Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Heard the Voice of Jesus - Jesus Is Coming

Here are two of my favorite "pro-Jesus" songs.
They're not on the coy and cute Christmas compilations everyone's downloading along the Internet chimney.
"I Heard the Voice of Jesus" features Turley Richards.
The title's poignant; Mr. Richards can only hear Jesus, since he went blind before he signed his first record contract. (But really, he who signs a record contract oft is blind). Fate's hideous practical joke was that young, athletic Turley was playing a goofy game of toy archery and got an arrow in his eye. In a twist right out of "The Light that Failed," his "good" eye became affected and began dimming through his teen years.
Richards recorded some R&B and folk before coming to Warners in 1970 and putting this stunning seven minute track on his debut album. The ambitious opus moves from simple, organ-based hymn to folk-guitar ramble, to rockestra epic, and along the way, miracle man Turley Richards transmogrifies from nasal folkie, to deep-voiced righteous brother, to gruff gospel shouter, to the ultimate epiphany of a heaven-bound falsetto.
Today Richards still performs, gives private lessons, and records new material. You can download his latest album free, and then send him a check, which is the ultimate in "if you like it, buy it," and shows he hasn't lost his faith in the good being rewarded. Visit
"Jesus is Coming" by Andy Pratt.
As you might expect from the creator of "Avenging Annie," there is something both inspirational and insane in this song. The back story to Andy is that there was no way he could repeat his bizarre one-hit wonder, with the falsetto, frantic piano work, swiped Woody Guthrie melody and amusing feminist ranting. His Columbia and Atlantic albums were sort of a painful blend of both Simon and Garfunkel, as the tall, frizzy-haired Pratt laid himself vulnerable via the ballad. Eventually he took off for Europe and released religious albums for indie labels. He's returned to the USA with several strange secular albums, including a disc of covers highlighted by an eerie version of "Town without Pity" and a take on "Give Peace a Chance" in which he blanches at saying "masturbation"
"Jesus is Coming," from "One Body," has the stately beauty you'd expect from a film documentary on Nazareth. It takes a literal minute for the instrumental to give way to a drum kick and Andy's slightly Bee-Gee vocal. That chorus, "Closer and closer, Jesus is Coming, nearer and nearer, hour of his appearing..." is just a tad foreboding. As perhaps it should be. The song is comforting but menacing, which is perfect for any God-fearing religion.
Andy declares that when the Messiah returns "...justice shall cover the Earth." If the rising oceans don't cover it first. In that case, put in a call for Moses; he had a lot of experience parting water.


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