Never for Nothing - CCM Record Reviews archive W
#WORSHIP : Cornerstone. (Elevation : ELE2100D)
The #Worship series features current and contemporary songs of worship written by some of the finest writers in the world today. There are 12 songs featured, and the opening two stick out like sore thumbs. Both “Because of Your Love” and “All God’s Children” are indie rock numbers, and I’m just puzzled by their inclusion. Maybe I’m beginning to show my age, but as a worship leader myself, I just cannot see either song engaging people in worship. However, all is not lost, as following these tracks, there are quite number of acoustic based songs that are more akin to worship, as I know it. “Today is the Day” is a bright little number with a female vocal that reminded me of Carolyn Arends. The title track gets a rather nice, laid back outing, whilst the stripped back acoustic version of “Your Grace Finds Me” works well vocally as a duet. “Indescribable” has a big production, but it’s Tim Hughes’ “Everything” that really shines out on this album. The female singer has a lovely voice, and makes this her own, with a tremendous version. Other song writers include Vicky Beeching and Paul Baloche. As for me, I’m still questioning those first two songs. 8/10. (September 2016)
#WORSHIP : Our God. (ELECD2101D)
The popular #Worship series returns with more songs for the church which features current and contemporary songs of worship, written by some of the finest writers in the world today. There’s a nice mix of new and more familiar songs on show, with “God of Wonders” kicking things off. There’s a rather rough vocal sound to “Holy is the Lord”, but it works well with just a mandolin backing. “Our God” gets a top rating from me, as it’s such a powerful version. The female vocals are top notch and the thrashing guitars help to get the message across that “Our God is Greater.” In similar style, “You Never Let Go” has a prevailing sound that just hits the right note. Of the newer songs, the quieter “Would You Restore”, written by Steve Fortunato is really good. On both “The Power of the Cross” and “Amazing Grace” vocalists are at the forefront of the songs, as just piano is used for accompaniment. I thought that the former worked well, but I wasn’t too sure about the latter. It seemed to lack any real meaning. Of the others, “Because of the Cross” deserves a mention. The female vocalist reminded me of Leigh Nash, and consequently the sound came over in a Sixpence None the Richer sort of way. Some nice choices of tracks here, and well worth a listen. 7/10. (November 2016)
#WORSHIP : Holy Spirit, You Are Welcome Here. (Elevation : ELE2175D)
Here’s the latest in the popular #Worship series, with 12 more songs of worship. First up is David Lyon’s Celtic folk song, “I Will Hope.” It’s bright and cheery, and encourages the listener to join in. Ben Cantelon’s “Love Came Down” is full of predictable clichés, such as “I was blind but now I see” and “I was lost but found in you.” I can’t say that the song impressed me much. “Waiting Here For You” is a slower number, while the title track sees the song writing credits of Bryan & Katie Torwalt. My favourite track has to be “Calvary.” Written by Reuben Morgan and Jonas Myrin, it’s a gentle sound but I was really moved by the chorus. As usual, no credits are given for the vocalists, but the female voice here is lovely. An acoustic, Celtic sound accompanies “Alleluia, He Has Loved Us” before the album seems to move into big production songs. Both “Christ Be All Around Me” and “At the Cross” sound as though they have both been lifted from a Hillsong event. Pete James’ “Talk to Jesus” is a prayerful song that reminds us that Jesus’ ear will never turn away. There are some good songs featured on this album, but on the whole it did sound a rather dis-jointed listen. 6/10. (February 2017)
What happens when Terry Chism, the worship leader from Noonday Baptist Church, Marrieta, Georgia, embarks on a project with the seemingly paradoxical Rich Ward from secular rock band Fozzy? The answer is Walking with Kings, a Christian rock band inspired by the sounds of Stryper, Journey and Boston. Though there is a huge variety of Christian rock bands out there, there very few Christian bands in what I would call the traditional or melodic rock genre. So, as a musician heavily influenced by this style, I viewed the Walking with Kings album with heavy and hopeful interest. It’s not a worship album though some songs, particularly the opener “Mention of Your Name” are worship songs. It is instead an album to be listened to, to be savoured or maybe even enjoyed with a heavy dose of air guitar. The songs are excellent and there is a surprising amount of variation between them with at one minute, driving rhythms in the vein of “Helloween” and in another a more classic “Bon Jovi” style sound. Indeed, in the title track both of these are evident in the same song. Another song of note and probably the best of them all is “Friends” - in the days when singles were more important, this song would have undoubtedly been the first one off the album. It’s a tremendous debut and what’s more it is available as free download from the band’s website. Yes you read that right - free! Just google their name and you’ll find it. You won’t be disappointed. 10/10 Robin Thompson. (April 2012)
THE WALLS GROUP : The Other Side. (RCA Inspiration)
Rhea, Ahjah, Darrell, and Paco are the four siblings who make up the Walls Group. Portrayed as, mainly, a gospel group, I was surprised to find elements of blues and country mixed in the track listing. Kirk Franklin fans will enjoy songs like “My Life,” “The Prayer” and the funky sounding “Good,” but it was the female vocals on “And You Don’t Stop” that made me sit up and take note of the lovely harmonies. It doesn’t matter hpw many years that I’ve been reviewing albums, I just can’t get my head around rap. “Mercy” is one such number, where the vocalist just seems to make up the lyrics as he goes along. There’s no storyline, and I’m sure that he uses several words that aren’t in any dictionary that I know of. The piano and orchestral sounds of “My Worship” bring a welcome change of style to proceedings. Giving thanks to God, it’s a nice ballad with more excellent harmonies. The last three tracks had me scratching my head. Suddenly, there was a sound of contemporary country music being played. The title track sounds very much in the mould of Rascal Flatts, as does the following “Count on You.” Finally, there’s nearly 10 minutes of “The Rock.” The message is “Trust in Jesus” and that’s all you need to know. A mixed bag then, but worth a listen or two. 6/10. (July 2018)
WARR ACRES : Hope Will Rise. (Dream Records)
An odd name to UK ears, Warr Acres is a city in Oklahoma and the band (formerly known as VMusic) started out as a high school worship team there. Lyrically their roots show (not a bad thing – there’s no doubt what they stand for), but the overall sound has developed to a more energetic pop/rock sound, in a Kelly Clarkson/Taylor Swift sort of way (the intro to “Light Up The Night” with its rock guitars and electronic whistle’d motif demonstrates this well). That said they cover quite a few genres, sometimes feeling more like a compilation album (but therefore never dull). I loved the string stabs and Muse-like keyboard riff leading into “Beautifully Complete”. There are some quieter numbers in here, the title track having a real uplifting chorus that I could imagine stadiums singing along to but “Psalm 27” is the best of these, led very well by piano and is very well arranged, working through energies and taking you with them. As with most pop/rock, there’s a feeling that you’ve heard some of it before (it’s called ‘popular’ for a reason after all) but I couldn’t help but feel I actually had heard “This Beautiful Life” before, complete with arrangement – and the intro to “So Much Greater” was pure Snow Patrol (but with a much better chorus). The whole CD is really well produced, played and arranged. They clearly know what they’re doing and they’re doing it well. Best track: “Beautifully Complete” (although I did spend a week with “This Beautiful Life” in my head). 8/10 Paul Ganney. (December 2013)
WARREN BARFIELD : Reach. (Essential : 02341-0100-2)
Warren Barfield was born in Carolina, and released his debut album in 2003. Of his new album, he says "This record is talking myself through the last year or two of my life. It's a lot of questions about things I've faced in the career and the business world, a lot of things I've faced in my personal life, things I've faced with my family. It's just talking me through who I am and what I stand on." I found that his songs tended to talk about his relationship with God, more than anything else, in styles such as blues and Michael Bolton type pop. "Saved", not surprisingly, is all about being saved, nd the song stands a good chance of being a radio hit. "Beyond the Walls" is another good song, but I struggled to make any real religious sense of the lyrics. Warren talks freely about God's love and being born again on songs like "Unleashed" and "Come Alive". I really liked Warren's vocals throughout, even if I didn't care for all the songs. I think he has a tremendous vocal quality and with the right songs, could make an even bigger splash than he has done already. 7/10 (August 2006)
WARRIORS WORSHIPPERS : Distinguished
This is the debut album from the San Diego based duo of Gino Mingo and Marcus Price who are both ex-NFL players. It is a gospel influenced R'n'B album featuring 10 original tracks plus a short interlude. The first few tracks, including the title track, are uptempo numbers, designed to get the album off to a good start but I found that they seemed to lack something, and it wasn't until "Say Something" that I thought the album was going to grab me. Unfortunately, it started to fall away with two archetypal ballad numbers. The brief respite of "It's Worth It" proved to be another false dawn. Let's be clear, it's a slick, well produced and very well performed album. But, as with so many albums, it is weak on the song front. So, rather than being distinguished, it's a little indistinguishable. Gino and Marco are excellent singers, typical of their genre, and make a very good job with the material they have got. But their talent is not enough to make this an album that can provide the freshness their website promises. The signs are there, but stronger material is needed. 5/10 Robin Thompson. (August 2008)
THE WASHINGTON PROJECTS : Space Time Continuum - The Flatline Remixes. (Save the City / Provident : 859707602587)
Since the break up of their previous group known as Souljahz, brother/sister combo Jekob & Rachael Washington have continued to produce music under the moniker of The Washington Projects. Space Time Continuum is a collection of remixes of the material from their previous 2 albums, bringing a mixture of hip hop, R&B, funk, pop and bass-thumping tunes that can hold their own amongst the best bangin' club tunes out there - thankfully with lyrical content that won't make the bleep machine go in to overdrive! You guess there's something a bit out of the ordinary when there's a De Lorean on the front cover of the album. The track selection kicks off with "Work", which infuses pop, club style beat and buckets of bass. The first few seconds you could almost be listening to an Ibiza club anthem from someone like Paul Oakenfold, but it doesn't quite turn in to the rave you might expect from the intro. "Time" follows on with similar style beats, but with vocals moving on from a pop style to hip hop when we get to "Diamonds". Great tunes but for me the vocals are more engaging when the lyrics are sung in the more traditional sense as opposed to the 'ho & yo' chants of the current hip hop crop. Yes I am getting old!! These guys can certainly sing though and can produce some stonking tunes that are best served up good 'n' loud with the bass high. The majority of the tunes on CD 1 are fast-paced club anthems with the odd sprinkling of more relaxed numbers like "My Dream" to break the energy fest up a little. The bonus CD "Light Up The Dark" is a reworking of a previous album that never made it to full CD release. You get the sense that this has been twiddled with a lot less than CD 1 and has a more raw R&B / hip hop flavour with much more relaxed tunes being prominent. No bad thing as it will give your sub woofer a bit of a rest as well as allow you to focus more on the lyrical content, some of which are loaded with attitude. Overall a good value offering which stands its ground against the secular competition. By no means perfect but lots to offer if you like it loud, thumpin' and you want to give your subs a good workout! 9/10 Simon Redfern. (December 2012)
WATERDEEP : Everybody's Beautiful. (Squint : 080688598921)
Featuring two husband and wife teams, Waterdeep try to combine
their moral based lyrics with a number of different musical styles.
For instance, play the first couple of tracks and you think that
you're in alternative rock land. But, by the time you reach track
4, it's time for pop. Remember Van Morrison and Sir Cliff Richard
teaming up to sing "Whenever God Shines His Light"?
Well, Waterdeep's version is almost a carbon copy and is the best
of the opening numbers. Then, after being lulled into a false
sense of security, Lori Chaffer's screeching vocals make you reach
for the volume control on "I'm Still Here". Husband,
Don's vocals are much better and his contributions on "Stranger
in This Land" and the title track produce this albums best
moments. Personal niggles about this CD also include the naff
computer enhanced video, and Squint's compulsive back to front
packaging. Sorry, it's just not funny anymore. 5/10. (February 2000)
WATERMARK : Constant. (Rocketown Records : 080688619121)
In a world where little is stable, there exist few things to count
on, fewer still that remain faithful through time. "God is
constant, and He has been pursuing each of us all the days of
our lives even before we were born," says Christy Nockels
- one half of the husband and wife duo. So, you may have gathered
that all the songs on this album are very personal, and written
by a couple who seem to have taken over the pure pop sound that
another married couple (Out of the Grey) used to produce. There's
a great prayer in the form of "Friend For Life", and
some lovely epherial backing vocals on "Holy" - my pick
of the bunch. no matter what you've done or gone through in your
life, track 8 says, "Let the God of all creation Carry You".
Simply said but beautifully produced. Nice album and Watermark's
best yet. 8/10. (July 2002 and August 2002)
WATERMARK : The Purest Place. (Rocketown : 826872003228.
Where Out of the Grey once ruled the CCM airwaves, Nathan And Christy Nockels seem to have overtaken their counterparts to take the mantle of top husband and wife duo. Their recipe for success is built around plain and simple gospel truths, sung to a similar pop style. Certainly over the last 3 years or so, this duo have consistently recorded and produced listenable albums for the MOR connoisseur. I can't say that there's one track that stood out from the rest, they're all above average, but not exactly earth shattering. "Knees to the Earth" came close to breaking the mould with it's song of pureness, and of one submitting everything to a loving God. Similarly, "Invade" prays that Jesus will come into your life, and into your home". The vocals and instrumentation are fine, but I'd just like Watermark to go that extra mile and find that something extra that would give them a really top-flight album. 7/10. (June 2005)
Rock or punk? That’s the question I asked myself as the CD played. In the end I didn’t care, but I think I probably ended up on the “punk” side (but with some definite rock-isms in there: the vocals don’t snarl for example, and “Greater Grace” is definitely a Fleetwood Mac shuffle). The speed is pure punk, but some of the themes and playing are more rock. Oh well, stop analysing – just sit back and enjoy it. It’s a very solid sound without being grating, more Sex Pistols than Buzzcocks and with titles like “Faith In Naturalism” and “Irrationality Of Relativism” the lyrics aim a bit more highbrow than the genre usually invites – offering opinion on these topics as well as statements like “following your will can be a scary thing”. It’s a very solid album, without a duff track in sight. They’re at their best when they lift their heads up for a breather and pace the track through light and shade, before going heads down for the finale. Best track: “Faith In Naturalism”. 7/10 Paul Ganney. (April 2014)
The Way Home (DVD, Kingsway/Red 5 Entertainment)
For those who grew up during the 1990s, Dean Cain will always be Superman, so it was something of a surprise to see him turn up as the workaholic father of a missing two year old in this drama, based on the true story of how Randy (Cain) and Christal (Lori Beth Edgeman) Simpkins’ missing son helped heal their marriage and change Randy’s outlook. Sadly this is where the surprises end, as the film follows a familiar formula for anyone who has seen one of the myriad “based on a true story” TV movies from the USA. The story starts with Randy in the office when he should be helping Christal get the family ready to go on vacation. On his return home, two year old Joe disappears while Randy is supposed to be putting him in the car, and the rest of the movie is about the search and Randy’s personal spiritual journey. The local churches are moved into action with scores of volunteers pouring in to assist, one such being Ed Walker (Sonny Shroyer – Dukes of Hazzard) who travels his own spiritual journey concerning the death of his younger brother years before. The movie is well made and the soundtrack effective, though not spectacular, but it just doesn’t engage as it should. Dean Cain is a fine actor, and that is part of the problem as his performance as Randy serves to highlight the weaknesses in the script and some of the rest of the cast, Edgeman and Shroyer apart. There is too much stilted dialogue, too much telling rather than showing and too many actors who say their lines as though reading them from cue cards. All that said, if I were Executive Producing a film about myself (as the real Randy Simpkins does here) I would want Dean Cain to play me as well. 5/10 David Cooper (December 2011)
WAYNE KIRKPATRICK : More. (WORD : 7019930603).
This guy writes some great material for the likes of Amy Grant
and Michael W Smith, and then still saves a few for himself. Sadly,
quite a number of those don't have the cutting edge and this tends
to be a run of the mill release. "From the Heart" tells
about how you must clear out the rubbish that we harbour inside
and love from a clean heart. It's a good opener and leads into
the title track that heads four or five MOR rockers of little
distinction. "Drop Everything" reminded a fellow listener
of Paul Weller but, for me, Wayne shows very little of the talent
he really possesses. 4/10. (October 1997)
WAYNE WATSON : 'Field of Souls'. (Alliance).
With a whole host of top producers working on this album, the
result is a collection of songs in a number of styles. Piano based
tracks encompass Worship, Rock, Country and Soul in this packed
offering. There's a couple of bright, bouncy numbers to open things
up before 'One Time...' treats us to Wayne's more mellow voice.
The beautiful 'Blessed Are' is the prime cut and brings the album
to a close, but not before we've sampled the stylish love song
'Wait A Little Longer'. Wayne Waston may be another new name to
many of you but he's worth getting to know. 7/10 (April 1996)
WE ARE MESSENGERS : Power. (Messenger Music)
The band say that they hope this song is "a reminder that we need the Power of God to transform our lives. We need that Holy Spirit Power to be unwavering in our love for God and his people." The song itself reminded me of 80’s UK band, Private Lives, with an excellent beat, carrying it along. I’ve not heard anything from this band before but I thought that the FX vocals of Darren Mulligan to be a little quirky. The actual power of the song comes from the chorus. It hits hard and works its way into your brain so that you find yourself singing it at certain times of the day. With that in mind, it’s well worth an 8/10. (August 2019)
THE WEAK NEED : Ready For Rome. (www.theweakneed.com)
This is a very atmospheric CD and starts with what sounds like a sermon over backing music. It’s an odd choice of opener – never having heard the band before, I did wonder what I might be in for. The music itself is in a mild prog-rock vein a la Anathema, with Police-like guitars (including the sub-reggae riffing of “Not Your Hands”), some late 60s-esque vocals and 90s keyboard riffs (although the one in “Calling God” reminded me more of latter-day After the Fire). Lyrically it’s very clear (even without the opening sermon) and is very pleasant listening, but not in an MoR way: it just washes over you like Coldplay or later-day Pink Floyd on a summer’s day leaving you pleasantly refreshed. The songs are well crafted, with very sympathetic arrangements (such as the way “I Know When Your Heart Bleeds” builds throughout the track). It settles into its mood after a couple of tracks and from here on you should just let it run. If they’d blended each track into the next (like the Moody Blues used to do) you’d probably just treat it as one solid piece of music, it’s that consistent, with glorious musicianship, beautifully blended soundscapes and lifting choruses. Play it and dream of summer. Even the Motown feel to “Whisper Always” fits the mood – especially when it hits the chorus. After that you think it’s petering out, then “Come Back Home” finds a hook line and all too soon it’s over. Best track: “Let Me Breathe”. 8/10. Paul Ganney. (March 2014)
WEATHERED : Stranger Here. (Facedown Records)
Weathered serve up an album of accomplished pop/rock – nice guitar figures (such as “Lions Den”) underpinning a fairly laid-back vocal, the rest of the band providing odd flourishes but mostly sitting comfortably in the mix, knowing their place in the song. Mostly the songs lean more towards the rocky side, with distorted guitars and occasional heavy strumming. There’s an element of bleakness to their sound – for example, the acoustic “Blue Van” sounds like an unplugged death metal band – the guitar playing is very basic and the vocal line is simplistic. The harmonies are quite nice when they kick in, but the closing line “sometimes you’ve got to ask God ‘why?’” fits the mood perfectly. Alternatively, “There Is One” starts in a gentler mood, evoking memories of early Pink Floyd (“Strangers Here” also had a very Syd Barrett opening riff), then piles in with a more Wanted-esque chorus. On the electric numbers they particularly evoke Snow Patrol (“Forget About Me” having a good quiet-into-loud movement reminiscent of “Chasing Cars”, of which the main two-note riff also invited comparison). Lyrically they explore various themes, the most overt faith-based one being on the closing “I Do Not Belong Here”, exploring personal failure but Jesus’ salvation – ending with a haunting repeated “not a stranger, but like a child I’m home”. It’s a decent album with some good moments. Best track: Forget About Me. 6/10 Paul Ganney. (April 2019)
THE WEATHERING : The Sea Cares For It’s Own. (www.7coremusic.com)
Originally from the US, but now based in Hong Kong, The Weathering consist of Jeff and Leora Caylor, who have been married for almost 3 years. They say that The Weathering is the result of a dream they have had since they met: to write beautiful music that catches your ear with picture-painting lyrics. It’s certainly very different to anything I’ve heard recently, with it’s heavy reliance on synth’ sounds. Indeed, I got the feeling that I was back in the 80’s, listening to the likes of Depeche Mode and Yazoo. The title track is a typical electro-pop number, with the couple’s vocals working really well together. The same can be said of ‘December Lights’, although I found that I had to have a copy of the lyrics to read whilst listening because of the tendency to have the vocals so low in the mix. Saying that, even with the lyrics to hand, I’m not sure that I could see any real Christian message being conveyed. Leora’s soft vocals are almost lost on ‘Longest Day’ but sound a lot better on the ethereal ‘Where Other Ghosts Gather’. My favourite track had to be ‘Bows and Blades’, a very catchy number. I think that this is the first of two songs that tell of the horror of war – the second being ‘Coventry’. The Weathering show that they have the promise, and lyrically, are possibly just too clever for me. Certainly worth investigating. 7/10. (May 2013)
Starting like it fell off of a CSNY album, this CD isn’t your standard “married couple sing songs”. Monique’s voice is too Bjork-like for that and the chimes in the background (especially on “My God, My God Part 1”) are very Sigur Ros. By contrast, Thomas’ voice is more mainstream and is the stronger of the two. With slide guitar behind it, he’s in country & western territory (check “Rice And Beans (But No Beans)” for a good example). The material is primarily hymnody but not as straight as that makes it sound, being occasionally more as Chris Martin of Coldplay might play it rather than your local organist. It’s all very gentle and intimate and washes over you as a nice sunny day does, without anything particularly leaping our and grabbing you by the ears. Their web site says they mainly play their living room, which makes sense of the material, really. It’s OK, but not outstanding. Best track: “God Be With You Til We Meet Again”. 5/10 Paul Ganney. (March 2013)
WELSH REVIVAL HYMNS CENTENARY EDITION 1904-05. (Kingsway : KMCD2648)
The songs on this album were all sung during the Welsh Revival of one hundred years ago, when Wales experienced a mighty outpouring of God's spirit. They also have strong Welsh associations, whether it be the words (either in Welsh originally or translated from the Welsh) or the melodies. Recorded in Coventry Cathedral by the Saint Michael's Singers, there are twelve songs featured. Opening with "Here Is Love, Vast As the Ocean", the listing smoothly goes through such hymns as "Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer", "I Hear Thy Welcome Voice", and "Who Is on the Lord's Side?". Listening through the album I scribbled only a few notes. What could I say? Every hymn was delivered in perfect style by an, obvious, competent gathering of singers. Basically, if you like good old fashioned cathedral, or church, praise, then you'll enjoy this. 7/10.(September 2005)
WES DAVIS : Draw Me Close To You. (Word : WMD015)
Wes Davis has toured the far corners of the British Isles plus
dates in America and Africa. "Draw Me
" is his
6th album and shows him in worshipful style. A key selling point,
I am told, is that he sings some of the "most popular worship
songs of today". True enough, but so do far too many other
artists! The result is an album of songs that you know so well,
you'll probably know most of the words - if not all. Wes' style
is quite laid back and suits time of worship to a tee. His own
songs are very good and "This Husband Loves His Wife"
- written as a first anniversary present for his own wife - shows
a great writing talent. "Gentle Breeze" is another that
stands up well, too. However, we're treated to 6 covers before
the first of these and, by then, things have got just a little
tedious. Why do so many artists want to sing the same songs? For
instance Doug Horley's "Out of My Depth" and Matt Redman's
"Heart of Worship" have almost been recorded to a point
of embarrassment. It's my first taste of Wes and, frankly, I'm
disappointed. Let's have more original stuff, Wes. 4/10. (November 1999)
WES KING : What Matters Most. (Word : 080688611729)
Focussing the listeners on God and the family, Wes King's first
release for Word Records offers straightforward, thought provoking
lyrics with his blend of acoustic pop music. The title track was
co-written with Michael W Smith, and what a great song it is.
Beautifully written, and depicting the truth of God's love and
just what a real, loving relationship with Him can do. I also
liked the excellent "Spin You Around", complete with
it's driving pace and catchy chorus. Slowing things down, is "There
Is A God", a song written in a few "eternal" minutes
during an aeroplane flight when Wes thought that the craft might
well crash. "This is the Church" is also rendered in
similar style and this easy listening phase of the album is, perhaps,
the strongest. What come in between those songs mentioned are
some nice, if ordinary, numbers that don't quite rise as high.
However, the more I hear it, the more I like this album. 7/10. (February 2002)
WESLEY (Kingsway DVD)
108 minutes into John Jackman's biopic of Methodism's founding father, Susanna Wesley (June Lockhart) issues a challenge to her son, John (Burgess Jenkins) "Where is your faith, John Wesley?" and in many ways that single line captures what this movie is about. Beginning and ending in the Wesleys' home town of Epworth, we follow the preacher's journey from arrogant, self-righteous young Minister to humble, passionate champion of the poor and the true gospel message via Atlantic storms, Moravian settlers, defeat, disillusionment and, finally, enlightenment, accompanied always by his, often unwilling, brother Charles (R Keith Harris). The feel of the movie is spot on. Locations, sets and costumes all hit the mark and Bruce Kiesling's orchestral score is superb, including themes and phrases lifted straight out of Wesley's hymns. There is drama aplenty, and a lot of ground is covered in 117 minutes. However, it is not without flaws. The movie is based on Wesley's journals and it shows, as the story often breaks down into quickfire scenes that don't really flow together, almost as if the Producer was desperate to keep the film under two hours but didn't want to miss anything out. The casting of Lockhart and the late Kevin McCarthy, who plays Bishop Ryder, grates a little, especially as both make little effort to disguise their distinctive American accents but, sadly, the biggest flaw, for me, was John Wesley himself. Burgess Jenkins comes across as a decent enough actor, but his performance doesn't really open up the character of John Wesley. The episodic nature of the script and paint by numbers dialogue probably didn't help. By contrast, Harris was excellent as Charles Wesley as was Carrie Ann Hunt as Sophie Hopkey. Having seen what passes for low-budget, independent Christian movies previously, I viewed this one with trepidation, but was very pleasantly surprised. Amazing Grace it isn't, but it is a good and, as far as I can tell, accurate film portrait of a great man. 7/10 David Cooper. (February 2011)
WHAT IF... (Pure Flix/Kingsway : PFEGEN370)
For those of you unfamiliar with Pure Flix, one of the purposes of their mission is to produce feature films with a solid Christian message that are also compelling, enlightening, life-altering and sometimes humorous. If you like, it's family entertainment without having to feel like you are compromising your beliefs. This particular film tells the story of Ben Walker, who leaves his college sweetheart and his calling to be a preacher to chance his arm as an investment banker. Needless to say he soon leaves his faith behind and embarks on a life dominated by money and wealth. God however, intervenes by removing Ben from the life he has chosen and placing him into the life he could have had. In this respect it resembles a cross between the classic film, “A Wonderful Life” and the iconic US TV series, “Touched by an Angel”. As with previous films, it is well presented, Hollywood quality in fact, with a good calibre of actor and good production. The Christian themes are well handled, feeling natural and not forced and are easy to embrace. It's a film that flows well, with some nice touches of humour and although it has a rather predictable plot line and outcome, it is entertaining. One never gets a sense of what motivates Ben to choose a career over his calling, we are only told feels he can't turn down the chance - that doesn't quite work for me. But, these few flaws aside, it is warmly recommended. 8/10 Robin Thompson. (November 2011)
WHISPERLOUD : Different Kind of Beautiful. (Benson 8441833212)
To rival the likes of chart acts such as Atomic Kitten, we have
three girls who go under the name of Whisper Loud. With rise of
CCM girl bands in the UK like ShineMK and V*enna, it will be interesting
to see if this American outfit has the same success. First off,
I found the opening two tracks a bit too sugary and wondered if
the album would be a total turn-off. The surprise came on track
three when the gentle "I Will Carry Your Pain" shows
of the real vocal talent of the girls. That, for me, seemed to
be a starting point and I began to enjoy the next jumpy number
"Like A Circle". Two ballads, "If This is What
it Means" and "All This Time", once more show off
the velvet vocals. "Hey Yeah You", I can see as very
radio friendly, and I wouldn't be surprised if that was taken
as a single. Aimed at the teenage market, I think, it could do
well if it gets the airplay. 7/10. (May 2001)
WHITECROSS : Flytrap. (REX/Word Music : LS5241).
Metal fans will be excited by the new Whitecross release. Others
may well give it a listen and be instantly put off by the, predominantly,
growling vocals. These guys have had almost as many line-up changes
as Petra, but still the albums keep coming. It's four songs in
before the aforementioned vocals disappear and we're treat to
some light harmonies on "Eye To Eye". "To My Surprise"
is a slow rocker in the style of Bryan Adams, but the acoustic
"Already Done" does provide relief for the average listener.
"End of the Line" has a simple message, that life is
a train journey and Jesus is the destination, it's probably the
pick of the album. On the whole, it's a release that's filled
with metal guitar fodder and will only feed those on a particular
diet. 3/10. (July 1997)
WHITEHEART : 'Attack'. (Alliance)
Here's another release that takes tracks previously heard on other
albums which, apparently, earned "unprecedented radio exposure"
in America. This band has been on the road since 1983 and their
'stadium rock' excites evangelical yout like few other things.
Sounding a little like late 80's band Leviticus, they rock away
with a superb track called 'Independance Day' which has a simple
hook and seering guitar break. Unfortunately, that is the only
song of it's kind on the album as they launch into some very ordinary, loud rock
songs that register from the excrutiating 'Nothing But
the Best' to the out of date 'Change the Way'. Whiteheart, on
this showing, seem to be at their best on ballads such as 'Silhouette',
where their vocal harmonies shine out. If this is a 'Best of...',
I'm glad I haven't heard the 'Worst of...'. 4/10 (May 1996)
WHITEHEART : 'Inside' (Alliance).
Following last month's poor 'Best of...' release, I really wanted
to enthuse about this new album. Sadly, there's nothing much here
to get me excited. A bland, and almost tedious, collection of
7 standard rockers which includes the doom guitar led title track.
'Ritual' calls for us to dance and worship God but all I was called
to do was turn it off. Just who the band are trying to access
beyond me. If, as has been suggested, that they want to reach
Metallica's fans I'm afraid that they
are only fooling themselves. As I said last month, Whiteheart
sound at their best with the acoustic based songs, of which there
are 3 on show - the best being 'It Could Have Been You'. It's
pretty dreadful. 2/10. (June 1996)
WHITEWINGS : Wings Over Heaven. (Private Cassette Recording
£6.99 from: Whitewings Christian Singing Group, Hall Cottage
West, Main Road, Ballabeg, Arbory, Isle of Man, M9 4LE).
Formed in 1996, Whitewings consist 8 girls aged 12-17years and,
as the notes state, "3 recycled teenagers", while. As
well as local concerts, the girls sang at last year's Easter People
in Bournemouth and have already been invited to appear at this
year's event in Blackpool. This debut cassette contains 13 songs
of which several are very well known. 'Holy, Holy, Holy' is given
a special kind of freshness with it's simple, yet effective, arrangement,
and 'The Angels Around Your Throne' continues the feel. 'You Shall
Be Holy' features a lovely solo part and 'O Righteous God' is
simply beautiful. Where the sweet, young voices don't work so
well is the uptempo 'Rise Up', which sounds rather thin throughout.
However, with backing music provided by Kingsway (slap on the
back for them), and Tony Turvey's leadership, Whitewings look
certain for greater things. 8/10. (January 1998)
WHY? "Jig at a Why? Gig". (ICY/ICC)
Somerset based Why? have been British CCM festival favourites
for the last two or three years, playing their lively celtic/roots
music. See them play live and I'll guarantee that you'll be jigging
along with the rest of the crowd in no time. This first release
on a major label tries to capture that live feel, as it was recorded
over two concerts in January. Starting off with the turbo charged
'Good For My Old Mother', the pace rarely dips throughout the
15 tracks. One that does is 'The Curates Egg', which drifts along
nicely. My complaint with the album is that it becomes monotonous
after the fifth or sixth song. It's pretty infectious at a live
gig but the violin or mandolin based songs are a little repetitive
for listening. Of course, they get compared to Eden Burning, so
let's hope that Why? mature in the same way. 5 for the concert,
2 for the album. It's a good momento if you've seen them live.
7/10. (July 1996)
WILD HONEY : Name of the Game. (2 track Private Cassette :
£1.50 inc' p&p from: R & H Thompson, c/o 113 Bricknell
Avenue, Hull, E. Yorskhire, England, HU5 4EU).
It's a trip down memory lane for me this month as I now get to
review my first demo cassette for simply ages. Husband and wife,
Robin & Helen Thompson, and good friend, Jon Hunter team up
with a, sometimes, over-enthusiastic drum machine to remind us
that grassroots Christian pop is far from dead. Over the years,
Helen's powerful vocal range has been heard with the likes of
Whitegold and Giants Will Fall, but it's a more controlled voice
that features on the title track. It's a bouncy, even paced number
that has you tapping your feet quite early on. It tells how you
may be number one when playing a hobby, but how do you measure
up in the game of life? "Hand", then gives the listener
the chance to accept that Jesus is reaching out and all that you
have to do is take it. This is, I think, the stronger of the two
songs because of the intricate harmonies produced by the Thompson's
and the solid instrumentation throughout. A blast from the past.
WILD HONEY : Name of the Game. (CD : £2 from R &
H Thompson, 199 De La Pole Avenue, Hull, Yorkshire, England, HU3
Wild Honey contain members of previous Hull bands such as Destiny
Calling and Giants Will Fall. After a couple of years out of action,
the trio have got back together and released a remixed version
of thier 1999 two track single. The title tracks plods along at
a steady pace without really setting the place alight. "Hand",
on the other hand (how about that for a pun?) rises up, way above
the former and has that "feel good" factor about it.
Nice rhythm, jangly and distorted guitar, plus the vocal excellence
of Helen Thompson. It's a nice sampler at a pocket money price,
and shows a taste of Wild Honey. 7/10. (December 2002)
WILL REAGAN & UNITED PERSUIT : Live at the Banks House. (Elevation : ELE2057D)
Will Reagan says, “I’ve always been quick to explain that I learned how to lead worship in a living room. And most of the songs I’ve written have come out of one living room in particular, a living room in a house we call the banks house. This album is an attempt at capturing our experiences the past three years learning how to seek God in the safety and stillness of our home.” This album is the result of a live recording, during a time of worship at the house, with just an acoustic guitar, violin, percussion, and the occasional piano acting as backing. Musically, the style can loosely be called Folk worship, with Will taking most of the lead vocals. A cartoon on social media, depicts one person telling the other that it takes more than repeating one sentence over and over again, to make a proper worship song. Someone should have told Will Reagan about this. ‘We Have Come’ is five and a half minutes of a few words, repeated again and again. Other voices in the background join in, as and when, but it’s a strange sort of thing to release as an album. The second track is so mournful, that even the guitars sound sad. ‘Bless the Lord’ is the title, but I found it totally alien to how I worship through music and song. The track listing continues through 11 songs, all of which take the same repetitive form. Reading all the press releases and other media, this album is supposed to be pushing back the boundaries of worship. I quite agree, that we don’t all need to attend big tent concerts to worship God, but this recording falls flat when it comes to inspiration. Will’s vocals are okay, and the words that they do sing are all very positive, but that’s about all the plus points I can make. It’s not an album that I’ll be playing again, in a hurry. 3/10. (November 2014)
WILLIAM MATTHEWS : Hope’s Anthem. ((Kingsway : 610563999538)
Born and raised in the heart of Detroit, MI, Matthews’ mother directed the church choir and he was constantly surrounded by soul singers and talented vocalists. Over the years, he began to write his own songs, but this is his first release. Part of the Bethel Church in Redding, California, William has also enlisted the help of several friend’s to put this album together, and there are a number of styles on show here. ‘Deep Cries Out’ is contemporary pop, and is a great way to start off the track listing. But, if you thought that song was good, ‘This One Thing’ flows so well. It’s a wonderful song that fills you with God’s presence. The title track slows things down, but the quality doesn’t falter. However, the next two or three songs didn’t quite live up to the one’s that had gone before, and this left me disappointed. Things take a turn for the better with the country tinged ‘I’m Free’, and I challenge anyone not to be uplifted by this song. With the continuing crop of artists surfacing from Bethel Church, William is a welcome addition. 7/10 (January 2012)
WILLIAM MURPHY : God Chaser. (Verity : 88697-97019-2)
Recorded live at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, this is William Murphy’s third solo release. Previously, he wrote and sang lead on the Shekinah Glory Ministry hit single "Praise Is What I Do", from their GOLD album of the same name. Now, over the years, I’ve come to enjoy the odd gospel album, from artists such as Kirk Franklin and Israel Houghton. The ones I dislike, are the ones that have a lot of shouting, screaming and hollering over the music. I just don’t get it. Sadly, a lot of William Murphy’s songs fall into the latter category. Songs like ‘In Your Hands’, were the he shouts one tune, while the choir continue with a counter melody, just sounds messy. The same can be said of ‘Higher’. It begins well, but then becomes somewhat of a shambles as various vocals battle against each other. On the plus side, the title track is uptempo and very appealing. With the message that we should be chasing God every minute of everyday, it’s quite a good song. William does have a good voice, and he shows his prowess on the ballad ‘Already Getting Better’ and the first half of ‘Praying For You’. The album does have some highlights. It’s just a pity that they are overshadowed by some over enthusiastic preaching. 4/10. (September 2013)
WILSHIRE : Wilshire. (Rocketown/Word : 7011530029).
This is the second release on Michael W. Smith's record label
and it brings husband and wife, Lori & Micah Wilshire to the
spotlight. The music is a mixture of electric pop and alternative
rock. The former is true of the opening "Over My Head",
while the latter can be said of, say, "Closer Still".
The couple share the lead vocals as well as dueting well on the
Eagles tinged "Here the Sound". There's good use of
guitars on "If I Could", where the sounds are a cut
above your average offering. I remember an old Julie Miller track,
where she told how Jesus was her psychiatrist. On this album,
the Wilshire's use a similar slant, only this time Jesus being
the medicine to cure your ills. Nice idea, nice track, nice debut.
7/10. (May 1998)
WITNESS : A Song in the Night. CGI/Nelson Word 514165185 2).
More soul/gospel from 4 U.S. ladies who promise to deliver but
end up like a crumpled envelope which says 'Do Not Bend'. They
have an established fan base in their home country but this is
their first release over here. The opening track 'The Blood' is
an interesting version of the Passover story, and it's basic scripture
and moral values that the girls endeavour to portray. 'Oh What
Love' is very festive and 'Take the Time' could well be lifted
straight out of Humphrey Bogart's 'Casablanca'. Mixed in between
are too many sub-standard songs that really fail to get their
message across. Vocally, the girls are nothing out of the ordinary
but I believe their song writer should get out more. If this was
sent C.O.D. I wouldn't pay. 3/10 (January 1997)
WOMEN OF FAITH : The Artist Collection. (Integrity : 000768267325)
Women of Faith is an organisation committed to seeing women set
free to a lifestyle of God's grace. By hosting events and creating
resources, they want to help women and their families to grow
spiritually, emotionally and relationally. This collection sees
many of the artists involved giving their time and gifts for free.
Sara Groves is one artist that is growing on me with each release.
"First Song that I Sing" is another quality recording.
And, despite some recent writings in the media, I personally think
that Sheila Walsh is back to her best, and "You Are Beautiful"
just confirms that. Her wistful vocals are a pure joy to listen
too on a such a beautiful song. Ginny Owens, Natalie Grant, Ce
Ce Winnans, Kathy Troccolli and a host more top female singers
are featured, with songs like "The Potter's Hand" and
"All For the Life of Me". Not a stunning album by any
means, but very nice all the same. 7/10. (October 2003)
WOODENCROSS : XXX. (CD from: Zentgrafenstr.16, 69198 Schriesheim, Germany. www.woodencross.de).
Together for more than 5 years, Germany's Woodencross first came
to my notice on the excellent 1340 Records "Eurochrist Sampler".
Their featured track was called "Ghandi" and, sure enough,
it's the opening song on this 1999 release. To be quite honest,
I've never heard anything quite like Woodencross. They're punk,
ska, a little bit of pop, and a lot of
.well, Alien Ant Farm!
The guys say that they put a lot of fun into their music, and
it's very evident throughout. "Ghandi" kicks off with
some great brass before Daniel Meisinger's biting vocals attack.
"How" is definitely in the Linkin Park mould, looking
at the question of whether you should stick to 'going with the
flow' or standing up as a follower of Jesus. "Human World"
is a ska/punk number that changes pace well and has lyrics that
tell you that the Lord is waiting for the lost with arms open
wide. If you want to know more about the band and their beliefs,
then "Checkout" will tell you everything. It's another
sharp and powerful song that, nevertheless, had me smiling throughout.
Some songs are sung in their native tongue but don't let that
put you off. It's not usually my sort of musical taste but, in
this instance, Woodencross really hit home. 9/10. (December 2001)
WORDHEAD : End of Part One. (Private CD £6/Cassette £3 from:35 Bower Street, Maidstone, Kent, England, ME16 8SB.
Listening to this EP was, for me, like stepping back in time.
Back to the early 90's when exciting new bands like Pity The Small
Thumbs, K, and Curam were thrilling festivals with their energetic
sounds. Now, at the end of the 21st century, come Wordhead with
a 6 track EP that has already seen them pick up a secular management
deal. To describe them? Well, when Ali sings, it's very Britpop
in a sort of Sleeper way. Plenty of flange guitar, nothing too
heavy, endearing - if not strong - vocals and a finished product
of some note. "See You" is the best of these type of
songs. It's poppy enough to get radio play has good hooks and
neat guitars. Then, as Leon sings, it's more hard hitting and
direct rock. The opening "Everywhere" takes the stance
of someone who sees Christianity in his everyday life but asks
"what's it all about?". Driving guitars and attacking
vocals make this a tasty number. Otherwise, the pick of the crop
has to be "See You" , and notably Andy Croft's excellent
keyboard work. With a bit of polish (more money) this would be
the biz! 8/10. (September 1999)
THE WORLDWIDE MESSAGE TRIBE : 'Jumping in the House of God II'. (Alliance).
Believe it or not, this is my first experience of the 'Tribe'
and I'm sure it won't be my last. This is sanctified dance and
praise music that is sure to appeal to the youth culture of today
but contains the real message of God's love. Featuring ex-Bizzare
Inc frontman, Cameron Dante, the opening track gives you just
what it says - 'Kik Start'. Pulsating rhythms, sequenced loops,
and mind blowing samples are all here. Favourite track has got
to be the title track, were the Tribe are joined by Leeds duo
H.O.G. for some real hip hop battling. Even the well known praise
song 'I Believe in Jesus' gets the 'treatment' and what a result
that is. My only complaint is that 5 of the 14 tracks are re-mixes
of earlier ones, and I'm not really sure there's any difference.
Nevertheless....8/10. (June 1996)
WORLD WIDE MESSAGE TRIBE : Revived. (Alliance/Ovation : MOVED805).
If you've never heard of the WWMT, then I don't know where you've
been for the last couple of years. After taking the States by
storm, this release chronicles their previous material with remixes
galore and a sense of real freshness. Techno freaks will love
the opening 'Queen of Sheba' , while boom boom fans can play 'Reach
For Heaven' on their GTE stereo's. 'In My Life' is a wicked track
and marries the 90's rhythm with 60's phsycodelia.. There is so
much on this album that you really have to listen to it a few
times before you can appreciate the full extent of both the music
quality and the spiritual blessing. There's a touch of Rasta Reggae
with 'Duncan - Revival' and the way the choral sounds are mixed
in 'Where Are You Going?' is quite superb. Still no wiser? Get
it now. 9/10. (March 1997)
WORLD WIDE MESSAGE TRIBE : Frantik. (Movation : 1908142).
Here it is then, the long awaited new release from WWMT. Chocked
full of hip hop, dance, garage, and funky sounds, this is bound
to please the ever increasing army of fans around the world. "Frantik"
itself, attacks your head as soon as it leaps from the speakers,
while the following "Truth" is more of a groove thing.
From there on, there's no real surprises, it's the Tribe doing
what they do best, even though "Got To Be With You"
sounds pretty dated. To be honest, I found this release to be
okay but nothing special "I Give You My Life" is one
of the slower numbers and cuts well against recent chart material.
The last two tracks are re-mixes of the opening two, lasting some
13 minutes in total. Ideal for dance clubs, not recommended as
background music. The young people will lap it up while the older
ones - like me - will wonder just what it's all about. 6/10.
THE WORLD WIDE MESSAGE TRIBE : Chilled. (Movation : 1908292)
Okay, so the WWMT are no more, but there's still a whole lot of
good music to remember them by. This release is supposed to be
the stuff to chill out to, rather than dance. "In My Life"
opens proceedings and it chugs along at a medium pace. "There
is a Green Hill" has become a personal favourite of mine
over the years and it still sounds as good now. "Nobody Knows"
and "The Cross" did nothing for me, while although "I'm
On My Way" picks up the pace, I found it, too, rather boring.
"Come All Ye Faithful" is more like it but the best
is still yet to come. "Love". Just one word, but what
a song and what a delivery. Justin Thomas not only gets co writing
credits but raps, what is, simply superb. Of the rest, "Where
Are You Going" stands out, as always, and asks us all "where
Are You Going in Your Life?". Time to look and see, perhaps.
7/10. (May 2001)
#WORSHIP : 10,000 Reasons. (Elevation : ELE2081D)
This is the first of a brand new series of releases using the Hashtag which often associates social media posts in order to draw together a global conversation on a common topic. This album brings together 12 current and contemporary songs of worship written by the likes of Paul Baloche, Reuben Morgan, Vicky Beeching, Matt Maher, and many more. First of all, please don’t expect to hear the original artists singing these songs. There aren’t any credits but, on the whoel, the singers do a fine job. I know that “Mighty to Save” has been around for a number of years now, but it’s never meant so much to be as it does since I started including it when I’m leading worship. This version is great, and I found myself really worshipping deeply. The same can be said of “10,000 Reasons”, and the rather beautiful “Father Me”., written by Paul Oakley. The female singer captures the essence of the song perfectly, and it makes for a very engaging listen. “Glory to God Forever” was a new song to my ears, but I’m sure that it will be getting played regularly at church events for years to come. Those of you old enough to remember Elton John duetting with Kiki Dee, may well wonder where I’m going with this but, if Elton & Kiki ever released a worship song “With All I Am” would be it. It’s wonderfully put together, and has traces of Elton’s song style throughout. I wasn’t keen on the version of “Nothing But the Blood”, but the simplicity of just an acoustic guitar on “Your Grace is Enough” is so pure. Yes, it’s disappointing that the original artists aren’t featured, but I guarantee that you’ll soon be singing along regardless. 8/10. (October 2015)
WORSHIP AT CROOKES : Everlasting Joy. (Digital Download from Amazon, i-Tunes, etc)
This song is the debut single from the Worship team at St Thomas Crookes in Sheffield. It’s quite a big production, with a lot going on, it starts fairly laid back, but soon builds into a lively worship song. Running in at nearly five and a half minutes it’s quite a long song, but it has enough happening throughout to hold your interest, there’s plenty of variation between the chorus and the verses, which makes it quite a nice song to listen to. The words speak of God’s promises for the future, whilst being in a time of struggle, many people will be able to identify with these lyrics I think. You can download from iTunes, and Amazon, and most of the other places that sell digital downloads. There is also a music video on You tube apparently, although despite my best efforts I couldn’t find it anywhere. All in all though this is quite a good song, and definitely worth the cost of a download. 8/10. Andy Sayner. (March 2014)
Worship Central (various): Lifting High Survivor Records SURCD6161
I have to admit to being pretty chuffed when I received this months CD for review as I had been fortunate enough to attend one of the Worship Central events in the UK late last year & had a fantastic uplifting time of worship. As a bit of backgound, Worship Central is a worship training resource project which was born from Tim Hughes' arrival as Holy Trinity Brompton & his subsequent meeting with Al Gordon in 2006, since which they've been joined by Ben Cantelon & Nikki Fletcher. Their website www.worshipcentral.org is well worth checking out & is packed with resources, information & news about new songs coming out in churches all over the world as well as a stack of hints & tips for worship leaders. Lifting High is a collection of 14 tracks with a variety of tunes ranging from full-on anthemic praise to more intimate times of worship, the majority of which is written by the Worship Central team, with a welcome appearance from Brenton Brown on track 3 "Adoration". Some have already made it onto many a church's song list such as Tim Hughes' "Happy Day" whereas others are more suited to the full-on big festivals events like Soul Survivor. A classic example of this would be the opening track "Give us Your Courage" which I am sure I've had my arms in the air to before- and that's just in the car!! Unless you've been out buying up the solo releases of the artists, you're unlikely to have heard it all before which nowadays is quite a refreshing change. The music is all studio recorded which is as you would expect nicely polished & produced but I personally prefer some of the 'rawness' of live recordings. The only downside I could really find to this CD was the occurrence of a few too many 'stock worship phrases' in the lyrics, but don't let this put you off too much. This is one I'd be happy to listen to over & over again! 9/10 Simon Redfern (February 2010)
WORSHIP CENTRAL : Spirit Break Out. (Kingsway : KWCD3233)
Worship Central is a school of worship from Alpha International with a vision to encounter God, equip the worshipper and empower the church. Since it’s launch in 2006, over 100,000 worship leaders, musicians and worshippers have attended training courses around the world, as well as using the organisation’s website. This live album was recorded at the HMV Forum, London, earlier this year. After a brief rendition of ‘Spirit of the Living God’, Ben Cantelon launches into an energetic song called ‘New Day’. It seems to whip up a frenzy, and wakes up any slumbering worshippers. He follows that with ‘Saviour of the World’, which glorifies Jesus, and lifts him high. Luke Hellebronth and Myles Dhillon lead worshippers in the title track. This is one of those songs that starts quietly and builds in sound level as it goes on. I’m sure that it should have been something special but, for me, it just didn’t work. I did, however, like the more exciting and engaging chorus of ‘For Your Glory’, and the infectious ‘Sing Alleluia’, the latter sung by Al Gordon. One familiar song, was Tim Hughes’ ‘Counting on Your Name’, and it really did bring forth the power of the Lord. I learnt a long time agom that when reviewing an album, you had to give it a few listens to really hear everything properly, and this one is no exception. It’s grown on me, the more I’ve listened to it, and Nikki Fletcher’s ‘All Glory’ literally raises the roof in spectacular fashion. All in all, a well produced album, capturing the spirit of the evening well. 8/10 (December 2011)
WORSHIP CENTRAL : Let It Be Known. (Integrity : 51462)
This is Worship Central's third worship album, and it has already been at the top of the UK's Official Christian & Gospel Albums Chart. The album was recorded live in London by the Worship Central team, led by Tim Hughes and Al Gordon. Also featured are Ben Cantelon, Nikki Fletcher, and Luke Hellebronth. There’s nothing out of the ordinary about the style or running order of this album, it’s typical contemporary praise and worship. It was one of those albums that took me a couple of listens to really get in to. ‘God Most High’ is a lively number, as is the title track, but they didn’t really hit home until after a few listens. ‘The Cross Stands’ is a slower song that reminds us just how important the cross should be in focussing our lives. I found that song very moving indeed. I guess that the female vocal on ‘Dry Bones’ is Nikki Fletcher, and she sings passionately about being nothing without Jesus. ‘Guardian’ has a driving beat, while ‘Draw Me Close’ also hits just the right notes. The best song for collective worship has to be ‘Hallelujah’. It’s an old Ben Cantelon song, but this version resonates with the power of crowds of people singing along. While it may not be on a par with the recent Darlene Zscech release, it certainly shows Worship Central is fine form. 8/10. (June 2013)
WORSHIP CENTRAL : All For Love (Gethsemane). (Integrity)
Worship Central is a movement of worshippers who want to see the worship of Jesus Christ made central throughout our communities, local churches and the world. This brand-new Easter song from Worship Central, features Luke & Anna Hellebronth, a husband and wife duo that head up the Worship movement coming out of St. Luke’s Gas Street, Birmingham U.K. “All For Love” is taken from the forthcoming Worship Central live album ‘Stir A Passion’, releasing this May. The single begins with some very dusky vocals from Anna, which I found rather off-putting for a congregational type of song. However, when the tempo picks up, I could easily imagine soon joining in. It’s a rather reflective number and centres around there been no greater name than Jesus. It’s not a bad song but, perhaps, it needs a few listens for one to really engage with it. 6/10. (April 2018)
WORSHIP CENTRAL : Stir a Passion (Live). (Integrity)
The 11-track album was recorded last year at “The Gathering” conference. With impressive production input by Willie Weeks (Passion, Matt Redman) and Jimmy James (GuvnaB, LZ7), this album delivers songs of prayer and praise, capturing moments of elation and awed reflection from the crowd. Songs like Stir a Passion, Pray and All For Love (Gethsemane) which is sung beautifully by Anna Hellebronthe would sit well in any prayer type meeting whilst Majesty (O the Mystery), Praise the Lord and Glory to Glory make great corporate worship songs easily adapted to the local church. here's a real authentic feel to this recording as the voices and musicians bring their own worship into this project. It's certainly not a project produced for the masses although I'm sure it will make a huge impact. It's so refreshing to have songs that sing directly to Jesus, declaring who He is and what He is able to do. A standout album for 2018 and one I'll continue to play and worship to myself! 10/10 Angie Lendon. (June 2018, Album of the Month)
THE WORSHIP FILE : "We Remember You". (ICC : ICCD51830).
Featuring the writing talents of David Lyon, Mike Burn and Simon
Goodall, amongst others, this release is subtitled "12 Worship
Songs for Communion". I, personally, found Geoff Barker's
"On the Cross" very moving for Easter and sweetly sung
by one of the two females credited with vocals, Esther Alexander
and Helen Burgess. Goodall's "We Remember You" is a
slow and poignant number that is very meditational, while "Who
Am I" features some nice guitar and lifts a quite ordinary
song. "By Christ Redeemed" gives melody credits to Simon
Goodall once more, but I'm sure even he must agree that it sounds
just a tad too much like "Auld Langs Ayne". Pity really,
as it takes much away from Nick Haigh's wonderful fiddle playing.
Too many songwriters gives the album a mixed content of quality
but the good does outweigh the not so good, just. 6/10. (May 2001)
THE WORSHIP FILE : For You. (ICC : ICCD67030)
The songs on the album are aimed to help the worshipper focus
on their commitment to God. Lots of new songs that I, personally,
hadn't heard before, and songs that are a change from the "norm".
You expect the opening song to be uptempo and happy, but there
was something a little extra on "I Will Bow At your Feet".
Simon Goodall's "Deep Within My heart" is a slow pop
song that becomes very catchy in a singalong style, while "For
you" by Tammy Brown is a sweet, prayerful worship number.
I've tried to find out, without success, which of the female singers
credited on the album sing "All I Can Bring" and "I
Lose Control To you". I'm sure it's the same vocalist, but
what a wonderful voice she has. The former is a John De Jong composition,
while the latter belongs to Eoghan Heaslip. Tremendous couple
of songs and the highlight of a really fine album. 9/10. (October 2002)
THE WORSHIP LEADER'S COLLECTION Vol 1 : I Have Called You by Name. (ICC : ICCCD68230)
According to the sleeve notes this CD is designed to "Capture
worship Songs from around the world and bring them to you, that
they may inspire you, encourage you, and be used by you to worship
God." Well unfortunately the only thing that this CD will
encourage you to do is fall asleep. It is full of over produced,
cliché laden songs that record companies seem to churn
out all the time nowadays, the songs are just totally lifeless
and predictable. Most are the kind of song where you hear one
line and you can guess what the next line is going to be without
even hearing it, and I wonder, just how many more versions of
"Shout to the Lord" by Darlene Zschech do we need? For
an album that apparently showcases the world's top worship leaders,
one wonders where the representatives of countries like China
or the Eastern European countries are. Perhaps these countries
just don't have anyone with a big enough name to count as a worship
leader these days. If you want a nice safe sugar coated CD of
songs that don't challenge you to think at all, then this is for
you. Personally, I'd like to see an album compiled of tracks recorded
by the worship bands from all around the world who do it week
in, week out, with no recognition at all, using a couple of cheap
guitars and a clapped out piano. The most depressing thing about
this CD is, it's only Volume 1. You mean there's more like this?
2/10 Andy Sayner. (November 2002)
WORSHIP LEADER'S COLLECTION : Born to Worship. (ICC : ICCD79830)
Using praise & worship as the universal language of worship
for Christians everywhere, ICC has collected songs from around
the world to put this collection together. From Ireland, we have
Robin Mark and his unmistakable version of "Lion of Judah".
To me, no-one has come close to giving this song what Robin does,
it's still magical. From Australia, comes Chris O'Brien, his best
contribution being the uplifiting "I Will Magnify You".
Kim Hill (USA) offers two tracks, "Born To Worship"
and "When I Remember", the latter being the better of
the two. There's also a U2 rip-off by Sonic Flood and Jeff Deyo
called "Open the Eyes of My Heart", and Brian Doerksen's
meditative "Refiner's Fire". From the funky "Supernatural
Rain" to the gentle tones of "Jesus, All for Jesus",
the album is a journey through popular p&w music of today.
7/10. (June 2004)
THE WORSHIP LOUNGE : Songs of Reverence & Reflection. (Kingsway : KMCD2845)
The press release describes this album as an "ambient, acoustic, chillout vibe". And, I found all of the tracks to be very laid back in presentation. Although several singers are featured, the album does seem to be a vehicle for producer John Hartley to air his writing talents, as he co-writes most of the songs. 'Love What You've Done For Me', sung by Margaret Becker, is rather repetitive, but nevertheless quite catchy. Meanwhile, Susan Ashton's vocals simply soar on 'I Will Trust in You'. Sadly, the same can't be said of Kendall Payne on 'Whisper My name'. This song, I found to be so depressing, certainly not one to relax with. A lot of the numbers did tend to drift into one another for me, but the closing 'And Can It Be' is given great feeling by Becki Ryan. Some good songs here and there on the album, but I can't see it helping me to chillout in the future. 5/10 (September 2008)
WORSHIP MOB : Carry the Fire. (Integrity : 63232)
WorshipMob is a non-profit ministry that aims to provide free Spirit-filled worship music to the world. Worship leaders Sean Mulholland and Garrett Chynoweth established the group four years ago in Colorado Springs. Led by two local worship teams, WorshipMob started their weekly meetings to worship and pray together and encourage one another. The media hype behind this release has been tremendous, on both sides of the Atlantic, so I was really looking forward to some tremendous music. My hopes were, somewhat, dashed by the opening ‘Satisfy’. At just under 10 minutes in length, it describes God calling to His child. “I Love you with every imperfection”. Sadly, I found this duet and ethereal backing, all rather tedious. ‘Our Father Has Won’ is contemporary worship, rather like a Planetshakers clone. I liked the vocals on ‘Arrested by Grace’. The song tells of God’s forgiveness and mercy, and it’s one of the better tracks on the album. Others are quite repetitive, like ‘We Are Yours’, or messy in production, such as ‘Downpour’. The latter suffers, as the song builds in sound, and loses its clarity. There are some very energetic rhythms with ‘Light Up the World’, while the epic ‘Oceans/Nothing But the Blood’ wins, hands down, as the best song on show. It begins with minimal piano backing, and some lovely female vocals. The tempo, then, increases and creates a cacophony of sound that is most pleasing to the ear. It’s not that I didn’t like the album but, after so much great publicity, I felt a little let down. I wanted to be excited by this release and it just never happened. Mind you, after more than 9 million video views on You Tube, I’m obviously in the minority. 7/10. (May 2015)
THE WORSHIP PROJECT & JEREMY CAMP : We Cry Out. (BECRecords : BED07916)
This is fairly typical of the music that you expect from a Jeremy Camp CD. A mixture of solid rock worship songs, with some more sensitive material thrown in. It took a couple of listens to this album until I really got into it, but now I really like it. There's a good version of "Mighty To Save" here, which seems to be a big favourite everywhere these days. And,
also, "You Never Let Go" appears on here too. But the best song on the CD for me is "Everlasting God" which is a driving rock worship song which I'd quite like to have a go at myself at some point. If you know about this guy then you'll know what to expect, and you won't be disappointed. If you've not
heard Jeremy before then this is a good CD to start with.
10/10 Andy Sayner. (February 2011, Album of the Month)
WORSHIP TOGETHER - CANADA : Jesus Lifted High. (Kingsway : KMCD2331)
Recorded live in Ontario, this album features songs from the first
of three Worship Together conferences held in Canada this year.
2000 worshippers joined leaders such as Robin Mark, Noel Richards,
and David Ruis, to lift the name of Jesus high. "There's
a Pageant of Triumph in Glory" kicks off proceedings, and
what an exciting feeling it gives. Stuart Townsend leads everyone
in "O God of Love" next, and it really draws you into
the live event itself. I felt that the middle part of the album
lost a little in quality due to the newly performed songs on show,
but "These Are the Days of Elijah" soon put things back
on a firm footing. and Noel Richards' "Take Me To Your Sacred
Place" lifts things even higher. Without being outstanding,
this is another good worship album. 8/10. (November 2001)
WORTH DYING FOR : Worth Dying For. (Integrity : 43802)
I couldn't believe that this group classed themselves as a worship band, once I'd listened to the album. It's noisy, it's brash, and not a bit like I was expecting. Worth Dying For are one of the main worship groups at the Modesto Youth Ministry in California. Their heavy rock style has been compared to the likes of Skillet, and there's a touch of Evanesence in their too. Vocally, the songs are split between Christy Johnson and Sean Loche but, musically, the songs just don't capture the imagination. Lyrics are dull and old hat, with thrashing guitars fighting desperately with the singer for pole position. The result is a very poor. Of course, the songs do contain Christian references. 'Die to Live' is all about losing your old life to gain anew in Christ, and the light duet. 'Take Me', is unashamedly a love song to Jesus. The best song by miles is 'The Change'. It's got a really good tune, the lyrics are catchy, and it just knocks all the other songs into a cocked hat. As a worship band, I'm just glad I'm not trying to worship at their home church. I, for one, would finding a new one as soon as possible. 2/10 (October 2008)
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