Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Around fourth grade Lisa Weyerhaeuser started playing guitar and became a Christian.  She writes: “Jesus became my best friend and my Savior.  I began to write songs about my new faith and sing them.  I sang about God, love, family, and relationships-all of the things that were important to me.”  Her list of accomplishments includes being a wife and a mother of three, and teaching in the Psychology Department at Trinity International University.  Lisa first heard Larry Norman live in concert in November 1982 and got to interview the Christian music legend after the show for her college newspaper.  She shares: “That night I met a stranger who became a friend, and I am grateful to this day for the friendship we enjoyed.  Larry had the ability to cause people to feel a deep connection to him and to the God he served, and I am one of the many whose life is better because of that knowing.”  Lisa’s latest release is CAUGHT IN TIME AND SPACE (2013, Strong Tree Productions, Blue Myrtle Records).  It was recorded in Sweden, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Oklahoma City.  The black leather jacket Lisa is wearing on the front cover was given her by Larry Norman during the recording of the album.  He had worn it on the cover of his SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SON album and on stage many times.  Larry Norman produced several of the tracks on Lisa’s album and makes various guest appearances.  His younger brother Charles Normal arranged the album.

‘Closest Friend’ is a breezy pop duet by Lisa and Larry, with Dan Cutrona on the B3 organ.  It points to Christ as the answer to life’s problems and emptiness: “Well, I used to feel so alone/Standing in the shadows and on my own/Looking for a different light/Finally Your love broke through the night/When you find the truth you know it’s right.../What can I say to make you realize/How much He really loves you?/What can I say to make you understand?/You should put your life into His hand.”  ‘Keeper of the Clock’ is one of seven songs penned solely by Lisa.  Randy Wills plays the harpsichord.  It includes these words marked by spiritual maturity: “Who are we to question time/When time is not our own?/Incomplete our love shall lie/Til closer we have grown/Although now we may feel sad/Looking ahead we shall be glad/For we know the Keeper of the clock on the wall/Now He’s speaking/Do you hear His call?”  It should be noted that the first eight songs are from the years 1988-1991 (obviously when Larry was still with us!).

‘Psalm 42’ is a pleasant pop duet with Norman.  It is a song of spiritual longing penned by Lisa and King David: “Just as the deer thirsts for the water brook/My soul thirsts for Thee/Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls/Your waves have swept over me/Oh God, oh God/My soul thirsts for You Lord/My soul thirsts for You/You’re the living God.”  ‘Rekindle my Fire’ is a pretty praise and worship song with Lisa and Larry on background vocals.  Charles Normal plays guitar, keyboard, and percussion.  The song is a cry for revival: “Sometimes my burning fire goes out/And all that’s left is a fading glow/So please Lord, rekindle my fire/Let me shine bright for You/Oh, please renew my desire/Oh, please Lord rekindle my fire/Oh Lord, renew my desire/Rekindle my fire/Well, You know that I wanna be a light for You/But oh how dim my light has grown.”

Charles Normal programmed the strings on ‘This is my Prayer’, which is a song of spiritual surrender: “Father I praise You/I humbly lay my life before You/All that I am I give for You to use/Father, I thank You for giving us Your Son/I want to thank You for Jesus.../Father forgive me for attitudes towards others/My sisters and brothers/Thoughts that only You see/And Father please help me be more like Your Son/I want to be more like Jesus.”  ‘We’ve Only Got Forever’ is a middle of the road song musically.  It seems written from the perspective of a Christian musician who is on the road a lot and reassuring their stay-at-home spouse: “Well, I may not be seeing you for a while/And I know it won’t always be easy to smile/But we know that love is patient, yes, it’s true/And I know that I love you/And we’ve only got forever, you and I/To know each other better/To laugh and cry/We’ve only got forever to make things right/Together walking in His light.”

Lisa and Randy Adams sing backing vocals, with Lisa on lead as well, on the light rock song ‘Stronger Now’.  It speaks of the raw emotions many of us deal with at one time or another on this journey we call life: “There is much heartache, there is pain/There is so much confusion/I think I might go insane/There is a war battling inside of me/It rages on, but somehow/He is stronger now/There is anger in my heart, sorrow in my soul/There’s an aching that just won’t leave/But His love still seems to flow/Oh, don’t you know.”  Larry Norman plays harmonica on ‘Get Away’, while Kevin Bailey plays acoustic guitar.  This song speaks of the value of spiritual solitude: “When life’s busy schedule is trapping you in/When you can’t seem to find a moment’s rest/When your eyes are losing focus/On the goal you’re running toward/When you’re continually being put to the test.../Just take time to get away/Oh, take time to get away/Even Jesus needed time away/A time to pray, a time to lay/His burden down and get away.”

The next three tracks are Larry Norman classics.  The first two presented here were produced by Eddie Prather.  Larry and Lisa duet on ‘Sweet Sweet Song of Salvation’, which Larry originally recorded on his debut album, UPON THIS ROCK (1969).  The song has a highly contagious chorus full of joy, hope, and life-giving faith.  Lisa and Larry again duet on ‘The Great American Novel’, which I know from Norman’s 1972 album ONLY VISITING THIS PLANET.  The version presented here is one of my favorite versions of the song ever, with a slow country feel to it.  Larry plays acoustic guitar, while Tim Wright plays pedal, steel, and 12 string guitar.  Lyrically, the song boldly takes swipes at racism and war among other things: “You killed a black man at midnight/Just for talking to your daughter/And you made his wife your mistress/And you left her without water/And the sheet you wear upon your face/Is the sheet your children sleep on.../You were far across the ocean/The war was not your own/And while you were losing theirs/You also lost the war at home/Did you really think the only way to bring about true peace/Was to sacrifice your young men/To kill all your enemies?”  Lisa and Larry’s voices blend well together.

Lisa previously recorded Norman’s 1976 song ‘U.F.O.’, but a version is included on this project as well, as it seemed to fit in with the other songs.  Bill Verdier plays violin and Kendall Combes plays bass and electric guitar.  Lisa delivers a nice rendition of the easy listening, apocalyptic song, whose subject is Jesus Christ: “He’s an unidentified flying object/You will see Him in the air/He’s an unidentified flying object/You will drop your hands and stare.../He will come back like He promised/With the price already paid/He will gather up His followers/And take them all away.”  ‘Politically Correct’ was produced by Max Hsu of Superchick fame and is from circa 1999.  Hsu plays keyboards on the upbeat country track, Dave Ghazarian (Superchick, Audio Adrenaline) plays guitar, and Lisa, Larry, and Mike Struck sing backing vocals.  The song is lyrically in your face: “Say all the right things but stay to the left/Do not discuss the national debt/Hug a whale but dispose of the innocent child/Convenience is bliss in morality’s eyes/We are politically correct but we’ve got it all wrong (2X)/Start a war at another country’s front door/All the while the White House rolls around on the floor.../The country needs a revolution/In the form of Jesus Christ.”

Lisa is certainly a great woman of faith and a talented singer-songwriter.  Her voice is warm and inviting and easy to listen to.  I hope this album gets the exposure it deserves!  Fans of adult contemporary and light pop music should pick this one up.  Needless to say, every serious Larry Norman collector must add this project to their collection as well.  The last eight tracks on this CD which almost runs 80 minutes long, are soft acoustic versions of several of her originals, which I have already reviewed here.  These eight tracks were recorded by Lisa, along with her friend and Christian guitar hero, Rex Carroll (King James, Whitecross).  They will appeal to fans of Evie.  I’m rating CAUGHT IN TIME AND SPACE 85%.  For more info visit  Lisa says: “I can’t wait to be a part of what God is up to next.”



Tuesday, September 24, 2013



GOD’S FOREVER FAMILY: THE JESUS PEOPLE MOVEMENT IN AMERICA (2013, Oxford University Press) was penned by Larry Eskridge.  His bio tells us that he was involved with the Jesus People movement in the Chicago area in the 1970s. He’s also been on the staff of the Institute for the Study of American Evangelicals at Wheaton College since 1988. 

This book fills a huge void when it comes to modern day documentation of the rise and fall of the Jesus People Movement in the 1960s and 1970s primarily in, but not limited to the United States.  Learn how scores of hippies came to know the Lord through Christian coffeehouses and street ministry, and how they went on to form communes.  Learn about the financial difficulties they faced and how they had to rely on the Lord for His provision.  Read about the lives of such influential Jesus People as Lonnie Frisbee and Arthur Blessitt.  Also learn about the controversial and divisive characters in the movement itself. 

If you are a fan of today’s Christian Contemporary Music , pop and/or rock, this book is a must read, so you can get a grasp on the beginnings of Jesus Music.  Young converts joined the Gospel message with a worldly, mainstream musical beat and by so doing, reached scores of unsaved youth and drew them to Christ.  Read about the resistance by more traditional Christians towards this new music.  Eskridge does a great job chronicling the careers of the likes of Love Song, and Larry Norman, as well as the 2nd Chapter of Acts.  The beginnings of what is now known as praise and worship music are also traced in this study.

If you are currently a church attendee, you will be fascinated with the formation of the Calvary Chapel Church in Costa Mesa, California by Pastor Chuck Smith and how their services catered to new street converts.  Also, learn how the Vineyard churches began.  Eskridge does a good job of documenting how evangelical church youth interacted with the new Jesus freaks and embraced them.

Throughout the book, we see how the mainstream media viewed and covered the Jesus People Movement. It is always interesting to have an outside perspective on a zealous faith group. 

If you are a Christian today, reading this book will leave you longing for a second, new and fresh Jesus movement in the church and among young people worldwide.  Revival sometimes seems so far away and like something that just doesn’t happen to us.  What if a new Jesus revival started and infiltrated our schools, churches, sports teams, media, etc, etc?  Can it happen? Yes. But it can’t be forced. It would have to be a work of the Holy Spirit amongst us.  The youth of today have such potential and are definitely searching for something meaningful and lasting.  Too often today we spend our time as Christians entertaining ourselves and not on outreach.  Getting back to the Bible is key for sure.

After reading this book, you will not take forgranted having contemporary Christian music to listen to, or contemporary worship services.  A lot of hard work went into bringing these things into wide acceptance in evangelicalism.

GOD’S FOREVER FAMILY is a book that will totally captivate you!  It is extremely well-written and detailed and includes an interesting survey done in recent years of people who were involved in the Jesus People Movement.  If you are a pastor, or youth worker, or Christian radio station dj or manager, or a born again believer of any sort, please read this terrific book. For more info visit:


Wednesday, September 18, 2013


King James released their self-titled debut album back in 1994.  Jimi Bennett had previously been the singer for Sacred Fire, while Rex Carroll was known for being lead guitarist for Whitecross.  Stryper’s Tim Gaines and Robert Sweet also played on the first album.  King James put out their second album THE FALL in 1997.  It did well in Europe and was re-released in 2010.  Fast forward to 2013 and King James is back with MAXIMUS (Madison Line Records).  The current band line-up is: Jimi Bennett (preaching, singing, coffee), Michael Feighan (drums, raybans, aquanet), Benny Ramos (bass guitar, keyboards, email, impersonator), and Rex Carroll (boss/beast on six strings, McDonalds #6 Crispy).  The latter three members are also in the current incarnation of Whitecross with vocalist Scott Wenzel.

MAXIMUS begins with a cool, short instrumental called ‘The Void’.  A great hard rock song, ‘Hard Road to Go’ follows.  It tells the sad tale of a rebel: “A penny saved, a dollar earned, I gotta make it quick/To do a deal, make a steal, or even turn a trick/Wear a gun, ready to kill, death is in your eyes/Crack cocaine, and all its thrills, you’ll soon realize/Turn against your mother, turn against your brother/Oh, what have you done?/Was it worth your freedom?/Hard road to go/Looking over your shoulder, you must have known/Hard road to go: everything you’ve got now is gone.”  ‘Black Stone Woman’ is a funk-filled rock song with great vocals by Jimi.  Of the song, Rex says: “For me, the song is about ‘Don’t hang on to your 15 minutes too tightly.  When you do, bad things tend to happen.’”  Here are some of the song’s lyrics: “Life is easy, when it’s going your way/Some say plenty of time for you to play/Running wild and too blind to see/Hearing voices full of agony.../Black stone woman, oh, so jaded/Past your prime, you’ve been downgraded/Such a shame and sad to say/Put you on the shelf for another day/Mama don’t know that the facts don’t lie/Black stone woman, got downgraded/Your time has come, the star has faded/Hanging by a thread.”

‘Mississippi Kidd’ is a melodic rocker that is a tribute song to Ean Evans who played bass with the Outlaws, King James, and Lynyrd Skynyrd: “This one’s about Ean, he lived south of the Mason-Dixon Line/He played the bass, he was an ace, got cut down in his prime/Eva’s man, father of two, left a legacy behind/A God-fearing man who wasn’t ashamed, and he was a friend of mine/This ain’t the ending of the story/Surely heaven knows your name/Now you’re walking in the land of glory/On golden streets that bear no shame.”

‘X Maximus’ is Rex’s tenth guitar solo on his albums over the years.  It runs around a minute and a half and is awesome!  Rex shares: “It was one of the hardest to play.  I’m tellin’ ya it don’t get no easier as you go along, it gets harder because you have to keep finding new things to play!”  ‘Waiting for the King’ was penned by Dean Harrington and Larry Rust.  It begins with mellow guitar playing but quickly amps up.  It has an End Times theme: “Waiting for the King to come, waiting for the trumpet to sound (2X)/Many are still in disbelief/Some don’t even care/It will be too late, judgment day/Look up...let your light shine/He’s coming, coming soon/To crush the evil one, gonna throw him in the pit.”

‘A New Beginning’ is a short, atmospheric instrumental.  ‘Miracles’ is a moving ballad inspired by Jimi’s daughter Heidi being healed of a brain tumor.  She sings backing vocals on this track.  Here are some of the touching lyrics: “I held her in my arms, ‘Daddy make it go away’/The truth of the matter is there was nothing I could say/In my desperation, I knelt down to pray/To give us hope, to see us through, to live another day.../I believe, I believe in miracles/She got just what she needed and it was right on time/I believe, I believe in miracles/I believe, she believes, in miracles.”

Of ‘The Highlander-In Exile’, Rex says it “is an improvisation created using multiple tracks and an e-bow.”  This particular electric guitar solo has a Celtic vibe.  Rex talks about the next song: “The Prisoner is a challenge-are you a prisoner? Who controls you? What controls you? Are you under divine authority? Or something more nefarious?”  This heavy, pounding rocker includes these words: “Deep down I know, I’m a prisoner/I crossed over your domain, bound by its chains/Can’t you see, I’m held by the mercy of love/Cause I’m a prisoner, a prisoner of love.”  Rex adds: “Listen to the drum beats, in this song we have the wa-wanga beat, a jazz fusion groove, and a couple of rhythm shifts...Michael Feighan has been a student of Latin percussion as long as I’ve known him.”

‘Just as I Am (Lamb of God)’ dates back to the 1800’s when it was penned by Charlotte Elliot and William B. Bradbury.  Here, we are presented with a bluesy, reverent version of the old hymn of submission: “Just as I am, without one plea/But that Thy blood was shed for me/And that Thou bidst me come to Thee/Oh, Lamb of God, I come.../Just as I am, Thou will receive/Will welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve/Because Thy promise, oh I believe/Oh, Lamb of God, I come/Oh, Lamb of God anointed one/In You, my sin undone.”  ‘Desperate’ is a passionate rock song that finds the band earnestly yearning for a living, powerful relationship with Christ: “I’ve waited so long, reach out for me/Won’t You please let me find the Son of serenity/I’ll give You all my love, follow You all the way/Oh, the midnight hour calls the Morning Star/I’m so desperate for You/Looking for who You really are/I’m so desperate for You/I wanna hear Your voice/Call my name/To feel Your presence/Lord, like the falling rain.”  An acoustic version of ‘Miracles’ closes out the album.

MAXIMUS is a terrific hard rock album.  Fans of John Schlitt of Petra, and Les Carlsen of Bloodgood, will appreciate Jimi Bennett’s vocals.  Rex Carroll’s guitar playing is second to none in Christian music.  King James offers hope to the hurting and perishing, and points to Jesus as the Answer to life’s problems.  I look forward to hearing more from this exciting band!  They hope to do a large-scale tour before too long.  I’m rating this album 95%.  For more info visit and


Wednesday, September 04, 2013


Johnny Cash is my father’s favourite recording artist.  Johnny was born on February 26, 1932 and passed away on September 12, 2003. says: “Although he is primarily remembered as a country icon, his songs and sound spanned other genres including rock and roll and rockabilly-especially early in his career-and blues, folk, and gospel.”  Johnny has been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.  In 2010 Sonoma Entertainment released a compilation of his songs and simply called it JOHNNY CASH.

The CD begins with one of his signature songs ‘I Walk the Line’.  It was originally recorded at Sun Studio on April 2, 1956.  Cash meant it to be a slow ballad but producer Sam Phillips preferred it a bit faster.  It would be Cash’s first Number One Billboard hit.  Johnny wrote it as a song of devotion to his wife Vivian: “I find it very, very easy to be true/I find myself alone when each day is through/Yes, I’ll admit that I’m a fool for you/Because you’re mine, I walk the line/As sure as night is dark and day is light/I keep you on my mind both day and night/And happiness I’ve known proves that it’s right/Because you’re mine, I walk the line.”  Musically, the song is quite catchy.  Next up, is ‘Folsom Prison Blues’ which was the eleventh song on Johnny’s debut album WITH HIS HOT AND BLUE GUITAR.  Johnny was inspired to write the song after seeing the 1951 movie ‘Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison’ while serving in West Germany in the U.S. Air Force.  In 1968 he sang the song at Folsom Prison.  This country/blues track contains some of the most haunting words in country music: “When I was just a baby my mamma told me/’Son always be a good boy, don’t ever play with guns’/But I shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die/When I hear that whistle blowin’, I hang my head and cry.”

‘Get Rhythm’ is a fast paced rockabilly number.  In 1956 it was released as a B-side to ‘I Walk the Line’.  Later on, in 1969, the original recording was put out as a single.  The lyrics offer advice to the discouraged: “Get rhythm when you got the blues (2X)/A jumpy rhythm makes you feel so fine/It’ll shake all your trouble from your worried mind/Get rhythm when you get the blues.”  ‘Hey Porter’ was recorded on September 1, 1954.  Cash wrote it on his way home from a four year stint in the U.S. Air Force.  It is a story song: “Hey porter, hey porter please get my bags for me/I need nobody to tell me now that we’re in Tennessee/Go tell that engineer to make that lonesome whistle scream/We’re not so far from home so take it easy on the steam/Hey porter, hey porter, please open up the door/When they stop the train I’m gonna get off first ‘cause I can’t wait no more/Tell that engineer I said thanks a lot/And I didn’t mind the fare/I’m gonna set my feet on southern soil and breathe that southern air.”

‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ was originally released in 1955.  It got Cash a featured spot on the Louisiana Hayride Tour and helped his career get going.  It sold 100, 000 copies in the southern states.  He soon began to tour with Elvis.  The song features heavy bass and chastises an ex-lover: “When your fickle love gets old, no one will care for you/Then you’ll come back to me for a little love that’s true/I’ll tell you no and then you’ll ask me why, why why?/When I remind you of all of this, you’ll cry, cry, cry/You’re gonna cry, cry, cry and you’ll want me then/It’ll hurt when you think of the fool you’ve been/You’re gonna cry, cry, cry.”  ‘Rock Island Line’ is an American blues/folk song first recorded by John Lomax in 1934.  It is a funny story song about a train operator who smuggles pig iron through a toll gate by saying all he has on board is livestock: “I got livestock, I got livestock/I got cows, I got pigs, I got sheep/I got mules, I got all livestock/Well, they said ‘You’re alright boy/You don’t have to pay no toll/You can just go right on through’/So he went on through the toll gate/And as he went through/He started pickin’ up a little bit of speed.”

‘Big River’ was released as a single by Sun Records in 1958.  It went to Number Four on the Billboard country music charts.  The song includes these depressing lyrics: “Now I taught the weeping willow how to cry/And I showed the cloud how to cover up a clear blue sky/And the tears that I cried for that woman are gonna flood you Big River/Then I’m gonna sit right here until I die.”  The next two songs are my favourites on this compilation CD. ‘I Love You Because’ dates back to 1949 and was written by Leon Payne.  It is a nice country ballad with good backing vocals.  It praises a human love interest: “I love you because you understand, dear/Every little thing I try to do/You’re always there to lend a helping hand dear/But most of all I love you/’Cause you’re you/No matter what may be the style or season/I know your love will always see me through/I love you for a hundred, thousand reasons/But most of all I love you ‘cause you’re you.”

‘Guess  Things Happen That Way’ was penned by the recently deceased Jack Clement and uses doo wop style backing vocals.  The words admit that it in life, one has to take the good with the bad: “Well, you ask me if I’ll forget my baby/I guess I will someday/I don’t like it/But I guess things happen that way/You ask me if I’ll get along/I guess I will some way/I don’t like it/But I guess things happen that way/God gave me that girl to lean on/Then He put me on my own/Heaven help me be a man/And have the strength to stand alone/I don’t like it/But I guess things happen that way.”  ‘Luther’s Boogie’ is a fun, cool song that seems autobiographical: “We were just a plain ol’ hillbilly band with a plain ol’ country style/We never played the kind of songs that’d drive anybody wild/We played a railroad song with a stompin’ beat/We played a blues song, kind of slow and sweet/But the thing that knocked them off their feet was, ooh-wee/When Luther played the Boogie Woogie”

‘There You Go’ speaks of an unfaithful lover: “Because I love you so, I take much more than I should take/I want you even though I know my heart is gonna break/You build me up and for a while I’m all a-glow/Then your fickle heart sees someone else and there you go/There you go, you’re gone again/I should have known I couldn’t win/There you go, you’re by his side/You’re gonna break another heart, you’re gonna tell another lie.”  ‘Ballad of a Teenage Queen’ is a memorable song with good backing vocals.  It tells of how celebrity does not meet one’s deepest needs: “Then one day the teenage star/Sold her house and all her cars/Gave up all her wealth and fame/Left it all and caught a train/Do I have to tell you more?/She came back to the boy next store who worked at the candy store.”  This song was written by Jack Clement and recorded by Cash circa 1958.  It hit Number One on the U.S. country charts.

There is no doubt that Johnny Cash is one of the true legends of American music.  His career was productive, creative, and innovative.  He has inspired countless artists in various musical genres.  As with most compilation albums, JOHNNY CASH (2010, Sonoma Entertainment) is hit and miss.  It does contain some great songs.  The weakness though is that several of the songs sound too similar to each other.  The same though, could be said of many rock band compilations.   I prefer full, original studio albums over compilations, perhaps with a couple bonus tracks added on at the end.  I’m rating this collection of songs 78%.