Thursday, May 31, 2012


Phil Keaggy was born in Youngstown, Ohio on March 23, 1951.  At the age of four he lost half of his middle finger on his right hand due to an accident on the family farm involving a water pump.  He was the guitarist and vocalist for rock band Glass Harp who released three albums in the early 1970's.  They opened for the likes of Alice Cooper, the Kinks, and Yes.  Keaggy put out the first of his over 50 solo albums WHAT A DAY in 1973.  That summer he married Bernadette.  They had a rough go of it for a while.  She miscarried in 1975 with triplets.  In 1976 they had a son Ryan die after only a few days.  In 1977 there was another miscarriage.  God was good to them though and they had three kids.  Alicia was born in 1980, Olivia in 1984, and Ian in 1987.

Keaggy's bio states: "For three years in a row, Phil was voted one of the top fingerstyle guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine."  His 1978 album THE MASTER AND THE MUSICIAN was CCM's first instrumental album.  He has won several Dove Awards in that category.  My favourite Phil Keaggy albums are: PHIL KEAGGY AND SUNDAY'S CHILD (1988), CRIMSON AND BLUE (1993), TIME 1 AND 2 (1995), and TRUE BELIEVER (1995).  Phil's latest effort is THE COVER OF LOVE (2012, Strobie Records).  It is a collection of love songs recorded between 1997 and 2011, with half of them being covers.

'Between Wyomings' starts things off.  Ken Mansfield is the writer.  He was a young music executive with Capitol Records in the 1960's, helping the careers of the Beatles, Glen Campbell, Lou Rawls, and others.  In 1968 the Fab Four named him the U.S. manager of Apple Records.  Today he has a ministry which involves him being an author and speaker.  'Between Wyomings' finds him love sick: "Seems I've tried a thousand times/But I can't get you off my mind/They say that time is supposed to heal/But it always hurts me when I feel/Lost between Wyomings without your love/And baby, lately I've been havin' dreams about you."  The song would fit nicely on Larry Norman's 1970's albums SO LONG AGO THE GARDEN and IN ANOTHER LAND.  Phil's daughters provide backing vocals.  A fantastic cover of 'Good Vibrations' which was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love in 1966 is up next.  The version here features lead and background vocals by Phil and Gene Miller.  Miller has toured with the likes of Kenny Loggins and Donna Summer.  He is currently a member of the Nashville Alternators, a group that includes CCM industry vets Chris Rodriguez and Tommy Sims.  'Good Vibrations' begins with these magical words: "I, I love the colorful clothes she wears/And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair/I hear the sound of a gentle word/On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air/I'm pickin' up good vibrations/She's giving me excitations."  'She Sees Me' written by Phil and Jon Sexton finds Carl Herrgesell on piano and B3 organ.  It speaks of the intimacy experienced in a love relationship: "Because there's so much there to see/Written between the lines/Oh how do I say it?/She is my best friend and she sees me for who I am/Because there's someone standing there/Standing right by my side/How do I say it?"  The song has a gentle, breezy sound to it.

'Where are you Love?' was written by Phil and Olivia Keaggy in 2011.  Olivia is on lead vocals, while Phil is on guitar and harmony vocals.  The song is a tender ballad about losing love: "Tell me, will you tell me while my heart is breaking?/Walk with me through the flame of the fire/Where are you love, where are you love?/Oh, did you mean to be leaving?/Speak to me/Walk with me."  On 2011's 'My Auburn Lady' Phil handles vocals, guitars, bass and percussion.  It is a soft number with ultra romantic lyrics written for his wife: "Ah, Bern, I am smitten o'er again/Ah Bern, by your beauty my dear friend/Ah Bern, and you know how much I do depend on you/It's true, my auburn lady/Ah Bern, so faithful through the years/Ah Bern, through the laughter, through the tears/Ah Bern, through my dark insides and foolish fears/I knew, I knew.../You to be a rock that I can cling to."  'Somedays' is from Paul McCartney's 1997 album FLAMING PIE.  Phil is responsible for lead and harmony vocals, guitars, mandolin, and keyboards.  The song includes the following words of someone blown away by the love they've found: "We don't need anybody else to tell us what is real/Inside each one of us is love/And we know how it feels/Somedays I look/I look at you with eyes that shine/Somedays I don't/I don't believe that you are mine/It's no good asking me what time of day it is/Who won the match or scored the goal/Somedays I look/Somedays I look into your soul." 

'I Want You, I Need You, I Love You' has an old time rock 'n' roll feel to it.  It was written by Maurice Mysels and Ira Koslof in 1956 and popularized by the one and only Elvis.  These words from it paint a picture of someone head over heels in love: "Ev'ry time you are near/All my cares disappear/Darling you're all that I'm living for/I want you, I need you, I love you/More and more.../Won't you please be my own?/Never leave me alone/'Cause I die ev'ry time we're apart/I want you, I need you, I love you/With all my heart."  'Voices in the Sky' was a hit single for the Moody Blues in 1968.  It includes these lyrics inspired by nature: "Bluebird, flying high/Tell me what you sing/If you could talk to me/What news would you bring/Of voices in the sky?/Nightingale, hovering high/Harmonize the wind/Darkness, your symphony/I can hear you sing/Of voices in the sky/Just what is happening to me?/I lie awake with the sound of the sea/Calling to me."  'Grow with Me' written by Phil and Michael Lewis is an excellent new rock song driven by electric guitar.  Drums are played by John Sferra of Glass Harp.  Read these passionate lyrics: "To have you by my side/I could never ask for more/And when you hold me it's so right/I love you, I do/And that's all she wrote/So let's keep the flame alive/And don't ever let me go/Never let me go/Let's keep the flame alive/And don't ever let me go/Never let me go (2X)."

The last three songs turn our attention to Divine Love.  'Motor of Love' is another Paul McCartney number, this time from 1989's FLOWERS IN THE DIRT.  It is a beautiful sounding, blatant song of testimony: "Motor of love, motor of love/Heavenly Father, look down from above;/I can't get over Your powerful motor of love/I can't get over Your love/No matter how lost I feel/I know my love is real thanks to You/You simply reached out Your hand/And touched me deep in my soul/Came in out of the cold, thanks to you/I won't steal anything from You/You give me more than enough."  'What Matters Most' written by Phil contains these spiritual words of invitation: "Come close to me and open your heart/Come here and listen, and open your eyes/Come and embrace, open your arms/What matters most is love never dies/Go to the sea of forgiveness/Go to the well that never runs dry/Walk in the land, the land of the living/What matters most is love never dies."  The closing track 'Where the Morning Dawns', written by Phil and Mike Radovsky, was inspired by author George MacDonald who died in 1905.  Musically this song that credits James Hollihan Jr. with trumpet and strings arrangement, will please Beatles fans.  Lyrically, it is a tribute to God who is Himself Love: "In the holy hush of the early dawn/Oh to hear a Voice speaking/'I am with you all day long'/And to know that Love has a Face/The giver of Amazing Grace."

THE COVER OF LOVE has on the cover a totally cute picute of Olivia Keaggy when she was four.  The album was produced, recorded, and mixed by Phil Keaggy at Kegworth Studio.  It was mastered by Mike Pachelli at Fullblast Recording Studio.  According to his bio: "These days, Phil Keaggy continues to delight audiences all over the U.S. performing primarily acoustic shows, and occasional concerts with a band."  In the liner notes Phil says: "Thank You my Lord for granting me grace, mercy and peace and love that endures through all eternity.  I am humbled and eternally grateful to You."  I recommend THE COVER OF LOVE to those who enjoy good pop music on the lighter side of things, and to those whose favourite Bible book is Song of Songs.  I'm rating this CD 87%.  For more info visit