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The Jesus Record

by Rich Mullins, A Ragamuffin Band

This double album contains two discs, ostensibly two versions of the same record. The first disc contains Mullins's crude demos of 9 of the 10 songs on the album, recorded on a battery-powered box only a few days before his untimely death. Even with the abundance of tape noise, pops, clicks, and bum notes, Mullins's skill as a performer and passion for this material shines clearly through. The second disc contains the same songs, fully produced by Rich's band, the Ragamuffins, with special guests Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Ashley Cleveland, and Phil Keaggy. These performances feel haunted as well, trying to be faithful to Mullins's vision as a performer and folk/ethnic musicologist without resorting to grave robbing. Pennywhistles, accordions, and upright bass strike a jagged edge against the polished sheen of orchestras and children's choirs. The guest vocalists make Mullins's songs their own, while the Ragamuffin-sung tunes naturally carry more of the spirit of his own recordings.