove to be the central instrumentation for the whole project. “In the Name of the Lord” follows and remains one of Gibson’s biggest radio hits despite many stations rejecting the song based on the term “good God” used in the chorus.
But it is with the ballads that Gibson becomes most personal and intimate. Whether biographical or not, many of the slower songs capture a hurting and striving artist. Most notably is “Merry-Go-‘Round.” The sense of loss and repentance found in the words of a father seeking redemption are at times chilling. “God Will Find Ya” has Gibson with a psuedo-falsetto vocal that whines through a hypnotic melody that never pushes the groove.
Possibly the strongest ballad is “Father, Father.” Another song of repentance builds and builds as it moves to a great vocal climax, more emotional than many other Gibson ballads.
Two last songs of note are the great cover of Stevie Wonders “Have a Talk With God,” that features a cameo by Wonder on harmonica and the killer closer, Everyone Needs the Lord.” The later is Black Gospel masterpiece that Smokie Norful really needs to cover. Starting slow and building up both the passion and pace as it moves, the song would become a moderate hit and great live experience. With it Gibson continued to prove he was easily the most soulful artist in CCM at the time, and maybe ever. the only criticism is that it is clearly 3 minutes too short!