by Larry Norman

This is taken fron the 1991 CD booket of the European version of In Another Land




My original plan had been to finish In Another Land to complete The Trilogy, which would also conclude a series of seven albums; then to start on the next cycle of seven albums. But by the time I finished recording In Another Land I had started developing a new direction, artistically, in my music. I would have preferred not to have started recording Something New Under The Son, the eighth album in the series, but instead to rev up a more street-orientated, guitar based, trash can orchestra of angry and honest songs I was writing and recording. I wanted to grow beyond the limits of American music and create world music, garage style; rough, raw, and relevant. I didn't consider it "experimental" because I believed it was soon to become a direction other bands might take, given the tension of the times. Wimpy music and polyester was everywhere and there was an isolated apathy which might spark into anger as soon as idealistic young people decided to take action against it. Le Garage Du Monde should have come out next but at a time when gospel albums had traditionally been selling ten to fifteen thousand copies, In Another Land, the record company was not interested in anything less than Part Four of The Trilogy; an impossibility, conceptually and emotionally. I wanted to use "garage music" to reach out to the street kids; not create music for the church choir or Gospel radio airplay.

1976 was a busy year. I had produced Randy's Welcome To Paradise and several other albums which were quite different from each other, like Tom Howard's View From The Bridge, and had started recording the Le Garage du Monde songs. I had also started an album of black music containing songs like "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," "Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting," and "If I Got My Ticket."

At the same time I had started to record an American anthology for the Bicentennial. In 1976 we were a rather un-proud nation, disgraced by our failure in Vietnam and Nixon's prevarications. I recorded "This Land Is Your Land" and "They Laid Jesus Christ in His Grave" with a guitar I borrowed that was Woody Guthrie's; found broken in a field with a bird nest inside. I included a song of my own called "When The Moon Shines On The Moonshine" along with other songs like "Turn, Turn, Turn," and "The Eve Of Destruction."

Neither the album of black music nor white music was approved for release on Solid Rock Records and I finally resolved to abandon both albums. Some of the Bicentennial music was later gathered together with other unreleased songs under the title Rough Mix 2, and somehow tape copies of it ended up in the bootleg archives of collectors like Terry Leskewich and John B. Wood; how, I don't know, but I have to admire their collecting skills. At least it helps put to rest some of the rumors started by others that such unreleased albums were non-existent.

I was committed to the new street music I was writing and I tried to get everyone just a little more crazy with their own music. I ended up playing many additional layers of instrumentation on Randy's second album, The Sky Is Falling. The songs on the album were normal Stonehill compositions; gentle folk music, uptempo numbers and funny "novelty" songs, but the anger and madness were mine. I took Randy out to a landscaped section of the freeway's edge near The Hollywood Bowl with a jagged piece of cardboard and tried to create respectable chaos out of his album cover. I was frustrated that the record company wanted to police my creativity when they had specifically promised me at the beginning that they would never assert any approval upon any artist I discovered or any album I produced unless they started to lose money on productions, which had not yet happened. They had earned between one and two million dollars from our records though not paid the artists any royalties. When they didn't like my garage music and didn't like the rough mixes of Something New I gave up and went on a long tour around the world.

I wrote the music for Voyage of the Vigilant during the seven months that I travelled. I recorded some of the songs live with a band in Europe and other songs in hotel rooms with a double speed Sony tape machine I dragged around with me. By the time I got back in 1978 I discovered that my little brother, Charly, had learned to play lead guitar on the electric Fender I had given him and was cranking out music that was equal in vision to the music I wanted to be releasing on Solid Rock. In less than one year he had learned more about the guitar than I had learned since I first began to play in 1952. I was shocked when I realised that he was a better musician than anyone I was working with at Solid Rock, except possibly Jon Linn. I began to work with him on many different kinds of music. I loved Charly's songs like "Boat People" and "Hellbound" and wanted him to get further into music but felt that he was too young to go on tour; that it might destroy his interest in school. After 1978 the only other artist I would produce for Solid Rock was Steve Scott, who also shared my enthusiasm for new music. I did produce a lot of individual songs by different artists during the following months, but I began to lose confidence in them. During the next two years I was disheartened to realize that I had failed in my principal vision of creating a small army of artists who would openly witness to their audiences in both music and the spoken word.

All the artists were content with their success and let their music speak but were reticent wo preach on between songs or talk clearly about Jesus in their interviews. It was this private disappointment which caused me to "dismantle" Solid Rock Records. I felt that I was wasting valuable time and years of my life, if I were to continue helping artists who would not, as Dawson Trotman of the Navigators had put it, "reproduce" by telling others about Jesus and helping to disciple them. This was something the artists did not understand. I had no interest in creating hip music for Christian party animals. I had wanted artists who desired to go around the world into other cultures, and not br merely content to aim for "the cutting edge" of a small, sub-cultural religious ghetto and ingrown American industry. I had been ready to take the artists to secular companies, but now dropped the artists from the label one by one, as gently as I could, letting them know in lenghty letters that they were free to pursue their individual visions and that I was still available to them for any help I could give them, musically or spiritually, but that I could no longer work as their producer or manager. The artists felt abandoned by me, perhaps, and their friendships disappeared. Their response was mainly unforgiving, as though I was trying to ruin their careers. I did not feel that this was fair since I did not diminish their talent but merely stopped guiding them. It was not through any influence of mine that their next albums, released on other record labels, sold very few copies. Randy sold well enough to extend his contract with Word, but Daniel Amos went from label to label, partly because of personal and artistic "attitude," but mostly because their albums were only selling about 5,000 copies world-wide, according to the distributors I spoke with. Tom Howard was dropped by his label, and I tried to help him by recording his songs on Letter of the Law and other projects after Cliff Richard and other artists showed no interest in recording them. I was no longer Tom's publisher but had a lot of contact with other artists who did not write all their own material. I felt that Tom had sometimes attempted to talk to his audience about spiritual things and I liked his music. I didn't want to see him get phased out of the music business because his music might be more subtle than other artists'.

Mark Heard, optimistic about his horizons and the most musically diverse of all the artists, did not feel abandoned by me. We remained friends and continued working together on mutual projects. While it was later said that many artists' best albums were the ones they recorded on Solid Rock, this was not true for Mark. His next three albums revealed a real lyrical genius and he soon began producing other artists and running his own recording studio, and later his own record company. Ron Salsbury became a minister, Jon Pantano a furniture designer. Steve Scott became an Anerican citizen and moved to Sacramento. He still writes and records music.