Mike Johnson

Lord Doctor Freedom Light 1972
Soundwise very good, less rockin' than Velvet Prince, but with some of Johnson's best songs including 'Pride' with its Moody Blues-like intro and driving percussion by Terry Anderson telling of society's base problem and the classic 'Lord Doctor' is a standout anytime, anyplace. BF

The Last Battle Creative Sound 1972
The Last Battle
City City
The Last Battle is actually an abbreviated version of Lord Doctor, missing one song ('Cause And Effect') and shortening another ('Pride'). Instead, two gritty rock tunes are included from Creative Sound compilation lps: the title cut (from Mystery Revealed) and 'City City' (from Ultima Thule and Happy And Alive). KS

Mike & And Karen Johnson Freedom Light 1972
Another choice entry from Mike's post-Exkursions, pre-ccm era with wife Karen adding lovely vocals. Has the same mix of jazzy electric trills, folkrocking, acoustic tunes, and subterranean rock that characterized Lord Doctor and Velvet Prince. 'City!' is fast and loud loud loud! A couple weird ones: the lazy buzzed-hippie handclapping title track and 'I'm High' performed live with just guitar and slurred vocals that make it sound like he really was high (though it's actually an anti-drug song with references to getting 'high on Jesus"). KS

Velvet Prince Freedom Light 1973
I couldn't even guess how many projects this man has been involved with in Christian music. A founding father. This gatefold with lots of photos has the same mix of humor and prophecy we've come to expect - not unlike Country Joe/Fish in that respect. Stuff is timely today with one of my favorite lines being 'yogurt ain't got no saving power'. Better than most indies soundwise, but inferior to Lord Doctor. A long-running ministry, too. Side two's autobiographic concept makes for classic listening. The cranking fuzz-psych title track, the haunting 'Would You Believe', 'On To LA' via Highway 61 - wrapped up with 'Seemingly So' explaining this band's trip meeting Christ, being called into ministry, and sharing Christ honestly. The album ends with Jimmy Smith's 'Mellow Mood', a jazz instrumental. Stuff like this needs to be heard and experienced today - remains important. BF

Gentle Spirit CAM 1975
Johnson's music is changing along with the toddling ccm scene. From his beginnings with the hippie rock three-piece The Exkursions, thru Velvet Prince, Lord Doctor, and The Last Battle, Johnson used the quiet folk medium to some extent, but with Gentle Spirit we may have one of the first praise and worship albums in ccm. There is still a touch of the Johnson humor and his old heart-wrenching songwriting approach is evident on 'Time Has Come', but along with his Christian maturity (and perhaps the "anti-rock" stance of the ccm scene - even then), most of the edge is gone. Admittedly this is a showcase for Johnson's gentler side with it's aim at the body of Christ. KS

The Artist/The Riddle NewPax 1976
A much more polished album of songs than his previous releases due to the backing of a major label. Each song is exceptional and reflects Johnson's song writing talent. After the success of this album Johnson was voted the artist of the year by Harmony Magazine in 1976. Co-produced by Randy Matthews and Bob McKenzie, the album was aptly described as Johnson's attempt to "capture on a canvas of vinyl how colorful it is to live in the Light." DS

More Than Just An Act NewPax 1977
Continues with excellent song writing and level of production seen in his last album. Includes a musical interpretation of Psalm 23, "The Lord is My Shepherd / The Shepherd is My Lord." Was to be his last album before dropping out of Christian music. DS