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The Late Great PFR - Click to view! Though they've rematerialized and broken up once more since then, PFR's disappearance from the Christian music scene in 1997 was to some the equivalent of seeing their puppy squashed flat by a Mack truck. Ok, so maybe not that serious, but saying that Joel Hanson, Mark Nash, and Patrick Andrew had affected the lives of their listeners would surely be an understatement. Equipped with a Beatles-esque vibe and colorful, personal lyrics, PFR wove intriguing musical tapestries that delicately sealed their career as one of the most successful Christian bands ever. To bid their fans a fond farewell, the band released what was thought to be their last project ever; a greatest hits compilation entitled The Late Great.

Gracing the disc's sixteen tracks are memorable favorites including "Great Lengths," "Pray for Rain," and "Do You Want to Know Love?" While PFR's early material was what helped them garner listeners (who could forget "Goldie's Last Day?"), it was their later albums—specifically Great Lengths and Them—which emphasized their switch from catchy tunes to artful songwriting. Selections from these two projects include "Pour Me Out," "The Love I Know," "Merry Go Round," and the band's signature radio hit, "Anything." Following in their footsteps come three previously unreleased recordings. "Name" is the first one of these to appear as track #3, borrowing a few spasmodic riffs from Them and incorporating warm, familiar lyrics that attempt to relate with their listeners: "I'm just like you / Our sin, a cross, His Son / As your friends we come." The radio-friendly "Forever" clocks in as track #5, toning down the sound by replacing all that is crunchy with soothing percussion and acoustic strumming. Hanson's songwriting accurately sums up PFR's faith in a simple statement: "I believe He paid the price / a sacrifice so we could be together / forever…I've come to know love." Closing out the disc, track #16 finds the band bidding their listeners "Fare Thee Well." Not only does it serve as a fitting tribute to PFR's followers but also as a jubilant retelling of their career. Even the musical style from Goldie's Last Day is revisited, turning what would normally be a tearful goodbye into a cheerful going-away party. Filling in the spaces between the new material and aforementioned cuts are other favorites including "Walk Away From Love," "Spinnin' Round," "Wonder Why," and "Wait for the Sun," although a well-hidden country song about running over pigs can also be found amidst the seriousness. It gives us a much-welcomed peek into PFR's humorous side and makes up for the fact that not enough songs from Them were selected for this project. Still, The Late Great is as well-balanced as it is enjoyable, so listeners of all kinds are bound to find something to please them.

Seeing PFR disband once was bad enough, but their longtime followers know the rest of the story. After making a cameo appearance on the Roaring Lambs compilation, they briefly reunited to record their true final album, a stellar recording known as Disappear. Then they did just that. Nash, Andrew, and Hanson may have gone their separate ways, but it will be a long time until their stint as PFR is forgotten. True to its name, The Late Great captures the most memorable moments of their epic ministry.
- Rick Foux
March 2004
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