The compilation of Andy Pratt's spiritual music that is Heaven & Earth culls tracks from Another World, Fire of Love, Runaway Heart, Motives, and Perfect Therapy, leaving the material from Life and One Body to be found solely on those discs. One Body opens up with the solid pop of both the title track and "Jesus Is Coming," the hooky music so good it is disconcerting. Hearing lines from the Bible disturbs the momentum of the performance, specifically because what you were getting on Pratt's original (pre-religious) discs -- straight from the heart -- is now given to you straight from the heart but with a detour -- through someone else's words (i.e., whoever wrote the scripture the artist is quoting). It's not that this music is not without merit. "You Turned My Mourning Into Dancing" is fine jazz/pop while "Kadosh" is a complete knockout, nine minutes and 23 seconds of a gospel chant that -- perhaps because most of it is indecipherable -- works in spectacular fashion. "The Blood of Jesus," which precedes it, though, sounds like Pratt took that "I'll keep holding on" riff from the 1980s and put spiritual words to it. Very frustrating. It's very difficult to pass judgment on the vibe that this man, this artist, was so immersed in, but as professionally played as the production and elegant performances are, One Body simply is not the album from Pratt that fans are going to play time and time again. Not Just for Dancing, Cover Me, and Records Are Like Life provide thoughts and emotions, while One Body sounds like the aforementioned detour, a step to a place outside of the groove that makes this artist so fantastic, so important. So here judgment is passed -- superb sound, touching vocal work, but a message not effectively translated. When Billy Preston shouts "That's the Way God Planned It" at The Concert for Bangladesh, it brings chills. When Doris Troy joins her gospel and rock worlds together for The Rainbow Testament, it is sheer magic. When Eric Clapton sweeps you into the "Presence of the Lord," it is thrilling and compelling. "Forgive You Everything" on One Body just does not have that effect. It feels like an artist groping in the dark, searching. But then the violin of "Kadosh" comes in, and it is an amazing turn around. A slow chant with something very special: piano, violin, bass, and vocals that stir the spirit. Pratt's voice is on in this performance, an impressive dip into the soul that makes this body of work all the more puzzling. That Pratt did such a turn around from "Avenging Annie" to "Jesus the Lamb of God" is equal to Lou Reed composing a masterpiece like Berlin and then unleashing the practical joke that was Metal Machine Music. Pratt is not joking here; he is very, very serious, but the result is the same. The audience that adored his work just walks away confused. It continues the question, wouldn't slipping a beautiful religious tune like "Kadosh" into a commercial album do more to spread the Gospel? George Harrison certainly brought many of his rock & roll fans to the place he was at spiritually, though even a Beatle could push the envelope somewhat, proving religion to be something between an individual and God, not to be exposed outside of that private arena. Too much of a good thing is still imbalance. To the hardcore Pratt fans, One Body is more of a look at where the man was at this point in time, a letter to his followers that he was and is still with you. It lacks the precision and dark humor of Fun in the First World while still giving flashes of Pratt's brilliance inside "Who Can Laugh at the Days to Come." Minus the religious overtones, the song shows Pratt retained those glorious gifts God gave him. And for that you can give thanks and praise.
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