Jeff Johnson

Anvil of God's Word Ark 1977
In contrast to the high-tech sonic textures of his current works, Jeff Johnson's debut album is obviously quite sparse. Instead of soaring synths, electronic drums and pristine production, we are treated to simple arrangements with acoustic guitar, piano, chimes, violins, bells, flute, harpsichord, sound effects and organ, all in an acoustic soft jazz and tight "art" rock style. 'It's In His Hands' would re-appear on 1989's Pilgrimage. Some interesting topics with song titles like 'Bible Bedtime Blues' and 'Funeral For A Church'. Though most consider his first truly great work to be his third album, Face Of The Deep, these are humble beginnings for one of Christian music's most respected artists and poets. KS

Please Forgive Us Lord Ark 1978
Amongst the glut of folk, pop, rock, and everything else that the church cranked out in the 70's, Jeff Johnson was one of the few loners that ventured off into unexplored territory, this particular excursion being into 'contemplative art rock" or whatever ya call it that eventually evolved into "new age" music. At last, a true "artist" not conforming to the "Christian wave" as evidenced not only in the lyrics and musical approach, but also in the deluxe packaging which includes Escher-esque pen and ink drawings on the gatefold cover, a 18-page lyric/photo booklet, and a bonus 7" single entitled 'Songs For Loved Ones'. This set reveals a fuller sound then Anvil with synths and spacey sounds beginning to play a bigger role as on the haunting title cut. Explores such run-of-the-mill topics as the 'Secret Agent Christian Spy' leaving his/her "witness" on car windshields (complete with suave Perry Mason horn section). Classical influences on some songs. Better things were yet to come, yet this remains Johnson's rarest and most sought after lp - understandably so. KS