Sunday, July 7, 2013

Music Review: Retrospect by Rob Frazier

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Some truly great lyrics that hold up today
Cons: Wrapped in music that screams 80's
The Bottom Line:
Get past production
And listen to the lyrics
To be truly blessed

Great Lyrics but Very Dated Production

I started listening to Christian music radio about the time that Rob Frazier's third CD hit the market and singles from it started showing up on the radio.  I knew I liked a few of his other songs that weren't on that project, so I finally tracked down Retrospect, his 1992 best of project.  While it's very dated, there are some good songs here.

Rob Frazier never had a flourishing career in Christian music.  The disc in question came out in 1992, and his solo debut came out in 1984.  Yet this disc only had 3 releases to pull from.  That's not very prolific.

A positive of this release for his long term fans is that 3 of the 11 tracks here are new to the CD.  "Love is Sacrifice" is the one I remember from the radio.  It's got that early 90's holding on to the 80's vibe with drum machines and synthesizers, but the lyrics are still a powerful reminder about what love really means.

Rob Frazier has worked quite often during his professional life with Steve Camp, and the two team up for a duet on "Why, Why, Why."  Another mid tempo number, this one looks at the world of the time and asks why these things happen, ultimately finding hope in God.

Rounding out the new songs is "Sins of Billions," which looks at the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

You'll already noticed that I've talked about the dated music here.  Believe it or not, these songs are the less obviously 80's songs on here.  If you really want a flashback to that decade, check out his 1984 releases.  The most obvious is "Come On Elaine" which so overuses the synthesizer and drum machines you can picture the 80's styles as you listen to it.  It's also obvious on "Train Up a Child."  If you don't like 80's music, you'll hate these tracks.

I was actually surprised when I found "He is All You Need" on here.  I was familiar with the Steve Camp version of the song, but it turns out that Rob and Steve co-wrote it and Rob actually recorded it first.  Since both were produced in the mid-80's, they are very similar to each other style wise.  And the reminder of how much we need God is outstanding no matter who sings it.

The song I was most anxious to get my hands on here was "Doesn't Anybody Pray In) This Town."  Yes, the 80's production is high on this track, but I find this soft rocker fun.  And the challenge is amazing as Rob challenges Christians to prayer for their communities since that's what they need the most.

On the other hand, this was my first exposure to "Train Up a Child," which I don't care for at all.  It takes a verse from Proverbs and makes it too simple.  In fact, I have some friends who would argue that he is misinterpreting the verse and making it a promise that God never made - all kids will come back to what they were taught as a child.  A slow song, it just drags for me.

But my favorite two songs here are the songs I first heard on the radio 20 plus years ago.  "Got Your Word on It" is a rock ballad that reminds us of all the promises God has made in His word and how reliable they are.  Meanwhile, "Go Through Fire" is about the trails of life and how they can make us stronger.  It's a faster guitar driven piece.  Both are from his 1990 project, and yes, they are both still dated.  Yet I really love the messages of both and all these years later still have every measure memorized.

The biggest market for this disc would be those with fond memories of Rob's music from the 80's, and they will love it.  If you are looking for some unrecognized talent from the Christian market during the time, you'd be well to check out Retrospect as well.  It's a hidden gem from a mostly forgotten career.

CD Length: 50:40
1. Love is Sacrifice
2. (Doesn't Anybody Pray In) This Town
3. The Heartland
4. Train up a Child
5. He is All You Need
6. Why, Why, Why
7. Come on Elaine
8. Sins of Billions
9. Go Through Fire
10. Break My Heart
11. Got Your Word on It

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