Well, while recently trawling the net I cam across a veritable goldmine of Father Francis albums for sale, and I can tell you from experience that once you have gone down that particular rabbit hole there’s no return. You see, Father Francis has released 41 – yes, 41 – albums. And then there’s the DVDs, the joke books, the Father Francis tea towel… He also likes to crochet, and Dr Who fans can by a Tom Baker scarf, hand crocheted by their favourite Franciscan, for just £9 (plus P&P) from his website.
But let’s put the Catholic homeware aside for a moment, as were here to talk about the music.
Father Francis’s take on the John Lennon classic Imagine comes from his 31st album, Ave Maria. I cannot imagine (if you’ll excuse the pun) how this came about. There’s no way that the Lennon Estate would have ever given permission for Father Francis to change the lyrics of Lennon’s anti-religion epic in to this anodyne paean. It defies belief. Every line, every message, every single sentiment in the original has been twisted. ‘Imagine there’s no heaven’ becomes ‘Imagine there’s a heaven’; ‘No hell below us, above us only sky’ becomes ‘there’s a hell below us, you’d better choose before you die’. It’s simply abominable. And while we’re on the subject, Father, why is it ‘Imagine there’s a heaven’ anyway? Surely if you believe ion such things then there’s no ‘imagine’ about it at all?
The album also includes such perverse covers as I Just Called to Say I Love You, Sylvia’s Mother and The Living Years. This is hateful stuff… although the contrarian in me would simply love to hear Father Francis tackle a whole album of Andy Partridge’s atheistic compositions. ‘Dear God, glad you got my letter, thank you for making it all better down here… We all need another 10p on a pint of beer…’ And I need to buy a copy of his album of Abba covers, Thank You For the Music, if just to hear what he makes of Does Your Mother Know.
The good Father is still preaching today, and still doing good works: he’s particularly interested in helping raise funds for starving children (and that’s a very good thing indeed). In fact he seems like just the kind of priest you’d hope for: humble, wise and kind. It’s just a shame he feels the need to perform musical transubstantiation in this way.
Anyway, here’s two cuts from Ave Maria, Imagine and He’s My Forever Friend. And yes, I know it’s the wrong cover image (above) but the sleeve of Pot Luck is so ridiculous that I just had to share it.
Download Imagine HERE
Download Friend HERE