A Beginner's Guide to
Larry Norman

by Gord Wilson

This was originally written for the SaNmagazine online 'zine designed by Michael Redmond of Nuclear Web Design. If you wonder why the last page looks so good, it's because it's taken from the original SaN, surely one of the most beautiful web 'zines ever made, while the rest of the article is low-tech living dog. We hope to unearth more SaN stuff in the future as well as dig up more Norman stuff from the past. Most of the currently available Norman CDs  can be ordered at, and a few are available through To visit Norman's official site, click on the link below.  




It's a Rock

I didn't know how out of the loop I was until I ran into a guy at Promise Keepers wearing a shirt that showed the electrocardiograms of Larry's seven heart attacks, and the wearer turned out to be my now good friend, Greg Knott, a long-time Normaniac who turned me on to Larry's great recent albums. This is the first of a series of profiles of Larry Norman's albums

Upon This Rock

Upon This Rock (1968) was Larry's debut solo album after leaving the band People. Originally released by Capitol Records, it was later sold to Impact, and recently returned as a Solid Rock CD. Capitol billed it as "The Sgt. Pepper of Christianity" to capitalize on the Beatles' enormously popular album."It's a message, it's a rock," began the compelling back jacket invitation, and in some ways this intriguing musical phantasmagoria has never been equalled. Woven together in a musical tapestry, this album introduced some of Norman's strongest songs, among them "Sweet Sweet Song of Salvation" and "I Wish We'd All Been Ready," which instantly became staples of youth groups. "Hineni," as the Jewish saying goes, "it would have been enough," but Norman's prodigious musical output was just beginning.

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Street Level

The unofficial calling card of the Jesus Movement, Street Level was Norman at his stripped-down, radical, thoughtful, and to some, annoying, best. Everyone anyone likes (or doesn't like) about Norman's music is here. This is the album waiting to be discovered by the grunge rockers. Street Level existed in two versions. The first side of both albums was the same, but tthe flip side of the first version contained songs from an unreleased rock opera called "Lion's Breath," some of which found their way onto later albums.

Some listeners couldn't understand the musical out of context, however, and Street Level was rereleased in a more popular version with gospel rock songs on side  'B'. The ideal CD would feature side 'A' along with both 'B' sides on one disc. The album spawned such little-heard classics as "No More LSD for Me" and "Baby Out of Wedlock," along with "First Day in Church," a spoken poem with Norman feigning a British accent.

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The original "unplugged" album, this perfectly legal record was a unique two disc collection of songs, interviews, and humorous monologues, mostly collected by Norman's sister. Intimate and unpretentious, it was rereleased a few times with monor changes and mistakes: the front cover photo backwards, the title printed variously in red or white, sometimes with inserts of pictures or liner notes. Along with little-heard full-length songs, Bootleg fades in and out of evocative little snatches of music and lyrics, capturing something of the intimacy of Norman's solo concerts.

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