Michael Omartian debut is roundbreaking musically, it was also the first album of Christian origins to be released on a secular label – ABC/Dunhill.
Written by: Eric
ARTIST: Michael Omartian
ALBUM: White Horse
SERIAL: DSD 50185
CD REISSUE: Discogs Reissue List
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: Michael Omartian – vocals, keyboards, percussion
Additional Musicians: Larry Carlton – guitar, bass * Dean Parks – guitar, alto sax, flute * David Hungate, Wilton Felder – bass * Ed Greene, David Kemper – drums * King Errison – congas * Paul Hubinon, Don Menza, Jackie Kelso – horns * Jesse Ehrlich – cello * Stormie Omartian, Ann White, Carolyn Willis, Patti Henderson – backing vocals
TRACK LISTING: 01 Jeremiah * 02 Fat City * 03 The Orphan * 04 Silver Fish * 05 Add Up The Wonders * 06 Take Me Down * 07 Right From The Start * 08 The Rest Is Up To You * 09 White Horse
WEBLINKS: Site Link
Back in my Christian college days, Michael Omartian’s solo debut could be found in every other dorm room with a milk carton LP collection. Back then I didn’t have to own it, just borrow it from any number of fellow freshmen who were eager with all their good intentioned evangelical fervor to wean me off my ‘heathen rock’ tendencies.
Of course that happily never happened, but I played the record a lot and with Phil Keaggy‘s 1976 classic ‘Love Broke Thru’, ‘White Horse’ at the time was the coolest Christian rock albums to come my way.
Groundbreaking musically, it was also the first album of Christian origins to be released on a secular label – ABC/Dunhill who had the foresight to understand that good music is good music, no matter where the artist’s heart resides. It was later released on the Myrrh label for the bible-thumping masses, but the Dunhill version wins out with a snazzy gatefold sleeve.
Those knowing Michael Omartian’s producer past should not expect a slick west coast styled extravaganza here. His work with Christopher Cross and Maxus was still 6-7 years down the road and in 1974 progressive rock was still a hot commodity.
Michael’s wife Stormie Omartian wrote the lyrics for the album and contributes backing vocals throughout. Opener ‘Jeremiah’ drop kicks the album in style similar to Stevie Wonder and early Chicago with sassy brass adding a little funk to ‘Fat City’, but from here the music takes a dramatic turn.
Moving into swirling classical influences on ‘The Orphan’, ‘Silver Fish’ and the dazzling ‘Add Up The Wonders, the tone is progressive pop similar to Elton John and Billy Joel.
I love the crackling drum work on ‘Take Me Down’ and the snappy ‘The Rest Is Up To You’ both of which bare a striking resemblance to Maxus without the glossy sheen. Last but not least is the killer title track which is not that far removed from Gino Vannelli‘s early work and featuring a sizzling guitar solo from fusion god Larry Carlton, the cherry on top of a perfect album.
Released on CD decades ago, it’s time ‘White Horse’ was made available in digital once again. While Michael Omartian went on to record excellent music with Stormie taking a greater role on each consecutive album, including 1977’s wonderful ‘Seasons Of The Soul’, ‘White Horse’ is the one to seek out, own and cherish.
Take Me Down