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4.6 out of 5 stars
Spirit in the Sky
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Showing 1-10 of 14 reviews (5 star)show all reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2010
Format: Audio CD
You know what's funny to me?

Over the last 20 years I've been listening to FM radio (well that's not entirely true- the last 10 years FM radio has been terrible IMO so I only listen in occasionally) disc jockeys have ALWAYS been saying Norman Greenbaum is only famous "for one big hit". Constantly beating this fact into our head, implying it's the only song of his worth knowing.

Yes, he's only famous for "Spirit in the Sky", but guess what? The quality of his songwriting makes him a LOT better than people (particularly radio stations) have been giving him credit for, and as a result of his superior songwriting skills, it's *well* worth hearing this album.

"Skyline" is a HIGHLY memorable pop song similar to something Donovan could have created, and the crying and soothing guitar playing and beautifully sung vocal melody makes this song a clear winner in my mind. "Junior Cadillac" has a great jazzy section reminiscent of Chicago perhaps, and "Milk Cow" is a slightly hilarious take on the blues with, once again, highly enjoyable vocals and arrangements.

Ignoring this wonderful artist because you're supposed to follow the false belief he only had one good song would be a mistake of gigantic proportions. Get this album as soon as possible.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 10, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
it's one of those songs that should've gotten old by now but somehow managed retain it's punch. somehow it continues to create the impression that Jesus Christ is the hippest, rockin'est dude out there. (even if said impression does only last about four minutes.) in short, it's one of those cases of creator overshadowed by creation.
there's no point in denying that the title track was destined to be the one that got the world's attention - it is indeed the pick of this litter - but there's enough other good stuff here, enough more to Norman Greenbaum, for one to actually bemoan his one-hit wonder status. all in all, it's a delightfully quirky and unpredictable record.
interviewed for the liner notes, Greenbaum postulates that his lack of a signature "sound" may account for his lack of staying power. sure enough, it is difficult to know just where to classify his work. there's elements of rock, folk, country, psychadelia, motown, ragtime, and even jugband. (not so surprising, since Greenbaum was the leader of Dr. West's Medicine Show & Junk Band, of "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago" fame. so technically he's a TWO-hit wonder.) but then, another thing he says in said liner notes is that he thrives on nonconformity and coming out of left field.
there's a similar fluctation in his subject matter. he can give us sincere love odes like "Marcy" and "Alice Bodine," but there are other times when he comes of as a quirky musical goofball: "Chocolate Milk" is a love letter addressed directly to the beverage. "Good-Lookin' Woman" finds a lothario bragging about having money to spend on her. "Canned Ham" tells of an impatient fellow begging his significant other to purchase such a ham for him already. (if the joke doesn't make sense, consider that Greenbaum is Jewish.) as a musical humorist Greenbaum isn't quite a "Weird Al" Yankovic, but he's more than up to the standard of, say, Joe Walsh.
still, it could stand to be repeated that the highlight of this selection is indeed "Spirit In The Sky." it's not quite "Christian rock," because it's not in the least condescending, and of course because it sounds like a SONG rather than a HYMN. that is quite a feat in it's own right, so maybe it is indeed the pinnacle of Greenbaum's accomplishments.
may the Spirit in question continue to bless and keep us all.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I had this album in vinyl back when.

Spirit in the Sky is a classic Rock must have. Not really typical of the rest of Mr. Greenbaum's work as I see it. Norman Greenbaum has a quirky kind of appeal when I am in the right mood.

Spirit in the Sky is my favorite cut. Rather than get it on some compilation album I opted to get the full CD. Which also gives you the bonus Spirit in the Sky demo version and Save Me for a Rainy Day.

I was glad to revisit Milk Cow and Good Lookin' Woman.
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on August 30, 2014
Format: Audio CD
Norman Greenbaum started his career in the New York folk scene before gravitating toward jug band music. His first shot at the charts, as Dr. West, was The Eggplant That Ate Chicago, a quirky kazoo drenched ditty that described an Eggplant from outer space that landed in Chicago and ate the city - or something like this. Silly but memorable. Sundazed did a nice collection of the Dr. West material including some later tracks - some included here but Eggplant is oddly missing from the 24 track Repertoire collection you are considering here. As Norman sings - "weird". A hint of greatness to come is "Jigsaw", a fuzz drenched psych track that could easily have been an Electric Prunes single. The bulk of the tracks on this collection come from Norman's three Reprise LPs plus related non-LP singles like California Earthquake and the previously discussed Dr. West highlights. The three Reprise LPs feature a complete band (the limitations of the jug band format now in the past). This gives Norman as chance to flesh out all time classics like Spirit In The Sky and lesser known but impressive tracks like Junior Cadillac (funk) and Alice Bodine (psych). It all seemed to come together on Back Home Again and the addition of ace guitarist - Steve Busfield (later in Steel among others). Nancy Sinatra took Norman's Hook & Ladder into the charts around this time (both Reprise recording artists). But back to Steve. All of a sudden, Norman had a blues influenced rock guitarist who could put some flash into songs and Norman wrote a couple of guitar laden classics: Titfield Thunder and, at least in my opinion, his best song - IJ Foxx. If you are looking for an album of Spirit clones, you will be disappointed but, if you value the jug band roots and how Norman could integrate these into a variety of songs and styles, you will like this 24 track collection. There is no chronology involved so it bounces around. The radio songs (released as singles) are all up front including Lucille Got Stealed - an odd single from Back Home Again which is catchy but did not connect. I am afraid that this was really the story of his career. Norman's final Reprise LP was Petaluma - a return to quirky jug band influenced songs - The Day The Well Went Dry for example. This collection is a lot of fun and will give you a much broader view of Norman Greenbaum. In my top 50 CDs.
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on July 12, 2010
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
...Talk about fond memories. This album brought back some of my favorite memories from the time the album came out in 1970 and the following years. Wild things were going on during that era and I was old enough to participate in the fun.

To listen to the greatest rock song with a sax (Spirit In the Sky) is a marvelous treat no matter what type of day I am having. It always brings a smile to my face as I drift off to 1970 all over again. This is arguably the greatest song of 1970.

Hearing the dreamy song "Alice Bodine" almost puts a tear on my face. It is such a heart felt song and well written by Norman Greenbaum that it makes me aware of the pain he must have experienced during a wonderful relationship with Alice. It parallels my own experience of a relationship I had. The good thing about it is the song is so good that while feeling and remembering the past, I can only smile because I have the wonderful memories from what transpired during that time, even though the girl is gone.

Junior Cadillac, Skyline and Jubilee are icing on the cake. These are very good songs that are fun to listen to and sing along with.

What's amazing about the album is Norman wrote all t
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on February 20, 2013
Format: Audio CD
Many pronouncements have been made as to the 'Christian' theme of this song as penned by a non-Christian writer. But right from the beginning, the lyric "...never been a sinner, I never sinned..." -- is not a Christian theme. That would be the opposite of a Christian theme. Based on explanations offered by the author, it seems more a case of unfamiliarity with Christian dogma than an outright spoof. Regardless, it's one of rock music's greatest classics, with a guitar line that's right up there with 'Satisfaction' and 'Money For Nothing' as some of the best I've ever heard. Highly recommended.
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on June 8, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I grew up listening to this music and had not heard it for awhile. Went to a rock Christain concert and the band played THE SONG Spirit in the Sky. Brought back many memories. Had to order CD. Realling enjoying the music. Thanks
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on June 28, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Nice to take a trip back. Of course the title song is wonderful but keep an open mind and ear for the rest of the CD...well worth the time. I'll always love this.
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on October 8, 2013
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
This album had all my personal favourites of his old songs. He hit with me for about a half dozen songs which I really loved for years and I am playing them again.
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on September 19, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Spirit in the Sky is my favorite song, I'm not that much for anything except Country. But this I do enjoy.
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