What You Need to Know In 1972, Larry Norman released his sophomore album Only Visiting This Planet that included the song, "I Wish We'd All Been Ready." If that song sounds familiar, you might remember it from one of the times that dcTalk had covered the song. Norman was a major influence for the members of dcTalk, including Kevin Max, or KMAX, who called him "The Godfather of Contemporary Christian Music" on his Generosity Rocks page to help fund this album. Norman's '72 album inspired KMAX as he was hearing the music he loved, yet the lyrics were bold in their faith. KMAX spent many months fundraising and recording his new album, Revisiting This Planet, as a tribute to one of his mentors.
What It Sounds Like Without mincing any words, KMAX's new album sounds like the '70s, which is no surprise as it is covering songs from that period. While the songs remain authentic to the originals, KMAX adds his modern rock signature to this album as well. "I Am The Six O'Clock News" adds modern events to the intro and ending while staying true to the original spirit of the song. Modern recording techniques bring new life to the songs and the modern guitar parts add a fresh new element. If you thought you were getting through a KMAX review without talking about his signature vocals, you're gravely mistaken. KMAX's signature vocals add a power rock dynamic while staying true to the heart of Norman's original songs. Spiritual Highlights The album's lyrics have a very street ministry type of feel, which is where Norman's passion was. There is very little imagery of how the lyrics address their issues: it is very direct. Norman related very well with those on the fringes of society, the misfits if you will, and these lyrics reflect that. It's a stark contrast to a lot of Christian contemporary music. The lyrics talk about turning to Jesus instead of what the world offers. They talk about relying on God, not the government. They talk about listening to God, not the media. These are all topics that were big in the '70s, but they also relate very well today. Best Song on the Record "The Outlaw" is one of my favorite songs because of the laid back '70s vibe and how the song describes Jesus. The other favorite might get some weird looks, but I loved "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music." The song is fun and rocking, but also makes the point that Christian music can be great and sound like anything mainstream. Excellence and creativity in Christian music is something that I've talked about on the NRT Now Podcast. And, I believe that Christian music should be leading the way creatively.
Final Word One of the things that I believe is true of most mentors is that they wish for their mentees to learn from them and go further. Years after Larry Norman pushed the envelope in Christian music, Kevin Max and dc Talk continued that tradition and helped set the path towards what Christian contemporary music is today. While he added his signature touches, Kevin Max preserved the heart of these songs. He set out to honor his mentor with this album and I truly believe he has.