Never for Nothing - CCM Record Reviews archive G

GABRIELA & SIMINA : I Want to Live for You. (Cd £12.99 from Tel: 01844 237916 or WWW.APPLETREESTUDIO.CO.UK
As featured on the front page of NFN a couple of months ago, Romanian sisters, Gabriela and Simina have recently recorded their debut UK Cd at Phil Goss' AppletreeStudio. The girls' broken English doesn't hinder the enjoyment at all. Indeed, the listener is drawn into the songs by their native tongue. The titles of the songs are self explanatory. "Never Without You", "Come To Me" and "Shine your Light" are all praises to the Almighty. Likewise, "Let Us Exalt" follows suit but is, perhaps, more powerful in presentation. A few songs are sung in Romanian, and gentle "Esti Necuprns" sounds very pretty. "Why Did you Give your Life", written by Simina, asks the question of Jesus and prayerfully gives thanks. Musically, we're looking at an easy listening album, with Phil Goss' production complimenting the girls' songs perfectly. A work colleague asked if I was listening to the Cheeky Girls. Thankfully, there's whole lot more to these two girls. God Bless them both. 8/10. (January 2004)
GAITHER VOCAL BAND : Best of... (Gaither : 6189 8425692 0)
Another retrospective - there seems to be a few of those around at the moment. This one looks back over the 24 year history of the Gaither Vocal Band and includes 37 tracks recorded between 1993 and 2003. Whilst founder Bill Gaither has remained ever-present, the band has welcomed a variety of lineups over that 24 year period, including some big names from the world of American Christian music; Russ Taff, Steve Green and Jon Mohr to name just three. In spite of the ever-changing personnel, their sound has remained much the same, firmly rooted as it is in Southern Gospel, with a splash of blues and soul thrown in for good measure, and this collection is a fine showcase for an obviously hugely talented array of singers. However, it failed to really grab me or move me to worship in any significant way. The overall quality of the songs, the singers and the production is consistently top notch but by midway through the first disk (of two) it was all a little wearing - too much "sameness" for me - with only the occasional slower song, such as "A Brand New Song" or "Loving God, Loving Each Other" offering anything by way of a highlight. Don't misunderstand me, this album is well put together and musically superb, I just found it a little flat. If you are a big fan of Southern Gospel inspired vocal groups you will love it, if not, you probably won't. 6/10 David Cooper (April 2005)
GAITHER VOCAL BAND : Lovin' Life. (Gaither : SHD2748)
There's always a little in trepidation, when it comes to listening to any Gaither produced CD. Why? Well, history tells us that a lot of the music is just so "twee" and old fashioned, that it just doesn't sit well here in the UK. Still, someone's got to do it, so I summoned up all my resistance and put the album on. Now, I've got to say, straight off, that these four guys sing some of the finest harmonies that you could ever wish to hear. 'I'm Forgiven' shows off this quality to the full, and there's some fine brass backing to boot. 'Build an Ark' has a tropical feel to it, and it becomes pretty catchy, the more you play it. I liked the country style of 'Jesus and John Wayne' - surely a contender for "Title of the Year", as well as the 80's sounding ballad, 'Home of Your Dreams'. Just as I thought that the album had really surprised me by it's quality, in came 'Search Me Lord', full of the sweet, sickly, strains of the good old US of A that I'd feared beforehand. The good thing about this album is, of course, that the lyrics are full of God's promises and, on the whole, this record does cross over well. I certainly will be playing one or two tracks on air, so maybe others will give the Gaither recordings a chance. 7/10 (April 2009)
GARETH DAVIES-JONES : A Play Upon the Conscience. (CD £12.99 from: 1 Hagg Bank, Wylam, Northumberland, UK, NE41 8JU)
You might think by the title that there's something more to this singer songwriter than just putting together an album of songs for the sake of it. Gareth takes the gritty writing style of Martyn Jospeh, the simple smoothness of Fernando Ortega's sound, and the commercial substance of David Gray, to come up with an album that could just be different enough to make it big. The lyrics delve into your conscience and ask those questions that we sometimes avoid. Are we really building our house on solid rock, or is slowly sinking in the sand? Listen, as "Out of Hand", an acoustic blues number, asks that very question. Do you really put others first? "Take A Back Seat" cleverly twists and turns lyrically to pose another. Musically, Gareth leads the way with his acoustic guitar but is complimented well by his co-musicians and vocalists. "Solitude" flows effortlessly all over you and wraps you in a cocoon of God's love, while the haunting sound of "Heavenfield" explores the personal battle that we all go through, especially times of denial. Take time to listen to this album and you'll find a lot more than just a talented musician. This is a gift for all. 9/10. (September 2004)
GARETH DAVIES-JONES : Only For A Short While. (www.headingwestmusic.com)
Rooted in the folk/acoustic tradition, Gareth Davies-Jones is a singer songwriter and guitarist who's previous work I've had the pleasure to hear. Since turning professional 3 years ago he has been gigging his way around the UK and Ireland, building a reputation as a strong live performer and a perceptive songwriter. He says that this new album deals with the "travails of life, the things that can affect us all regardless of our standing". Staying true to his live sound, Gareth's songs are accompanied by simple, stripped down sounds. "Money Goes Round" starts things off, with a look at universal wealth and poverty. "Hard Reality" sounds good with it's guitar and keyboard backing, while the first really catchy number comes with "Asylum". Here, Gareth looks at the growing problem of asylum seekers all over the world. Gareth plays the sort of music that would go sdown best in an intimate setting. It's the type of thing that Martyn Joseph has been doing so well over the year's, and now, here's someone of quality to rival his talents. 7/10 (June 2006)
GARETH DAVIES JONES : Water & Light. www.headingwestmusic.com
Here's a chap who's a seasoned professional singer/songwriter and guitarist, who has played at many of the UK's best known festivals and venues. In the past, I've likened him to Martyn Joseph and David Gray, and it's the former category that he sits in best. One thing I like about Gareth's music is it's simplicity in sound. There's some fine music in the background, but it's uncluttered and lets him, as the singer perform his trade. He starts this album off with the excellent 'Borderland', a strong opener. 'Breathe' is also a superb song which is full of passion and good hooks. Away from the usual praise and glories to our Lord, Gareth can also write folky numbers that tell of a story. 'Shoreline of Ghosts' depicts a time, not so long ago, when miners worked down the pits in his native north east of England. Similarly, later on, Gareth weaves his words into a delightful story about an ill-fated ship. As a singer and performer, Gareth is slowly building up a reputation that I'm sure will see him become even more popular in the years to come. As for the album, it's a joy to listen to. 9/10. (June 2008)
GARETH ROBINSON : Be Glorifed. (Kingsway : KMCD2625)
Recorded at St Thomas' Church in Sheffield, England, this is the long awaited album from acclaimed worship leader and songwriter, Gareth Robinson. Well, that's the claim of the sleeve notes anyway. To be honest, I'd never heard of Gareth and no-one in my immediate circles had either. So, I played the CD, hoping that this would push back the frontiers of worship and spark something new. Sadly, that hope was to be dashed by an album full of mediocre praise and worship songs, beginning with the uptempo "We Come to Be With You Today". It's a typical happy clappy start to a live event and is followed in similar fashion by "O God the God of blessing". Gareth has a good voice, but he really made me cringe with his OTT evangelist type opening to "Jesus You Humbled Yourself". From then on, it all becomes much of a much ness. I got the feeling that this recording was much more a planned performance, rather than a spontaneous act of worship, and therefore it all falls rather flat. In my humble opinion, there are better worship albums on the market than this. 4/10.(September 2005)
GARETH DAVIES-JONES : Faith, Folk, & Fair Trade. (CD from www.fairtrademedia.co.uk)
This EP features four songs which each touch on poor people's struggle for dignity in a world where the rules are stacked against them - a problem the world is increasingly in tune with in this year of the MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY campaign and Live 8. Gareth, who has the knack of writing in Martyn Joseph style, has a very listenable voice and the simple instrumentation is well recorded. Indeed, the acoustic guitar sound is some of the best I've heard for a long time. "Greed For Gain" says " I Work all day for a very low wage…it's time to make a better deal". If you listen to the words, Gareth brings home the message of just what Fair Trade is all about. "Love thy Neighbour" is the message contained in "These Days" and the overall feel of the CD is very intimate. Close your eyes and you can almost imagine Gareth performing the songs just for you. Overall, the well crafted lyrics weave and connect well with the simple acoustic backing. 8/10. (October 2005)
GARETH DAVIES-JONES & ROB HALLIGAN : Try This at Home. (Rough Mix Records, 11 Firs Chase, West Mersea, Essex, CO5 8NG)
This is the first collaboration from these singer/songwriters who champion the cause of Fair Trade and Trade Justice. Engineered and produced by After the Fire's Peter Banks, there's a "no frills, raw sound" to this 8 track CD. Musically, it's primarily just they guys' guitars providing the backing and consequently, the sound feels a little empty at times. However, it all kicks off very nicely with Jones' 'Upside Down', which I found to be quite appealing. Halligan's 'Eleana' has a Latin feel about it, and tells the sad story of a Spanish girl who got mixed up in the drug scene and eventually died of HIV. These guys play a lot of concerts and I think that seeing them live would be a lot better than this resulting CD. The songs are quite thought provoking, such as 'Money Goes Round' and 'Do Justice', and shows the writing skills of both men. Memories of Julie Miller came flooding back to me towards the end of the CD, as Gareth sings his rendition of 'Broken Things'. A pretty little song, and well, delivered. All in all, a taster of two of the UK's busiest independent songsmiths. 6/10. (November 2008)
GARETH HIDES : All the People. (K180Music : K180CD 001)
Even after nearly 28 years in the CCM business, I’m still amazed by the terrific songs being written and produced by independent artists, like London based Gareth Hides. This is his first, full, album, and what a cracker it is! For those of you old enough to remember a band called The Electrics, the opening ‘Revive Me’ will bring back great memories. It’s a Celtic foot-tapper that is very pleasing to the ear, with an excellent chorus. ‘Faces on the People’ plods along nicely, but the indie pop anthem ‘Tonight’ is a real highlight. “Tonight' was written to highlight our own mortality as humans, and that ‘we may not have tomorrow”, says Gareth. “It’s based on Luke 12:16-21 where Jesus says that “this very night your life will be demanded of you”. On ‘New Creation’ there’s great use of a simple guitar phrase, while on ‘Stumbling Block’, Gareth makes first-rate use of some violin and mandolin sounds. The invitation of taking the water of life, on ‘Will You Come?’ didn’t sound as joyous as I thought it should, but that shouldn’t take away anything from another, fine set of lyrics. I couldn’t stop smiling when I heard ‘Every Time You Go Away’. It reminds me so much of 1970’s Eurovision! That’s not a bad thing, Honestly! It’s bubble gum pop, with sing-along chorus that will be buzzing around your head for days. Gareth has an engaging voice, and his songs have real lyrical gravity. Add to that, some great production, and you have a mighty, fine release. 9/10. (February 2015, Album of the Month)
GARETH ROBINSON : The Very Best Of… (Kingsway : KWCD3247)
I must confess that I've not heard Gareth himself, before, although I've played several of his songs in the past in church, so I was quite interested to hear this CD. The songs on here are all quite easy to listen to, being mostly rock/pop style worship songs. I think that occasionally Gareth's vocals sound rather like Robbie Williams, and most of the stuff on here grows on you fairly quickly. I should think that anyone who knows Gareth's music will know most of this stuff quite well, it being a greatest hits CD, but "We See Love" is my favourite song, probably because we've been using it in church for the last couple of weeks. This is a double CD with 30 songs on it, and like most double albums it gets a bit wearing if you try and listen to it all in one go, but that takes nothing away from the songs themselves, which are all excellent. Give this a try, I'm sure you won't be disappointed. 9/10 Andy Sayner. (November 2011)
GARTH HEWITT : 'Journeys with.... - Pray for Peace'. (Kingsway).
According to Garth, this album represents "a journey of discovery, as I travelled round the Holy Land and have met Christians and peacemakers." What we actually get is a collection of songs that have been previously released on 5 different albums. I suppose it's the nearest we'll come to Religious marketing ploy, but does this mean that - like Take That - Garth is about to spit up? The opening 'Ten Measures of Beuaty is an awful song and is equalled by many of the 10 songs here. However, things take a turn for the better as the accoustic guitar is joined by fiddles and accordian on 'Stronger Than the Storm' and 'Where is the Land of Palestine'- both up tempo foot tappers. On the whole 'Journeys' reminded me of those 1960's protest albums that the likes of Dylan released, and the durge like 'Oh Palestine' is one of the most depressing pieces I've heard in a long time. It's another one of those albums for fans alone but, if you've already got his previous albums, will you really want to buy this? 3/10. (May 1996)
GARTH HEWITT & FRIENDS : 'The Greatest Gift'. (Alliance Music).
I almost screamed when I received this one to review. My last verdict on a Garth release brought telephone calls from some of his fans. This album was originally released last Christmas but has surfaced again in time for this festive season. It opens well enough with 'Peace at Christmas', the sort of number that Sir Cliff might release. There are some other good tracks featured, such as the ambient 'Mary's Child' and the choir assisted 'Into the Darkness'. However, (here it comes) there are some quite dreadful songs that I personally wouldn't dare to put on an album. I've no quibble with Garth Hewitt's work or his lyrics, but his presentation leaves a lot to be desired. For his fans only. 4/10. (November 1996)
GARTH HEWITT : The Feast of Life - A Musical of Hope From Christian Aid. (Word : WMD004)
This musical has been written to reflect the joy and hope of Christian Aid's Statement of Commitment "All Shall Be Included". It's also been produced so that churches can use during certain weeks of the year and result in an enjoyable community experience. Sadly, this is nothing more than a Garth Hewitt album with a theme. I really want to like his music because of the tireless work he does but, I can't. Starting with the 'happy clappie' title track it meanders through twists and turns in, mostly, second rate mode and rarely moves out of first gear. "world of Difference" is a nice duet but "Dance of Injustice" is terrible. Here, Garth sounds like Neil Diamond and sings a song that is far too close to one of the American artists own hits. "A Child is the Future" raises things a little, a gentle ballad sang by one of three females featured. Oh Garth, I do promise never to review another album of yours again. Me and your music just don't mix! 4/10. (August 1998)
GARTH HEWITT : Journeys - Holy Land, Africa, Asia and Latin America. (Word : W MD014)
I am pleased to review this four CD set from Garth Hewitt having been a fan of Garth's music and ministry since being challenged at Greenbelt years ago by the message he brings. In his distinctive 'folky' style Garth's songs tell stories of places he has visited, people he has met and situations he has witnessed on his many visits to the Holy Land, Africa, Asia and Latin America over 25 years. Garth's is a voice speaking out against injustice for those often with no other voice and although some of the topics are out of date now, as Garth says, he's left them there "to tell the story of the pain on the journey to dignity for those countries". My own favourite is the Holy Land CD provoking memories of a journey I made accompanying Garth to Palestine - the most challenging and disturbing journey of my life. Singing 'O Palestine' in a Palestinian school together with Palestinian Christian, Jewish and Arabic teenagers is something I will never forget. For all Garth fans and anyone seeking to learn more of the injustices in our world this is a thought/action provoking must, listen to the lyrics of Garth's songs and you cannot help but be moved. 8/10. Val Hunter. (November 1999)
GARTH HEWITT : Gospel Singer. (ICC : ICCD37830)
Okay, it's "take your life in your own hands" time as, despite all my previous reservations, I look at Garth Hewitt's latest release. Moving to ICC has given Garth the opportunity to return to his folk roots, labeit keeping to his tried and trusted songwriting formula. However, introducing the slide guitar of Melvin Duffy, Hewitt leans into country with the opening "Guide My Feet" and "Oasis of Mercy". So, with my initial fears laid to rest, I was rather surprised to find myself actually enjoying some of the material. I've never questioned Garth's lyrics but, for me, this is the best thing he's done in years - despite the throwaway "Words of Peace". The Christmas song "Candle of Hope" isn't just a typical festive jolly, it's been written in conjunction with Garth's book of the same name, which is a journey through Advent. Standing out, the harmonica lifts the sound and really does set this album alight. I've still to become completely won over to his music but this one certainly goes a long way towards it. 7/10. (January 2000)
GARTH HEWITT : 1973-2003. (ICC : ICCD
Let me get two things out of the way right from the start - first, Garth Hewitt's heavily Nashville inspired style of music has never really "floated my boat" and second, a Garth Hewitt concert way back in the mid-1980s was my first ever experience of Christian music other than traditional hymns so (number 1 notwithstanding) I will always have a soft spot for this particular heavyweight of Contemporary Christian Music with a Social Conscience. So what do we have here? Simple question, simple answer. This collection of some of his finest songs of the last 30 years demonstrates a good variety of style and content, including country, gospel and protest songs all filled with an unmistakeable sense that here is a songwriter who passionately cares about Jesus, this world and its people. Stand-out songs for me are "Light a Candle in the Darkness", "The Feast of Life" (a wonderful duet with Jessy Dixon), "Dance on Injustice" and a nice re-recording of "When Johnny Cash Sang 'Men In Black'" with Martyn Joseph. If you like Garth Hewitt this is probably an essential in your collection. If, like me, you can only take this kind of music in small doses then give this a try anyway - you won't regret it. 9/10 David Cooper (February 2004)
GARTH HEWITT/PAUL FIELD : The Dalit Drum. (ICC : ICCD58930).
Earlier this year, Garth & Paul travelled to India and visited Christian Aid partners in Tiruchirapalli, as well as the Dalit Resource Centre in Tamil Nadu. The trip turned out to be a real eye opener, giving the duo an insight into the history of dalit suffering. This album features many of the dalit musicians and singers, as well as a guest vocal from Sir Cliff Richard on the song "Indian Sun". Garth's earthy folk style is well complemented here by Paul's leaning to pop music and, mixed with the dalit culture, the result is quite good. "He's Holding On" tells the story of an old man and his life and struggles, while "Raise the Flag" depicts the dalit woman who was stopped and attacked for trying to raise the national flag. Sung by one of the villagers, it leaves a deep feeling in your heart. The drums are evident throughout but, perhaps, more strongly in "I Am the Drum". Then there's a celebration. "Caste Out Caste" is a great song but suffers from one of the best mis-heard lyrics for a long time; "Let the darlek's dance". The album is full of songs of hope and "One Of Us" lifts up the Christmas story as a sign of hope for the dalit community. Never one to portray the run of the mill album, Garth's musical marriage wroks very well indeed. 8/10. (December 2001)
GARY CHAPMAN : Outside. (Reunion : 02341 0003 2)
In his 5th album in 10 years, Gary Chapman invites his listeners to come in from the cold to experience the warmth of a loving God. Throughout the album, he continues to point you to God's mercy, grace and love, using songs of differing quality. "Daddy Cut My Hair" is a song about forgiveness and the 'lost sheep' syndrome. It's a poignant number and works well. "Hold On" is a ballad that has similar qualities but whatever possessed him to record "I Love You", I don't know. It's the kind of twee song that even the likes of Pat Boone and Perry Como would be ashamed of recording! The title cut takes the biscuit in 'best song' award, even though it's a complete rip-off of Carolyn Arends' "Seize the Day". Gary has a loyal fan base in the UK and I expect they will clamour for this release. As for me, I'm not quite there, yet. 6/10. (December 1999)
GARY CHAPMAN : Circles & Seasons. Crowne : 785277700326)
His careers spans more than 20 years, and includes 8 Dove Awards, 4 No.1 songs, 3 Grammy Award nominations, and a successful run of 3 years as host of a US Country TV show. For this new album, Gary Chapman single-handedly recorded, produced, and engineered, along with writing all the songs, playing all the instruments and singing all the vocals. So, he's quite a talented guy. But, what about the resulting album? Where does it lie in the life of one NFN editor? Well, I like new country, and smattering of old style too, and it's in the latter where this falls. Simple and honest lyrics, accompanied by music that, on the whole, failed to move me at all. In all fairness, I've played this album 5 times for this review, hoping that something extra would light a spark, but it doesn't. I find Gary's voice carrying little or no emotion, resulting in a very monotone delivery. I looked at "Walk On" closely as I thought this was the best track, but couldn't work out why, other than, I did. 10 tracks of MOR country that left me feeling that it was no more than bland. 3/10. (May 2002)
GATEWAY WORSHIP : Wake up the world. Integrity Music 43722
This is a live recording of a worship event taking place at the Gateway Church, which is presumably somewhere in America. I really thought this CD would grow on me after a couple of plays, The style of music is more or less the style that I would choose should I ever get to lead a worship band. I really liked the driving basslines and the rhythm guitars, but somehow, and I can't quite put my finger on why it is, this album doesn't quite seem to hit the right spot. The CD opens with "New Doxology", which as far as I can tell is no different from the old one, in that it uses the same words and the same tune, but it is a fairly good rendition. After a few songs a female vocalist takes over for a few songs, and although she hits all the right notes, it just sounds kind of noisy, perhaps unsubtle would be a better description In fact that could be the problem with it, the whole thing is a bit too much "in your face". Even during the quiet bits there seems to be too much going on. I think that this is more down to the engineering than the performing though. In fact I strongly suspect that someone has strapped an enhancer across the mix to make it sound more lively, and overdone it to the point where it's tiring on your ears. On the other hand perhaps that's just how the Americans like their music to sound. So a bit of a mixed bag then. Given the never ending stream of worship CD's, of sometimes dubious quality that are churned out non stop I would have to say that I've heard (and played probably) stuff that's a lot worse than this album by a long way, but I've heard material that is a lot better too. 5/10 Andy Sayner. (October 2008)
GEMMA McQUEEN : The Rescue. (CD only £12.99 inc p&p from: Spirit Music, 143 Leeson Drive, Ferndown, Dorset, BH22 9RF.)
Launching her debut album, Gemma McQueen is donating some of the proceeds to CLAPA, a charity supporting babies born with serious facial deformities. The lady, herself, has received acclaim as a singer/songwriter from such personalities as the late Roy Castle, and EMI's Bruce Welch, and was also invited to audition for the role of Cathy in Heathcliffe. Although I have plumped for the style of soft pop overall, there's more than hint of Celtic roots, running throughout. Some tracks, including the opening 'Nothing', are both malleable and powerful in a Kate Bush sort of way, but Gemma's individuality shines in it's own right. The anthem 'I Will Stay' tells of a child-like love for the Father and ministers right to the heart. Pounding drums and dynamic use of fiddles accompany her passionate vocals on the title track, before the gentle 'Can It Be True'. Here, Gemma sings softly over sparse string pads, and exquisite guitar work. The honest theme of her own relationship with God, together with the quality of thefinished product make this album very special. If it was a painting, it would be hung in the Louvre. 'The Rescue' is a work of art. 10/10. (March 1998, Album of the Month)
GENIE & TROY NILSSON : Whisper. (Everland/Word : CD7019968600).
On hearing the first track, the temptation of the listener is to turn up the volume as you try and increase Genie's gentle vocals. However, if you simply relax and tune in to the sounds, she - and husband, Troy - will carry you along with their peaceful and soft music. Troy produces almost all the music while Genie concentrates, primarily, on those wonderful vocal tones. "Shalom, shalom" carries few words, but what power there is within them. "Your Love Calls To Me" is my favourite piece, and conveys the knowledge that God is always with us no matter what we're going through. As well as original material, "The Lord's Prayer", "The Beatitudes" and "Be Thou My Vision" are all given the Nilsson treatment, with outstanding results. The marketing people say "Ambient and gentle, perfect for devotions and meditation". Who am I to argue? 10/10. (June 1998, Album of the Month)
THE GENTLEMEN : A Candid History of Faith, Hope, Love. (Stereo Tree : 8204692)
This 4 piece indie band from Sheffield, formed in 2005. Since then, they've gathered a large following and have played sell-out gigs in their home town. Their latest single, 'Something You Can't Regeret' has garnered plenty of airplay, and there's quite a buzz around these guys. Musically, when they rock, they sound a little like Kasabian, and the single only adds weight to that thought. 'I'm Not Leaving' follows in similar vein, and there's plenty of energy too, on songs like 'Push Back!' and 'Fairy Tales'. Nicholas Noble has a fine voice but I did find his falsetto moments to be quite irritating, especially on 'Unique'. Guitars fly, and drumbeats crash as the boys gel well together as a band. One thing that did cause me concern though was the lyrics. I think I understood the theme of 'Protest Song', and how the media stereotypes the youth of today, but I failed on most of the other songs to gain the meaning. 'Fairy Tales' was a prime example, with lyrics about dragons and princesses failing to make sense to this listener. But, maybe it's just me, and I'll hold my hand up and say that these guys do sound good, and I'm sure even better, live. 8/10. (June 2009)
THE GENTLEMEN : Departures. (www.facebook.com/TheGentlemenMusicUK)
I recall seeing this band in a late-night spot at Greenbelt 2007 and being impressed. I also recall them bringing a lampstand onto stage – surely not the same one in the inside photograph? Despite several press mentions I’d not heard much so was pleased to get this CD to review. This is a lot more polished than I recall (as you’d expect) but still retains their energy. The guitar loop over driving bass in “This Is It” is especially good, as was the vocal/riff intertwining in “Another Day”. Vocally they’re a bit more pop than rock (i.e. sung more than shouted/screamed) and there’s more than a hint of classic 80s about the arrangements. “27 Days” could probably have sat well on a Duran Duran album, for example, with others being quite Tears For Fears – and was that a Theremin on “Another Day”? Yet it’s more an amalgam of styles than a rip-off (“A Little Bit Foreign” is more Franz Ferdinand-esque) producing their own style that they’re clearly comfortable in. It’s all very good and well played (TFF were renowned perfectionists, so my comparison to them is a compliment) but feels more suited to an intimate venue than a stadium – the vocal acapella at the end of “Lights Of Tokyo”, for example, having a living-room feel to it. There are places where it feels like the band are actually sitting back and I do wonder whether they reproduce this sound live or drive harder – however, “I Won’t Let You Down” has a wonderful stripped-back feel to it that needs the spaces in the sound to work: wall-to-wall guitar would ruin it. It’s a good solid album and I had to play it several times to try and pick a best track as there’s no fillers here. In the end: best track: “This Is It”. 8/10 Paul Ganney. (April 2014)
THE SONGS OF GEOFF BAKER : From A Grateful Heart. (ICC: ICCD27530)
No, I hadn't heard of Geoff Baker before, either. Why I haven't come across his music before is beyond me, after listening to this album, featuring a whole host of top British musicians. It's not an exceptional collection of songs but, apart from the awful 'Let Us Celebrate', they are pleasant. 'I Know My Redeemer Lives' is an m.o.r. pop based praise & worship standard, but you can't help tapping your foot to it's sound. There's some very powerful vocals and accompaniment on the superb 'Nothing Can Keep Me From His Love', and a lighter feel to the country tinged 'He Rescued Me'. It's not as 'in your face' as Hillsongs, but many will like the more peaceful style of Geoff Baker. 7/10. (October 1998)
GEOFF BULLOCK II : "Now is the Time" (Kingsway Music)
Subtitled "The Songs of Geoff Bullock II", this 11 track release is performed by a whole host of unknown Australian artists. Apparently, Mr Bullock is a very popular contemporary praise & worship song writer but, all too often, I found that this collection would send me to sleep. The opening number "The Power of Your Time", is a powerful number and one of the strongest tracks featured. The words of the title song tell of a love for the creator that we really don't deserve, as we fall so short of His perfection. Now, that really did have me singing and worshipping. Like all the album I've had the pleasure of reviewing, I have no qualms about the lyrical content, it's just the presentation in music. 5/10. (October 1996)
GEOFF HOWLETT : Fear No Evil. (Private Recording : NFN001. CD £7.50 + 75p postage; Cassette £5 + 50p from : Geoff Howlett, 113 Bricknell Avenue, Hull, E. Yorkshire, England, HU5 4EU).
If the artist's name doesn't give it away, then the label does. This is NFN's editor in full flight on his first solo album. Recorded at Hull's Eastside studios over "far too long", it kicks off with "You Promised" and the tone is set. Geoff writes songs with catchy choruses separated by verses that do far more than simply fill the spaces: they tunefully explain the words that you'll go round singing for ages after first hearing them. Then just as you think you've got the album sussed and are ready to give it a solid 7/10, it steps up a gear: "Ebony Blood and Snow", "When the Son Comes Down" and "Sea of Flames" are the album's purple patch, "When.." featuring some of the best-recorded acoustic guitar I've heard in a long time. Asking around, the track that's raising the most interest, though is "No", a re-working of a song Geoff first aired with "95 Foot Wave". This is a calmer version, and took me a couple of listens to decide that he's done the right thing. If the album has a fault (and as a reviewer, I'm supposed to find at least one) it's in the ordering of the tracks: it runs more like a live gig than an album. It starts strongly and closes with a stomper, but lacks a cohesion in places, that, live, would be given by the introductions. Did I mention I like the album, by the way? 8/10. Paul Ganney. (November 1998)
GEOFF HOWLETT : Always & Forever (Private Recording : from Geoff Howlett, 113 Bricknell Avenue, Hull, England, HU5 4EU. CD : £3.50; Cassette: £1.50)
It must be at least 18 months now since Geoff released his solo album, 'Fear No Evil', so it's about time we heard from him again! Since then, Geoff has found himself playing much more to audiences of over 35s, so has built upon those experiences to produce a more mature style of music. Released for St. Valentine's Day, this EP of four more Howlett compositions certainly shows this. All are love songs, treated in different ways but with Geoff's lyrical style stamped all over them. The EP opens with the title track, unashamedly retro 60s - but doesn't he do it well? And it goes on ... 'My Love' , also 60s style, is a slower number with the arrangement really catching the style of the time. 'I Love You' is more of an acoustic number with Geoff's guitar work coming to the fore, whilst 'The Positive Sign' makes use of modern technology and reminds me of 80s synthesiser stuff such as Soft Cell and early Depeche Mode. I like this collection as a whole, and the variety works but I have to say that Geoff's forte is definitely in the 60s retro material. His voice is perfect for it, his original songs just seem to slide into it, and the way he uses modern sounds to recreate it is great. No crackle and hiss! Geoff's version of the Billy Fury classic 'Halfway to Heaven' adorns the late star's fan club website, so surely that is recommendation indeed. Nice one, Geoff! 8/10. Julie Lord. (March 2000)
GEOFF HOWLETT : Golden Days. (CD £5.50 from 83 Parthian Road, Hull, Yorkshire,UK, HU9 4SX)
Well, if Daniel O'Donnell can record an album of secular classics, why can't Geoff? After all, as he takes his music into various venues, there's always a smattering of smash hits from the 50's and 60's to help roll back the memories. His love for British rock n' roller Billy Fury results in three of the legend's tracks on show, "Be Mine Tonight", "Cross My Heart" and the classic "Like I've Never Been Gone". Similarly, three songs made famous by Johnny Tillotson also get an airing, "Judy Judy Judy", "My Special Angel" and "Poetry in Motion". Despite the age of some of these songs, Geoff has the happy knack of making them sound just as fresh as the day they were in the charts. Hit's by the Beatles, Buddy Holly, and Bobby Vee slip together nicely with songs like "Venus in Blue Jeans" and "Summertime Blues," all helping to make this an enjoyable listen. 7/10. Warren Harry. (September 2004)
GEOFF HOWLETT : Golden Days 2. (geoff@geoffhowlett.co.uk)
These days, plying his trade, predominantly, in the world of secular music, singer Geoff Howlett follows up his 2004 tribute album with well known hits of yesteryear. Kicking off with the Dusty Springfield classic, 'I Only Wanna Be With You', Geoff takes us on a journey of musical history, with songs that he covers in his live sets. One early piece of feedback stated that it was nice to hear Gene Pitney's '24 Hours From Tulsa' actually sung in tune, and this version certainly hits the right notes. There's 90 seconds of what became one of Adam Faith's biggest hits, 'What Do You Want?', while Geoff also offers a mini tribute to British singer Craig Douglas, with 'Pretty Blue Eyes' and 'When My Little Girl is Smiling'. One surprise inclusion is the 2007 hit by the Killers, 'Human' but, again, it works well. Geoff hasn't forgotten how to play instruments though, and his guitar playing is highlighted in a thoughtful solo on Robbie Williams' 'Angels'. No Geoff Howlett gig would be the same without a passing nod to Billy Fury, and he doesn't disappoint, singing versions of 'Halfway to Paradise' and the lesser known 'I'll Never Quite Get Over You'. It's an album that you'll enjoy if you're of a "certain age". It's never going to rock your socks off, but with covers of songs by Chris De Burgh, Ronan Keating, and Shakin' Stevens, it's sure to find you singing along. 7/10 Warren Harry. (February 2010)
GEOFF HOWLETT : Love Songs. (£5 from geoff@geoffhowlett.co.uk)
Another year, and another offering of golden hits from the golden tones of NFN maestro, Geoff Howlett. Playing concerts in his native Yorkshire area, Geoff has built up a reputation of providing an excellent evening of memories and entertainment, through songs from days gone by. This time, he's decided to celebrate Valentine's Day, by issuing an album of 17 love songs. There are far too many of my favourites to mention here, but Geoff caresses each word on songs like Billy Fury's "I'll Never Quite Get Over You', and Air Supply's 'All Out of Love'. He surprised me by taking on Shania Twain's 'Still the One' but, somehow, it works quite well. Slower songs like 'Smoke Gets in Your Eyes' and 'Dream a Little Dream' and equally as enjoyable as more uptempo numbers such as 'You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth' and the powerful 'Tracks of My Tears'. Most people will know a good number of the tracks but, for some, Roxette's 'Vulnerable' will be a hidden gem. All in all, a delightful CD. 8/10 Warren Harry. (February 2011)
GEOFF MOORE : 'Familiar Stranger...The Early Works of...'(Benson).
Actually, it's only a couple of month's since we heard Geoff's last album, 'Home Run'. What we have here is the chance for relatively new fans to catch up on some of his early releases. The familiar traits of good, catchy choruses are here - if only on a couple of songs - but most of the songs are written by members of Whiteheart. It opens, however, with Larry Norman's 'Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music', and is followed by a foot stompin' rocker called 'Never Wanna Go Back'. If you're a fan of his Huey Lewis type music of the 90's then you may well be disappointed with this retrospective release. There again, there is a classic track 'Make Your Mind Up' from 1986 which just may persuade you to add this low-price album to your collection. 5/10. (May 1996)
GEOFF MOORE : Speak To Me. (Rocketown Records)
With 16 albums to his credit in a 22 year career, Geoff Moore will always be found doing what has sustained him throughout this time - Loving God, loving his children and especially their mother, and taking advantage of every opportunity to make Jesus known. The album starts off strongly with, what I believe to be, a sure fire radio hit, 'Speak to Me' - a reminder hat God speaks to His children through a variety of means. 'When I Get Where I'm Going' was originally a huge country radio hit for Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton. Here, Moore duets with Christy Nockels and they do a fine job too. It's a fact that God sees everything that we do, and that's the story behind 'He Knows My Name'. Geoff's got a good voice and at times he reminded me of Bruce Springstein with his delivery. Certainly the rocky 'So Long, Farewell' rates well. It's the first time I've heard anything from Geoff Moore for a little while and the wait was well worth it. 8/10. (December 2007)
GERALDINE LATTY : Devoted. (Kingsway : KMCD2439)
This is the first time that I've come across Geraldine Latty outside the usual live worship and other such compilation albums, so I wasn't too sure hat to expect. She writes most of the songs listed, and interprets passages from the Bible into song. "O Lord Our God", for instance, is straight forward praise, linked to 2Chronicles 6, and it's one of the strongest songs, complete with "happy" feeling. It took three listens before I started to enjoy this album as the first two plays seemed to pass me by. The old hymn, "Take My Life" has been given a new lease of life and I honestly hated it on first hearing. By the third, however, I began to change my mind, and can say that I really enjoy it now. Strange how things grow on you isn't it? In fact, I could say that about the whole album. "Wash Me and Cleanse Me", and "We Will Proclaim" are two more songs that seem to improve with repeated plays, so I'll persevere and, for now, give Miss Latty's album 6/10. (June 2003)
GERALIDINE LATTY : 2-4-1. (Kingsway : KMCD2794)
Geraldine Latty is an increasingly-in-demand worship leader, who sensitively treads a fine line between gospel/soul and pop. She is becoming widely known through leading at a wide range of conferences and events, including Spring Harvest and New Wine. What we are presented with here, as the title suggests, is a "2-4-1". That is, you, discerning reader, get twice the Geraldine for your money. Disc one is her album "Make Me a Channel of Your Peace". Whose production and recording is ably handled by Caroline Bonnett and a slew of UK sessioners. Disc two, is handled by US powerhouse John Hartley, and features, among others, Phil Madeira and Matt Slocum, providing Latty with their sessioning help. Both albums are, of course, strong in both song and performance, whether the songs be original or old-faithfuls re-invented, with the clarity and soul of Geraldine's voice shining throughout. If you are a fan you probably have both of these already, but if not, this compilation would be a good place to start. 7/10. Haydon Spenceley. (October 2007)
GERALDINE LATTY : Shout It! (Kingsway : KMCD2911)
Geraldine is as well known for her contributions to worship leading at big events such as Spring Harvest & Focusfest as she is for her solo albums. "Shout It" is her 5th solo release & she has just finished her UK promotional tour. All songs on the CD bar one are new with the title track having been written in celebration of 21 years of Steve Chalke's Oasis Trust charity. What I do find a big bonus with her material is that as well as the usual print of lyrics on the CD insert, Geraldine digs a little deeper & also gives us her scriptural references for each song as well as the background/inspiration behind it - quite refreshing! However I wasn't quite so inspired by the musical contents, despite the smooth vocals & professional musicians. This was a bit of a let-down as I always saw Geraldine as a rather passionate & bubbly person from listening to some of her live worship from the festivals, but here the passion lies more within the lyrics. The songs are very relaxed affairs and apart from the occasional bit of flavour such as the dash of salsa spice in 'Shout It' or Celtic-style accompaniment in 'Our Hope', I found the songs somewhat bland. Chances are that in most environments they would have passed me by unnoticed, a bit like lounge jazz - pleasant enough at the time but will it be remembered later? There's little doubt that followers of her ministry will be blessed & encouraged by the contents but I cannot see "Shout It" making huge inroads with those outside this sphere of influence. 5/10 Simon Redfern (March 2009)
GERALDINE LATTY : Lord I Come (The Very Best of…). (Kingsway : KWCD3201)
There can’t be many worshippers who haven’t sung at least one of Geraldine Latty’s compositions, here in the UK, over the last few years. She consistently comes up with popular songs, and this double CD compilation, celebrates her work. From the jazzy feel of ‘First’ to the Latin American rhythms of ‘Shout It’, Geraldine soon shows that she is no slave to one particular style of music. The opening few tracks are all very nice but it’s when ‘Surprising’ hits the speakers that I really began to take note. From then on, it’s an enjoyable ride of accessible songs. There’s a calypso feel to ‘It’s Amazing’, while the real purple patch also includes ‘Take My Life’, ‘How Can I Repay You’ and ‘Yet Will I Praise Him’. On the second CD, there’s a happy declaration called ‘Worhsip God’. A simple song but, once again, well written. I thought that ‘Perfect Love’ sounded like a traditional hymn, and I would be interested to hear it set to a church organ. ‘Our Hope is in You Lord’ and ‘Holy God’ are just two more great songs that bring the album to a close. If you haven’t a Geraldine Latty album in your collection, then this is a must. 9/10 (June 2011)
GERON DAVIS & KINDRED SOULS : Let It Rain. (Daywind : 4187000922)
Geron Davis established himself as a singer, songwriter and worship leader at the age of 19, after writing the popular worship song "Holy Ground". The Kindred Souls are none other than his wife, sister, and sister's husband. Together, they regularly lead worship seminars and perform concerts in churches throughout America. This new album sees plenty of songs in the Yolanda Adams genre, not least the title track and "There's a Light On". Not for some time, have I heard an album with direct messages of the Gospel, in traditional style. "Undenying Love" is full of God's promise and sung as a testimony of His love. "Go" (tell the world) produces an awesome choir of angels, singing their hearts out, while the quieter "Don't Be Afraid" is just beautiful. When the sound gets funky, it lost my attention. The "grooves", as they say, just don't excite me. Mind you, the rest did. 8/10. (April 2003)
GERSH : Awakening (Spring Hill Music)
Gersh is Mark Gersmehl and Awakening is caused by his realisation that this world is infinitely more beautiful and fragile than he had dreamed and that who he was yesterday was no longer good enough. The music comes from a spiritual and musical journey to seek more and more of God's heart. There's no doubting the sincerity of the driving force behind the CD, but does it communicate and is it, to put it bluntly, any good? Yes and yes. Gersh's vocal is very reminiscent of Peter Gabriel. The musical style is very singer/songwriter (albeit with a band rather than solo). If you're into Gabriel/Dylan/Toploader then you'll like this. "I believe" is almost funky and very clear in where Gersh is coming from, although "Awakening" (the track) is probably the best even though it is also the most Gabriel-esque. Listen before you buy, but it's worth the effort. 8/10. Paul Ganney. (September 2002)
GEORGE BEVERLEY SHEA : How Sweet the Sound". (Authentic)
Here's the guy who's been around as long as the Bible itself! Well, I may jest, but George Beverley Shea seems to have been sharing the gospel through hymns and testimony since time began. Indeed, as a soldier of God, he must have seen some spirtual fights in his time. This two disc set contains his gentle delivery on songs like "I Will Sing the Wondrous Story", "The Old Rugged Cross", "Amazing Grace" and "Rock of Ages". According to the sleeve notes, George has sung in front of over 225 million people around the world, many of which have been through Billy Graham Crusades. There's a few songs new to me on the discs and this collection is a fine tribute to a wonderful man. 6/10. (January 2005)
GEORGE HUFF : Miracles (Word/Curb/Warner - 8863802)
George Huff is 22 & has been singing since he was 5 years old; he also lists writing music & plays piano playing amongst his talents, so I was expecting great things. He hails from New Orleans which can be a great place to be from if music is your thing. The hype this album has had in the USA has been quite something, which I guess comes with the territory of being an American Idol finalist. Listening to the content of the album however doesn't quite display the expected "X Factor" (sorry about that pun)!! George is without doubt a good singer, but the material that's been chosen for this album does him no favours - it tends to be bland & somewhat lifeless which is disappointing. His style of vocals is somewhat remeniscent of Boyz II Men (remember them?) which is a positive as their quality level was outstanding. The 1st track "Real Love (I Got It)" is a medium-paced American R&B track which is quite catchy with some good if rather predictable musical arrangements which are quite typical of music of this genre. The remeinder of the album slows right down all the way through & is so laid back, it's horizontal - reminds you of end-of-the-night type music but sadly does nothing to ignite a great deal of further interest, with the music sounding rather manufactured & heaps of "whoa whoa", ooh, ooh" & "yeah, yeah" lyrics in the intros. Good as background, but come on George...you've got more in you that's way better than this! 4/10 Simon Redfern (April 2007)
GHOSTREE : Ghostree EP. Online only (independent)
UK four piece Indie band Ghostree have released their debut EP as an online only offering (for the time being at least) on Soundcloud. However from first impressions, this release has the potential to go further as a hard copy CD. Those that have read any of my previous reviews will be aware that I am partial to something a bit different than the run-of-the-mill praise & worship offerings & this sure fits the bill in that respect. From the outset with the opening track “Hope” you’ll notice this isn’t your usual fayre with a rather atmospheric, slightly dark & possibly theatrical atmosphere & frontman Haydon Spenceley adds to this aura with his moody vocals - certainly fits the “indie” label. “You They See” is a little lighter on the ears & has a good rocky feel to it. My favourite on the EP has to be “Glorious” though as I found it to be one I would be likely to listen to repeatedly & not get bored. It’s by no means a fast track but it still packs a punch in terms of the powerful God-centred praise lyrics & is certainly useable in a church setting – albeit with a little modification! “Save My Day” follows on in a similar vein with “Hallelujah” completing this offering at a slightly more relaxed pace, but for me took a while to get going. Difficult one to categorise is this – has a splash or REM in some respects with a dash of Coldplay. Some may find it a bit too out of the ordinary but this grew on me! Musicianship from this 4 piece outfit is excellent throughout & I have to admire some of the drum patterns & some of the rhythms could be occasionally seen as a tad experimental but it does work. I look forward to seeing what else these guys can produce as I am sure there are greater things to come! 8/10 Simon Redfern (April 2012)
GINNY OWENS : Something More. (Rocketownrecords : 080688618926)
When I heard a couple of Ginny's songs on a sampler, I was impressed by the freshness of the sound, and her vocal qualities. So, it was with eagerness that I listened to this album, hoping for more of the same. The theme of the album is a "timeless message of love and hope", and Ginny does write intimate and thought provoking lyrics but the end product is quite ordinary. "With Me" is an "OK" sort of pop song but nothing special. "This Road" gently sees the piano accompanying Ginny's "little girl" voice and this IS quite pleasant. But it's through to track 8 before there's a song that rises head and shoulders above mediocrity. "Simply Love You" tells how, sometimes, our lives become so busy that we forget that our Father is there to guide us and the prayer response is that we're sorry and we just want to love Him. It's a great song and such a pity that it's a gem amongst some dull stones. 4/10. (July 2002)
GINNY OWENS: Live from New Orleans. (Rocketown Records : RRD3723)
I quote Ginny's own words, "By the time we recorded this project, the band guys and I had been on the road together a little over 200 shows so this set of live songs sounds low key, lived-in, relaxed". Unfortunately, it is all too much of these things, to the point where what has been produced is a lifeless collection of tuneless banality. It's hard to distinguish one melody from the next and even the arrangements of each track seem similar and unvaried. I would really like to be positive about this album but it is difficult to find a redeeming feature, not helped by the fact that I have struggled on every occasion to reach the end of the album. The extended spoken intro to "Call me Beautiful" is unnecessary and distracting, starting with her comments from a reviewer that this track "could have been written by anybody". I concur, and venture that this extends to the whole album. I don't doubt Ginny's sincerity, and her songs are reflections of her experiences, but this album is delivered in such a way that prevents me from sharing and engaging with them. 2/10 Robin Thompson (August 2005)
GINNY OWENS : If You Want Me To - The Best of... (Rocketown : RRD5024)
Ginny Owens has won three Dove Awards and scored several radio hits in the US. A view of NFN's review archive shows that none of the reviewers have really been taken by her music. Indeed, Robin Thompson called her last live offering "Lifeless", and that would pretty much sum up this collection. Ginny has a nice voice but her songs are very samey and weak. "Free" is a pleasant enough song and has a shuffling beat to it. "Wonderful Wonder" is equally as nice but all too often I found the songs all too bland to get my teeth into. Song after song comes and goes, with a few live tracks thrown in, but they failed to win me over. Late on in the listing "40", at least, comes over in a different style but it's still fairly tedious. And, if that's not bad enough, "Live Once" is a sure cure for insomnia. So, while the American's continue to love her, I can't see this album winning Ginny very many new fans in the UK. 3/10. (November 2006)
GLAD : Acappella Worship - The Highest Glory. (Benson: 8441823972).
Almost two years ago, I gave my album of the month award to an acappella release by Sweet Deliverance. The album was full of great harmonies, catchy links, and mightily strong songs. Yes, you're ahead of me aren't you? This is the other extreme. No, the harmonies are quite good, but the songs are so bland that they tend to just drift in and out of one another. "Awesome God" was the first recognisable tune but, by this time, Glad were already on the slippery slope. A little percussion is added here and there but it fails to lift, what soon becomes, a drab affair. This is the group's 18th album in it's 20 year history, so they do have a splendid background. I can only assume that the previous releases have been better than this. 3/10. (April 1999)
GLASS BYRD : "Open Wide This Window. (Word records.
I must admit that when I first saw this CD I was half expecting a sugary coated worship album, just like I really hate. It was a pleasant surprise then when I heard it, as it was nothing of the kind, in fact I liked it right from the start. GlassByrd are Christine Glass, and Marc Byrd, hence the name, and this is their second album together. The information supplied with the CD said that this album would appeal to fans of Jars of clay, and there is a similarity. If however I had heard any of the tracks that are sung by Marc, on the radio without knowing who it was. Then I would have bet money that I was hearing Del Amitri, it's that kind of sound, acoustic rock with a jangly electric guitar over the top. I don't think there's a bad track on this album, "I Stand Amazed" and "Peace To You" stood out to me personally. I would certainly recommend this CD to anyone. 10/10 Andy Sayner (April 2003)
GLASS DARKLY : Lost Persons Area. (www.glassdarkly.co.uk)
This album is the debut by this band, and has been completely self financed. Apart from the drums which were recorded at ICC the rest of the CD was done at various houses, churches etc. With no record company to mess everything around this CD retains that raw edge that is often sacrificed in the name of commercial necessity these days. The music is mainly guitar driven fairly up tempo rock worship, but there are a few slower numbers which are just as good too. For me the best track on this CD is "I can hear" which is a slower number, and has a definite U2 sound to it. Not too sure about the vocal on "Need to see you though", there are some falsetto lines in the verses that sound a bit too much like Justin Hawkins out of The Darkness. Apart from that, and to be fair, it's not really a bad track, just my personal prejudices coming out, this is probably one of the best Christian CD's that I've heard recently. The band have a website that has quite a lot of interesting stuff on it too, it's well worth a look. You can buy the CD from there too, there's a link to Acorn Direct. Give this CD a try, I'm sure that you won't be disappointed with it. 9/10 Andy Sayner. (December 2005)
GLENN PACKIAM : Rumours and Revelations. (Integrity : 46582)
This is the first time I've heard of this guy, and I wasn't sure what to expect when I first saw it. It's a fairly straightforward pop/rock album, nothing too flash on it, but it's a pleasant enough CD to listen to. Mostly guitar led, but some piano led songs too, the vocals reminded me of Deacon Blue, but with possibly a bit more of a rock backing than they use. Most of the songs are no nonsense worship songs "God has come" is probably my favorite, though there's nothing bad about any of the tracks. I guess if I had to find something to moan about I could say that it's a bit "samey" but it's not a really long CD. You can put it on in the background. The last track is called "Second Hand Jesus" and it's a reading of the first chapter of a book that Glenn wrote, it seems to be mainly about of hand wringing about some indiscretion committed by the Pastor of the church. Obviously this was something fairly important that led to him being removed from office, but I'd have thought the album would have been better with another song instead of a long speech that nobody will really care about who wasn't involved, and that will simply be skipped when the CD is played. So not a bad CD, but let down by the last track. 6/10 Andy Sayner. (November 2009)
GLISTEN : Starlight Wishlist. (KMG : KMGD8692)
Produced by Steve Hindalong of The Choir, Glisten's debut release features powerful distorted guitars and pounding rhythms. If the Manic Street Preachers decided to praise God, then this would be their album. Snappy pop songs, mixed with full blooded anthems that seem to last a lifetime. My main problem with this collection was trying to pick out any real highlights. Saying that, there isn't a single song that I completely disliked, they all seemed quite listenable without really setting my mind afire. The atmospheric "Rejoice" had me reaching for an old Pink Floyd record, as I was sure I'd heard it before. "Used" uses that psychodelia guitar sound of the sixties and swamps the overall production to a stage of euphoria. Jason Pettit's lead vocals are reasonable without being outstanding, and the lyrics are all written towards a sincere and deep praise of God. Not my particular taste, but not a bad release. 6/10. (July 1999)
THE GLORIOUS UNSEEN : Tonight the Stars Speak. (BEC : 09463811362)
Here's a 5 piece worship outfit from Nashville, who are supposed to be akin to the sound of The Violet Burning. Described as playing "ambient pop", the idea is to make the music suitable for "contemplative" worship. So much for the blurb, but what about the proof? Well, I honestly thought that Ben Crists' vocals were some of the most mundane I've ever come across. As for the songs themselves, then the band must all take the blame. There's the usual subjects on offer, but what a dreary and uninteresting set of songs they are. 'Hear Our Prayers' is, perhaps, melancholic at it's best, but there was just no spark to the song at all. 'Oh Praise Him' relieved the tedium, mid way through thelisting. It's a straight forward praise song that has a life of it's own amongst the dead wood of the rest of the album. After three plays, I don't think that this CD will get much private play on my CD player. 3/10. (March 2008)
THE GLORYHOUNDS : The Gloryhounds 1&2. (Private Cassette Recordings. Tape 1 £1.50 / Praise Tape £2.50 : from Dan Harris, 34 Leicester Street, Kettering, Northants, England, NN1 8EF.)
Here's a relatively new band that will be playing at this year's Cross Rhythms Festival. They play in pubs, as well as the usual church events and,consequently have released two demo tapes - one for each setting. The first has just two tracks in the style of bands such as Cast and Ride. "Candle in the Wind" is not the Elton John number, but an upbeat Brit pop venture that's sure to please that genre. The other song is "Looking For the Light", a similar track but with a more catchy hook and tight guitar driven sound.

The second tape contains three songs and, to be honest, the only way in which it differs from the first is the lyrical content. The sounds are the same but the words are nstantly more spiritually recognised. The pick of these, I guess, has to be "Celtic Night Prayer", complete with it's atmospheric keyboards and anthemic feel. As well as the Brit style, I thought that there was a little gothic inspiration there too - perhaps creeping in from three of the band's previous excursion into punk rock? What both tapes show, however, is that the band are competent musicians with a set of songs that are relevant to toaday's youth culture. Let's hope and pray that they continue this way. Tape 1 8/10 : Praise Tape 7/10. (May 1997)

GO FISH : Infectious. (In Pop: pod1239)
In the last 5 years Go fish have sold more than 100,000 units of their independent releases. With a recognised record company firmly behind them, the three guys now have a chance to spread their wings and reach countless thousands with their music. They've been described as "acapella with attitude", so imagine my surprise to find not one single acapella track on the whole album. However, there are some quite astounding songs such as "That's What Amazes Me". It tells of the wonder of a little baby from a father's point of view. It's a gentle song but very powerful in it's lyrics. "Watch Me Go" sees the band's harmonies in full flow while "You're My Little girl" would win my vote for best potential radio single. It has lovely words, as God talks to one of His creations and tells her that she is an individual and perfect to His eye. Funnily enough, I found the title track to be one of the weaker songs on the album. It's a sort of power pop track that doesn't really work for the voices on show. I can see why Go Fish have sold so many albums independently, they can only get better. 8/10. (December 2001)
GODFREY BIRTILL : Lift Up Your Heads - Live in the UK'. (Kingsway Music: KMDVD014)
Previously a press photographer, Godfrey Birtill reached 43 before entering full time music ministry. Now with twelve independently recorded albums behind him (mostly live) since 1998, this is his first DVD. Led by Godfrey and his 'Godin semi acoustic guitar' (according to the DVD insert!) and with a proficient band, the five song 'performance' part of this recording features an Eastbourne worship session that lasts just over 30 minutes. Other items include a Chris Bowater interview of Godfrey, and a video of an Amazonian charity. The interview shows Godfrey as a humble man with a heart for God and a real desire to communicate the Christian message - and when you see him in action, the audience involvement makes his gifts as a worship leader only too obvious. Godfrey can also write strong songs, with somewhat old fashioned lyrics but with good melodies and 'hooks' - the best track for me being the closer 'After I've done everything'. As a mere observer however, not participating in the 'atmosphere' of the event, I found myself noticing that Godfrey's voice has its weaknesses, and he tends to maintain a serious and 'straining' expression that distracts from the joy of what he is singing about. Perhaps this is me being over-sensitive - even though I love David Gray's albums for instance, I find him distracting live because he shakes his head a lot! Godfrey Birtill has, of course, a much more important message to communicate. May he be blessed, and continue to be a blessing, as he follows his Master's calling. 7/10 David Deeks (January 2008)
GODFREY BIRTILL : R U Ready? - Live. (Kingsway : KMCD2880)
I've only heard a few of Godfrey Birtill's songs before, so this was a good album to give me a broader view of his music. What I really liked about this collection was not only the quality of the songs, but the numerous styles he uses. 'Raise Up, Raise the Standard' has a great, original sound to it, and is a belting opening track. There's a mixture of blues and punk to the terrific 'Like a Wild Goose', while the title track is pure rockabilly! Godfrey's a seasoned pro, so there's no wonder he presents his songs with consummate ease. There's a more "normal" worship number called 'Over the Dead of the Desert' mid-way through the CD, but it's the rocky 'Come Let Us Seek' that set my feet tapping. African drums, celtic rhythms, they're all there and I enjoyed them all. The closing 'The Die Has Been Cast' is a song that empowers you to live your life for Jesus, and it's a fitting end to a wonderful CD. There's a bonus DVD included, and this was an added bonus. Well worth your money. 10/10. (December 2008, Album of the Month)
GODFREY BIRTILL : A Chip Off the Old Block. (www.godfreyb.com)
Lincoln based Godfrey Birtill travels extensively throughout the UK and abroad leading worship and preaching the gospel. He has also led at many city prayer gatherings, regularly leads teaching seminars, and also takes worship into public houses. This is his 16th live album release and what a cracker it is! His style is predominantly acoustic based folk, similar to the recent albums from America’s United Pursuit. But, let me say right now, this album is much easier to relate to. Recorded live, there’s a real togetherness of those involved, and the overall sounds creates a very intimate atmosphere. Songs like the opening “Gospel Train” instantly prick up your ears with a very accessible sound, that is almost sixties Dylanesque. Godfrey unashamedly sings about his love for Christ on “I Am Not disappointed in You.” An early favourite of mine had to be “Everybody Sings in Heaven.” It’s a got a great chorus that you just can’t help joining in with. The song tells that everyone in Heaven, on Eagle’s wings will sing together because there’ll be no illness, no issues, no homelessness, no worries….the list is endless. “Hail to the Lord’s Anointed” has a Celtic leaning, thanks to the violin playing of Andy Smith, while there’s another, great singalong song in the shape of “Have You Seen Who He Hangs Out With?” The song gets a little bluesy in parts, as Godfrey declares that Jesus is the lover of every living soul – even him! And, just as think it can’t get any better; “Without Love We Are Bankrupt” comes along. It’s another fantastic song that you will find it hard not to join in with, and even dance to. Finally, things close with a lovely song of worship called “Do You Believe What I Believe About You?” Just one guitar, a whole host of voices, and a magical sound. This album was so good that I played it through four times, one after another. A superb recording. 10/10. (June 2016, Album of the Month)
GOOD JOB 42:10   :  For the Record.   (wwwgoodjob4210.com)  Free Download
Good Job 42:10 describe themselves as a “Gospel Bluegrass Worship & Ministry team from South Wales”. There’s certainly that good time feeling from their sound. The album entitled For the Record is a collection of 9 well known and loved worship favourites. The songs have been given the bluegrass treatment and as far as I’m aware is quite a rarity in this country. If you like down home country and bluegrass you’ll enjoy this album. Their reasonably strong vocals and harmonies blend well and it’s obvious in their delivery that they have a passion for who they sing about. My only observation is that there are a lot of songs that sound the same and have the same groove. I personally would’ve liked to hear more variation. I particularly enjoyed the track His Eye Is on the Sparrow which was a refreshingly stripped back version of the song. Although I was uncertain about the add on at the end of a scratchy old time record player version of Our God Reigns. For myself, I would have liked to hear the full version of this song as the sound of full harmonies and strong vocals gave a taste of the potential of this group. All in all a good first effort and I look forward to hearing them develop as a band.   6/10  Angie Lendon. (October 2015)
GORDON GILTRAP with Carol Lee Sampson and Martin Green : Echoes of Heaven. (Big Web Entertainment Limited : BW4207)
I guess the name Gordon Giltrap needs no introduction, especially if you are a fan of folk music, but beyond that he has worked with some very famous artists over the years such as Brian May, Rick Wakeman and Midge Ure. This album was borne out of Gordon's feeling that some his tunes would work well as hymns and, as a result he teamed up with Carol and Martin to provide the lyrics and vocals – and a smattering of extra guitar too. As expected there is a strong folk feel supported by Gordon's style and altered tunings. The opener “Praise Him” is a big opening number, with a percussive guitar riff and a full band backing. In fact, in almost ventures into the area of prog rock. However, it's not a very representative track, as most remain laid back and stripped back. I particularly love the catchy “Under a Blue Sky” and the festive “Christmas Carol”. The songs “Heartsong” and “The Lord is My Strength” reprise the more energetic and fuller sound of the opener but this remains a contemplative and reflective collection of songs. My only criticism is the two instrumentals that consist of a narrative over the top – I would have preferred these to remain instrumental as they are beautiful pieces of music. Whilst I can see the purpose of the narrative, it doesn't work for me and breaks up the mood of the album. However that gripe aside, this is a great cd, offering something very different and it will certainly remain in my playlist for some time to come. 9/10 Robin Thompson. (June 2012)
GORDON MOTE : Don't Let Me Miss the Glory. (Springhill : CMD1131)
Gordon Mote is the blind singer songwriter best known for his work with the Gaither Homecoming releases over here in the UK. However, this album could open a lot of new doors for him at this side of the Atlantic. His southern gospel/country style has a certain appeal, and he's previously toured with the likes of Alan Jackson and Martina McBride. Indeed, on this album he duets with Alison Krauss on the track 'Maplewood Methodist Church', which is a nice country number. 'Adoration' starts things off and it's a track that I've already featured on the radio. The title really says it all and it's a great song. Similarly, the title track bounces along with some class. Gordon challenges you to go out and evangelise on 'Get Up in Jesus' Name', and it's a stirring battle cry. I wasn't too keen on his bluesy 'Ain't Gonna Give Up on God', but there's a host of other top tracks to get your teeth into. 'Wake Up Dancin' is an easy listening song, and it has some effective steel guitar sounds helping it along the way. With this album, Gordon lets you see what he sees through a warm voice and terrific piano playing. 8/10 (February 2009)
GORDON MOTE : Songs I Grew Up Singing.   (New Haven : 8100-2)
Gordon Mote grew up in a family that sang in churches all across the southern states of America. This album revisits some his favourite songs from that time in mostly country and southern gospel style. ‘This is the Time I Must Sing’ is a great, uplifting number, and probably the best track on show. ‘Give Them All to Jesus’ is a slower song that tells the listener to give all your cares and worries to Jesus, while ‘Who Am I’ features some nice slide guitar. I’m not sure that some of the old songs work in a modern production. Certainly, I found ‘God’s Gonna Do the Same for You and Me’ to be rather irritating on the ear. Where Gordon does excel is when he takes the lead on his piano, such as ‘Rise Again’ – a delightful ballad. ‘Oh Buddha’ is a quirky number that compares other religions and false idols, with God, in a bluesy kind of way. I’m not sure if this song would get much radio exposure, other than on Christian stations! In the 70’s, I think it was a guy called  Ray Stevens, who had an international hit with ‘Everything is Beautiful’. Here, Gordon and the choir give a faithful rendition of the song. It’s lyrics may be simple, but they still ring as true today. Looking back, I enjoyed his 2009 release ‘Don’t Let Me Miss The Glory’, much more than this.   6/10. (April 2013)
GORDON MOTE : All Things New. (New Haven : 8104-2)
It’s five years since I came across Gordon’s music, and I’ve got to admit that I’ve found a lot of it really good to listen to. This new album is principally produced by acclaimed country music producer and longtime friend Frank Rogers who has garnered five Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards and 13 Country Music Association (CMA) Award nominations for producing such artists as Brad Paisley, Trace Adkins and Darius Rucker. It’s a country style that lends it’s weight to the title track. God makes “All things new”, and what an uplifting song it is! Gordon’s piano playing is always superb, and he really seems to enjoy giving his all on the rock n roll boogie number, ‘Ain’t It Just Like the Lord’. ‘Meanwhile Back at the Cross’ is a big ballad, with a big production behind it, while ‘God of New Beginnings’ focusses on people going through difficult times in their lives, yet still clinging onto God’s promise. The gospel sound of ‘Down By The River’ didn’t do much for me, but I did enjoy ‘Sound A Dream Makes’, which reminded me of Rascal Flatts. There’s also a beautiful duet between Gordon and his wife, Kimberley, on ‘The Other Side’. The hope of heaven (on the other side), where death is left behind. The song is simply stunning. A veteran of many years working with the Gaither Family, Gordon is a very welcome solo artist, too. 8/10. (February 2014)
GOSPEL BOULEVARD : Gospel Boulevard. (Javelin : Jav4107)
When you think of gospel music, you usually think America. Right? Wrong. Think Holland! In the year 2000 a decision was made to set up a new black gospel choir. this was the vision of the group's director Andre Bijleveld. After extensive auditions, the choir was named and this self titled debut is their first offering. Full of excellent harmonies and lots of energy, the emotion of the songs spill out for all to hear. Wow, they've even breathed new life into Mary Mary's "Shackles". dare I say that it's better than the original? Nothing wrong, either, with the lyrics. Straight praise to God, as in the beautiful "It's A Matter of Love" or the swinging "my Life is in Your Hands". Bill Withers' "Lovely Day" gets the GB treatment too, and that goes down well with me anytime. Like black gospel? you'll love this. 8/10. (May 2002)
THE GOSPEL GREATS VOL.4 : Men of Gospel. (Verity : 01241-43155-2)
Culled from 11 top albums, this release features the very best of gospel music. Household names like Fred Hammond, and Hezekiah Walker are joined the lesser known (in the UK) John P Kee and Richard Smallwood, to name but four. Indeed, the latter provides one of the real highpoints, for me, with catchy "Bless the Lord". The Canton Sprituals really take the tempo down with "Memories", a massive 9 minute song. The Commissioned give their usual funky style to proceedings, while Tonex's "Real With U" produces superb harmonies on another great song. Other artists include Ben Tankard and Donnie McClurkin, and what this album does show is that gospel music, new and old, is as powerful as it ever was. 7/10. (December 2000)
GOTTA HAVE GOSPEL : Various. (Integrity 28352)
This is a 2 CD set, with a bonus DVD thrown in for good measure. If you like dance music then I guess you will enjoy this album, but personally I found it to be somewhat tedious. Perhaps if there was just one CD it might be better, there is a limit to the number of wailing gospel choirs I can take in one go. Like most gospel albums there are loads of cliché ridden worship songs, complete with all the usual key changes, and cheesy sounding organs, and also there is a lot of "spontaneous applause" that American audiences seem to excel at, whilst everyone else is left wondering what is going on. There is of course the obligatory song from Ce Ce Winans. Also a Smash Hit Single "Dance Dance Dance" by Mary Mary, and the rare "Don't Worry" by Kirk Franklin. Presumably it's rare because nobody bought it the first time around, to be honest I don't think there's much to recommend this CD full stop. It's just one more attempt to repackage a load of second rate songs, which in my opinion too many of the big Christian labels are doing far too much of these days. On the plus side though, three disks, that's almost a set of coasters! 3/10 Andy Sayner. (March 2004)
GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY : The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan. (Columbia: COL511126)
It's hard to think who this CD is actually aimed at, a collection of Dylan's Christian songs sung by various gospel groups. I suppose that all the die hard Dylan fans will buy it anyway, but is there a huge market for traditional type gospel music? I must say that I prefer the originals myself. As a fan of Bob Dylan I did wonder about buying this, but after hearing it I'm glad that I didn't bother. Traditional gospel is bad enough at the best of times, but Dylan's songs weren't written as traditional, most of the songs on this CD were driving rock songs originally, and don't really work in this style. Like gospel music tends to do this CD gets a bit intense in places, with much whining and wailing going on. Bob himself only appears on the final track, which is "Change my way of thinking" from his "Slow train coming" album. It's a duet with Mavis Staples, and it's awful. As I said, unless you are a really serious Dylan fan I wouldn't bother with this. 4/10 Andy Sayner. (October 2003)
GRACE CHAPEL WORSHIP : Songs of the Incarnation - Ever With Us. (Grace House Music).
Available as a 7 track CD or download, here we have the first Christmas offering from the worship team of Grace Chapel, hailing from Leiper's Fork in Tennessee. Kicking off with a capable, contemporary and slightly country-fied version of 'Joy to the world', the following track 'Ever with us' is probably the standout. This well written slow-to-medium paced ballad is beautifully delivered by Dove Award winner Alisa Childers and I wasn't surprised to discover that it has been released as a single. The following track 'Peace be still', with its piano and strings arrangement, is the only other original composition. The remainder of the EP features 'God rest ye merry Gentlemen', 'Angels we have heard on high', 'O holy night' and finally 'Silent night'. 'O holy night' is brilliantly delivered by CCM veteran Amy Morriss Lowly, but to my ears the arrangement somehow misses the 'worshipfulness' of other versions. 'Angels we have heard on high' is the low point, with its stomping country arrangement featuring ukulele and slide guitar and a rather nasal male vocal. 6/10. David Deeks (January 2016)
GRACE CHAPEL WORSHIP : So Loved. (Grace House Music : B01KR56NUS)
I remember as a young Christian browsing the cd section of my local Christian bookshop for some music that both floated my boat musically and provided a solid Christian backbone and lyric. There weren’t many artists that fitted that description – well many that fulfilled the latter – but not many that were to my taste musically. However, there was a small handful of American artists that did, one of whom was long haired rocker and bassist Rick Cua. This story might seem of no consequence except that these days, as well as still being involved in the Christian Music scene in his own right, Rick is also a contributor to the worship at his church (as well as fulfilling the role of pastoral care pastor) which is none other than the titular Grace Chapel, Franklin, Tennessee. In fact the opener of this album, “Meet Us Here” was co-written by Rick – no longer long haired but still clear in his mission and ministry. For me then, these are very good credentials, and should mean this album is capable of rising above the crowd in a saturated market. Thankfully it does just that with a clutch of really good songs and creative arrangements. Stand outs for me are the anthemic “My Victory” which has a great melody line as well as a staccato, driving rhythm and, by contrast, the piano led “Christ Be All”, a reflective number in the midst of what is on the whole quite an uptempo set of worship songs. And that’s why it works for me. There is a really good flow form one song to the next and the album is joyous and uplifting. It’s not vastly different from your typical worship album, but the subtleties of some of the arrangements coupled with some first class songwriting and a real desire to take the listener on the worship journey with them means that Grace Chapel have a real winner with this one. 9/10 Robin Thompson. (November 2016)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : No More Walls. (Alliance : 094).
In the sleeve notes, Graham writes that the first 11 songs are "Street songs for public praise whenever and wherever..." After listening, let me tell you that there is no way I would sing any of these songs in public. As a non-Christian work colleague commented "This is 'Jesus wants me for a sunbeam' music". "Shake hands with as many people as you can", he calls, launching into "Reach Out...". "Oh Our God Is Good", says the title of the next track. So He is!, I cried, pity about the song - tacky just doesn't enter in to it. The second half of the album is entitled Prayersongs, and lift this album from sinking into oblivion. "Save The People" is undoubtedly the highlight but the quite excellent "Come Let Us Return" runs a close second. What Mr Kendrick was thinking of when he wrote the first half I'm not sure, perhaps he was tired. 4/10. (July 1997)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : What Grace. (Make Way Music : MWD8).
So, it's 5 years since Graham's last studio album. Not that he's been taking things easy, mind you, it's just that all the other work he's been doing has left little time for recording. "What Grace" doesn't produce anything radically different from any of his previous albums but, and this is the thing, it does carry on the high standard he has done before. The opening "To You O Lord" is one those Kendrick songs that draws you instantly into worshipping an almighty and powerful God. The theme is carried on with "To the King Eternal" and "The Spirit of the Lord". Then, it's a duet with Martin Smith, "Lord, You've Been Good To Me" - a prayer of thankfulness for all the good things the Lord has done in his life. The closing "Everybody Everywhere" paraphrases Psalm 145 and is a celebration of God's greatness and of the reasons why He is worthy of praise. Well, Graham, it certainly does that, and it's great to see you on top form. 9/10. (May 2001)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : Do Something Beautiful. (Fierce Music :MWD12)
Dear Graham, Early in my Christian life I bought your single "Let the Flame Burn Brighter". I hoped and prayed it would make the Top 20 but, sadly, it didn't. Over the year's I've listened to many of your albums and sung even more of your songs in worship throughout the country. As much as I disliked your 1997 "No More Walls" release, I was overjoyed to see you return to top form with "What Grace" last year. After listening to this new album, I'm afraid I am quite disappointed. Why? Well, Graham, most of the songs sound tired and out-dated, as if you've tried to re-write everything that you've done before. Mind you, when I first heard the duet with Darlene Zchesch, I thought that it was a great start.. Then came the title track. I'm really sorry Graham, but it is so bland and, in all honesty, that's how I feel about the rest of the album. Do Something Beautiful? Yes please, but make it better than this. 2/10. (June 2003)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : Sacred Journey. (Fierce : MMD13)
Recorded live on his "Cathedral tour", this album sees Graham return to his acoustic roots for, what is, an intimate evening, despite the grand surroundings. You feel immediately at home with the man who has given this country so many great songs over the years. Indeed, it's easier, sometimes, to forget just what classics have been written or co-written by the man himself. "Led like A Lamb" starts things off and there's an instant feeling of gentle worship. Then, there's the story of the simple fisherman, in "Simon's Song", a lovely little ditty. "Caiphas & the Temple Guard" comes at you with a jazz tinge, and I didn't like this one at all. Other well known songs include "Meekness & Majesty" and "The Servant King", each sung and performed with much reverence. "Thorns in the Straw" is a new ballad to my ears and I felt that Graham's voice really brought out the best in it. Not stunning by any means, but a nice album from a great bloke. 7/10. (April 2004)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : Out of the Ordinary. (Fierce! : MWD15)
Now, despite some of my reviews over the years, I've always had a soft spot for the music of Graham Kendrick. Some of his songs where the first I heard after becoming a Christian, many moons ago. This album sees him flex his writing skills and come up with some really good songs. "Creation's King" is simply one of the best thing's Graham's written in ages, both spiritually and musically. I thought that "What Can I Do" had Delirious? written all over it, but writing credits go to Graham and Paul Baloche. It tells of just how we should praise and thanks God everyday for what he's done in our lives. It's a catchy tune and one that buzzed around my head all day. "Great Are Your Works" is a snappy little tune while "Only You Deserve the Praise" is a slower, deep worship number. I found "Language of Angels" to be rather dull but the bright and bouncy "Your Love" soon lifted my spirits once more. Graham's inspired writing shows that there's plenty of life in the old dog yet. 8/10. (March 2007)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : Dreaming of a Holy Night. Fierce! : MWD17)
Ever since Graham Kendrick wrote and recorded his 'Rumours of Angels' CD, he's been looking forward to writing another set of songs for the Christmas season. This new album features 13 tracks that look at the Christmas story from both inside - courtesy of the characters Joseph & Mary, Elizabeth and Zechariah - to outside, looking at the wonderment of the incarnation, and forward in awed anticipation of the fulfillment of what began on that holy night. After a rather stuttering opening song, Graham begins to get things together with the title track. But, forme, the album really takes off with a song sung by a female artist. 'Look What the Lord Has Done For Me' has a good temp and is well produced. I liked the following song too. 'A Prince is Born' chugs along quite nicely, and has a well used choral backing. By the time 'Suddenly A light' is playing, you can tell that Graham is back to his best, with an attractive arrangement and and very enjoyable song. It's 'feel good' music, and why shouldn't we feel good when we're thinking about the birth of Jesus? 'Midnight Star' and 'A World Awakes' are tops, and there's still time for glorious praise with 'Rejoice, God is Now With Us'. A super album. 9/10 (December 2007)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : Shine Jesus Shine/Is Anyone Thirsty? (Fierce! : MWD18)
The song 'Shine Jesus Shine' became a rallying cry in the 80's for an entire generation. Even today, it's as popular as ever. The album of the same name produced music for the Marches for Jesus, and also launched other classics. Re-released as part of this Fuse-Box series, the album does sound somewhat dated, but songs like 'Such Love' and 'Soften My Heart' still provide lovely worship. 'Show Your Power, O Lord' and 'We Shall Stand' are both celebratory praise numbers, while I found 'Prepare the Way' a little cheesey to say the least. Also, 'Fling Wide Your Doors' sounds more like a cockney knees up at the local pub. The second album was originally released in 1995, and I found that to be rather lifeless, apart from three songs mid album. 'Knowing You', 'For This I Have Jesus' and 'Let It Fill the Room' are all praise filled songs, that are of much higher standard than the rest of the songs. Graham has, of course, moved on musically over the years, but this package may well be a timely reminder of his earlier work. 6/10 (March 2008)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : Knowing You Jesus- The Very Best of... (Kingsway : KMCD3076)
Listening to this double CD made me realise that my former church music group could well have doubled as a Kendrick Tribute Band! I remembered so many of these songs from days gone by, I'm surprised that we never promoted one of the man's concerts. My first real knowledge of Graham Kendrick was back in the late 80's when he released the single "Let The Flame Burn Brighter". Long before the likes of Delirous? Hit the charts with the help of social networking, Kendrick's song hit the lower reaches of the Top 50 here in the UK. A re-working of that song opens the second CD, and features the Psalm Drummers. It's still a great song. In fact, all the songs have been re-recorded for this release, and lover's of Graham's music will not be disappointed. 'Shine Jesus, Shine' still shines as a classic, as does 'The Servant King'. 'For This I Have Jesus' is one song that I wasn't too familiar with, but I enjoyed it's reflective sound. There's a stirring version of 'Amazing Love' and an empowering feeling with 'Teach Me To Dance'. Other tracks of note include 'Restore O Lord', 'May The Fragrance' and 'To You O Lord'. It's a great collection of songs from one the UK's best loved praise and worship artists. 9/10 (November 2010)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : Banquest. (Kingsway : KWCD3205)
There’s something quite reassuring about a Graham Kendrick release. Over the years, I’ve come to realise that a lot of his songs have played a big part in my worship to God. Graham says that “Banquet seemed an apt title for a collection of songs for the worshipping community – the Agape’ love fest that is the church”. The album starts of with ‘Building A House’, honing in on the fact that God is building a house for us all, and it’s up to us to fill it with glory. The song itself is catchy, and the perfect opener. ‘Love Each Other’ is simple, yet contains a thought provoking message for the church. The title track has an almost Celtic feel to it, thanks to the inclusion of Mike Haughton’s recorder playing – a recipe that’s repeated successfully on ‘Merciful’. Song after song just flows majestically and it’s easy to soak into worship time. ‘Stand Up’ is a call to stand up and fight for Jesus, while ‘Risen’ celebrates that glorious Easter Day. And, just when you’re coming to the end of the album, Graham acknowledges that with a delightful song of blessing, ‘The Peace’. It’s a delightful album and contains many songs that are bound to become worship standards of the future. 10/10 (August 2011, Album of the Month)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : Worship Duets. Integrity Music : 51472)
As long term readers of NFN may remember, I’ve a bit of a soft spot for Graham Kendrick’s music. Over the years, his music has been a bit of a comfort blanket and I’ve enjoyed many of his songs in the church setting. This new album of old and new songs, sees Graham team up with a host of well- known artists for ten duets of differing quality. ‘Hymn of Ages’ kicks things off with Matt Redman adding his vocals to the mix. It’s a nice song and sounds really good. Martin Smith joins Graham on ‘Praise My Soul the King of Heaven’. This rendition is sung with real feeling, and is followed by a touching version of ‘The Servant King’, with The Rend Collective Experiment. Things don’t always work well though, and neither ‘Saving Grace’ (Michael W Smith) and ‘That Name’ (Darlene Zschech) hit the high notes. Of the others, ‘Oh What A Love’, with Stuart Townend, is the best, and really enjoyable to listen to. But, just to show how another person’s opinion may differ from your own, my wife found the songs on the album “too samey” and a “bit of a bore”. For me though, overall, it’s a pleasing listen. 7/10. (July 2013)
GRAHAM KENDRICK : Ultimate Collection. (Integrity : 65102)
There was a time when the worship group at my church sounded like a Kendrick Tribute Band! That was because of the impact, this man’s praise and worship songs had during the 90’s. The fact that he has continued to write great songs for the church is nothing more than fantastic and a real blessing to many. This collection features almost all of his best loved contributions, including a more modern version of the church worship standard “Shine, Jesus, Shine”. Following this opener is the slower “Knowing You Jesus” – a song that, again, has stood the test of time. It was lovely to hear it again. I’ve always found “Amazing Love” to be a very moving song, and this rendition only confirms my stance of it. There’s a surprise collaboration with the Rend Collective on “The Servant King” while Martin Smith duets with Kendrick on “Praise My Soul the King of Heaven”. It’s an album of pure love for our God and Saviour, full of timeless classics. “We Believe” sounds more like an indie release but pride of place must go to the very simple song “The Peace”. Somehow, it just closes the album perfectly. Whether you’re new to the music of Graham Kendrick or a fan of his songs already, putting them all together is a great idea. 8/10. (November 2015)
The Grandfathers (DVD, EGM Films, Unrated)
Jim Hanon’s award-winning documentary completes the trilogy that began with the feature film End of the Spear and focuses on the story of Jesse Saint, grandson of Nate Saint the story of whose death was told in the second film, Beyond the Gates of Splendour. Beginning with Jesse’s reflections, the story soon shifts to the Amazon jungle after Jesse, and his Father Steve, feel moved by God to go and live among the Waodani people, who were responsible for Nate’s death. Told mostly in voiceover, by Jesse and Steve, and featuring interviews with some of the Waodani people, this moving and captivating film beautifully captures Jesse’s spiritual journey as he sees the gospel message of the Grandfather he never met being lived out in the lives of the Waodani and comes to consider them his “Grandfathers”. Particularly touching is the interview with Mincaye, one of those responsible for Nate Saint’s murder, who is now a man transformed by the message of hope brought to the tribe by Saint and the others. Those gruesome events  are only briefly touched on and the overall feeling is one of redemption and hope … and the scene of Mincaye on an aeroplane for the first time in his life brings a moment of genuine humour to proceedings.  The Grandfathers is relatively short, at just 48 minutes, and all the better for it as nothing ever drags. The soundtrack nicely contrasts the scenes shot in the USA and those shot in Ecuador and there are some interesting graphical touches which probably shouldn’t work as well as they do. The DVD also has some worthwhile extras in the shape of Jim Hanon’s video journal and a behind the scenes video. Overall this one is well worth a look, and it is accessible enough to get into without the benefit of seeing the first two. Recommended. 8/10 David Cooper (May 2012)
GRAPEVINE '99: Preludes to Heaven. (Mayhew : 1490049)
Grapevine is the UK's longest running Christian Bible Week's held, each year, at the Lincolnshire County Showground. 1999 saw the 18th year of this unique family event which included worship leaders such as Chris Bowater, Johnny Markin, Dave Middleton, and Trish Morgan. New songs, like the endearing "Sing A Song For the Nations", and "Holy Breath of God" are lined up alongside the much loved "Holy Holy Holy" and "I Will Never Be". The act of worship comes over really well and, apart from "Hallelujah Hosanna" the listener can enjoy over 70 minutes of uninterupted spiritual pleasure. Even if you didn't attend the festival itself, I'm sure you'll find this recording inspiring. 9/10. (March 2000)
GREAT BIG GOD 5 : Ready to Go. (Vineyard Records : VRUKCD31)
It’s been 6 years since the last Great Big God recording, a series which aims to help kids of all ages and backgrounds connect with God. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve never come across either the songwriters or singers anywhere else, other than with these recordings, and that’s a shame as, overall, there are some real highpoints on this album. There’s a Latin feel to the opening ‘Alive’ - sound that will have kids’ toes tapping and hands clapping straight away. ‘Jet Pack’ is all about putting on the device and flying to take God’s light into the dark corners of the world. It’s a nice sentiment, but I’m not sure that age range the song is aimed at, will really get to grips with the theology of the lyrics. But, onto one of those highpoints, and it comes in the shape of an Abba-esque song called ‘Silver Linings’. The chorus features some lovely harmonies, and it’s a song that just begs for radio play. Steve Abley’s ‘I Think About’, is so Coldplay influenced, that I fully expected Chris Martin to start singing, following the piano led introduction. There’s gospel songs, and rap songs on show, as well as a 70’s disco number called ‘No-One Else in Mind’. It’s a song that kids will enjoy dancing to, but for the adult listener, the strained brass sounds were rather piercing. For teenagers, there’s a Vamps style, guitar pop rendition of ‘God is On My Side’, while flop of the album has to be the country hoedown, ‘Going on a Journey’. ‘Real amazing Grace’ made me smile. It’s almost punk rock, played at breakneck speed, and full of energy. Top vocal performance goes to Ali Hider on ‘You’re Always With Me’. “You know my mind, exactly what I’m thinking; You know my dreams, you’re with me when I’m sleeping”. Basically, God is with us everywhere and at all times. There’s a great variety of styles on show here, and enough quality to catch the ear of many a young kid. 8/10. (March 2015)
THE GREATER ALLEN CATHEDRAL : The Worship Experience. (RCA Inspirational : 88765-46912-2)
The record label biography states that The Greater Allen Cathedral of New York is an African Methodist Episcopal church located in Jamaica, Queens, New York. The congregation currently has over 23,000 members, making it one of the largest churches in the United States. Well, with 23,000 members, they must certainly be able to find some find singers amongst them! The album is typical black gospel and, while that isn’t a bad thing, a lot of the songs do sound exactly the same as any other album of the same genre. ‘Greater’ opens things up, and the lead singer shouts and sings for all he’s worth, while the choir back him with angelic voices. ‘Psalm 63’ praises God in a similar fashion and features the weirdest lyric ever; “When I have a fungus, I will praise you.” Asking the Lord to ‘Fill This Place’ is Tamika Smith-Frederick. Just a piano and her silky vocals, make this a sumptuous sound. Delores Bowman takes the lead on ‘Jesus Christ is the Way’. It’s a softer sound than the opening numbers, and I liked this song very much. As well as the main singers, the choir must get a mention for their uplifting backing, especially on ‘Be Glorified’. I didn’t dislike the album, but I just can’t help thinking that there was nothing new, overall, to what’s gone before. Fans of The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir will, no doubt, enjoy this one. 6/10. (December 2013)
GREATER VISION : Quartets. (Daywind : Day1320D)
One of Southern Gospel's most popular trio's have recorded their latest album, inviting the best bass singers of today and favourites from yesterday, to join them. The Result? Classic four-part harmony. Featuring Glenn Dustin of Legacy Five, the opening "He Is To Me" is a very strong song. It's got the catchy hook, the said harmonies, and a terrific bass line. "Who can do anything?" is the question asked in track four, and the answer most certainly is "Nobody but my Lord". It's a slow number that comes straight out of the music history books, yet it still sounds as fresh today. There's a few Southern Gospel albums that have crept across to the UK over the last few months and, on the whole, I'm finding them pretty good. However, although there's not a lot of difference between "City That's Coming Down" and "He Called Me Out", I did find the former most irritating and the latter very good! "Just Ask" has a more modern production than some of the other songs but the great harmonies are still at the fore. There's something about most of the songs that I can't quite put my finger on, yet still I can't stop from joining in with. Southern Gospel sounds as strong and as popular as it ever was, and that can only be a good thing. 9/10. (June 2003)
THE GREEN STREET THREE : Live at the Jam Session. (4 track CD from 99 Mount Road, Allcrington, Middleton, Manchester, M24 1EZ. £3.50 + 60p P&P.
I must say that I liked this CD right from the start, especially the first track, which has quite a bit of style variation in it. In fact the Whole CD has that live energy that you only get from a self produced recording, (for some reason most record companies seem think it's necessary to lose this somewhere along the line) and that doesn't mean that the quality is bad either. On the first track the singer reminded me a lot of early David Bowie, and there are some nice guitar licks thrown in there too. The remaining three tracks rock along quite nicely, although if I were to criticise I would say that they are maybe a bit too much alike, but then again there are only four tracks. All in all I think that this is a good effort, and worth a listen. I noticed that all the artwork and labelling has been done by the band themselves too. With the price of blank CD's being so low nowadays making your own CD from start to finish has never been easier, there must be hundreds of bands out there who find an outlet this way, perhaps you should have a look at this CD and get an idea of what is possible. 8/10. Andy Sayner. (July 2002)
GREG ADKINS - Lower Than the Angels (www.gregadkinsmusic.com)
In October 2003, Greg Adkins was at a crossroads. He hadn't written a song in nearly three years, and he was on the verge of giving up music altogether. Then one night while walking his dogs, everything changed. "I knew I needed either to give writing a fair chance and really pour myself into it, or else give it up completely. Produced by Andrew Osenga (Caedmon's Call), and featuring guest appearances from Andrew Peterson, Aaron Sands (Jars of Clay), Kenny Hutson (Vigilantes of Love), and Marcus Myers (Silers Bald), it's a thoroughly pleasing mix of acoustic and electric. The song that had the greatest impact on me on first listen is 'Be The Body'; the message is similar to 'If We Are The Body' by Casting Crowns, because it's a plea to folks to take their Christian faith out of the church and into the real world, and use it to make a difference. The other song that hit the spot was 'Are You Out There Tonight', the first of those 52 songs to be written. I've spent a few nights on the road driving long distances, and it can be pretty lonely, so it's comforting to know that there's someone there keeping an eye on things. I've been encouraged and amazed lately to discover so many independent artists making excellent music, and Greg Adkins is one of them. Worth investigating. 8/10 Trevor Kirk (April 2006)
GREG LONG : Now. (Myrrh/Epic : 080688605520)
Greg Long's career has brought him six No.1 hit singles, two Dove Award nominations, and the No.2 CCM Song of the Year, "Love the Lord". This new release is the first offering I have ever heard from Mr Long, and I've got to say that it really is very good. "Sufficiency of Grace" is the first, and best, track, with a catchy tune and excellent vocals. To me, it sounds like a hit single all the way. Greg's got a really good voice and his songs would appeal to Christians and non-christians alike. "In the Waiting" is another early favourite of mine but I found "We Dream of a Kingdom" just a bit monotenous. There are ten songs on the album, all eaasy listening and, on the whole, most enjoyable. 8/10. Judith Wilson. (May 2001)
GRITS : Factors of the Seven. (Gotee/Word : 701-383-3886).
Christian DJ and former HOG person, Lee Jackson, once raved to me about this band. On this hearing, I can't think why - although I'm sure he'll tell me. One track plods into another and it's hard to tell what each singer is saying. There's no lyrics provided to help and the whole concept is just dull and uninspiring. Three plays later, I was still getting the headaches! Come on Lee, tell me different. 1/10. (June 1997)
GROUP 1 CREW : Group 1 Crew (Fervent/Curb : 8868732)
Every now & again you get a bit of a shock when you listen to a CD & wow did I get one with this debut offering from Florida's Group 1 Crew! One quick glance at the extremely polished CD cover shouts "rap", but hold on just a mo. something's missing here. Wot, no hugely chunky bad taste jewellery? There's got to be something different inside. And how different?! The CD has an extras feature which links you to their website, allowing you to access exclusive wallpapers, lyrics, etc. Anyone that knows me will certify that I really don't do rap, especially with this genre giving credibility & glamour to violence via incomprehensible lyrical rhymes, so I was dreading this but I have to admit I had my ears glued from the start at "Love is a Beautiful Thing" through to "Put Like That" the final track. Group 1 Crew mix styles such as R&B, Rap, Soul & pop which sounds like an unusual recipe, but turns out to be highly addictive addition to the usual musical menu offerings out there. It's loaded with fresh sounding rhythms that have you humming along & tapping feet from an early stage. The group has been likened to the Black Eyed Peas by some, but not a comparison I would have made - Group 1 Crew can do better than that! "A Lot In Common" and (Everybody's Gotta) Song To Sing had Blanca sounding more like Natasha Bedingfield, with the guys Manwell & Pablo sounding a little Eminem in style but far better in lyrical content & vocal abilities. You could also make comparisons with TBC in track 8 "Clap Your Hands" for the catchy pop rhythms, but my favourite track overall has to be "Forgive Me" (track 6) with a chorus based on Psalm 23, one which we've heard or read countless times but they lyrics surrounding this give it a touch of modern day realism which is hard to beat. If this is their debut, I can't wait to see what's round the corner. If they make it to the UK some time soon I may be the oldest person in the queue for tickets!! 9/10 Simon Redfern (October 2007)
GS MEGAPHONE : Out of My Mind. (Spindust : 080688615123).
The vision of American singer Ray Boltz, Spindust Records is a label for young bands developing ministry that reaches young people. With that in mind, perhaps I've finally reached middle age. GS Megaphone are a powerful heavy rock outfit that are a cross between Linkin Park and Fono. "Uses Me" is such a loud, cacophony of crashing guitars and drums that it really was painful to endure. The title track wasn't much better, and I really had to persevere to listen to the complete album. One thing I can say about the songs is that throughout the album, the clear word of God is being spoken and, if this type of music appeals to you, then go for it. For me, I couldn't get on with it at all. In all honesty, I would find it hard to pick the best track - simply because there isn't one. Maybe it's time this reviewer sat in his rocking chair and had another cup of tea. 1/10. (September 2001)
THE GUARDIANS : Packin’ Up. (Stow Town Records)
The Guardians have claimed their place as one of America’s favourite Southern Gospel trios with their recent hits “Somebody Prays,” “Shoutin’ Sounds,” “Let the Healing Begin” and many others. Group members, Neil Uhrig, John Darin Rowsey, and Dean Hickman, are committed to glorifying the name of our Lord through song. Their collective mission is to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, to sing songs that minister to people’s hearts and touch their lives. This latest single shows the band in full flight with an uptempo number that will soon have you tapping your feet. There’s banjo sounds, guitars, a driving rhythm and a full orchestra backing which all go to compliment the band’s tight harmonies. The lively chorus says “I’ve got my sword; I’ve got my shield; I’ve got my ticket that is signed and sealed.” It’s all about being ready for your journey with Christ, and it’s well delivered. As I write, the song is already climbing the US gospel charts and is bound to be another big hit for The Guardians. 8/10. (February 2017)
GUNGOR : Ghosts Upon the Earth. (Brash Music/Kingsway : 881410007625)
Well, if you’re fed up of the usual worship tunes that come your way, this album will give you something to think about. I guess, if it were a painting, it would be classed as “abstract” – it’s quite out of the box. Gungor primarily consist of Michael and Lisa Gungor, and the title of this new album is, apparently, inspired by the famous novel by CS Lewis, entitled ‘The Great Divorce’. Lisa’s wistful vocals take centre stage on the opening ‘Let There Be’ which, I understand is all about creation. Sadly, no lyric sheet is included and the option to download them from the website has yet to be successful. ‘Crags and Clay’ is a duet with some rather refrained vocals, while ‘The Fall’ contains some pleasant acoustic guitar work in, what is, a melodic folk song. Electric guitars seem to be few and far between, but they are included in the 60’s sounding ‘Wake Up Sleeper’. As an alternative to the run of the mill worship, I found difficulty in using any of the songs to worship but I guess that is the challenge Gungor are offering. As a song, there is a quite beautiful duet called ‘You Are My Heart’ and I’ll be playing that song again.With orchestral pads filling a lot of the songs, the banjo and fiddles on ‘You Are the Beauty’ rests a little out of place in the track listing, with it’s dis-jointed make up, that spoils any enjoyment. Experiemental? Yes, but it didn’t work for me. 5/10 (February 2012)
GURRUMUL : The Gospel Album. (Skinnyfish Music : SFGU150803)
Gurrumul (or Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu to give him his full name) is an artist that comes with some notable endorsements. Rolling Stone Magazine declared him as “Australia’s Most Important Voice” in 2011, his first two albums are triple platinum and platinum respectively and it is said he holds Elton John and Sting amongst his fans. So this, his third album, is not to be taken lightly and is released with high expectations. The style and approach will be familiar to those who already know Gurrumul’s music, but this album focuses on gospel songs and hymns some of which come from his own Elcho Island community. If you do not know already, Geoffrey’s Aboriginal roots feature heavily in his music and he sings, not in English, but in Yolgnu. This creates a mystery and ethereal aura to the music which is further enhanced by Gurrumul’s unusual tenor voice. The opener “Jesu” is perhaps the strongest song on the album, simply constructed and memorable as a result. Not surprisingly this has already had a single release with the video available on You Tube. Most of the songs have that traditional praise and worship feel to them, reminiscent of choruses from the 70s and 80s. This is evident in songs like “Garray Jesu” and “Hallelujah” – modest and catchy and as a result, straightforward and effective. Gurrumul’s music is always unpretentious and it feels right at home in this context. However, this unsophisticated and nostalgic feel may not be to everyone’s taste, particularly with those with an ear for something more contemporary. Sometimes you do have to remind yourself that Gurrumul is a major artist, rather than a grassroots one, which is the impression you could get from this album if you were none the wiser. However, I wouldn’t bet against this becoming another platinum release. 6/10 Robin Thompson (September 2015) Forward to the next archive
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