Why are some albums so hard to find?

Michael Omartian was (and still is, I think) a prodigiously talented musician and producer. He’s performed on and produced albums of all kinds, from Christopher Cross to 2nd Chapter of Acts, from jazz to rock. And one of his solo albums is considered one of the greatest albums to come out of the early days of contemporary Christian music. I’m talking about White Horse, one of my favorite albums of all time. And it’s not available. Well, not unless you count the guy selling a double CD of White Horse & Adam Again for $75 on eBay. That’s just out of my music budget. It’s not on iTunes or emusic.com, either.

Why — when you can find every kind of one-hit wonder from the 70s on iTunes, and every obscure indie musician on emusic — why can’t you find this truly phenomenal, ground-breaking recording on these or any other digital music stores? For that matter, the CD seems to be out of print, too.

The album was originally released by ABC/Decca 1974 and reissued by Myrhh. I’m not sure either one of those labels is actually in business anymore. It’s one of those albums that got a lot of critical praise but was a bit ahead of its time. But it truly was amazing — musically complex, lyrically strong, wonderful musicianship. I think one of my favorite tracks on the album was called “Take Me Down,” about baptism, but it was all good.

I just think that even with all the dreck out there, surely it would be worthwhile to reissue a classic Christian rock album.


Listening … No Line on the Horizon

I’ve been listening to U2’s new album this week — amazing. I like it better every time I listen to it. I’ve always liked U2 to some extent, but I think I appreciate their music more now than I did when I was younger. And it’s not just their most recent albums — I like a lot of their older music better now, too. There is some music like that — you have to be at the right point in your life to appreciate it.

I remember watching a performance by U2 on MTV back in the early 80s (when MTV actually played music videos and concerts). I’m pretty sure it was at least some of a concert at Red Rocks and I was captivated by their passion (especially Sunday, Bloody Sunday). Bono sang from his heart. And more than 25 years later, he’s still singing from his heart. In fact, one of the first things that struck me about No Line on the Horizon was how Bono sings on the album — with gusto, really giving his all in the songs. He’s going for notes that most middle-aged men avoid — and sometimes he sounds a little ragged, but it’s passionate and honest. I like it.

And the songs … oh my goodness, the songs. From soaring guitars to hushed vocals, the songs reward repeated listenings. Initial recording for this album was in Fez, Morocco, and you can hear some of that influence, but it’s subtle and not overdone. But most of all, I hear God in this album. On “Magnificent,” a hymn of praise if ever there was one, Bono sings that he was “born to sing for you, I didn’t have a choice but to lift you up.”

I don’t want to belabor the point. A lot of people will not hear what I hear, but when I listen to this album I’m uplifted — it’s the combination of lyrics, melody and instruments. I have not doubt that this album is art to the glory of God.