The Phantom Tollbooth


The Songs of Keith Green Series
Oh Lord You're Beautiful:  Songs of Worship
Length: 42:30 minutes/ 12 Tracks
Make My Life a Prayer to You:  Songs of Devotion
Length: 53:08 minutes/ 13 Tracks
Because of You:  Songs of Testimony
Length: 51:38 minutes/ 12 Tracks
Here I Am:  Songs of Evangelism
Length: 55:35 minutes/ 13 Tracks
Artist: Keith Green
Label:  Sparrow Records

Keith Green is frequently cited as an influence for the newest generation of Christian recording artists. Many were raised on his albums by their parents, Green's contemporaries, who found in his music a compelling, urgent voice speaking their hip language. Throughout the seventies, he used a broad pallet of heart-felt emotions and a piano to deliver a message that was impossible to ignore. Inevitably, the hard focus memories of the fiery Jesus freak who died unexpectedly in '82 are softening with the aging of his fans and the regular appearance of Green's songs in new hymnal editions. Perhaps The Songs of Keith Green, a new four-disk series of live recordings, will help another generation understand what all the fuss was about.

Green's complete creative output is already well known. All the original vinyl recordings were re-issued on CD, plus a couple of compilations and a tribute album were created in the first decade after his passing, but these live, never-before-released versions of old favorites make for fresh listening. This series offers many fine moments where Green's irrepressible humor and passion in these one-take performances overcome technical shortfalls. Each disk ends with a few minutes from one of his extemporaneous lectures or sermons that offers more clues as to why so many baby boomers play Green's music for their kids. His all-or-nothing attitude was an electrifying alternative to the laid-
back, anything-goes attitude of the times.

In keeping with the current predilection for micro marketing segments, the songs are separated by theme into four somewhat arbitrary categories: worship, devotion, testimony, and evangelism. The four resulting CD's are sold separately, but to focus on just one theme would do Green's central message of leading completely sold-out lives for Jesus a disservice.

This is just the first step in Sparrow's plans to re-popularize Green's legacy. The Ministry Years boxed set will be reissued soon, with a never-before-released video biography close behind. Sheet music will go back into print to aid worship leaders, and an all-star re-recording of his last and best-received album, Songs of the Shepherd, is slated for next fall.

With so much of Keith Green's work heading our way, Sparrow has wisely priced this first wave at $9.99 per CD. Completest collectors will have to have this, but anyone wanting to recapture something of their lost youthful passion for great causes, anyone who wonders what all the fuss was about, and those seeking to rekindle the personal revival that once led them to forsake everything for the cross will find these recordings worthwhile.

By Linda T. Stonehocker (2/17/99)