B.J. Thomas

Home Where I Belong/Happy Man

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AllMusic Review by

This Real Gone 2014 two-fer contains B.J. Thomas' 1976 album Home Where I Belong and his 1978 record Happy Man, along with the single "Odessa Beggarman"/"Evermore."

Just two years after Thomas scored an across-the-boards smash with "(Hey Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song," the singer decided the pop game was no longer for him. He decamped from ABC and signed to Myrrh, deciding to pursue a Christian audience to run concurrent with his pop career. In that light, the title of Home Where I Belong carries weight: he's finding comfort in inspirational songs. Sonically, the album is a kissing cousin to the lush, country-tinged soft rock of Reunion, a sound that's so warm and alluring it's often hard to discern the Christian theme of the songs. As such, Home Where I Belong is an ideal transitional album: it eases Thomas and his fans into another phase of his career. Happy Man, on the other hand, doesn't disguise its contemporary Christian orientation in either its sound or subject. A bigger, brighter sound -- a shift that's very evident on the punchy rhythms and sparkling sitars of "Beautiful Mind," which play like a scrubbed-up "Hooked on a Feeling" -- is married to songs that are on the nose (i.e., "He's the Hand on My Shoulder" and "I Wanna Be More Like Jesus"), along with tempos that are a shade too stately. Thomas is in fine voice throughout and the album ends on a high note with "Thank You Lord" (an excellent piece of late-'70s soft rock co-written by Hal David) and "The Word Is Love," but the heart of Happy Man doesn't belong in the warm, burnished '70s, it points toward the immaculate future of CCM in the '80s.

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