Never for Nothing - CCM Record Reviews archive H

HANNAH MARY : Desperately Seeking Something. (www.hannahmarymusic.co.uk)
'Writing songs is my absolute favourite thing to do’, says Essex based Hannah Mary. ‘The songs on the album are inspired by many things... experiences in my life, sermons I hear or passages in the Bible. I have loved recording the album, and look forward to sharing my music with others.’ This debut release, again, highlights the talent and gifts that God bestows on people from all walks of life. I’m not sure if Hannah Mary will be the next Lou Fellingham, but on the basis of this album, many should find her ministry invaluable. Through producer, Justin Johnson, Hannah Mary has come up with a very listenable album of light pop music. Vocally, I thought that she sounded like Lena Marlin at times, whilst also resembling Carolyn Arrends. ‘I Am The Lord’ is a very engaging song, while the title track, is a mid-tempo, pleasing number. ‘The Narrow Path’ tells of calling to God for help, and to be led back on the path of righteousness, while there are some great hooks in the radio friendly ‘Surrender to My Love’. People in this world look for protection in times of trouble. On ‘Who Else Could It Be’, Hannah Mary sings of the ever present God, who protects us, no matter what is thrown at us. Simon Brady provides some nice mandolin sounds on ‘My God Is Real’, and there’s more sweet vocals from Hannah Mary on ‘Higher Than The Heavens’. Definitely a name to watch out for in the future. 8/10. (February 2013)
THE HARBOUR LIGHTS : Closed for the Winter. (Soul Cafe Music : SCMCD003)
With most of the writing credits going to Phil Baggaley, it's the wonderfully warm tones of Bethan Court's vocals that brings each song to life. Touted as a cross between Clannad, Fleetwood Mac and Kate Rusby, I think that is a fair description of this folk/roots outfit. I can't say that any of the lyrics were out and out Christian, but I enjoyed most of what was on offer. 'Gunmetal Grey' starts things off, and I think it's one of the strongest cuts on the album. There again, 'Five Senses' would push it a close second. It's an album of easy listening music, and one that you could play at any time of the day, whether you just want to relax or, like me, must have some music on when working in and around the house. 'Watching It Slip Away' was quite repetitive and luke warm, but the cry for help on 'Mayday' is soothing and gentle. The folk roots of this release are probably best summed up in the closing 'Another Rainbow'. It's modern folk, and produced to the highest quality. An album that I think, will grow on you. 8/10 (July 2008)
HARRISON RIMMER : Empire. (www.facebook.com/harrisonrimmermusic?fref=ts)
Harrison Rimmer hails from Fleetwood, and is another one of the lively musicians currently plying their trade around the pubs of York, whilst studying at university. This three track single features two original songs, plus a cover of Nirvana’s ‘About A Girl’. The single’s title track is up first. It begins quite reserved, but explodes into life when reaching the chorus. I didn’t like the song at all when I first heard it, but it’s one of those that grows on you, the more you hear it. Musically, it’s rather raw, and lacks a telling bass line, rather like White Stripes. For the cover, Harrison tries to recreate the unplugged version of the Nirvana song, but doesn’t really pull it off. His vocals are out of tune quite often, and his acoustic guitar really takes a beating. ‘Small Worries’ was written about a friend who had just found out that he was going to be a father for the first time. This song shows that Harrison has real talent. It’s well written, well sung, and thoughtfully put together.For Harrison, the lesson to be learned would be to forget the screaming vocals and guitar bashing rhythms, and to concentrate on more songs like the ‘Small Worries’. There’s promise there. It just needs to be polished. 5/10. (October 2014)
HARRY SECOMBE : Timeless Classics - Songs of Praise. (Word/IC: INCLD001)
While America has the likes of George Beverly Shea recording classic hymns of praise, the UK has it's very own Harry Secombe. While never been a very big musical fan of his, I've always had time for this guy who's brought so much joy to countless millions over the years. This recording carries 20 well known tracks featuring the man himself as only he can sing. A surprising inclusion is Bernstein & Sondheim's "Somewhere" alongside the traditional "How Great Thou Art" and "Faith Can Move Mountains". Harry's vocals are at their best on stronger tracks such as "The Old Rugged Cross" and "When I Survey" but there's hardly a dip in quality throughout. I found myself sitting back with eyes closed, visualising him singing each song, with such vigour, truth, and personal faith. It may not be original but this release IS a timeless classic. 10/10. (April 1999, Album of the Month)
HAVALINA : Sapce Love & Bullfighting. (Tooth&Nail Records)
Well, I'm not quite sure where to start with this review. It's got to be one of the quirkiest things I've ever come across in my years of CCM. Havalina come from Long Beach, California and have stayed away from current pop fads to stay true to what they want to play. Their influences include The Pixies and Neil Young, and the result is early 60's British pop with latin rhythm overtones. Singer, Matt Wignall, has one of those voices that isn't always quite in tune, yet draws the listener into staying with each song until conclusion. The songs themselves are way out, and I had difficulty in relating any Christian message from any. "Bullfighter" may have had some reflection on the story of Jesus, but I couldn't be more than 50% certain. "Losing You" is a Spanish lullaby, while "If You Like" has some great organ sounds within. Fun, seems to be the order of the day with Havalina and that does come through in the songs like "Pluto" and "Rocket Ship". It's different, it's weird, it's definitely in a class of it's own, and I like it. 8/10. (September 2002)
HAWK NELSON : Smile, It's the End of the World. (Tooth & Nail : TND45613)
Another Canadian band is Hawk Nelson, all hailing from Ontario. With power/punk influences, this band have paid their dues by playing in all sorts of venues. The album is one which took me a few listens to appreciate and definitely improves with age. Saying that, I still think that the opening " The One Thing I Have Left" is pretty uninspiring. But, then comes "Bring 'Em Out". Unashamedly a Blink 182 clone of a song, very infectious, and 10 times better than anything that had gone before. "Everything You Ever Wanted" talks about trying to live upto Jesus' standards, and failing, while "Something on My Mind" gets the beat going again. This song has everything - great guitars, great chanting chorus, it's just a great song! Similarly, "Nothing Left to Show" has the same type of energy, and I can see some of these songs going down a storm live. Not so sure about the melancholy ending, but these guys are ready to excite. 8/10. (November 2006)
HAWK NELSON : Crazy Love.
CD 1 is the "Crazy Love" CD itself, which kicks off in punk style akin to Sum 41 or Fall Out Boy. It settles down a bit, giving more space for the songs to work in whilst not dropping the energy level too far. Even the picked guitar of "My Next Breath" has pace & energy. Whilst there are the thoughtful moments, the general tone of the CD is upbeat and joyful - almost in McFly territory at times. The mix is very good - the vocals sitting just far enough above the rest of the band to be clear without sounding like the band are unimportant. This all adds to the energy of the CD, making it great to listen to. "Thanks For All The Beautiful Memories" borrows the vocal line from the worship song "I Just Want To Praise You" which shows clearly where the heart of the band is, whilst not letting up the sheer joy of their performance (and I'd love to hear it done this way in church). CD 2 is (as the name implies) much lighter. "California" (the opener) is purely vocal and the harmonies are very Beach Boys (although, given the title that may be intentional). In general the songs are very similar to CD1, but played on acoustic guitar rather than electric (the drums & bass are the same but mixed lower) which really adds to the McFly comparisons. This isn't too surprising really, as they're acoustic versions of favourites from previous albums. It's a nice bonus, but not a patch on CD1. Best Track: "Fraud". 8/10 Paul Ganney. (September 2011)
HAWK NELSON : Made. (Fair Trade : 60519)
This is a CD of upbeat guitar led rock / pop songs, There are some good songs on this album, dealing with the turmoil and general angst of life as a believer that most of us will be familiar with. The lyrics are very honest, and explain well how the character in the songs are feeling, the tunes are quite catchy too, and there is no feeling of every track being the same. The band are a very tight outfit, and I should think that they would be worth checking out live, although I’m not sure that there would be much chance of them leaving America to play here. There are a couple of outstanding tracks, “Every Beat Of My Broken Heart” is a worship song about finding a closer walk with God. “Words” is an interesting track, about the way words can build up or knock down, and I reckon it’s the best song on the CD. This is a CD that is worth getting hold of. 10/10 Andy Sayner. (October 2013, Album of the Month)
HAYDON SPENCELEY : Circles. (Knuci Records : KNUCI CD004)
Haydon Spenceley's brand of electronica and melancholic vocals remind me a lot of the Mutemath EP from a few years ago (no surprise as he states that Mutemath are an influence). There are even some Enigma elements too and on one track, "Heaven on Earth" the vocal line has hints of Duran Duran. All good comparisons in my book and all help to create an album that is markedly different from the usual CCM fayre. The former Freeslave frontman also keeps it lyrically fresh too. You have to listen hard to hear the Christian themes, but they are there and the effect is a cd that will build bridges and straddle boundaries. It's also a well crafted album in its own right and not a mere imitation of Haydon's influences. What I also like is the attention to detail - there are some real subtleties to the arrangements and production on this album which demonstrate that it has been put together with a caring and loving hand. All in all, an album that definitely lives up to its pre-release billing. 8/10 Robin Thompson. (December 2008)
HAYDON SPENCELEY : Heart Strings. (Knuci Records -due November 22nd 2010)
Haydon Spenceley first made his name in ccm as the wheelchair-bound lead singer in alt rock band Freeslave. Here we have his second solo offering, the follow-up to debut 'Circles' which was released back in 2008. As with 'Circles', the guitar-driven sound of Freeslave is replaced by a much more synth based sound - if electronic pop melody is your thing, Haydon is your man. I have really enjoyed listening to this album. It has evidently been 18 months in the making, and it shows. Haydon has a way with lyrics as well as melody and it is obvious that this release comes from a man with a heart for Jesus. Good though 'Circles' was, the professional sound and feel of this latest offering represent a noticeable advance. Things get off to a rousing start with 'Heart Strings' - a hook-laden tune that will quickly worm its way into your consciousness! Other standouts for me are the slower numbers 'Lost my heart', 'Heaven on earth' and the excellent 'Crying' - but there are no 'poor' tracks here. The only criticisms I have are minor and concern the vocals - the effects tend to emphasise a slightly nasal quality in Haydon's voice, highlighted on some of the tracks by the fact that, to my ears, they are mixed a little high. It is obvious however that this album stands out as something original amongst today's run-of-the-mill ccm, and deserves a wide audience. Check out Haydon's videos on You Tube for full plays of 'Lost my heart' and 'Heart Strings'. Excellent. 10/10. Dave Deeks (September 2010, Album of the Month)
HAYDON SPENCELEY : Mirrors. (haydonspenceley.bandcamp.com/album/mirrors)
Long time NFN contributor, Haydon Spenceley returns with his third solo album. He says; “For a long time I wasn't going to make another album, and then all these songs started pouring out. Then we convened a great bunch of people across the Atlantic Ocean over the best part of a year and made this, Mirrors, a collection of songs that says a lot about who and where I am as I enter a new season in life.” As well as his solo work, Haydon has also experimented as a band member, with groups like Freeslave and Ghost Tree. This 7 track mini album sees further musical progression, and certain influences making a play. “Come Undone” is a cross between U2 and Duran Duran, as one friend commented, and has a definite 80’s feel about it. ‘Friends for Life’ is more Manic Street Preachers, and well produced. “(We Are Born to) Rise”, is a medium paced plodder of a song, while ‘Beyond the End’ enters into the realms of 70’s progressive rock. My favourite song has to be the guitar driven sound of the title track. A little bit of punk, and a little Billy Idol snarl as Haydon sings “Listen as the Earth cries out”. ‘Interlude’ is an instrumental piece, which I sounds a little out of place with the other tracks, but on its own would be fine for personal meditation. Finally, ‘Gloria’ sees Pink Floyd meet the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. Lots of FX on the vocals and some visionary sounds, as the song lyrics “search for God”. Ably assisted by some great musicians, Haydon manages to musically keep you guessing where he’s going next. Some very interesting songs on this album that should satisfy many tastes. 8/10. (September 2014)
HEART OF WORSHIP Vol.6 : Worship in Spirit & Truth. (Authentic : 8203852)
Tracks on this double CD were recorded in the UK, USA, and New Zealand, with such singers as Simon Goodall and David Lyle Morris amongst others taking part. The sleeve notes say that "In recent years this collection of songs has set the worshipping church alight", so I was expecting great things. Sadly, the first Cd just didn't live up to those expectations. I wanted excitement. I wanted exuberant praise and worship, but there was none to be found. "Salvation is Here" offered brief hope but, mostly, the songs were very weak. "Nothing In This World" is a nice, pretty song, that was only spoilt by the intrusive use of a saxophone solo, which sounded terrible. Disc 2, however, really takes up the challenge, and things take a change for the better. "From All that Dwell" has a real expression of love within it, and "Sing of Your Love" leads worship with great effect. By the time you get to "Giver of Life" and "How Great Is Our God", you get a real feeling that those gathered have a real belief in what they are singing. Simply, the second CD knocks spots of the first. 6/10. (September 2006)
HEAT : Can I See Heaven (Survivor Emerge : SURCD049)
Survivor have started this series, 'Emerge', specifically to introduce new worship bands to a greater audience. Heat are kicking things off here in great style. Hailing from Manchester, they are also Christian workers in that city by day and maybe it's that experience which produces the depth to their music and lyrics. It seems to me that the barrier between 'performance' style CCM, and worship music is continually being broken down - and here is a case in point. Guitar based, but with some nifty keyboard background fills, the band is tight and the lyrics shine through. There were points when I thought a guitar solo would have enhanced matters, but that's just me. The title track, 'Arms of Love' and 'Arise and Shine' are worth a special mention, but the acoustic track, 'To Love You More' I found really beautiful and uplifting. All of the songs are written and sung by guitarist James Gregory, a man of real talent - note the name, you'll be hearing more of it. It's a shame his otherwise excellent singing voice sounds like Martin Smith/Matt Redman. It seems to be a trend - if you sing this kind of worship material, you have to sound the same. But that's only me being niggly. At £6.99 for 7 tracks, this album represents excellent value. Go on, turn up the Heat! 8/10. Julie Lord. (January 2001)
HEATHER CLARK : Overcome.   (Elevation : ELE1815D)
Heather is another artist from the Jesus Culture movement, and lives in Kamloops. She travels internationally singing, leading worship and speaking, calling people into a greater place of wholeness, healing and freedom in their lives and in their relationship with God. This live album was recorded at the Bethel Church in California, with a host of fine musicians behind her. ‘Come In’ starts things off. It only has a few lyrics but this rocky song makes worship a must. The problem with live worship recordings is that it sometimes fails to capture the true feeling of God’s spirit, as felt by those at the event itself. At just under 9 minutes, the title track falls into that category. For me, it just seemed to go on and on. Similarly, ‘Undivided Focus’ (again, over 8 minutes long) sounded the same. The shorter songs seemed to grab my attention, and ‘Shadow of Your Wings’ really picked up the action. It’s a great rock song, with a fine reprise at the end. It’s just a pity that songs that follow don’t live up to that one. Most suffer from a dull, live recording sound, and the lack of any audible audience appreciation only drags the songs down further. On the plus side, Heather does have a really good voice, and I hope to hear a better recording in the future.   5/10. (September 2012)
HEAVEN'S SAKE KIDS : Bible Songs. (Pamplin : PMCS9732)
HEAVEN'S SAKE KIDS : Father, Son & Holy Spirit Songs. (Pamplin : MMCS9809)
When someone sends you kids tapes to review, you have to forget about your aversion to them and hear through the ears of a child. Aimed, I presume, at the 4-9 year age group, these tapes present a collection of easy to learn songs for use in the home, the car, or at Sunday School. The lyrics are, on the whole, very repetative but catchy enough to appeal to youngsters. The music is quite robotic but, again, I'm sure that kids won't mind. New songs like 'Three in One' are quite good in their own way , but a disco version of the traditional 'Tis So Sweet To Trust In Jesus' plummeted this listener to the depths of despair. How can I describe the sounds overall? Well, tune into Sesame Street and you'll get a good idea. Both tapes have split track facility which means that you take out the vocals for your own performances or just lower them down for a guide. For Sunday schools...... 7/10. (January 1999)
HELEN JAYNE McKELLAR : It's Not Too Late. (www.helenjayne.com)
It's more than 7 years since I last reviewed any music from this young lady, and over a decade since I saw her live, promoting her "Safe" album. At that time, she was tipped by many for big things. Sadly, a long illness knocked the wind out of her sails and those big things have never really happened. But, like the title of this 6 track CD, it's never too late. I often thought that Helen's vocal's reminded me of Cherry Keaggy, but her delivery is very much like Amy Grant. In fact, I couldn't stop thinking how alike Helen and Amy sound in this area. 'He Will Cover you' starts the ball rolling about God's protection, and it really rocks. The title track has a big production behind it, and Helen's vocals carry the song to a very high standard. Indeed, that quality gets even better on her song for the lost, called 'Hard Cruel Day'. There's a real feeling of compassion that comes across, and I was hooked by this one. The final song is 'Do They Know?' - a question to those about knowing God beside you through all things. I'm sure that this is a terrifically personal song for Helen, and she handles it well. How I would have loved a full album of songs. If this lady enjoyed better health and lived in America, I have no doubt that she would be enjoying bigger success. There again, that would be a big loss for the UK Christian public. 9/10 (June 2009)
HELEN ROWE : Light Shot Through. (CD £12.99 from: the community, 70 Catton Grove Road, Norwich, UK, NR3 3NT)
You could never claim that this album was just another CCM release, as it marries a fusion of so many influences and styles. There's jazz, rock, folk…they're all there, and it's an interesting experiment by Helen Rowe, a newcomer to the Christian scene. Instrumentally, too, there's a whole range of electric, wind, and stringed instruments, as well as the percussion sounds. The album is supposed to tell of Helen's journey from darkness (before knowing Christ) to having a full loving relationship with Him. Therefore, there are, musically, some very dark moments, such as "Dungeons", "Lift the Shroud" and the all consuming "Not Ready". Her voice doesn't quite work with the rockier numbers but, in parts, her style is that of an early Heart, or even Pentangle. "Two-minded" finds her in reflective mood, looking at the past, present and future, while "The Reason" even adds a touch of Jethro Tull - whistles and all. Despite the description of her journey, it's not an album that I'd like to listen to if I was feeling down. I found more despair lurking within the music and only brief shafts of Jesus' light shining here and there. Not your run of the mill album, as I said, but well worth investigating if you're looking for something "out of the ordinary". 6/10. (March 2004)
HELEN SANDERSON WHITE : At Second Glance. (helensandersonwhite.co.uk)
This is Helen’s fourth studio album, but it’s the first that has arrived at NFN Towers. Last year, she won the NCM Contemporary Artiste 2011 award and was recently one of the finalists in the UK Songwriting contest 2011. Her latest single "Do You Seek An Answer" was number one in the NCM UK and Europe charts, and is the strongest cut on offer. I love playing it loud and letting God’s love pour out over me. ‘Bullet’ is all about Jesus dying for us and is well written. Vocally, Helen reminds me of another UK artist, Rachel MacDonald, and that’s no bad thing. ‘Never Too Late’ has a dance beat that somewhat intrudes on her vocals at times, and I thought that the song suffered for it. However, ‘Sign’ and ‘Get It Together’ both shine, while the closing ‘Surrounded By Love’ took me back to Janis Ian songs of the 80’s. Only 6 tracks on offer here, but a good taster of things to come. 7/10 (January 2012)
HELEN SHAPIRO : Enter into His Gates. (ICC : ICCD21830).
Yes, this is the same lady who, more than 30 years ago, was 'Walking Back to Happiness' in the pop charts. Brought up in the Jewish faith, this is Helen's 4th album that expresses her beliefs. To be honest, the traditional Jewish feel of most tracks can be quite trying to the average listener. The title track is rather good, complete with it's 'Hava Nagila' type chorus but, on two out of three CD players, my copy curiously stopped and had to be started again on track 2. Backing vocals are provided by the talents of Paul Field and David & Carrie Grant while Terl Bryant and Mike Haughton produce a lot of the music. Most of the songs have been gleaned from Messianic Jewish songwriters but the strongest track is the beautiful version of the Wesley classic 'And Can It Be'. 'Enter Into His Gates' is a solid album without been anything special, but many may find it does have warm moments of intimate worship. 5/10. (January 1998)
HELEN SHAPIRO : The Gospel Collection. (ICC : ICCD6543)
Despite it being around 40 years ago, Helen Shapiro is still regarded by many of the girl who sang "Walking Back To Happiness". For the uninitiated, Helen has since had a career in tv and on stage, as well as touring regularly with her gospel evenings. This singly priced double CD takes 35 of her best songs to date and captures them on one collection. As soon as the music begins, it's her unmistakable vice that powers through on "The Pearl" and "I Go to the Rock". The praise medley halfway through the first cd is quite nice, but the closing duet with Cliff Richard proves to be the highlight. For the second disc, "Oh Lord, Our Lord" is full of greatness, while the gentler "Oh Deep, Deep Love of Yeshua" is caressed with light piano and a hint of strings. I can't say that many of the songs moved me, but Helen's Mesianic praise has brought great joy to countless thousands over the years. As a taster to her music, you could ask for nothing better. 6/10. (September 2002)
HELEN SHAPIRO : What Wondrous Love Is This?. (Manna Music : Mannacd043)
There can be few 14 year old singers who, some 50 years later, are still as popular. From her days of number one singles such as 'You Don't know' and 'Walking Back to Happiness', Helen Shapiro is one of our most enduring stars. She recorded her first gospel album back in 1990 and her outreach evenings have been presented all over the UK, as well as South Africa and Russia. This latest release sees her mix jazz, gospel and pop and opens with the only self-penned number, 'Bless the Lord O My Soul'. Based on Psalm 103, I found this to be one of the weaker songs on the album, as Helen seems to stumble into fitting the lyrics to the tune. 'Lovely Jesus' is a soft sound is a simple song of prayer, finishing with the chorus of 'I Love you Lord'. Her Jewish background comes to the fore on 'Hinei Ma Tov' and 'Blessed are the People', while 'I Was glad' is a pretty little number. Helen's voice is as strong as ever, and it's instantly recognizable, even on the southern gospel track called 'What Manner of Man is This?'. This lady shows no sign of easing up in her musical world and why should she? This album should keep lover's of her music more than happy. 8/10 (March 2010)
HELEN TURNER : Permission. (CD £11.50 inc p&p from: Helen Turner, c/o Tollbooth Music, 8 Clarenden road, Reading, Berks, England, RG6 1PH).
I must declare from them outset my allegiance to Helen's musical cause, and a certain amount of bias. We have been friends for 8 years, and have collaborated together on various musical projects, although I had nothing to do with this album - so some element of objectivity does still remain! Helen was previously the singer for York based quartet The Rumours Are True, an Iona tinged band that favoured high drama and excellent musicianship. However, as good as Rumours were, "Permission" is a huge step forward, due primarily to the fact that the songwriting is warm, distinguished and frequently beyond what many bands ever achieve. Anybody who enjoys singer-songwriters, or generally honest and sincere music, will find something to enjoy here. Helen puts her heart utterly into her music, and songs such as "Grass Is Greener", "Lye-di-Dy" and "Helium" showcase not only her ability as a writer, but also some stunning vocal, where she manages to come close to the intimate grandeur of Sarah MacLachlan. Best of all is "Raynbird Street", a very moving and poignant song that's enough to soothe a raging Oasis fan at 100 yards. "Permission" heralds the arrival of a tremendous talent. Recommended. 9/10. Miles Cain. (June 2000)
Here I Am To Worship - Hymns. (Kingsway : KMCD2629)
The front of the CD insert on this 2 CD set proudly announces 'Now is the time when the true worshippers will worship' and '32 new live recordings' - so it would only be fair to have high hopes! In the event, it turns out to be a more than reasonable set of well recorded tracks. All vocals are good - some very good indeed, including 'How deep the Father's love for us' which is an excellent tune delivered with a simple but effective arrangement. Other arrangements of note include 'In Christ Alone' and 'O God of Burning Cleansing Flame', which includes some brilliant drumming. Another high point is 'Praise my soul the King of Heaven'. There are less successful attempts to update well known tunes however, by introducing riffs that don't match well with the melody. 'Thine be the glory' unfortunately suffers in this way, as do 'Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty' and 'Joyful joyful we adore Thee', both of which are forced into the sort of pre-programmed drum and bass sequences that come built into home keyboards! A personal dislike of mine is recordings where the praise leader announces the first lines, so another down point for me was 'Joy has dawned' where he does just that. Overall however, much to enjoy and worth 7/10 Dave Deeks (August 2005)
HEZEKIAH WALKER & THE LOVE FELLOWSHIP CHOIR : Family Affair II - Live at Radio City Music Hall. (Zorba Recording Group).
A live worship album with a difference! Instead of the usual fare of Redman, Smith and Kendrick songs served up in an acoustic rock style, here we have a full gospel band and choir - and a very impressive one at that. I have a well developed softspot for this kind of music, the light jazz/blues style and close harmony singing has an indefinable quality that is extremely uplifting, and the LFC do it very well indeed. There is a good mixture of uptempo and more laidback songs, with "The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow" and "What A Mighty God We Serve", respectively, standing out. Towards the end some modern style dance music creeps in and, amazingly, it works really well. My only criticism (common with live worship albums) would be that 7 to 10 minute songs with a myriad of repeats might work live but don't translate well to CD. That apart, if you like gospel you should definitely check this out. 8/10 David Cooper (November 2002)
HEZEKIAH WALKER & THE LOVE FELLOWSHIP CHOIR : Nothing But the Hits. (Verity : JADV-53744-2)
With a title of "Nothing But the Hits", you might quite rightfully expect a few familiar ditties in there, but oh no! I didn't recognise a single one! Does this make me a bad Christian? I have to admit I had many pre-conceptions of what to expect from this CD, but I was trying my best not to be judgemental before a fair hearing. In this case though, it gives you what you expect, an album of very stereotypical American black Gospel tracks. A little over produced with lots of cheesy warbling "Hammond organ" sounds, plenty of clapping and group vocal harmonies...not my cup of tea I'm afraid to say. There were some very funky bass-lines which were catchy & I thought these may have been the redeeming features I was looking for, but alas, the accompanying rhythms & vocals didn't inspire me to listen to the remainder of the respective tracks! Neither did any of the lyrics grab my attention. This may appeal to a small market in the UK, but I would think that this album is likely to do more in its home US market. You would have to have a serious heavy duty liking for Gospel music to invest your hard-earned cash in this one, but it would have me running for the hills rather than to my nearest church or musical emporium! I am certain the musicians & vocalists are highly accomplished, but Mr Walker & his choir don't float my boat in the musical sense. Worth 3/10 for the bass-lines. Simon Redfern (April 2004)
HEZEKIAH WALKER : Asuza The Next Generation (RCA Inspiration : 88691-96120-2)
It’s hard to believe that gospel music gave us so many of our current popular music genres. Back in the day, when a few brave souls risked the wrath of their respective churches to broaden their musical horizons and venture out into the secular world, little could they know that they had started the musical version of the butterfly effect. As such, these days it can be hard to see a connection between a group of scruffy, hobo like rock’n’rollers and the rather more perfectly coiffeured Gospel practitioners like Hezekiah Walker. Gospel is a peculiarly American institution and, in spite of the odd successes of singers like Witney Houston, it has never really been mainstream in the UK. Yet, within Christian music circles, there is a strong and unrepresentative emphasis on gospel music. This album proudly displays its gospel foundation and fans of the genre are unlikely to be disappointed. As is in keeping with this kind of style, there are a number of guest vocalists and Hezekiah’s job seems to be more to whip up the crowd than actually lead them in singing. The first three tracks on this are pretty excellent. “Every Praise”, “Break Every Chain” and “I Feel Your Spirit” are all excellent uptempo, uplifting praise numbers, sadly absent on many worship albums these days and work, in my opinion , partly because they tend to be more gospel inspired than straight gospel tracks. It’s a very positive start and one which the album should build on. Sadly it doesn’t and becomes a collection of gospel clichés and vocal extemporisation. It’s what you expect in many ways, but after such an interesting start it just feels a little disappointing. 6/10 Robin Thompson. (October 2013)
HI-SONOROUS : Frozen Dust
Southampton-based Hi-Sonorous have put together an interesting set of 8 songs for this CD, a follow-up to The Waiting Line. I had a lot of trouble categorising this CD: listing it as Dance/Electronic originally, but it’s far more the latter – even though a lot of the material is guitar-based, the rhythms are more hypnotic in nature. That has a lot to do with its inspiration: the plight of the Dalit people. The CD is downloadable and all proceeds go to building a school in the Pujab, so this is not only inspired by it but is trying to do something about it. Hi-Sonorous are Chris Taylor and Sanjay Rajo, who describe themselves as record producers. This shows in the layering and arrangement of the music. It’s carefully put together and ranges in influences, some of the keyboard patterns are Einaudi-esque, some of the guitar work Kinks-like (and, on “Delete”, shows shades of Nirvana), the vocals are from a series of guest singers so range from plaintive (“Break The Cycle”) to angry (“Delete”) and the synth work veers into Depeche Mode territory (“Dust”). The sheer variety makes it difficult to review, but easy to recommend. Overall it’s probably the most sonically interesting CD I’ve reviewed in a while and it easily bears repeated listening. Best track is a toss-up between “Delete” and “Break The Cycle”, with the latter probably shading it. 8/10 Paul Ganney. (December 2011)
HILLSONG : Live Worship For Kids - Jesus is my Superhero. (Hillsong : HMACD181)
Regular readers will know that I usually cringe when I get a kids album to review. So often, they're so condescending in their delivery, but that's not the case here. Some of those cringe tingling album makers should take heed of the fantastic collection that's on offer here, and learn how to produce a good kids album. Hillsong take all their know-how into using the modern chart sounds, and use great sounding vocals to accompany the thumping bass, and electronic sounds. "King of Majesty" is a pop/groove thing that's bound to get the kid's dancing and singing along, and "You're the One" follows in similar style. Recorded live, it really sounds like a brilliant party atmosphere, although things do slow down a little for classy worship songs like "Oh How I Love You" and the powerful "Anthem of Praise". If, like me, you thought you'd heard enough kids songs to last a lifetime, think again, and buy this now! 9/10 (May 2005)
HILLSONG : Songs for Communion. (Authentic : HMACD191)
Subtitled, 14 songs for intimate worship, that really does describe the contents of this album. It's certainly not one for listening to in the car whilst you're driving, as I'm afraid that your concentration may well be affected. For best results, relax and close your eyes, and let the waves of prayerful reverence wash your spirit clean. Songs such as 'Nothing But the Blood' and 'The Only Name' are very soft and gentle in sound, whilst 'Saviour' is sung with real authority and is a tremendous song. Throughout the album, you're simply pulled into a time of closeness with God, and whether you're alone or with friends, this collection will empower. 8/10. (June 2006)
HILLSONG : Live - Mighty to Save. (Hillsong : HMACD198)
This is Hillsong's 15th annual live worship album. Hillsong was founded in 1983 and now has over 19,000 worshippers attending each Sunday. Recorded earlier this year at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, this latest offering is just full of inspirational music like only Hillsong can produce. "Take It All" and "The Freedom We Know" give the album a great triumphant start, and "For Who You Are" really sets the place alight. "You Alone Are God" slows things down a little, but it's a wonderful, atmospheric number. Similarly, "At the Cross" I found to be very moving and passionate. I wasn't so keen on their gospel number "More To See" but songs like "Adonai", "I Believe" and "Oceans Will Part" sound like everyone is praising God in one terrific cacophony of noise. It's an album for everyone to enjoy. 9/10. (November 2006)
HILLSONG : Live - Saviour King. (Authentic : HMACD206)
This is the 16th Hillsong praise and worship album, recorded live in March after two and a half incredible days of the annual Hillsong Colour Your World, Women's Conference in Sydney. More than 13,000 worshippers gathered, led by Darlene Zscech and the team. There's a whole host of new songs on show, for you to enjoy and use in your daily walk with God. From the opening jumping up and down feel of 'I'm Not Ashamed' to the quieter 'Lord of Lords', Hillsong provide a super collection of songs. 'In Your Freedom' is an epic worship song about being rescued, and it's a very powerful number. 'God of Ages' is one of my favourite tracks and easy to pick up, but perhaps the highlight is 'Hosanna'. It's a female vocal (Darlene?) and is praise of the highest order. Hillsong rarely disappoint, and this release is amongst the best. 9/10. (October 2007)
HILLSONG : This is Our God. (Authentic : HMACD216)
Upon hearing this album, a colleague said to me "Hillsong albums are too predictable." Well, if he meant that they're all full of high quality contemporary praise and worship songs, then I guess he's hit the nail on the head! From the moment the album launches into 'Your Name On High', you sense that you're part of a very special gathering. It's the usual high tempo start and you're soon sucked into praising with all your might. 'Run' and 'Desert Song' follows the same pattern, before you're led into some beautiful worship with the title track. There's a sure claim that Jesus is coming back to this earth on 'High and lifted Up', while 'You Are Here' has a warm, reassurance about it. There are 16 tracks on this release and rarely does the quality dip. Hillsong provide some great music for God, and this is another top quality release. 9/10 (March 2009, Album of the month)
HILLSONG : The Very Best of...Live. (HMACD232)
When labelling an album as "The Very Best of...." I always wonder who it was who chose the songs? Not that I’m complaining, but after listening to Hillsong albums over a number of years, there were only a few of these tracks that I actually recognised. There’s a steady opening with ‘Salvation Is Here’, while ‘My Redeemer lives’ has much more passion about it. ‘For All You’ve Done’ has a real feeling of happiness about it, and the music strikes just the right chord. Sound-wise, things get a bit mushy from time to time but songs like the worshipful ‘Worthy Is the Lamb’ survive well. There’s an attack feel to ‘Take it All’ , while everyone seems to join in with ‘Everyday’. It’s a song that’s easy to pick up, and has an infectious chorus. ‘Hallelujah’ brings a more quieter time of worship, while ‘One Way’ triumphantly declares that Jesus is the one way to the Father. It took a few plays for me to really enjoy this album, due to the number of new songs included but, in the end, it’s well up to the usual Hillsong standards. 8/10 (March 2011)
HILLSONG : God Is Able – Live. (Hillsong : HMACD219)
God Is Able is the twentieth album in the live praise and worship series of Christian Contemporary music by Hillsong Church. It was recorded at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Australia by Reuben Morgan, Darlene Zschech and the Hillsong Worship Team on 7 November 2010. Unlike many live worship recordings, the album does not begin at break neck speed. Joel Houston’s ‘Rise’ is more of a plodder, that builds up in power as the song progresses. ‘With Us’ follows at similar pace, while ‘Unending Love’ is gentle and full of worship. Now, I’m not sure I’m alone in my thoughts, but I couldn’t help thinking that this album wasn’t any different to those that have gone before. The songs are all sung and produced to that great Hillsong standard, but they’ve all started to sound the same. Is it me? The title track left me somewhat lethargic, and as soon as ‘The Difference’ began to play I began to think that I Had heard that song so many times before. Sclour the internet, and you can find reports and reviews saying that the Hillsong Team are as strong as ever, and that their gatherings grow in popularity. Alas, for me, I’m just a little tired of the format and need something fresh and exciting. 6/10 (January 2012)
HILLSONG : Glorious Ruins. (Hillsong : HMACD277)
Released last summer, this album continues the long series of live praise and worship releases from the Hillsong Church in Australia. With Darlene Zschech concentrating on her solo releases, the songs here are mostly male led. ‘Always Will’ is a terrific opening number, which gallops along as it holds Jesus high with cries of “Your love in unfailing”. Joel Houston leads those gathered on ‘You Never Fail’. It’s a more majestic song and one of those that begs for lots of arm swaying. My favourite songs has to be ‘Christ is Enough’. There’s “No turning back”, once you’ve decided to follow Jesus, and it’s a superb call to all. The Holy Spirit comes to the fore in ‘Where the Spirit of God Is’, while the worshipful title track follows on. There’s some more high energy music with ‘Closer’, before tracks 8 to 12 are rather less energetic. ‘We Glorify Your Name’ has an old fashioned hymn feel about it, especially when everyone joins in to sing in glory. ‘You Crown the Year’ is very similar, while ‘Anchor’, I believe, will become a church standard for many years. “Your Name is higher, your name is greater, all my hope is in you.” Some media people have suggested that one Hillsong album sounds very much like the next. For me, that’s no problem, as the standard and quality of the songs remain as high as ever. 8/10. (June 2014)
HILLSONG MUSIC AUSTRALIA : Touching Heaven Changing Earth. (Alliance : 1901292)
Wow! At last, worship with guts! We've come to expect a highly professional, polished performance from Darlene and Co. but they just keep getting better. This is definitely performance worship but why not? Along with brilliant arrangements, superb instrumentalists and singers, they still manage to keep that personal touch, especially in the slower numbers such as 'Holy Spirit Rain Down', 'Jesus You're All I Need' and 'The Potter's Hand'. It's the dynamics that create the drama in these songs and pull us into the worship experience. The fast songs seem to emit power and enthusiasm, and the full brass stabs and fills remind me of the raw energy of early soul and motown. The sentiments expressed in songs such as the opener 'That's What We Came Here For' and the title track, immediately make us feel part of the event. This is unusual for a 'live' worship album. Darlene's great voice and expression, with her inspired ad libs, are crucial and I'm sure she'd maybe up there with Madonna and Celine Dion if she ever got tempted to cross the great divide. Let's hope she doesn't! A really great album. 10/10. Julie Lord. (October 1998, Album of the Month)
HILLSONGS AUSTRALIA : Hills Praise. (Alliance : 1901332).
If my church's weekly praise began like this album, it would really shake the older members who grimace as they sing any sort of chorus. Happy, joyful, full of life and energy, were just a few of the phrases that sprang to mind during the first couple of songs. "Your People Sing Praises" and "People Just Like Us" just set the place on fire. By the time "I Can't Wait" begins, we're in the realms of rock and roll and the response of those gathered almost drown the backing. Hillsongs have become increasingly more popular over here during the last 18 months and this album is sure to continue the trend. "My Heart Sings Praises" slows things down a little but it's back to normal with the well known "God is in the House". Listening to this release is either going to really charge your spiritual batteries or leave you physically drained. I need a lie down! 8/10. (April 1998)
HILLSONGS AUSTRALIA : Shout to the Lord 2000 (Hosanna Music: 14242).
Worship leader Darlene Zschech is joined by Alvin slaughter and Ron Kenoly on this live recording from the '98 Hillsong Conference, in Sydney. A brilliant compilation of old and new songs, with the guest singers only adding to the enjoyment, as I listened to this album. It's an album to really lift your spirits. All of the tracks are very good and "Shout to the Lord" itself is excellent - I just had to play it again. Other favourites of mine were "Breathe On Me" and "My Heart Will Trust". Very listenable and very enjoyable. 10/10 Pam Robinson. (March 1999)
HILLSONG AUSTRALIA : Jesus, Christmas Worship Down Under. (Hillsong : HMACD146).
The great thing about Hillsong albums, for me, is the fact that they come up with some wonderful new praise and worship songs, and breath new life into older ones. The formula hardly ever changes and, usually, that means there's a great album in store for the listener. And, while that rings true with most on this release, there are some songs that have just been sung to death. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and "Away in A Manger" are just too bland and are rather irritating at times. However, there is a particularly nice version of "The First Noel" that is different enough from all previous recordings, to stand out from the crowd. The best songs, however, are those written by members of Hillsongs. Katia Bowley's "Saviour of the World" is the first of these, and what a good song it is, too. Then, there's Darlene Zschech and Russell Fragar's "Perfect Love", a song supposedly sung by Mary to the baby Jesus, and quite brilliant. Each Christmas, I wait for one new song to rise from the host of festive releases and with the closing "Glory to God", I think I've found this year's pick. Great drum sequences that give the song a real taste of the Australian outback, with simple lyrics and full of the love of God. 7/10. (November 2001)
HILLSONG AUSTRALIA : For All You've Done. (Authentic : HMACD177)
With a choir of some 500 people, and thousands in the congregation, this is Hillsongs' annual live recording. What an event it must have been, by the sound of things. Disc one starts with electrifying praise in the form of the title track, "One Way" and "Evermore". All three songs have great power, and boy do these Aussies know how to whip up a praise frenzy! "With All I Am" brings an element of quiet to proceedings for some beautiful worship and the 9 minute "Hallelujah" follows this closely. Disc 2 is more of a worship album and doesn't quite reach the heights of its' predecessor, but there's still some lovely moments. One disappointment is the abrupt starts to some of the tracks which sounds quite amateurish but you still can't take away the power of Aussie praise. 8/10. (November 2004)
HILLSONG CHAPEL : Yahweh. (Kingsway : HMACDDVD237)
This is a live CD of thirteen worship songs, also there is a DVD of the songs included. The DVD has fifteen tracks listed on it according to the list on the computer, however when you get to the main menu there are only the same thirteen tracks there as on the CD. The sleeve notes do mention something about there being chord charts included, but how you get to see these is anyone's guess. The album itself sounds pretty much like all the other Hillsong CD's, so if you like Hillsong then no doubt you will enjoy this collection. The CD opens with a fairly pedestrian rendering of "Hosanna" which sets the tone for the whole affair really. "Mighty To Save" appears towards the end if you still happen to be awake, but the whole album needs something to spark it into life somehow. The crowd seem to be in good voice though, and sing along as though they are having a good time, so perhaps you had to be there to really appreciate it. I found the DVD to be a bit better than the CD. Perhaps being able to see what's happening helps. 5/10 Andy Sayner. (May 2011)
HILLSONGS FELLOWSHIP : God is in the House. (Alliance : ALD089).
Oh how I cringed when I heard the opening songs of this album. The Happy Clappies are here in a reincarnation of, what sounds like, the late lamented 'Rock Gospel Show'. However, after a couple of listens I decided that it wasn't so bad after all. "I Give You My Heart" is a bouncy number about submitting to God, while "My Heart Sings Praises", does exactly that. The pace falls towards the end of the album, inlcuding the 7 minute epic "I Will Run to You" - an excellent song of pure worship. This album still rings of quirkiness but it's worth a listen. 6/10. (May 1997)
Hillsong Kids Live Worship - Tell The World Hillsong HMACD209
Like many people, I am filled with a mild sense of dread when I see Kids Worship on a CD as on many occasions these consist of older people (like me) trying a little too hard to reach out to the younger generation. How wrong could I be in this case? Oh so very wrong! The vast Hillsong empire has produced a gem of a CD that blows those preconceptions straight out of the water, with one of their most well known sisters Darlene Zschech at the helm as an Executive Producer in conjunction with Julia A'Bell, the Children's Pastor, who has also co-written a number of tracks. The CD recorded at Kidsfest 2007 is live 'n' loud from the off complete with massively enthusiastic cheering from the congregation plus a bouncing title track "Tell The World". If you've not run out of energy by the end of this one, "My Number One" will continue the aural workout with a style not far removed from our very own TBC, until "My Redeemer Lives" brings us to slightly calmer waters. Some of the tracks have e.g. "Forever", "I'm Not Ashamed" & the title track itself have also made appearances on previous Hillsong releases which were not directed specifically at children. With the catchy choruses & uncomplicated lyrics packing a punch, they hit the mark with the kids as well as appealing to a wider audience, firing you up to get out there & do just as the title track asks! As you would expect, quality runs all the way through but worthy of particular mention is the kids choir that provides some excellent backing vocals. Works well keeping the kids entertained whilst getting the gospel message across - a great formula! This one will soon be worn out, by me if not the kids! 10/10 Simon Redfern (July 2008)
HILLSONG Live: A Beautiful Exchange. (Hillsong Music : HMACD236)
Originating in Sydney, Australia Hillsong has become a bit of an institution in the senses of church, the production of top notch worship leaders & music: 'A Beautiful Exchange' certainly does nothing but strengthen that reputation. It is the 19th of their "live" albums recorded at Sydney Entertainment Centre & I have no doubt that like many of their songs before, a number of these will worm their way on to many a worship leader's "set list"…and quite rightly so! I was quickly taken in by the opening "Our God Is Love", a very upbeat anthem with a wonderfully strong drum beat & catchy chorus that had me singing & praising along with the crowds in no time, despite me not feeling in a particularly receptive frame of mind at the time. Did I care I looked a fool at the traffic lights singing along in the car? Err…NOPE! "Open My Eyes" continues in a similar vein with a great atmosphere to the track. We start to wind things back a little with "Forever Reign" with a subtle Aboriginal style buzz in the intro but despite the pace relaxing, the passion continues to thrive through the words & music which to me is a rare commodity in the plethora of worship CDs on the market at the moment. With such a blazing start, I was ready to be disappointed with some of the following numbers which so often happens, but oh no…the good ones kept on coming! Possibly the strongest track on the album was track 5 "Like Incense / Sometimes" which really did bowl me over. Brooke Ligertwood's vocals were somewhat reminiscent of Sinead O'Connor at times (remember her?) & were like a prayer set to music with the assembled congregation raising their praises to God with spontaneity but at the same time in unison like a polished choir…very hard to do & even more difficult for this to translate successfully on to a CD but they've done it here. Just cannot stop singing along to the refrain "Oh God, you are my God & I will ever praise you" which is no bad thing. "Love Like Fire" is similar & is another one that could be a great anthemic number, especially for big events. I can honestly say, the best worship CD I have heard in a very long time - one that is not going to gather dust on the shelf. Not a duff song to be found which is quite amazing. I do like worship CDs but don't generally gush about all the contents but I really cannot find a negative thing to say about this from the excellent music & vocals to the powerful praises. If you buy 1 worship CD this year, this would be a cracking choice. 10/10 Simon Redfern (December 2010, Album of the Month)
HILLSONG LONDON : Jesus Is. (Authentic : HMACD197)
If you want a contemporary worship album that's full of purpose and passion for God, this is the one for you. It's in your face, high octane stuff that leaves a burning in your heart to know Jesus more. I'm not sure what these people at Hillsong London have, but please can you send some to my part of the UK? From the very first song, there's just a feeling of "togetherness" that springs out and wraps around you. Whereas, some live albums leave you a little distant from proceeding, this one really does reach out and grab you. Songs like "Lord of All", "Only One For Me" and "Follow the Son" are just full of praise and power. "Hosanna" is such a simple song, but the collective praise makes it stand out as something very special. "Above All" has a touch of Coldplay about it, in style, but everything else is just so original. The accompanying DVD is well worth a look too, as it gives you a little more insight of actually "being there". 9/10 (September 2006)
HILLSONG UNITED : United WE Stand. (Hillsong : HMACD193)
"United We Stand" is the latest offering from Hillsong United, the youth ministry of this Australian based church. It features 13 news song, and is an expression of the hearts of young people towards their saviour Jesus Christ. There's some cracking songs come out of this church in the past, and this collection is no exception. "The Time Has Come" is an excellent song of praise and is followed by the brilliant "Take It all" - complete with football chant chorus. "From God Above" is another uptempo song, sung in praise of Jesus and you really need a breather in the pace by now. Thankfully, that comes in the shape of "From the Inside Out", where the voices of those gathered really do join as one mighty voice. Mid album, there's a quieter time of worship before the speakers explode with the punk style "Revelution". The album closes with 4 slower songs of worship which help to bring the listener into a closeness with God. The bonus DVD promised on the Cd sleeve was missing from my package but it apparently features a history of Hillsongs and interviews with many who have been involved. Great album, great package. 9/10. (July 2006)
HILLSONG UNITED : Zion. (Hillsong : HMACD275)
This is Hillsong United’s third studio album, following the rather indifferent release of ‘Aftermath’ in 2011. This time, the sound and concept of the album has changed dramatically and that results in one glorious release. The opening ‘Relentless’ has a great electronic sound to it, and the song is really moving, as the lyrics describe God’s love as being ‘relentless’. ‘Up In Arms’ is mature pop, whilst ‘Oceans’ has a more intimate quality, where the female vocalist leads sensitively until the song explodes with the power of the Holy Spirit. I very much liked the atmospheric ‘Mercy Mercy’, complete with its, practically, monotone vocal. The album flourishes throughout, and ‘Love Is War’ is one of those songs that simply washes over you as you focus on God, completely. The title track is an instrumental, and I’d love to see a choreographed dance set to it. On it’s own, it’s truly powerful, but I feel that there’s even more that it could offer. If you think that you know what to expect from a Hillsong album, then think again. This is a huge step forward in praise and worship, which concludes in the epic (in a Coldplay sort of way) ‘King of Heaven’. A wonderful album. 10/10. (May 2014, Album of the Month)
HILLSONG UNITED : The White Album. (Hillsong : HMACD285)
I’ve got to admit that this album was a bit of a shock to the system, for me. It takes many previously released Hillsong United songs, and gives them a complete overhaul in the shape of remixes, created by engineers and musicians. Tracks are full of loops, sound clips, and various electronic sounds, and it all comes over like something of a scientific experiment. I wasn’t very impressed by either ‘With Everything’ or ‘Scandal of Grace’, as the tracks seemed to take out the very life of the original songs. On the contrary, ‘Like An Avalanche’ works well, and it’s new version was very passionate. ‘Aftermath’ is a relaxing sound, but the destruction of ‘Hosanna’ had me tearing my hair out in frustration. The only way I could describe the finished sound is “the death of a song”. I understand that remixes have been around for a number of years, yet I haven’t really warmed to them. On this occasion, I was curious to hear how these songs could have had new life breathed into them. Certainly, those responsible for these versions haven’t just added a few alternative drum beats. They have gone much further than that, and offer fourteen tracks that have had the full remix treatment. I think that this album is a brave release and it will be interesting to see how it’s received by the media and Hillsong fans alike. For me, I prefer the originals. 6/10. (May 2014)
HILLSONG UNITED : Zion - Acoustic Sessions. (Hillsong : HMACDDVD283)
This is a stripped down version of the Hillsong CD called Zion, which I must admit that I’ve never heard, so I can’t compare the two side by side. This CD starts off with a song called “Relentless” which is a fairly straightforward upbeat affair, to get things moving. This song was ok, but by the time I got three or four tracks into this CD it was getting a bit boring. Individually all of the songs on this album are ok, as an album it just seems to lack any kind of energy. When I was listening to it I kept waiting for something to spark it into life, but it just doesn’t happen. Perhaps Hillsong should have left the original album alone, and recorded some new songs rather than rehashing old material. Sorry, but this album really doesn’t work for me. 5/10 Andy Sayner. Editor’s note: The accompanying DVD to this package was not available for review. (May 2014)
HILLSONG UNITED : The 1 Heart Revolution - We're All in This Together. Hillsong/Kingsway HMADVD214
Filmed over a period of 2 years and lasting almost 2 hours, the main feature on this DVD is a fast moving 'social justice from a Christian perspective' documentary, focusing on the world tour of the worship band Hillsong United as they cover 6 continents, 42 nations and 93 cities. It captures well the frenetic pace of touring, the heavy demands on the band ("Where are we this morning? - I have no idea. Is it morning?!") - but the main thrust is to use the tour to highlight the contrast between the 'haves' and the far more numerous 'have-nots' of this world. The style of the whole presentation is very contemporary, with much use of black and white and grainy images, an ever-moving camera and extremely fast editing. Whilst these are used to good effect to reflect the intensity of the touring, I found it often too fast paced for an old stager like myself - at only 10 minutes in I wrote 'getting difficult to watch, feel a headache coming on'. I persevered however, and was glad I did. The messages here need to be heard and are powerfully portrayed - 'injustice is alive and well in our world, much of the media content that we see is lies, 'things' will never satisfy us. We are breeding a media-culture generation of people who are inwardly hurting, always looking for the next thing to satisfy them, largely ignorant of the suffering being endured by so many people in our world, and with no answer.' The presentation uses to good effect regular flashes across the screen of appropriate soundbites e.g. 'the deepest need of a person is to know who they are', 'if I find nothing in this world that completely fulfills my desires, the probable explanation is that I was made for another world' (C S Lewis) and 'injustice is solved by US being IN jUStice'. A clear evangelical message is presented towards the end - 'Jesus didn't die to give us religion, He died to show us love.' 'People get things wrong, God does all things right.' 'We don't attend church, we ARE the church.' Extras include music videos. One thing to watch out for is that the review copy was not region 2, so needed a multi region dvd player - Kingsway were confident that this was a one-off. 10/10 for the message therefore, but taking into account the frenetic editing and grainy images that really did seem to get in the way sometimes, 7/10. Dave Deeks (February 2011)
Hillsong, United - The Tour Collection. (Hillsong/Kingsway : HMAPK 1012)
Arguably the most influential worship movement of the last few years, Hillsong treads the fine line between performance and worship. This collection of four cds (three previous releases; Look to You, 2005; United We Stand, 2006; All of the Above, 2007; plus a bonus cd) only seeks to muddy the boundary further with the inclusion of a tour poster style insert which seems to somewhat jar with its worship focus. One thing is for sure, the detractors will just hate this all the more whilst the fans will continue to love it. Musically, well, you will probably recognise the Hillsong sound by now, a sort of U2/Delirious?/Noughties rock mix which is in some ways progressive but in others derivative. It's loud and brash and if that's how you like your worship then you will love this. However, unless you really want the bonus cd (which contains a picture gallery, videos and some sheet music) it's not worth buying this compilation if you already have the cds in your collection. The bonus disc isn't really worth the extra expense in my opinion, though you may find the chord sheets useful. This cd better serves those who are perhaps wondering what all the fuss is about and would like to dip their toes into the muddied waters of Hillsong worship for the first time. 7/10 Robin Thompson. (May 2011)
HILLSONG UNITED : Aftermath. (Hillsong : HMACD239)
This is Hillsong United’s second studio album, aimed at youth groups, but lacking that live feel of previous releases. Wheras those earlier recordings have been filled with excitement; most of this track listing is rather lack lustre. ‘Take Heart’ is a dirge of a song, with a teased out orchestration that left me completely cold. ‘Go’ rocks things up, while the female rock singer on ‘Like An Avalanche’ lends her vocals in a style that can only be described as a cross between Enya and Pink! There follows two very unimpressive songs, and a simply awful instrumental interlude. My thoughts weren’t improved by the wacky type spacing of the track lists. Try as I may, I found it impossible to work out where one title ended and the next began. Therefore, I can only call the next two songs, tracks 7 & 8, and found them to be tiring prog’ rock in style. ‘Light Will Shine’ and ‘Search My Heart’ ( I think these are the titles) redeemed what had been a disappointing album, with a lighter, more accessible feel, but things took an almighty nosedive again with an inept version of Chris Tomlins’ ‘Awakening’. I’m not sure if the band aren’t used to being in the recording studio, but certainly the live albums are much better than this. 5/10 (August 2011)
HILLSONG YOUTH : We Are Young and Free.
Here’s the thing. I don’t fall into the “youth” category anymore, and haven’t done for some time, so it’s usually impossible for me to “get” things that are aimed at young people. It also means I probably can’t tell you if young people will like something or not. This album has a distinct advantage though; it is produced by the young people it seeks to serve, so it should get close to the mark. Well, that’s the logic anyway. However, it also means I’m expecting something different – something a little more cutting edge. Perhaps new and innovative? So does this album deliver that? The first three tracks “Brighter”, “Alive” and “Wake” are moderately uptempo, with a distinctly familiar edge but with more of a dance groove than you’d normally get. The first two do sound like they could have been done by One Direction or the Wanted though and I don’t think that’s necessarily a good thing. They’re not clones of those bands but the style and melodies just have undercurrents that hint at those groups. After that the album descends into an all too familiar mid-tempo to intimate ballad mush. It’s not that it’s bad it’s just that it doesn’t offer the fresh edge I had been anticipating and expecting. So to answer my question, no, it doesn’t really deliver. Sure it’s well produced, well performed and full of worship but I I’m left wondering where the musical legacy of the church is going? On this evidence, it’s a little stuck in a rut at the moment. 5/10. Robin Thompson. (May 2014)
HISTORY MAKERS : Get Up. (Authentic : 8204702)
I'm not sure why it's taken several months for this release to find it's way to my desk, but I first read about this album last June. It's emanated from the Australian Youth Conference of the same name, and this album starts off in loud tones. In fact, the first four tracks are so loud, I had to turn them down to try and hear the vocals properly. It's a guitar rock sound and the singer on 'Praise Him' seems to do nothing except yell the title at you. The title track follows in similar vein but is the strongest of the early numbers. Then, just as you're ready for another blast of your ear drums, things go quiet. The pace finally drops and out of your speakers comes praise and worship songs such as 'Away With You' and 'All I Need'. 'I Exalt Thee' is quite an epic piece of music as it plods along at medium pace. These three songs are, indeed, the purple patch of the album but from there after, it rather splutters to an end. Australia has a vibrant Christian youth culture, but I'm sure that there's better sounds than this. 4/10. (March 2009)
HOG. 'Booitz'. (ICY/ICC).
Lee Jackson and Justin Thomas are the Leeds based Hip-hop kings, with style and humour to keep their audience happy. Matching this EP against similar chart sounds, it compares favourably, even with the West Yorkshire accents. The title track opens things off in rap mood, with Justin supplying the vocals and Lee providing the mixing techniques that have made him such 'hot property' on the DJ circuit. All 5 songs proclaim the gospel in HOG's own inimitable style, of which the slower 'Catch My Drift' is my favourite. HOG are playing at many of this summer's festivals. Go and look in their house! 7/10. (July 1996)
HOLLAND DAVIS : Healing Word. (Calvary Chapel Music : 69002)
Acoustic worship doesn't come much more unimaginative than this. Honestly, it was a great joy for me not to have to listen to it again, it was that boring. Holland begins with an edgy sounding number called "Wait For You" which, I guess, isn't too bad. However, by the time he uses a well used worship cliché in "I Will Stand", the writing was on the wall. Just how many more songs can include the tired and drained line "I was lost, but now I'm found". Words are predictable in many of the songs and the tedious 8 minute (it seemed longer) "Healing Word" consisted mainly of the title being repeated over and over again. I suppose it was meant to be prayerful and meditative, but "painful"was the word that sprung to my mind. Based at the Calvary Chapel in California, Holland is a worship leader - I trust his ministry there is more useful than this. 2/10 (January 2004)
HOLLY STARR : Focus.   (Provident : 8 59708 39473 3)
21 year old Holly Starr says; “I want to be around, to be able to disciple kids that I really love in my life,” Starr shares. “But because of this calling, I’m not constant in people’s lives. Learning to balance all that has been a challenge for me, but it’s been a huge blessing to see how, when God calls us to something, He provides, and He gives time.” This is her third album and from the start, it’s pretty obvious that she has a heart for teenagers. All the songs on the album talk about the different aspects of a relationship with God and, while she doesn’t have all the answers, she gives a few pointers on the way. Like, on ‘Let Go’ Holly tells you that you have to leave your past behind, along with all your “baggage”, and find a new life in God. The songs are quite sugary pop at times, but I think that it’s this style that will appeal to young people. ‘Don’t Have Love’ is a bouncy number. The lyrics say that, you may think you have everything in a material world, it means nothing if you don’t have God’s love in your heart. Similarly, in your busy life, ‘Focus’ is all about making time each day to be with the Lord. Even for this old dog, there were still a few lyrics that I found encouraging but, for teenagers, Holly Starr is bound to appeal.   8/10. (February 2013)
HOLY SOLDIER : Encore. (Spaceport/Word : SPRCD9701)
This collection of songs have previously topped the CCM radio charts in the US. Basically, it's a best of album, recorded - on the whole - live and brought back original lead singer Steven Patrick. 5 tracks come from their 1990 self titled album which was, arguably, their best. Unfortunately, 'See No Evil' lacks any real punch and 'When the Rain Comes Down' is quite soggy. 'Lies' brings a reprieve to the tedium, aligning stadium rock and heavy metal to one point of glory. "Have You Got A Ticket For the Last Train", asks track 8. Nice idea about judgement day, pity about the song. 'Eyes of Innocence' gets the acoustic treatment, and comes up quite well but I was pretty disappointed with this. 3/10. (November 1997)
THE HONEY THIEVES : Heart Shaped Hole EP (CD from: 8 The Avenue, Gorebridge, Midlothian, Scotland, EH23 4AG.
This is the forth self financed CD from this Scottish band, and is an excellent EP of four songs - well, five really as they've tagged a 'hidden' one on at the end. Difficult to define the style, as I thought I was in for some blues from the first track 'Blinded'. Great lyrics based on the road to Emmaus story, and Peter Semple's vocals are moody and atmospheric. He reminded me a little of David Gray. But with the addition of mandolin, and acoustic guitar based, the next three tracks were more of a soft rock, almost country rock style. 'A Pleasant Passing' was very memorable, and had a good hook, but I wasn't so sure about the falsetto vocals on 'Morning Sun'. However, why or why did they include 'God Bless America' as a hidden track?? Apparently it's an avant guard, experimental arrangement of a guitar-attack version they play live. I liked it a lot. Very poignant lyrics, especially in the light of September 11, and an ambient background to what can only be described as electronic reggae. I can see this on MTV and charting in the secular charts, given slightly better production. It's different, and things that are different catch the ear. I really hope this lot travel the hundred miles south to Tyneside - I'd love to catch them live.
8/10 Julie Lord. (March 2002)
HOPE OF THE NATIONS : A Cry For Mercy. (Hosanna! Music : 21382)
To praise and worship God is one of the most important things that we do on earth. This album has been produced to encourage just that, and contains songs old and new from a whole host of writers. It's a smashing start, as Eoghan Heaslip (very underrated in my opinion) belts out "Arise King of Kings" in typical uptempo style. Equally as stirring is Brian Doerksen's "Hope of the Nations" which captures the very essence of power praise. Another writer I've come to admire over the last few years is Paul Baloche, as his songs always seem to have that extra little something about them. Here, both "The Way" and "You Are the One" (the latter co-written with Lincoln Brewster) shine really bright. On the down side, I found Darrell Evans' closing "Lay My Life Down" rather OTT with full musical backing and would much prefer it done with quieter feeling. But, again, that's my opinion and that's why I'm here. 8/10. (October 2003)
HOPES & DREAMS - A New Musical for a New Millenium. (Kingsway: KMCD2058)
Not having actually seen the musical itself, I've found it very hard to link one piece of music to the next. An ordinary album usually flows quite well but this is not the case with Hopes & Dreams. Paul Field is the driving force behind most of the writing and it's not a whole lot different to a project he wrote more than 10 years ago. There's a couple of short pieces to open things up befire we're led into a jazz/funk affair called "Step By Step". Then, it's MOR pop with a dash of gospel until we reach "Breaking Point". Here's a powerful song that is closely followed by the title track that has a wonderful choir in full voice - possibly the best cut. Sir Cliff's contribution on "The Lord's Prayer" is nothing special and the country tinged "Glorious Sight" sounds pretty dated. An overview of the story in the sleeve notes might have helped the listener but this one wasn't too impressed. 5/10 (April 1999)
THE HOPPERS : Great Day. (Spring Hill)
The Hoppers have enjoyed tremendous success through three decades in the US. Although the have enjoyed many popular hit releases, their first Number One release came in 1990 with the song entitled "Here I Am", which stayed at the top of the charts for 4 months and was awarded song of the year. In fact, no Southern Gospel recording artist has enjoyed more Number One hits or more Top Five single releases than The Hoppers. So, with that build up behind me, I played the new release. Now, over the past couple of years, I've come to enjoy quite a few Southern gospel artists, such as Legacy 5, for instance, but I'm afraid The Hoppers didn't manage to catch my imagination. It's a very tired and old fashioned sort of album that had me, at one stage, thinking back to second rate seaside variety shows. "I Sing The Mighty power…" reminded me of Christmas, while "See How She Loves Him" is a cross between a negro spiritual song, and one of those awful half-spoken country numbers about someone dying. "We Are America" holds up the stars and stripes as America the Great, and is the most terrible trans-atlantic rubbish I've heard for some time. The only line the song doesn't actually say is "We're American and we're the best people in the world".. Saving the album from complete oblivion comes the ballad "Child of God", and the tastefully produced hymn "Come See Me". Otherwise, in the words of Jukebox Jury, I'd give it a miss. 3/10. (March 2004, also April 2004)
THE HOPPERS : North America Live! (Curb :4900192)
The Hoppers' musical legacy has so far lasted more than 50 years, and it shows no sign of slowing down. This current ensemble seems to be more popular than ever in their native U.S. but, as yet, they've made little headway here in the UK. I may be wrong, but I don't think that the group has toured here in the last few years but I'm sure that they'd get a warm reception. Their music is downright, easy listening, southern gospel and from the opening 'Holy Ghost Wind' you can tell that the audience warmly appreciate what's on offer. The harmonies and counter melodies on 'Jesus Saves' are top notch, while the song 'Pathway Built For Two' is well sung, too. There's a theme of love that runs through the album, and a few vocal introductions to songs help you feel part of the event. 'On My Journey Home' is a catchy number, but I thought the touching 'Mama Was Praying For Me' would bring a lump to most people's throat. It could be a song that sung wrongly, would have a lot of people reaching for the "skip" button on their CD player, but here, The Hoppers excel. A worthy release that warrants a listen or tow. 8/10 (September 2009)
HOSANNA GOLD : 50 Praise Worship Classics. (Kingsway : KWCD333)
One glance at the track listing of this three CD offering resulted in me only recognizing a handful of the titles. And, after listening to them all, I can only guess that all of them were popular in the 70'sand 80's. There are no credits listed for the artists featured, but I'm guessing that American gospel groups like the Maranatha Singers are responsible for the sugar coated attempt of making music for Jesus more popular to the masses. Thankfully, what it does, is show how musical styles and tastes have changed during the last twenty-five years - much to my relief! 'Ah Lord God' is only one of several tracks that give younger listeners just what praise and worship music was like before the likes of Delirious?, Matt Redman, and even Graham Kendrick. And, there's even some of that "happy clappy"feel about some of the songs too. 'I Will Call Upon The Lord' is one of the songs I am familiar with, but this version is so watered down, that it just doesn't sound like worship as we know it today. One track that did raise my spirits was 'Jesus, We Celebrate Your Victory'. Well known and loved, it seems to have stood the test of time and shines out on this tepid collection. Unlike rock n roll, that has stayed popular throughout the years, I can't see this album having much more than very limited appeal. 4/10. (October 2012)
HOSANNA MUSIC : Songs of Praise & Worship. (Hosanna/Word: 110002)
"AS you listen to these songs, you will find yourself drawing closer to God as He strengthens and encourages you with His Word". Well, that's what the sleeve notes say, and that's exactly what happens. Ten tracks of highly listenable p&w music in an array of styles. From the Caribbean feel of "Lord Be Magnified" we're led into a rock ballad called "Enter Into His Gates". There's a reggae style about "Trust in the Lord" and lovely harmonies to the light, "No Condemnation". All the songs are linked to scripture verses and display a happy and joyful feeling throughout. Serious musicians may find the songs nothing out of the ordinary, but their simplicity is the real strength here. "Wings Like Eagles" is a powerful ballad, and only "I Will Sing Praise" dips in quality. Pity there's less than 40 minutes. 8/10. (March 1998)
HOT GOSPEL : Many Rooms. (www.hotgospel.co.uk)
Although this choir was only formed a few short years ago, they have already made quite a name for themselves by playing at numerous, prestigious events and venues around the UK. Based in East Yorkshire, under the guiding hand of Helen Garnett, they are the north-east’s answer to the London Community Gospel Choir. This debut release finds Hot Gospel in top form, and features 12v tracks, totalling more than 60 minutes of music. ‘You’ve Got the Love/Kumbaya’ opens the listing, and instantly there are some very strong vocals. ‘Faithful’ is a great song, where all the voices and instruments come together as one, in perfect harmony. The old Edwin Hawkins hit ‘Happy Day’ rather overstays it’s welcome, as it gets a little repetitive, but the choir’sversion of ‘Shackles’ is really powerful. Musical backingo n the album comes from Dave Bradfield (Drums), Dave Short (Bass Guitar), and Antoine Robinson (Piano, Hammond Organ, & Acoustic guitar), and they prove to be more than capable in this department. Other highlights include the excellent ‘Do You Know Jesus’ and ‘You Raise Me Up’, with James Taylor taking the soloist spot on the latter. Closing the album is ‘My Life, My Love, My All’, where Robinson’s intuitive piano playing caresses each word of the song. Live, Hot Gospel are infectious, and this album manages to capture that spirit very well. 9/10 (June 2011)
HOUSE OF HEROES : Cold Hard Want. (Gotee Records : 66944700414)
This album starts off with a short track featuring just vocals, courtesy of a harmonise I suspect. If not then they display excellent pitch and timing. After this though the album explodes into life with “Out Of My Way” which is a fast paced rock song, followed by “Dance” which is a similar kind of thing featuring some catchy riffs on the guitar. There are some slower songs too. “The Cop” is a nice change in tempo, featuring again some nice harmonies. The final track “I Am A Symbol” is an excellent song, which starts off quietly and gradually builds up into a full blown rock song which provides a suitable end to a really good album. It seems that this band have been around for quite a while without getting much attention from radio stations, which is a shame, as this band is as good as any who are around at the moment. If you like powerful rock songs with nice hook lines, and some good guitar playing you could do a lot worse than giving this CD a try. The only thing I didn’t like was the rear sleeve, the tracks seem to be randomly spread all over the place, and it wasn’t until I stuck it into itunes that I could tell for certain what the tracks were actually called. This is only a minor thing though, and doesn’t really detract from the music itself. 9/10 Andy Sayner. (August 2013)
House of Worship : More Than Life. (Integrity : 24562)
Integrity have a habit of bringing lesser known US praise & worship albums to the notice of the UK, and this is just one. 11 all new songs, written and performed by emerging worship leaders from the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, with sounds that border on soft rock. Glenn Packiam's "We Lift You Up" springs no surprises lyrically, but it's a good song, with a good feeling about it. Ross Parsley asks for "More of You" in his life, as he praises the Lord in a nice production, while Matthew Fallentine's "Essence" is slightly lighter in feel. Although there's many different songs featured, there is still a feel of continuity about the finished product, thanks to the use of the same musicians throughout. Darren Morehouse's slower number "My Soul Cries Out" is a song of great strength, and I can see great potential with this one with congregations all over the world. One of the many good things about this album is that the music does travel well. By that, I mean that if I'd been played the songs only, and had no press release, it could have been Spring Harvest. 9/10. (May 2003)
HOW TO BE A GREAT SOUND ENGINEER. (Elevation : ELE1658A)
Brian Hilson has over 40 years experience of a live sound engineer, and along with Elevation, he has put together this DVD training tool that will be a boon to any budding sound person. Saying that, after using my own PA's for 20 years, I still found some very useful tips within the package. Passing on his knowledge, Brian presents a series of lectures and demonstrations under the main headings of Fundamentals of Sound Systems in Worship, Driving the desk - an introduction to sound engineering, and Effective Sound Checks - to enhance the worship experience. Within these main titles, Brian explains the use and misuse of microphones, sound systems and feedback, mixer operation & equalisation, gain structure, setting up an initial monitor mix, and a whole host of other relevant subjects. A real lot of thought and effort has gone into this DVD and my only criticism would be that in Brian's vocal delivery. As a public speaker myself, I found it to lack variance and consequently had difficulty in keeping my attention for the length of each session. However, I would still recommend this tool over the many books I have read on the subject. 8/10 (July 2011)
THE HUDSON TAYLORS : The Lord Bless and Keep You. (Kingsway : KWCD3292)
Noel Richards, Brian Houston and Wayne Drain formed The Hudson Taylors a decade ago, with no fixed plans beyond a few gigs together and an opportunity to record in the USA. There, in Nashville, they turned up to simply ‘see what happened’. The result was Hurricane - their 2002 album, released by Kingsway. Now, some ten years on, the follow up is here. When you get three individuals like this, all taking their turn to write and sing, the result can be a little dis-jointed. But, that’s not the case here. There’s a foot tappin’, bright start with the title track, which is quickly followed by a rougher sound that reminded me of UK artist Scott Anthony Wainwright. ‘As For Me and My House’, I found that to be a really engaging song, while ‘Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow’ followed suit. I must admit that I enjoyed Noel Richards’ vocals the most, and especially on ‘Draw Me To Your Sacred Place’. ‘Be Still My Soul’ is sung in a prayerful manner, while ‘Breath of Life’ enjoys the sound of similar worship. An entertaining album, from three anointed singer/songwriters. 8/10. (April 2012)
HYLDAS : As the Rain Hides the Stars. (hyldas@orangehome.co.uk)
Clare Hunt and Mike Clifford began to write and play music together a few years ago. They both liked the idea of putting old hymns with great words to folk tunes old and new. Many old hymns are combinations of poems or prayers set to folk tunes, bridging the sacred / secular divide. They continued this process and were inspired by words of poets and meditations used by a local Christian Ecumenical Community. Joined by good friend, Tim Thwaites, this Cd is the result. I must admit that it’s quite some time since I reviewed a folk album, and it made for a pleasant listen. ‘For the Beauty of the Earth’ sounds delightful, complete with whistles and violins, to carry Clare’s warm vocal tones. ‘God My Redeemer’ sounds almost like a lullabye, while ‘Hear My Prayer’ comes over like a cross between blue grass and negro spiritual. Based on Psalm 130, ‘Out of Our Depths’ is a soul crying out for the Lord, and similarly ‘How Long, O Lord’ laments on waiting for God’s help in time of sorrow. On both songs, the violin sound comes to the fore and on the latter, it reminded me of 80’s band, Dark Horses’ song ‘The Denial’. All the instruments work well together, and the medley of ‘Sweet Bonnie Lass’ and ‘Rothbury Holiday’ instrumental is super. The words of Genesis 28 have been used on ‘Gate of Heaven’ and this sees some nice harmonies on show. It’s not an exciting album, by any means, but for those who like their music to have an acoustic sound, this fits the bill perfectly. 8/10. (March 2014)
THE HYMN MAKERS - Charles Wesley. (Kingsway : KMCD2817)
Now, the first thing that caught my eye with this release was the interesting, and thoughtful packaging. It's a 2CD collection of the hymns of Wesley, in a sleeve that looks like a hardback book. Also included is a 7 page booklet, as well as the words, giving a brief history of the man himself. There are 27 hymns featured, and I'm sure that you will know most of them. However, like I, you might be surprised that it was Wesley who wrote a particular favourite. All the hymns are song in choral form, with accappella numbers being mixed with church organ accompaniment. Favourites of mine include a rather refrained version of 'And Can It Be', 'O For A Thousand Tongues' and 'Ye Servants of God'. From those new to me, 'O Love Divine, How Sweet Thou Art' and 'Lord, We Believe to Us and Ours' stood out. All in all, well put together and a must for lovers of traditional hymns. 7/10. (Feburary 2008)
'The Hymn Makers – “Best Loved Hymns 2”. (Kingsway : KWCD3136)
It is three years ago that I favourably reviewed the Hymn Makers release devoted to the compositions of Ira D Sankey. In contrast, this CD covers a wide range of hymnwriters – as did the first 'Best loved hymns' from 2003, entitled 'How great Thou art'. The packaging is an uninspiring black affair, but full printed lyrics are provided. The Sankey release featured orchestral accompaniment. Here however, with the exception of brass on the last track 'Round the Lord in glory seated', the choir is either supported by a church organ, or is unaccompanied. The arrangements are traditional and again very well recorded with all words clearly heard – or I assume so, as two tracks are in (I think) Welsh, as is the first part of 'Here is love'! The Welsh tracks sound as though they were recorded in a different acoustic – but this serves only to add some variety to proceedings, rather than spoiling them. The tune to 'O Jesus I have promised' was unfamiliar to me, but beautifully done. 'We plough the fields and scatter' (as a small boy I remember asking dad why we plough the fields and then run away in all directions) is a twee melody that I simply don't like, and was the weakest track for me. As I concluded with the Ira D Sankey CD however, those who like traditional hymns traditionally done will find much to enjoy here. 8/10. Dave Deeks (January 2013) Forward to the next archive
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