Keith Green

Jesus Commands Us to Go!

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Adult contemporary rock & roller Keith Green was essentially a fundamentalist Christian, and it might seem odd to compare him to artists like Madonna, Karen Finley, Oliver Stone, Trent Reznor, or Paul Schrader. But however vast their differences with Green's politics and theology, all of the above agree with a central tenet of his aesthetic philosophy: that art is most effective when it refuses to shy away from uncomfortable truths, when it is willing to startle and shock its audience. That refusal to compromise his vision of truth drove Green -- as it has driven dozens of liberal musicians with an in-your-face attitude -- to found his own independant record label (modestly entitled Pretty Good Records). It also limited Green's audience -- like those of many secular shock-artists -- almost exclusively to those who agree with his version of absolute truth. This album (a collection of previously unreleased recordings which was compiled two years after Green's death) shows as well as any other why Green made his listeners uncomfortable: in the title track, Green declares that every Christian is commanded in the Bible to literally travel the world evangelizing. In another track, he sings with strident certainty, "Don't you wish you had the answers? Well, I know." This passionate conviction is readily apparent in Green's vocals, and in his dramatically flourishing performances on acoustic piano. The live tracks on this record are particularly impassioned (especially an impressive instrumental improvisation, entitled "Keith's Piano Prelude"), but unfortunately, producer Bill Maxwell has watered down this one-man show of intensity by overdubbing extraneous guitars, strings and background vocals.

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