The Jesus Record

CD Review by WZLE's Ron Cox

The Jesus Record - Rich Mullins and a ragamuffin band / Myrrh

Shortly before his death, Rich Mullins recorded a demo tape on a boombox in Illinois. The demo contained the songs that would become "The Jesus Record". Sadly, Rich was killed in a traffic accident before he got the chance to see "The Jesus Record" become a reality, but not even death could keep this project from happening. Its message is too important. The focus is all on Jesus.

Myrrh records decided to release "The Jesus Record" as a two-part project. Part one is the demo tape Rich recorded on that boombox somewhere in Illinois. It’s just Rich, a guitar, and a piano. A rare opportunity to hear an artist of Rich’s caliber without all the fancy Nashville production stuff, and man is it a cool listening experience!

"Hard To Get" is one of the most human songs to ever penetrate my ears. If I tried to describe the meaning behind this song I wouldn’t do it justice. You’ll have to hear this one for yourself.

"Surely God Is With Us" chronicles the life of Jesus from an outside observer who’s not quite sure what to make of this carpenter from Nazareth. The song’s chorus is a real faith builder. "Jesus" is a tender ballad you’ve got to hear. It’s so cool to hear Rich sing this with nothing but a piano to accompany him. The anthem of the project is definitely "My Deliverer". The chorus sticks to your musical ribs...

My Deliverer is coming - My Deliverer is standing by

He will never break His promise - He has written it upon the sky

Part two of "The Jesus Record" features a ragamuffin band performing fully produced versions of the Jesus demos - plus appearances by Amy Grant, Michael W Smith, and Ashley Cleveland.

The difficult task of producing this record fell on the shoulders of Rick Elias - one of Mullin’s close friends.

The best cut on part two is the ragamuffin version of "That Where I Am, There You...". It contains parts of Rich’s vocals, as heard on the original demo, singing along with the ragamuffins as if he’d never left us.

But the truth is, Rich has left us. He’s in heaven now. Fortunately, he did manage to hang around here long enough to lay the foundations for "The Jesus Record", and we’ll all be the better for it.

Not because Rich Mullins was such a great artist, but because of his passion to place the focus of the record on the right person - Jesus.

Steady On - Point Of Grace / Word
I’m going to be honest with you. I’ve never met a Point Of Grace song I’ve ever really liked. I appreciate their vocal talent, their catchy choruses, and the quality of their radio singles. I don’t question the fact that their music is good. It’s just a bit on the bland and predictable side for me. Not exactly progressive - though, "Life, Love & Other Mysteries" did offer some hope.

The latest project from P.O.G. walks right up to my criticism and konks it on the nose! It’s by far the best effort to date from the four former college chums.

The vocals are more creative and much more aggressive than in past projects. The harmonies are some of the best I’ve heard. The energy level is higher, and the music tracks are not boring.

The title cut is an uptempo pop tune and the first radio release. And speaking of radio, this project is loaded with potential number one radio hits.

"Amazing" is one of the most original songs I’ve heard from this group. "The Song Is Alive" and "Better Days" are pretty peppy little pop tunes - the latter breaks into a P.O.G. jam session at its close. "Rain Down On Me" and "Drawing Me Closer" are laced with harmonies that are downright beautiful, and "Jesus Is" has one of the strongest hooks on the project.

Point Of Grace has never released a song that has not gone all the way to number one. Don’t look for that trend to change with this record.

Another thing that won’t change is that P.O.G. is just not my thing, but this one almost came close.