It's been a long time since we've heard the "live" voice of Rich Mullins, but thanks to Reunion Records we now have another chance. Years after an automobile accident that prematurely took this artists life, Reunion has released the long awaited project Here in America CD/DVD combo. The record is comprised of live performances, that were recorded with nothing more than a tape recorder during a concert, along with some unreleased demo tracks. With the audio CD comes a second disc, a DVD of a concert performed by Rich and the Ragamuffin Band, taped mere few months before Mullins's accident. The DVD also offers a rare Q & A period with Mullins, taking questions from an audience at a retreat he did with long time friend/song writer Beaker.
The album opens up with a demo version of "Here in America," a song which talks about Mullins's American journey: "Saints and children we have gathered here to hear the sacred story and I'd gladly bring it to you with my best rhyming and rhythm..." The song is followed by a rare live track, apparently the first ever live teaching and singing of Mullins's renowned "Awesome God." The story goes that Rich had just written the idea for "Awesome God" and wanted to try it out on a crowd. While it isn't the whole song, Rich teaches the chorus to the audience, in which they in return sing it word for word. From there, Mullins tells the story behind "Verge of a Miracle" and sings it live, followed by "Be With You." Next is one of his first songs written back before he made it big with Amy Grant, "O Come All Ye Faithful" (not to be confused with the Christmas song by the same title).
The album then picks up with more live tracks in one continuous loop of teaching and singing with Mullins. The song "What Trouble are Giants," based off of David and Goliath, opens the set and is followed by another crowd participation song, "Praise Ye the Lord." Next are live cuts of "Hello Old Friends," "It Don't Do" and "Screen Door" (which is also featured on the concert video and shows how the song was done musically). The album winds down with a demo of "Never Heard the Music," a live track of "None are Stronger," and closes with a demo of "The Lord's Prayer." Although this album isn't filled with up beat music, as other Mullins projects, this compilation does dive into the mind, heart, and passion of the one and only Rich Mullins.
At the end of both the CD and DVD, you realize what we have forgotten in our own walks with Jesus. We come to realize how much closer we all need to draw to the real and ever present God in our own lives. Christianity is not the same without this "ragamuffin" to show us what being a Christian is really all about.- Review date: 5/10/03, written by Shawn Harrison
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