Friday, July 20, 2007

Desert Island Discs Part Five – Phil Keaggy's self-titled album

I must admit that so far this list has been a trip through my favorite artists, picking a favorite CD from each. So today I continue that trend and give the nod to an artist that I've been a fan of since about 1974. That year, as a student at Calvin, I helped host a Christian rock band called Wing and a Prayer, a short-lived offshoot from the seminal Love Song. As I was hanging out with the guys, bass player Jay Truax asked me if I'd heard of Phil Keaggy. When I told him I had not he told me that I absolutely had to hear his album. So, when I saw Love Broke Thru, Keaggy's second solo album, at my local Christian book store I picked it up. What I heard was a great album with an amazing guitar player and a sense for melody that was very much like Paul McCartney. It was better than all the other Christian music I had heard by a long shot.

I have followed Keaggy's career ever since and it's been quite a journey. He has had his ups and downs but never really hit it big in terms of sales in the Christian music industry – or the mainstream industry for that matter. So when he dropped out to go independent a few years back that allowed him to be a lot more, well, independent. His releases throughout the years have perhaps been uneven (although I really like most of them.) I realized that my desire to have him put out more of his stuff was a mixed blessing when, as an independent, he was allowed to release things whenever he pleased. Having an editor is a good thing and some of his recent releases are not as strong as some of his earlier ones. However, back in 1998, while he was still signed to a CCM label, he released his first regular vocal album in quite some time and it was great. He must have realized that he was onto something with this album because he titled it simply Phil Keaggy. Usually artists only self-title albums if they're first albums or if they have a special personal connection with them. This is the case with Phil Keaggy. It includes great songs and great arrangements played and sung well. The opener, "A Sign Came Through the Window," really gets things off to a great start with a cool acoustic riff and a driving beat. "Tender Love" sounds like one of those great album-closing McCartney power ballads. "Under the Grace" is a beautiful song, perhaps one of Keaggy's best. All in all, I find myself really enjoying this album whenever I put it on.

There are many other fine PK albums – Crimson and Blue with it's Cream-flavored guitar-heavy rock; Beyond Nature and The Master and the Musician, perhaps his two most fully realized instrumental albums; Ph'lip Side and Town to Town, the vocal albums that really caught my imagination in the late seventies; Find Me in These Fields, the mid career album where it all came together nicely – and I could have been happy with any of these on my island but I had to pick one and I picked Phil Keaggy. For people new to his music this is a great gateway album.

There are four friends joining me on my Desert Island journey. Check their developing lists:

My Complete Desert Island List (so far):

1 comment:

exnihiloman said...

Yes, this is a very good album and a good choice for D.I.D.