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Monk Rock

August 16, 2005 | Format: MP3

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Product Details

Customer Reviews

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Format: Audio CD
"There were two things I wanted to do musically as I move a bit past middle age: Really learn some classical guitar, and dig out my old electric guitars and learn to play pretty well again," said John Michael Talbot. "Monk Rock is the initial fruit from this effort."

I never thought I would hear John Michael jamming 70's style on electric guitar on "One Body in Christ." Who would have guessed he would be playing blues licks on "Kyrie"?

With vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Talbot Brothers, and lyrics written in the simple and innocent style of the early Jesus movement music, these songs fit that genre but have the advantage of modern production.

Some of the songs have Latin titles and include background chants, which gives them a slight otherworldly feel. A few are built around just a line or two of verse and are carried by the music.

One of the highlights is "Gloria," which is built on a catchy guitar riff and a chorus that could go on forever. The "Jesus Prayer Swing" features some rollicking, country rock guitar playing. "Spread the Good News," the first song written for the recording, is dedicated to the late John Paul II.

Though banjo is used effectively on several cuts, and "Sanctus" starts off with flute reminiscent of Jethro Tull, the acoustic takes a back seat on this release.

Aside from the semi-humorous title, this is a serious and unique effort-one that uses the best elements from an earlier era to make a recording that is fun and relevant for today.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Mass has been set to numerous musical styles throughout history. As John Michael Talbot writes in the liner notes to "Agnus Dei," "The challenge was in finding an electric setting that did not do violence to the meaning of the text." Whether he succeeds the listener can decide, but note that he does not consider rock music per se inappropriate. Since the text consists of Scripture and the Mass (itself mostly Scripture), the unique approach lies in the music.

The latin song titles at first seem inaccessible, but they are sung in English (with some Spanish), and in the English versions are quite well known: "Kyrie": "Lord have mercy;" "Sanctus:" "Holy, holy, holy;" "Credo:" "I believe;" "Agnus Dei:" "Lamb of God." One reason for this familiarity was Talbot's 1978 album, The Lord's Supper, which put parts of the Mass in a folk-rock setting, became a best-seller, and was one influence of the contemporary praise movement.

One of the best things about this album is the booklet. Talbot is very much a musician's musician, and the liner notes let the rest of us in on the process of creating. The genesis of this album came when John's brother, Terry Talbot, brainstormed putting Mason Proffit back together. As the "silent partner" in a monastic community, John was showing him a few licks and just got hooked. When John told Phil Keaggy his idea, Phil wanted to play, and who doesn't know that Keaggy's best stuff is rock? (What about his seven minute plus rock epic, "Time"?) John wrote a song in the style of the Jesus Movement of the '70s, "people said it sounded 'fresh' or 'anointed' and it was all downhill from there."

John has a long songwriting history, from the country rock group, Mason Proffit to the present, and he could have penned original lyrics.
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Format: Audio CD
The good news is John Michael Talbot, Catholic's music top-selling and highest profile artist, hasn't pulled a Pat Boone, donned leather and covered Metallica and AC/DC. Nor, as the title might suggest, has he donned a wool cap and joined Mickey, Peter and Davey (or for that matter, Alvin and Theodore) on their next reunion tour.

The better news is this founding member of the country-rock and Christian rock genres (in his words, "for better or worse") has rediscovered his love of electric guitars, classic rock riffs and the singalong anthems of the late-60s Jesus movement. Those familiar with contemplative Talbot works like "For The Bride" and "Simple Heart" will be pleasantly surprised by the sharp rock he plays here.

Musically and throughout his exhaustive liner notes, Talbot name-checks classic rock influences from CSN and the Byrds to the Stones, Who, Hendrix and Clapton. Traditional Catholic Mass music rocks here as it hasn't since folk and rock masses dominated the first post-Vatican II years. (Talbot cites the Lifeteen movement as a strong musical influence on "Monk Rock"'s songs and style.)

"Kyrie" (not Mr. Mister's 1985 hit) finds Talbot floating smoky, vintage acoustic/electric riffs solo around his "psuedo choir" multi-tracked vocals. "Gloria" recalls "Captain and Me"-era Doobie Brothers. "Credo," (the Apostle's Creed), comes alive with a reggae beat and some sharp 12-string playing. "Jesus Prayer Swing" cuts a deep groove thanks to veteran bassist Leland "Funk Monk" Sklar and drummer Neil "Thump Monk" Wilkinson. The only three lines the faithful speak during the Eucharist Prayer are turned into a fist-pumping anthem in "Proclaim the Mystery.
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