Never for Nothing - CCM Record Reviews archive R

RACHEL JANE : Back of the Wind.   (www.onmmusic.com)
“Music is exactly where I belong, I want my songs to bring a sense of fullness and hope” says Rachel. Growing up singing in church, this 19 year old singer/songwriter is naturally infused with gospel and soul rhythms as well R&B and pop influences. Her 4 track EP has just been released by independent record label, Orphan No More. The first song, ‘Rise’, has also been released as a single. Looking at everything that new life can bring, Rachel produces a strong performance, backed by pounding drums and powerful vocals. ‘Awake My Soul’ has similar rhythms to ‘Rise’ and gives a tribal feel to the song, at times. Vocally, Rachel reminded me of Ellie Goulding and Florence Welch, a thought supported by my son. My favourite track has to be ‘Come Away’. It’s a smoother song that focusses on God talking to one of His children, and encouraging them to see the light. I loved the words “My love is overflowing for you, even though your heart is shattered”. Finally, those familiar rhythms return to accompany ‘Freedom’. Here, Rachel sings of breaking free from the chains that bind you. All 4 songs have a encouraging, positive message, and the overall production is very good. Looking to make her mark in the Christian market, this is more than an encouraging debut from Rachel Jane.   8/10. (June 2015)
RACHEL KIMBLER : Breathe. (www.facebook.com/rachkimbler/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED&fref=nf)
Sadly, I don’t have any background details of this singer/songwriter, so I’m not sure where she’s from. This single is “doing the rounds” on social media and has garnered 5,000 listens so far. The production of the song is quite poor, as Rachel’s rather thin vocals, almost disappear at times. The percussion, too, is quite off-putting, as it sounds as if it’s been played to a completely different tempo to the vocals. Lyrically, because of the indifferent production, it was difficult to hear a lot of the words. But, I believe the song to be about being worthy to be loved by God, and breathing in the beauty and mortality of life. A better production would benefit the Rachel’s efforts, and maybe that’s where she should get help for her next recording. 5/10. (May 2017)
RACHEL LAMPA : Kaleidescope. (Word)
Listening to this album reminded me of two other artists. The first is Destiny's Child - Rachael has a superb voice, and the way she uses it will be immediately familiar to those who know DC's recent work. The second, rather surprisingly, is Chris De Burgh. Just as I loved "Don't Pay The Ferryman" and other up tempo CDB songs, but was left cold by "Lady in Red" and his slower stuff, so it is with Kaleidoscope. The livelier songs, such as "Savior Song" (note the American spelling!) and "Sanctuary" are excellent, with some wonderful musical touches, rock-solid rhythms and powerful, spiritual lyrics. The slow stuff, on the other hand, is a bit bland. Although the lyrical power is still there, the arrangements are a bit too generic for my taste but, like CDB, probably excellent if you like that sort of thing. The glorious exception is "Beautiful", which combines a great "jazzy" feel with some wonderful piano and guitar work and the aforementioned voice. As a whole, it is well worth checking out 8/10 David Cooper (May 2002)
RACHEL LAMPA : Blur. (Curb Records (Word) WD2A-886235)
I have to say that dance music is not really my cup of tea at all. In Fact I tend to group most dance acts in the same category as MPs and Traffic Wardens, so it would be easy for me to give this CD a bad review and not feel unduly guilty about it. But then again, after listening to it a few times, It is clear that Rachel has a good voice, and is obviously a talented singer, but I wish that these people didn't feel that they have to keep messing up the vocals with sampled loops all the time. There's not really a lot I can say about this CD, if you like the music they play on stations like Galaxy FM then you will probably like this CD. I looked at Rachel's website to see if I could find anymore information about her, but it wasn't working properly so I can't tell you anything else. I'm not saying that this is a bad CD don't get me wrong, it's obviously had a lot of work put into it and all the music and production etc is very good, this kind of music doesn't do anything for me at all, having been dragged up on the likes of Eric Clapton, Led Zep etc. However since writing this review the album has disappeared into the murky depths of my daughter's bedroom, she thinks it's quite good. I won't be trying to retrieve it, but it should probably get a good score. 8/10 Andy Sayner. (January 2003)
RACHAEL LAMPA : Rachael Lampa. (Word : 0806 8862762 1)
After the chart success of Stacie Orricco, it looks like Rachael is the latest US female singer to get the big publicity push into mainstream. Not being as poppy as Stacie, Rachael relies, mainly, on the RnB sounds that have served the likes of Destiny's Child so well. In fact any one of "Rubberhouse", "Outrageous" or "Honest" could have been taken form the DC catalogue. The songs aren't that brilliant, but the sound is unmistakably chart orientated. Then, we have the ska sound of "Being Alive", a mess of horns and an overall trashy song. "No Other One" sees Rachael turning on the charm with a beautiful ballad - a recipe she repeats with "You Never Know"- while she finishes the track listing as she began, with RnB style. Not an album I can see me playing too often in the future. 5/10 (March 2005)
RACHEL MACDONALD. : Breathing November. (CD from www.rachelmacdonald.org
And, like a breath of fresh air, the next independent release shows just how good one can be. In a style reminiscent of Susan Ashton, Rachel Macdonald blends thought provoking lyrics, with a rich taste of succulent tunes and produces an album that shows great promise. "You Make Me Sing" has a feel good quality about it, and flows well as an opener. Closing proceedings is an Amy Grant-like ballad called "Your Presence". Indeed, the album is like a multi layered chocolate cake, with those two song providing the outer layers, and the filling being the numerous delicious songs in-between. "Father's Heart" is a pretty little acoustic song, and the piano led "Bus Window" provides the perfect vehicle for Rachel's vocal talents. "I Believe in You" is a good pop song and I'm sure I heard just a glimmer or two of the quirkiness of Julie Miller, thrown in for good measure. Sound writing talents, a good voice, and instrumental skills - welcome, Rachel Macdonald. 9/10. (August 2005)
RACHEL MACDONALD : Certain. (www.rachelmacdonald.org)
Following on from her 2005 debut "Breathing November", Rachel MacDonald serves up, yet another box of tasty surprises. I just love her vocal quality and her keyboard playing flows effortlessly around you. Her songwriting is very strong and she has the knack of producing catchy, yet intricate, tunes. "Hurricane" is one of those tunes and is already pencilled in for air play by myself. Indeed, there are any number of songs on this album that I would be prepared to play on air. "Where Would I Be" contains simple yet poignant lyrics, while the title track tells about a taking "leap of faith". "Dressing Up" is another tasty song, complete with terrific instrumental backing. No matter how tough the journey is to resting in God's love, be sure that it's all worth while. How many times have we said that to someone? Just play them "Big Green Hill" and they will soon get the picture. Rachel depicts the story well and the song flies freely through to the listener. I'm not sure that there's anyone else like Rachel on the Christian scene at the moment. Certainly, no-one springs to mind. Her album is like a breath of fresh air and should be inhaled by all. 9/10 (March 2007)
RACHEL MACDONALD : All Four Corners. (whiskymac32@yahoo.co.uk)
How does she do it? A wife and a mother, Rachel Macdonald has also just had to deal with the stress of a house move from the north of the UK, right down to Plymouth. Now, she has released her third album. Rachel has gathered some smashing musicians around her, as well as the best production from Lincoln's dB Studios. Together, they have perfectly moulded Rachel's songs into a stunningly beautiful release. Leading the way with her keyboard playing, she looks at our walk with God and cleverly gives us pointers, and food for thought. The first track is called 'Everlasting Arms' and is a pretty pop song, with catchy keyboard phrases. Here, Rachel tells of all the bombardment the secular world gives us about wanting every material thing that comes on the market, when all we need is God's everlasting arms. She sings a personal thank you to God on 'Nobody Like You' - a truly beautiful song that had the hairs on the back of my neck standing on end. There's a slight Celtic feel to the bouncy, 'Found A Penny', while the title track flows effortlessly and peacefully as a clear, blue stream. The song also contains one of the best fade outs I've heard, too! Earlier in the year, I waxed lyrical about the voice of Sarahanne Wilmont. Well, Rachel Macdonald is just as outstanding. On both 'Refuge' and 'Push Through' her vocals caress each word and her emotion filters right into your heart. IF I've not said enough already, then there's still time to mention the glorious 'I Call On Jesus' and the prayerful 'Be Still'. It really is time that this lady's music was produced by a major label. 10/10 (October 2010, Album of the Month)
rad4DAD : " ... AS A FLAME OF FIRE" (Meta Taute Media : MTD88299 - from Broken Records www.brokenrecords.com
I came across this lot on the Broken Records website, downloaded a few mp3s, and just had to have this album! Rad4Dad hail from LA, and in true West Coast speak this album blew me away. Like 'WOW' where do I start? Rad started recording this album in the eighties, and through an amazing string of events eventually finished it last year. Funky, bluesy, rocky and with tons of energy, you really feel as if you're at a live gig - and this album is a studio recording! Starting with the funky 'Peer Pressure', you immediately notice how tight the band is, fronted by the powerful voice of Gregg Lancer. Jimi Seville's keyboard sounds inevitably give things an eighties feel, but together with Eddy Estrada's gutsy guitar and Brad Taft's pulsating rhythms, it works - and it works well. Good music just doesn't date. Hardly out of my CD player, it's difficult to pick out significant tracks - they all are, but if I have to I'd go for 'When Will You Learn', 'Raging Storm', 'Nightclub Suicide', 'Standing On The Edge' and the excellent slow blues 'Don't Sing The Blues No Mo'. This has a great jazzy feel and reminds me a lot of the Allman Bros version of 'Stormy Monday'. Rad4Dad don't pull their punches. The lyrics are blatantly and unashamedly Christian and they leave you in no doubt about their faith. There aren't many contemporary albums around that get away with this. Quite often the lyrics don't fit with the music, or seem trite, but here all things come together in perfect harmony. It's hard to believe that this lot are still independents, but then again, I wouldn't want to see this kind of creativity suffer from corporate hype. Hearing is believing. 9/10 Julie Lord (December 2000)
RAILS, WITNESSES : Forgive Me Sleeper But It’s Time To Wake Up.   (https://railswitnesses.bandcamp.com/releases)
This is a very unusual CD, as you might expect from people describing themselves as Post-Hardcore Priests. It’s kind of poetry over music, in that it’s spoken word with musical backing. But it’s not rap – it doesn’t have the beats and nor does it have the rhymes. It reminds me more of Stewart Henderson’s early stuff or maybe John Cooper Clarke but without the acerbic delivery (or wit, sadly) with “And The Sea Gave Up Its Dead” and “Slow News Day” being reminiscent of Jarvis Cocker’s spoken deliveries on Pulp songs. The backing moves from metal (such as the opening “There Are Questions And Answers”) through prog-folk (e.g. “Hope”) and silence (“Just A Moment”) but is mostly metal. Generally the style of the backing suits the delivery (if not always the subject matter) and it all comes together on “Over The Hills Beyond The Skies” and “Slow News Day” probably the best, as the vocal delivery starts to mesh the delivery with the backing: both tracks are very different showing the versatility and breadth of the material on offer. Lyrically (and the lyrics are all reproduced on the sleeve which is helpful and probably very important for a CD like this) it inhabits a Christian universe without being overly overt about it. It’s an interesting CD, but I’m not sure how many more times I’ll listen to it. I think I’d have preferred the vocals sung over this backing (as I did think that was generally very well done, especially the metal). Best Track: “There Are Questions And Answers”. 6/10   Paul Ganney. (July 2016)
RANDY STONEHILL : Edge of the World. (IMG : FOR005)
Here's a guy who's been around the Christian music world for years. Yet, here in the UK, he remains relatively unknown. How many albums he's released previously I'm not sure but, on this occasion, he sounds very much like a cross between Bob Dylan and Skatman Meredith. His guitar work is carefully crafted throughout but is at it's best on songs like "All I Know" and "That's the Way It Goes". "Take Me Back" is a nice duet with Sara Groves, while on other songs guests include Phil Keaggy and Barry McGuire. Sometimes you come across someone in whom you've always had a feeling that there's something special inside of them - even if they don't know it themselves. "Hay, Pauline" tells of one such person, and it's a pretty inspiring song too. "Last Song For Michael" is, as the title suggests, a goodbye to a friend who's died. It's very sad but, then, it is a difficult thing to do. It's not an album that's going to make you feel happy, in my opinion. However, many of the songs made me reflect my own position in life and, perhaps, that's not a bad thing either. 6/10. (February 2003)
RANDY TRAVIS : Passing Through. (Word : 8863482)
Randy Travis needs no introduction from me, as he's well known on both sides of "the pond". Country is the man's business and keeping it country is his aim. There's none of the cross-over country of, say, Shania Twain about it, it's just plain old country. In my opinion, there's a sure fire #1 radio hit in "That Was Us". I've listened to plenty of country over the last few years, and this rates with the best. Great hook, great story, and a foot tappin' tune to boot. In his melancholy moments, Randy pays tribute to mother's and father's on the songs "Angels" and "My Daddy Never Was". When he wants to rock it up, he does it with style and "My Poor Old Heart" rocks with the best. Towards the end, he sings about lost loves, "Train Long Gone", and then a beautiful love on "I Can See It In Your Eyes". It's good to hear some more traditional country music and Randy can consider this album another hit. 8/10. (April 2005)
RANDY TRAVIS : Glory Train (Word : 8864022)
Randy Travis has enjoyed an unmatched career spanning 14 albums and over 25 million album sales. This latest release is the follow up to 2003's "worship & Faith, and is a collection of beloved classic hymns and familiar contemporary worship songs. It opens in true country style with the foot tapping "This Train" and "Swing Down Chariot". The latter also featuring the voices of the Blind Boys of Alabama. Fourth track in is "Shout to the Lord", and my first thought was "why record a song that's already been sung to death"? But, after two or three plays I started to hear Randy's baritone vocal in a different light. Honestly, he really gives the song everything in his unmistakable style. He repeats the formula later on in the listing with "Heart of Worship" but falls short on a weak version of "Were You There?". Instrumentally, it's an acoustic album with some fine fiddle playing from Larry Franklin. On "Through the Fire", he teams up with the Crabb Family for a tasty number, while there's more foot tapping stuff with "Up Above My Head". For those who enjoy the more traditional style of praise and worship, this one's for you. 7/10. (August 2006)
RANDY TRAVIS : The Wager. (Pure Flix : PFE202)
The last Christian film I watched was a bit of a stinker, if I’m honest. So, I had to really gird up my loins to sit down and watch this one. Randy Travis takes the lead role as an actor, Michael Steele, who is just ten days away from the biggest night of his life – he has been nominated for Best Actor at the Academy Wards. But, all is not well in the Steele household. His career has distanced him from his wife and, finally, she leaves him. He’s tempted by a beautiful woman, and his world is rocked even more when he’s accused of child abuse. Throughout all of this, Michael can’t escape dreams, flashbacks, and evangelists who all point him to the Sermon on the Mount – challenging him to live to it’s message. I’ve seen Travis act before, so it wasn’t a surprise that he carries this role well. He’s ably backed by Jude Ciccolella, Nancy Stafford and Nancy Valen, who also put in stirling performances as the story unfurls. Lasting just 82 minutes, it’s not an epic, but the story does hold your attention. The Wager is a soulful story of conviction and redemption that reminds us that, in the face of adversity, we must find the strength to do what is right. 8/10 (January 2011)
RAY BADY : Mission K.O.B. (Gospocentric : 70039)
Ray Bady began his career as a drummer and eventually recorded solo work for Gospo Centric after years of industry work. Before his solo recordings, Bady either drummed or programmed the drums for such successful artists as Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams and R. Kelly, among others. So Ray Bady went to work on his solo album, co-writing most of the tracks, as well as co-producing the final product. First up, the title initials actually stand for "Keep on Believing", and the song itself is quite a sweet ballad, with lots of close harmonies. It opens with a mission statement and, then again, half way through in a sort of testimony type way. Ray Bady mixes 70's disco with 21st Century hip hop, and that mix doesn't always seem to work. "Livin This Kinda Life" is an MC Hammer throwback song, while "Mercy,Mercy Me" takes you back to the sound ofTavares. "He's Able" is an old fashioned gospel number while the intrerestingly titled "God Don't Want No Haters 'N the Church" gets the garage treatment. Not an album that I would listen to by choice but if it's your sort of thing, you should give it a whirl. 6/10. (August 2002)
RAY BEVAN : Sympathy. (Lifeline : LCD230499).
Formed in 1996, the Lifeline Record Company raises funds for those charities involved in world disaster campaigns. Everyone involved in the project donates their time for free and the charity has no paid administrators or staff. Ex-rock singer, Ray Bevan is the man with the voice on this three-track CD, and his gavel laden vocals do well on "Sympathy". Very simple words that ask for 'sympathy', but a powerful song that would hold it's head above water in the charts even if it does sound a little dated. The second track is simply awful. "All Those Fearful Years" is weak from start to finish, and the idea of a child speaking over the music just raises the cringe factor off the scale. "Shoot To Kill" fairs a little better but, all in all, it sounds as if the people behind the project ran out of ideas. The CD is available at all major record shops, and the charity must be applauded for its efforts. 5/10. (June 1999)
RAY BUCHANAN : Ray Buchanan. (BEC Records : DPRO39835)
Over in the States, Ray is a big American football hero. He plays for the Atlanta Falcons and helped them win the 1998 Super Bowl. That same focus is also helping him to reach out to people through his songs in a hip-hop style. Now, I've got to tell you that this style of music is everything I loathe in today's sounds, beit Christian or secular. Repetative beat, monotonous rhythms, and a vocal delivery that irritates beyond belief. So, I have to try really hard to look beyond those traits and concentrate on the lyrics. The content, therefore, is refreshing because they're just filled with truth and messages for everyone. "Rock With Me" says that on judgement day, only you can answer for all the things that you've done in your life. How will you answer? "Hold On" is a duet between good and evil, with the devil fighting for your soul, with promises of great rewards. I guess that my favourite track must be "Do For Me" and it's message that crime doesn't pay. It doesn't matter how big or small the crime, it's still a sin. The music itself leaves me cold, but I think that lovers of this style will enjoy it. 7/10. (September 2002)
RAYMOND McCULLOUGH : Into Jerusalem. (CD from www.preciousoil.com/raymond
Singer/songwriter Raymond McCullough has been playing traditional Irish gigs around the country for years, fitting in his own brand of Celtic ballad 'protest songs' between the jigs and reels, His previous release "The Great China Bike Ride" spawned the instrumental hit track "Our Land" which reached No.1 for 14 weeks on one internet Celtic station. This new album begins with an infectious reel called "I Lift My Eyes Up" and drew quite a response from listeners when I played it on air. "Battlecry" has similar qualities but "Lift Your Heads" sees Raymond go more retro-rock. In our busy lives, how many times do we put prayer on the back burner? That's the question asked with "Pray", and it's a timely reminder that we need to remember. "Lord, You Are My Inspiration" is a Celtic march and "Prayer for Ireland/Pipe Major's Jig" both go down well. Raymond then chages style and includes three Hebrew worship songs that, personally, I didn't think were suited to his voice. He finishes with the folky number "Thank You For Your Mercy" and that works well. All in all, it's an interesting album, that was a pleasure, on the whole, to listen to. If you're a fan of Celtic music or just want a change from the norm, try this one for size. (March 2006)
RAZE : Special Edition Single. (Alliance/Ovation : MOVES801)
A four track taster of things to come from this new American group, now under the wings of Zarc Porter. They say that 'Raw Energy' defines the essence of the group, who are committed to effectively communicating the message of God's everlasting love on all levels. What you get here is dance music that would not go amiss on national radio, kicking off with the catchy 'I Need Your Love' - which also surfaces as a re-mix. 'Thank You' is more Europop than anything but 'Brighter Day' steps back into the dance scene with typical energy. If this single IS a taster of things to come then Raze are going to be big! 8/10. (March 1997)
RAZE : Power. (Forefront : 7243 8252102 0)
Pop, praise, funk and rap are all featured on this UK produced album by dance outfit, Raze. Close friends of the WWMT, Ja'Marc, JD, Mizzie and Donnie are touted as taking all of these styles, and their ministry, to a new level. The question is, does it? Well, in patches it does, but there's a whole lot that dives into the depths of despair. "All Around the World" opens things up well, mixing dance tempo and ballad really well. "Place In My Heart" is the type of song that usually takes the Backstreet Boys high in the singles charts and there's some great harmonies too. From then on, it's something of a let down until the final number "Always & Forever". What happens in between? Perhaps, too much. It sounds as if each member of the foursome prefers a different style (I may be wrong) and, consequently, both writing and individual songs suffer. Of course, there's no problem with the lyrical content but the whole thing does sound as if too many people wanted to do too many things on one release. 4/10. (October 1999)
RE.VIVE : Stoneleigh Live. (Survivor : SURCD011)
Paul Oakley's rising prominence in p&w circles is confirmed by his leadership and song writing abilities contained on this new release. In similar style to Martin Smith, Phil begins in such a way that he almost sounds disinterested in what he's actually singing. "All Around the World" obviously goes down well with the crowd but his dull vocals are an instant turn off. "Here I Am" and "Jesus Christ" sound as if he's getting "into things" a bit more, with the former giving a joyful feel to the whole thing. "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" is another bouncy number that made my ears prick up but then it was back to the monotonous tones of that voice. The sleeve notes reads "introduces some of the best radical new worship songs around". New? Some. Radical? Not really. Fairly ordinary? Yes. 4/10. (December 1997)
REANA : Someone With Skin. (Maranatha : 1903172)
South African based artist Reana has won many plaudits in the UK following her visit to last year's summer festivals. Reading the many reports, I understood her to be, primarily, a rock singer, but this album shows that she's more than a one trick pony. "Testify" opens the listing and it's a hard rock special with no holds barred. But, the next four numbers are all lighter in style. "Here You Come" is a mellow, reflective song, while "For the Last Time" sings of love in a style that is much akin to that of Christine Dente. For "Send Your Fire", Reana returns to the rock chick stakes and belts it out with all she's got. Sadly, though, I found the songs to be rather weak in quality and the album, as a whole suffers because of this. The title track is a melancholy number with just piano backing, and "Ask Me to Dance" is a wistful, breathy affair. All in all it's a rather patchy affair and doesn't do justice to the press reports. 4/10. (April 2007)
REBECCA ST.JAMES : God. (Forefront/Alliance : FFD5141)
Here's one of those artists who's songs are brand new to me. A lot of female singers are, rightly or wrongly, compared to Alanis Morrissette and Miss St.James does compare favourably. Off the wall lyrics that are, sometimes, straight in your face and, other times need closer inspection. The title track is one of the former types which unashamedly worships the Lord for His greatness. My favourite track is the instantly singable "Me Without You", which focuses on what one would be like without God. It is an excellent song. Track 8 "Carry Me High" back to the early 80's and music that has been 'nicked' from a band called The Skids and their single "Iona" - no credits given to the band but it's a bit of a rip-off. Apart from that, it's a good album. 8/10. (April 1997)
REBECCA ST.JAMES : Pray. (Forefront : 724382518921)
The question I was asking myself when I received this album was "could she keep up the standard of her debut"? Well, the answer is most definitely "yes". From the moment it's title track began, I was instantly grabbed by it's hooks and eagerly anticipated the rest of the collection. 11 songs jam-packed with lyrics, telling of God's promises to his children. "Hold Me Jesus", "I'll Carry You", and "Peace" are just three of the immediate highlights of a really good album. Rebecca has kept a lot of the Alanis Morrissette style of her first release but now there's also the catchy pop feel of Belinda Carlisle in there. "Give Myself Away" is a medium paced rocker that deserves a few plays to really appreciate and "Love To Love You" just made me want to play the whole thing again. Not quite perfection, but seriously close. 9/10. (February 1999)
REBECCA ST JAMES : Transform. (Forefront : 7243 8 2525127)
So, Rebecca has got the 'power pop' bug, has she? She sure has, judging by this brand new album that sees influences of dance mixed with an edgy, new sound. Track 3, "Reborn" is just so full of life that it's almost impossible to listen to without moving some part of your body to the rhythm! "Merciful", complete with it's full orchestrated backing, is a fine piece of 'off the wall' music Paul field sharing some of the writing credits. There's a bit of Madonna creeps in on "One", while "Wait For Me" has that Lena Marlin feel, complete with acoustic guitar. The album just goes from strength to strength and before it comes to the end, there's the anthemic "Stand", written by Rebecca and Reggie Hamm. Based on Joshua 1:9 it tells us to "Be Strong, rise up, and let the world know we belong" (to Him). Brilliant. 10/10. (December 20000)
REBECCA ST JAMES : Blessed Be Your Name. EMI : FFD96643
Subtitled "Live Worship", Rebecca snarls into action with this punchy 8 track album. Overall, she relies on her rocky sound to perform and judging by the applause, and screams of delight from the audience, everyone's having a great time. I've got to admit, it's not quite what I expected and the opening songs really grab you by the throat. "Lamb of God" wouldn't be out of place on any rock compilation while "Blessed Be Your Name" also gets similar treatment. "Quiet You with My love" is anything but quiet but the acoustic "Above All" finally does see some quieter moments. To close, there's a energy filled version of "The Power of Your Love", complete with a reprise if you leave the CD running a while after it's initial finish. Summing up, I wish there had been more! 8/10. (April 2004, Album of the Month)
REBECCA ST JAMES : If I Had One Chance to Tell You Something. (Forefront : FFD39558)
Well, after last month's brilliant album by Third Day, I didn't expect to be blown away again, quite so quickly. I've always liked the music of Rebecca, but this album tops everything that she's done before. It kicks off with an indie pop song, "Called to God" and then rocks into Kelly Clarkson territory with the guitar inspired "Alive". Early entry for the best intro of the year must go to "You Are Loved" which the kids in one of my school classes described as "great". It's a lighter song, but has brilliant hooks and chorus. Song after song hit home with simple truths about God, and Rebecca's voice is on fine form. "Love Being Loved By You" declares that Jesus is glorious in a pop/rock praise sort of way, and the medium paced "Take All of Me" confirms that belief. Really, I could wax lyrical about each of the 12 songs, as they are so good. The package comes with a DVD including concert footage, although I can't comment about that, as my copy wouldn't play. But, for the CD alone, it's totally awesome. 10/10. (April 2006, Album of the Month)
REBECCA ST JAMES : alive in Florida. EMI : FFD94544)
NFN reader's will no doubt remember that Rebecca's last album gained the Album of the Year Award for 2006. I've got to admit, that over the last 10 years, she's been one of most consistent female artists around. This live album and DVD was recorded in Florida and features many songs from the last few years. She starts of very powerfully with "God Help Me" and "Lamb of God", before giving a weak rendition of "You Are Loved" with just acoustic backing. For such a great song, this version is a big let down. "Reborn" packs lots of passion and energy together before she introduces her brothers to sing the song "Without Love" - in a sort of DC Talk sort of way. "Take All of Me" is a love song to Jesus, and there's a good version of "Blessed Be Your Name". Judging by the cheering in the background, Rebecca seems to have the audience with her from start to finish, and she closes the affair with the energetic "Alive". As for the DVD, well, like a lot of these packaged extras, I was unable to play it on my DVD player. I'm not sure if they're being packaged correctly as "region free" but my equipment was having none of it. For the CD, a good place to start if you're new to her music. 8/10. (June 2007)
RECEIVER : O2. (Alliance : 1902452)
Receiver is the worship band at the heart of the youth ministry at Christian City Church, Oxford Falls, Sydney, Australia. "O2" is the second album from this six-piece outfit who surprised me immediately by the aggressiveness of the opening "Find It". Can't really put my finger on it but I felt ill at ease listening to it. At their best, Receiver prove that Indie rock is not dead, with the NSC sounding "Peace". At their worst, "I'm In Awe" and "Heaven" are not very tuneful, nor inspiring - the latter being over 6 minutes of pure torture. "Cover Me" is an acoustic number where the vocals sound like a drunken crowd leaving the pub on a Friday night. "What is that noise?" a colleague asked. I'll await the letters from down under to tell me different but, this isn't very good at all. 2/10. (March 2002)
RED : The Panic. (Essential)
This is the fourth CD release by this band, who certainly don’t take any prisoners with this album. The CD starts off with the title track, a blistering metal song. The pace doesn’t let up at all until the sixth song, which is a slightly slower song, although still quite heavy. On the whole this CD is an all out metal thrash from start to finish. But there are some elements of techno thrown in for good measure, which does make things a bit more interesting. The best song on here for me was “Hold Me Now” which is the only track that could be described more as mainstream rock music than metal. I don’t dislike this album, but it is very fast and furious, and after a while I felt the need to turn it off. A bit more variation in pace would have made it better for me personally, but you won’t be likely to fall asleep listening to this CD. 7/10 Andy Sayner. (May 2013)
RED HURLEY : I Will Sing. (Rosette Records : ROSECD2071)
I've got to admit it straight away, that this album has had more plays than any other during the past couple of weeks. I'd never heard of Red Hurley until his Christmas single came out last year. He's a prolific hit-maker in his native Ireland, having spent an impressive total of 140 weeks on the Irish Charts. He's now beginning to spread his wings, and this new release should put him on the map internationally. The title track immediately shows off the quality and warmth of Red's vocal talent. Written by Don Moen, it's a song of real quality and feeling. "Always There For Me" is a lovely song, and possibly my favourite, while the well known "Love Changes Everything" goes down well too. Nearly all of the songs have inspiring melodies and lyrics, and "Keeper of the Stars" is a cracking ballad. "Remember Me" and "Whatever You Believe" are just good songs, and there's not many artists around who can sing them like Red Hurley. He gently caresses each word of Ewan MacColl's "The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face" and then launches into a tremendous version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Time to Say Goodbye". Red is set to have a pilot TV show aired in America in the coming months, and has already had airplay on BBC Radio 2's breakfast show. With this smashing album now released, 2007 should see Red Hurley gain plenty more fans. 10/10 (February 2007, Album of the Month)
RED HURLEY : How Great Thou Art. (Kingsway : REDENCD1)
When Terry Wogan played Red Hurley's recording of 'How Great Thou Art' on his Radio 2 breakfast show, the station was inundated with e-mails from listeners enthusing about the record. This was meant to be an American-only release but, due to the phenomenal response the record company have released it here in the UK. It was a similar response a couple of year's ago, when I first came across the music of Red on the Terry Wogan show. What a tremendous voice he has, and Radio Humberside listeners were agog when I played his version of 'Time to Say Goodbye'. This album features songs old and new but all delivered in Red's inimitable style. 'How Great Thou art' opens things up, and it's easy to understand how people have been so touched by the song. The same can be said of 'Be not Afraid', as well as the Dolly Parton song, 'Hello God'. He doesn't simply belt out every song, Red has the gentleness to caress a song like 'Deep River', while powerfully delivering 'Amazing Grace'. 'Peace in the Valley', 'You'll Never Walk Alone' and 'I Will Sing' are simply delightful, while the lovely 'The Broken Road' was a song I just had to play again and again. In Ireland and America, Red's concerts have been sell-outs and his albums are increasingly well received. There's little doubt in my mind that the UK will welcome him too, with open arms. 10/10 (November 2009)
THE REEDS : All in a Days Musing. (CD £6.99 from Scott Anthony Wainwright, 196 Barnsley Road, South Elmsall, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, WF9 2AL).
The Reeds are Scott Anthony Wainwright and Karen E Stennett, although they do add session musicians from time to time. Scott has previously played with the band Higher, while Karen has travelled with various mission teams outside the UK. The album contains 10 songs and takes in a folk style throughout. Most of the songs feature just guitar and vocals, but the opening "When All You Give" also includes nice use of a harmonica. Karen provides some very nice harmonies throughout, and especially works well on "Oh Humble Me!" and "Your Beauty Fills My Eyes" . I found "Your Ways, Always" to be a little sparse on sound and it's that area that I found a little negative. Lovely as Karen's vocals and Scott's guitar work are, I found too many songs sounding alike, and lacking variety. It's a good, solid debut but, perhaps, could do with a little more polish to make it truly shine. 6/10. (November 2003)
REFLECTIVE PIANO : Offerings. (ICC : ICMKCD001)
If you're one of those people who think that they are too busy to listen to this type of album then, perhaps, you are the very person it's aimed at. The inner sleeve notes state that "As you contemplate life, this blend of gentle piano melodies and ethereal sounds will, we hope, transport you to a place of peace and serenity". The tracks are all written and performed by one man called Eric Nordhoff - although Louie Shelton plays guitar. And, it's that guitar that sits nicely alongside the piano of many a track. "Love Never Fails" for instance, where both instruments compliment each other perfectly. "Sacrifice" sees my favourite track, and it's a piano only number. This one's so good, in fact, that I had visions of it coming straight off a movie soundtrack. "Angels With Us" is an uplifting number, where some synth' based string sounds are added, but there's plenty of plain, nice tunes around here. This is the truth; in today's busy lifestyle, more and more people could do a lot worse that to listen to this album, relax and de-stress. 7/10. (September 2004)
REGENT HALL SALVATION ARMY BAND : Songs of Praise. (Kingsway : KMCD3053)
The title of this release may lead potential purchasers to imagine hymns from the long-running BBC TV programme. Instead, it features 14 contemporary praise and worship songs. As my wife Lynda particularly enjoys brass band music, she joined in on the listening session. Tracks that stood out included the beautifully arranged Stuart Townsend/Keith Getty compositions 'In Christ alone' and 'My heart is filled with thankfulness', Matt Redman's 'Once again', Noel Richards' 'I really want to worship you my Lord', Stuart Townend's 'Beautiful Saviour', and the closer - 'See what a morning', by Stuart Townsend/Keith Getty, set to an appropriately joyful arrangement. Downsides? We thought the drummer/percussionist tended to 'play to the dots', making an often 'leaden' contribution to proceedings - and whilst full printed lyrics are provided we found some of the arrangements made the words difficult to follow. Tracks 11 and 12 (Tim Hughes' 'Here I am to worship' and Stuart Townend's 'How deep the Father's love') are the only two to feature vocals. For the sake of album 'balance' they should not come together and so late in the running order, the vocals are mixed too high, and whilst Stuart Pendred is clearly an able singer in the classical tradition his voice is out of context, lacking the personal emotion and conviction that these two lovely songs demand. Other than these reservations, much to enjoy. 6/10 David Deeks (April 2010)
THE REIGN : Sing. (CD £7 from 91 De La pole Avenue, Hull, England, HU3 6RD)
Following his 2002 solo release, it soon became apparent that to David needed a full band to faithfully re-create his sound live. Since then, The Reign have evolved, and are making their mark in and around the Hull area. Listening to the album, as a whole, it does run like a live praise & worship event. The opening "We Are One" sends visions of people singing, clapping and dancing to your imagination. "Sing to the Lord" and "Thank You" slow things down a bit and, as well as sounding a little alike, I found the repetitiveness of the former rather grating on the ear. "Kyrie Eleison" has a nice stripped-down acoustic sound and, in similar mould, "Not Alone" is beautifully sung. There's an interesting arrangement of the old hymn "Praise His Name", plus a live recording of "Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer", and both work well. David's vocals still slip into the Dylanesque style, at times, but I think that it's this quality that helps to make an appealing listen. At times, there seems to be over use of instruments - like on "I Love The Rain", and, perhaps, this needs a some attention. But, otherwise, The Reign can be well satisfied with this release. 8/10. (November 2003)
THE REIGN : Where Jesus Touches the Earth. (http://www.thereign.net)
"Where Jesus touches the earth'' is the Reign's 2006 follow-up to their first CD "Sing", issued in 2003. The CD sleeve design (by Mark Pierce) and two web sites www.thatfatalkiss.com and www.thereign.net (including tracks from "Sing") look really classy. The man behind this 9-piece band is Hull-based worship leader and therefore lead vocalist David Cooper, who also provides the material. David is a talented writer - there are some good lyrics here, set to hummable tunes with memorable hooks. Best tracks for me were 'So beautiful', 'Song of love', 'Charcoal Skies' and the ubiquitous (NOT written by David!) 'When I survey'. This is done to a beautiful arrangement, featuring entirely female vocals. Otherwise however, production is often weak. There is a tendency to 'throw everything into the pot'. The drums are often well over-busy and with a tendency for timing to wander. David's vocals tend to be set too high in the mix and aren't strong enough to merit such spotlit presentation. As a worship leader I would imagine he is very effective, with every word clearly heard, but his tendency to sing in 'shout it out' mode misses the opportunity for expression that a recording studio provides. The female vocals on 'When I survey' are really natural and beautiful and could have been used to great effect on more of the songs. Some great songs then, but better production/mixing would really let them shine. 6/10 Dave Deeks. (August 2006)
THE REIGN : 96 – Live. (www.thereign.net)
Some 5 years after their last album, comes this live offering from one of Yorkshire’s premier praise and worship bands. As an outfit, they have played up and down the UK both in concert and leading the Rock Eucharist. Led by chief songwriter and lead singer, David Cooper, this live album gives the listener the chance to re-live an event or, if you’re hearing of them for the first time, a welcome introduction. I’m glad to say that I’ve seen the band a number of times, and their rousing version of ‘Mighty to Save’ never fails to stir my sprits. While self penned numbers like ‘Charcoal Skies’ engage the listener,’ Song of Love’ appears rather pedestrian, and I found myself “drifting off” mid song. There’s always an element of surprise in the audience when David sings his version of Britney Spears ‘Baby One More Time’ but, somehow, he makes it his own. On this occasion, the band also give a rendition of the old Tears For Fears hit, ‘Mad World’, which is much better that the version that hit the No.1 spot a few years back. Recording a live album tends to highlight all those niggly little faults that you can usually re-record in a studio. On a couple of tracks the backing vocals are a little off key and it rather spoils the songs. However, with powerful songs like ‘I Love the Rain’ and the feel good ‘Never Failing Love’, you can, perhaps, forgive the odd mistake. As a bonus, you can pop the CD into your laptop and access two bonus mp3 files of the band, and that really is a bonus worth having. On this showing, it seems that The Reign will carry on their success for quite some time to come. 8/10 (November 2011)
RELIENT K - MMHMM (70TEE Records)
This group would definitely win the award for most original song title. Some of the contenders from this cd are "Which to Bury, Us or the Hatchet?", "Life After Death and Taxes" and "I So Hate Consequences". The important question however, is are the songs as good as their names? Initially, I wasn't so sure, but having persevered and listened several times, I would have to answer that question with a resounding yes. The influences are many and varied. My first impression was that this is a "Busted" meets "Red Hot Chilli Peppers" affair and, while I fully endorse the latter, I'm not so sure about the former. In reality, this is a collection that is much more mature than "Busted" could ever offer. Power pop/punk rock is how they describe their sound and would attest to this being a fair description. It's superbly executed, with great musicianship shining through and some interesting duo style vocal work. Production wise, it also excels, and in this respect is far superior to many Christian offerings. I wasn't too sure that I would like this but I do. In fact, I love it. It's infectious, energetic and full of live, a super charged all out spiritual assault. These guys deserve to be big. 9/10 Robin Thompson (March 2005)
RELIENT K : Five Score and Seven Years Ago. (Gotee)
'Five score and seven years ago' is Relient K's fifth full-length album, and with two new members brings a subtle change in sound for the band, with more complex bass figures and more variation in guitar sounds. As it happens, I feel that the drumming has moved up a gear as well - possibly the change of bass player has had an influence here. The album sold 64,000 copies in its first week and went into the US Billboard 200 at no.6. The last time the band got a mention from me in these pages was when I picked 'Be my escape' (from their 'Mmhmm' album) as a standout track on the Wow hits 2006' compilation. Here we have 14 tracks ranging from only 14 seconds(!) to over 11 minutes, the often thoughtful lyrics being delivered with the usual Relient K clarity against a background of great melodies. Most are driven along at a fair rate, but there are slower ones and altogether sufficient variation to keep the attention. My favourite tracks are probably 'Give until there's nothing left' and 'Up and up' but others worth a special mention include 'Come right out and say it', 'Forgiven', and 'Faking my own suicide' - complete with slide guitar. Overall, this album represents a new level of maturity for Relient K. As with many Christian rock albums these days, it is mixed to sound 'full-on' with comparatively small music systems, ipods etc - so is great in the car but suffers a bit when played on a good hi-fi system. Try www.relientk.com for music samples from 'Mmhmm' and info on all their albums. A worthy 9/10. Dave Deeks. (July 2007, Album of the Month)
RELIENT K : Air For Free. (Mono VS Stereo : B01HQO9VZ2)
Relient K are rock at the pop end of the spectrum – more Dandy Warhols than Slipknot. It’s rocky and chart-friendly at the same time, compete with Coldplay-esque piano trills. This is their 11th studio album so, as you might expect, they’ve worked out what their sound should be and are very good at it. The songwriting is good, the playing tight and very proficient, the production spot-on and the overall effect very up-tempo and upbeat. “Happy and summery” would be a good way to describe their sound, reminding me a bit of Dodgy in their more optimistic phases, but definitely modern in the feel of 5 Seconds Of Summer. There’s a latter-day Madness feel around too, no more so than on “Elephant Parade” and odd bits that reminded me of “Abbey Road” era Beatles, too. Lyrically they weave their way between just hanging around and straightforward statements of faith (“I believe in God” : “God”). Best track: “Mrs. Hippopotamuses”. 8/10 Paul Ganney. (March 2017)
THE REMISSION FLOW : The Light That Floods.   (www.7coremusic.com)
Based in Monaghan Ireland, the Remission Flow are seven ordinary musicians, from across the sectarian divide. Having originally formed to lead worship at the Remission youth event, the band are united in their love for Jesus, passionate about leading people in sung worship and desperate to see God heal and restore lives. After the release of two singles, this is the album that the media has been waiting for. It’s not your ordinary worship album, but there lies its strength. ‘Walls’ opens proceedings, and I particularly liked the football chant ending. I can see this taking off at live events! The strongest track though, for me, is “The Father’s Love”. It’s not really a singalong type of song, but it has a beat that buzzes in your head. Darren Mulligan’s vocals are different enough to stand out from the crowd, and it was good to be able to hear every word that he sings. “Your Word” is one of those simple repetitive praise songs that you just can’t help joining in with. There’s also some infectious guitar work too. The lyrics of each song are plain and simple such as the phrase my “Saviour died for me” on “My Saviour Lives”, and the “Love of Jesus” on “All Creation”. Don’t expect The Remission Flow to be “just another P&W band”, they’re much more than that. With a sound that has already created their own identity, I’m sure that we will be hearing a lot more of them in the future.   8/10. (November 2012)
THE REMISSION FLOW: Rhythms of Grace. (www.7coremusic.co.uk)
Previously well rated by the redoubtable Mr Howlett, here we have the latest from this Irish seven-piece rock pop band calling themselves The Remission Flow. Things get off to a great start in this 11-track release with the 'stadium rockish' 'Grace and truth', followed by the rocking 'Before the dawn'. 'Your love is a melody' is slow and reflective and shows this band's versatility. For me, the best track is 'More like you', which features a great drum riff. 'Fearless' is also particularly strong. Darren Mulligan's appropriately rough-edged but note-perfect lead vocals are excellent throughout, and altogether it is evident that this is a very capable set of musicians who really gel together – with Mark Mulligan's drumming worth a special mention. There is more to this release than performance however – most songs are well written lyrically and musically, and arrangements and production are excellent. Downsides? Firstly, the track sequencing could be better – particularly the fact that 'Fearless and 'Vast as the oceans' are very similar melody-wise yet follow one another. Secondly, you guessed it, the sound quality leaves a lot to be desired! 8/10. Dave Deeks (April 2014)
REMIX : Dear Lord. (Word : 0806886 15222)
If you like the sound of modern r n' b and hip hop, then Remix could be for you. Brothers, Drew and T-Jay Gibson combine their writing skills to produce 11 songs that convey their relationship with God in their everyday lives. "7 Times A Lady" tells how their mother raised them single-handed, and how many sacrifices she made. The harmonies on all songs are good but, perhaps, never betterthan on "I Won't Run From You". Here, the brother's lay their hearts wide open and give their all to the Lord of their lives. They've already opened for acts such as Kirk Franklin and Mary Mary, so there's a lot of people who think that they're quite talented. What does turn an old fashioned guy like me away from their music, is that many songs run into one another, and I'm never too sure when one has finished and another has started. That apart, let's here it for Remix. 7/10. (February 2002)
REND COLLECTIVE EXPERIMENT : Organic Family Hymnal. (Survivor : SURCD5168)
There's been an awful amount of press releases about this album, so the expectancy of something "out of the ordinary" was high, when I received the album. The Collective (they don't want to be called a band) were originally formed in 2004 in Northern Ireland. The members had lots of questions about God, community, and kingdom living, so thought that they would use their musical talents to convey these questions, and, maybe, some answers. It all starts with a very short chorus, called 'Come On'. I wasn't overly impressed. However, the second number 'Faithful' is simply wonderful in the way that it builds, with some very effective brass sounds. A similar song is 'Exalt', and this one really grew on me, every time I played it. Lovely orchestral and brass arrangements just create the power of the song. There are times, perhaps, when there seems to be too many instruments fighting for space in several songs, and that detracted from some, what are, well written songs. The simple acoustic 'You Are Love' works just as well and is uncluttered. There are songs of worship and praise within this collection but I didn't find any real answers to questions. Perhaps next time. 7/10 (April 2010)
REND COLLECTIVE EXPERIMENT : Homemade Worship By Handmade People. (Kingsway : KWCD3275)
I wasn't sure what to make of this CD at first. This band certainly have their own style, very energetic up beat worship music. If you can imagine a cross between Mumford & Son and Coldplay you'd be somewhere near. Lyrically this is a good album, all the words are straightforward and forthright, There's an interesting version of  "Be Thou My Vision" with a modern version of the words. In fact I liked all of the songs on here individually, I just found the album as a whole a bit frantic. You don't necessarily have to have sixteen notes in every bar, in every song. Even the slower songs have mostly the same rhythms in the background. It gets a bit tiresome after a while. I found it better to listen to the odd track rather than the whole thing, in one go. There's no faulting the enthusiasm here though, and the musicianship is of a high standard, and I don't really intend this to be a bad review, it's just not my cup of tea personally. If you happen to like the style of Mumford & Sons, then you'll probably like this album.  7/10   Andy Sayner. (May 2012)
THE REND COLLECTIVE : The Art of Celebration. (Integrity Download)
Here we have the third studio release of the Bangor-based six-piece folk rock worship band calling themselves 'Rend Collective Experiment'. This follows their well-received 2013 live album ' Campfire', with the band having toured with Matt Redman, Tenth Avenue North and Moriah Peters, and Ben Cantelon. For those who haven't heard them before I can perhaps best describe them as a cross between Mumford & Sons and Delirious? - the rousing 'More than conquerors' to my ears being the track that most implies a Mumfords influence, and the general tendency to 'anthems' being very Delirious?-like! I really enjoyed this album and can well imagine that the Rends go down a storm live. It is chock full of well arranged tracks with great melodies and strong hooks, all delivered by Gareth Gilkerson's note-perfect slightly raspy vocals and underpinned by a nice variety of instruments - including at various times mandolin, massive sounding drums and 'large choir' backing vocals. 'My lighthouse' is probably the standout track - and as well as the studio version there is a bonus track 'live' alternative. The opener 'Joy' (together with a bonus 'remix' version) and 'Burn like a star' are particularly strong, as is the aforementioned 'More than conquerors'. Downsides? Some of the lyrics tend to be a bit twee, and when everything piles in (as it often does) the sound is compressed and distorted on a nice sound system (a pet frustration of mine!) - so it's probably best to limit listening to laptop speakers! 8/10. Dave Deeks (March 2014)
REND COLLECTIVE : My Lighthouse. (Kingsway)
My Lighthouse is the third and latest single from the Northern Irish folk rock worship band Rend Collective. Their 2013 album “Campfire “ was a success in the US, reaching number 1 on the US Christian chart and they have announced a new album for release in March, “The Art of Celebration”. My Lighthouse starts off with a toe tapping acoustic guitar part and vocals with a style reminiscent of Gareth Davis-Jones before building with the addition of mandolin. This gives it quite a traditional feel which starts to recede as you hit the chorus. The increasing layers start to give it a more contemporary tone and as the backing vocals kick in with various wo-hos etc, I can’t help but think of the Lumineers’ song “Ho Hey” (you may recognise that song from the recent E-ON TV adverts). If I’m honest I prefer My Lighthouse when it’s stripped back – the additions of the strings and the extra layers don’t really do it for me though probably make it more of a fit for the US market. However, it’s a catchy, well-crafted song even if it doesn’t quite win awards for originality. It will be interesting to see what the new album has in store. 7/10 Robin Thompson. (March 2014)
THE RENEWED REPROBATES : The Renewed Reprobates. (Private Cassette Recording : £3.00 inc. p&p from: P. Swinney, 17 St Peters Road, Scotter, Lincs, DN21 3SG).
Primarily aimed as a promotional release, this is the debut from three guys with a lot to offer. Four songs here, all penned by lead singer Paddy Kirkman who has a blues guitar background that comes to the fore on the closing 'Jesus is King'. If that isn't enough for one guy, then his remarkable Martin Smith voice is almost too good to be true. 'Jesus Christ is Lord' is a simple, 3 minute contemporary praise song in the style of Mr Smith's band. That, I'm afraid, does tend to lead you into the Delirious way of thinking but, there is more to this band. The lyrics are thoughtful and the tunes well written. The musicianship is tight and, if you forgive the tiny budget recording, this is a good first outing. 'Lord I'm Aching' is a slow worship number, while 'Have You Ever' returns to the poppy style whilst shouting how much we should love those who have no-one. If the RR's can build on this, they should have a healthy ministry ahead of them. 7/10. (November 1997)
REPLENISH : Live in the Underground. (Authentic : 1903202)
First of all, it's nice to see a British band get support from a recognised record label. I've not come across Replenish before, but they were formed on the south coast in 2002. Rob Gill plays guitar and takes lead vocals, and he's got a good voice for the rock sound the band produce. Darren Lewis (Drums) and Harun Kotch (Bass, Vocals) complete the line-up. This is a live CD recording, and it's apparent from the amount of noise made, that the audience were enjoying the concert. I can't say that the band are anything out of the ordinary, but they do seem pretty competent, as well as confident in what they are doing. 'Underground' begins the listing, and is about God's love being all around. 'Another Day' sees the band stray into Third Day territory and is quite a strong cut. I found the songs on the middle of the album to be rather too similar, and I began to lose interest, but things pick up again with 'See you' - a medium paced number. 'Anthem' sings of the glory of knowing God, and I thought that this was one of the best songs on the album. A bonus DVD is also included in the package, featuring a couple of music video's, a documentary, and behind the scenes footage. Not a bad listen, but not one that I'd rush to play again. 6/10. (October 2007)
RESONANCE : Brand New Day. (www.resonancemusic.co.uk)
Resonance are an evangelical Christian band from Leicester, who fuse Celtic, world and folk influences to produce their overall sound. This debut album has taken four years to complete so, the question is, was the wait, worthwhile? For me, the answer is a resounding “Yes”. I was immediately warmed by the superb vocals on ‘You Are The Reason’, provided by Helen Gale. The song is simply beautiful, and I knew that I was listening to something very special. There are lovely harmonies on ‘Creator’s Mark’, while the pipes, flutes and whistles of Jenny Williams, especially stand out on the title track. ‘Don’t Be Anxious’ has an almost flamenco feel about it, as the lyrics tell of that age old promise about casting all your cares on worries on God. I wasn’t so keen on ‘Loch Instrumental’. For me, it seemed to meander rather and, in comparison to the other tracks, sound quite flat. Those lovely vocals of Helen, shine once more on ‘Shepherd’. “Lift me up on eagles wings, so I may soar”, are the focal words of ‘You Take Me On’. Excellent guitar, pipe and whistle sounds, are made even more enjoyable by the different tempo to what had gone before. At times, it’s hard not to compare the sound of Resonance to Moya Brennan, rather than Iona. Saying that, the songs still stand well in their own right. Musically, Resonance are the best thing to come out of Leicester’s Christian scene for some time. 9/10. (December 2014)
RESONATE : Resonate. CD from : Label of Love, Trafalgar Street Church, Beverley Road, Hull, England.
The Label of Love ministry has taken God's word into countless schools, churches, pubs, and numerous other venues over the years. Nowadays, they concentrate, mainly, on the their young people's work and from it has grown the band Resonate. Michelle Hornsby, John Flavell, and Stephanie Trebilcock, make up the outfit and perform songs in today's popular dance style. "Creation" sees a strong start go well in a Mis-teeq sort of way. "Where Are You" adds some distorted guitar, while "One Night Stand" takes the orchestral sound of Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere" and sees John and the girls rap and sing over the top. There's nothing wrong with the lyrics as they all have messages that today's youth can relate to. At times, some of the female vocals sound a little off key, you know, the way Cyndi Lauper often did? There's also an intro and outro that explains what the band is all about, and how listeners can find out more about Jesus. In all, it's nothing earth shatteringly special, but will make it's mark in the school environment, I've no doubt about that. 6/10. (December 2003)
RESURRECTION LIFE CHURCH : For You I Live. (Integrity : 42502)
This is a 16 track cd featuring live worship from Resurrection Life Church, Grandville, Michigan. As you might expect, and especially as lots of live American worship follows the same pattern, the sound has strong gospel overtones, but this is underscored with some rock, jazz and funk influences too. You can even hear some 80's style keyboard pitch bends on the first track "Our Purpose" - very retro! The stand out track for me is "Another Chance" with its various timing changes which demonstrate how extraordinarily tight this band are. In that respest, this album cannot be falted. It's major shortcoming is in some of the more gospel style songs which are a little derivative to be honest but, for the most part, this album manages to offer more than the usual live worship fayre. Another worthy mention is their version of the Israel and New Breed song, "Say So" which is a commendable rendition, maintaining the sense and purpose of the original without being a direct copy. But then, it should be as it was co-written by one of Resurrection Life Church's worship leaders, Michael Gungor! Overall, not bad at all. 7/10 RobinThompson. (Feburary 2008)
REUBAN MORGAN : World Through Your Eyes. (Fierce : WTYRCD002)
Working with the likes of Darlene Zshech and Hillsongs Australia has certainly made its mark on the songwriting of Reuban Morgan. This first solo release sees this young man lift the world of contemporary praise and worship and give it a good old shake up. His voice is very smooth and suits each song down to the ground. The track contains layers of brilliant harmonies that are as tasty as a chocolate covered ice cream. The real purple patch of the album comes on tracks 6,7, and 10. "Gloria" has never made Latin sound so good, and I found myself singing along pretty swiftly to this super pop song. "All I Am" starts of very softly, but builds into a Keane like number with flowing piano and keyboards that tops of a great song. Another song to build well is "Shine", while the guitar backing of "In Over My Head" is simply divine. Early on the tracks aren't quite as good, but I think that this shows what a fine writer Reuban Morgan is going to be for some years to come. 8/10. (June 2005)
REUBEN MORGAN : Everyone. (Fierce! : Evyne-CD-005)
Reuben's 2005 release, "World Through Your Eyes" showed that working with Hillsongs Australia had given him a real edge in his song writing. This new release, sees Reuben build on that success with what is, in my opinion, the best contemporary worship album by a solo artist in some time. The track listing contains so many great songs for collective praise and worship, that it's hard to pick out a favourite. "All For You" is one such song that I can see being sung all over the world. It's full of praise and joy, and it wasn't long before I was singing along. The same can be said of "Mighty To Save" and Emmanuel". Indeed, "You Alone Are God" makes the opening 4 tracks some of the best I've ever heard. There is just so much passion oozing out of each song. Reuben's vocals are quality, and the backing is just spot on. If I had to pick one song out, then "For All You've Done" would get my vote. I really didn't want the album to end but, end it did , with two quieter numbers. "Still" and "Eagle's Wings" sees Reuben strip down the backing to simple solo instruments, as he lays his soul before God. Sung with sheer sincerity, they're a perfect end to a perfect album. 10/10 (April 2007, Album of the Month)
REVEALING JESUS CULTURE MUSIC & UNITED PURSUIT.   (Elevation : ELE2077D)
For those of you who want to know what all the fuss about Jesus Culture Music and United Pursuit is, Elevation have come up with this 12 track compilation, culled from 9 albums. Now, United Pursuit’s music comes from a living room, where a group of believers meet to worship, led by Will Reagan.  The sound is very raw and I find the whole sound rather tepid and uninteresting. As for Jesus Culture, the first track comes from Chris McClarney. The song is greeted with a loud roar midway through as Chris turns up the volume on “All Consuming Fire.” Regular readers will know that I’m not the greatest lover of Kim Walker Smith but her version of “Still Believe” comes over as one the most powerful songs on this release. Mid-album, there’s a real purple patch of quality. Firstly, Chris Quilala and Ian McIntosh lead the way on “Light of the World”, while I simply love the delivery of Justin Jarvis on the Killer-esqu “Take Heart.” The latter has some great driving guitars and accompanying keyboards, and it was my favourite song of the collection.  Other artists included are Bryan & Katie Torwalt and Andrew Ehrenzeller and it’s a good taster. At a bargain £4.99, you also get a money off voucher from any of the albums featured.  7/10. (February 2016)
REVIVAL GENERATION : Let your Glory Fall : The Year in Worship.(Survivor : SURCD048)
Blending worship leaders from the UK and the USA, this album of progressive praise and worship depicts a revival generation, arising around the world. Delirious? start things off with "Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?", a rip roaring 'in your face' stomper. Matt Redman follows with "I Dream of Tongues of Fire" and then it's time for another Martin Smith clone, in the shape of Alan Rose and "Oh Our Lord and King". Paul Oakley's prime contribution is the infectious "Here I Am", but the great "We Fall Down" by Passion must take great credit for wholesome worship. My favourite number is Delirous?' "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever", an epic 6 minutes that COULD go on forever. Revival? Judging by this, there certainly is! 8/10. (January 2001)
REVIVE : Neither Work Nor Leisure. (ICC : ICCD63730)
Revive is a contemporary church for people in their 20s-30s based in Leeds. Their desire is to take the church to the people who inhabit the club and pub scene in the city. Many different members of the church feature on the album, their label debut. So, I tried to listen to the songs, imagining that I was actually at one of the meetings. I tried to meditate with the slower numbers like the acoustic led "Be With You" and "Freedom" but found the lazy singing approach rather off-putting. There was a bit of Cardigans meet Garbage about "Everything", which then turned into a Tribe-like rap. That vocal sounded familiar and, when I looked, I realised that it was none other than Justin Thomas leading the praise. But, after the two bright opening numbers, the album seemd to get bogged down in an epherial meets Bjork sort of mix. "I Give My Life Back To You" is quite well done but, try as I may, I just couldn't get to grips with the rest of the tracks. to produce an album like this, there must be something really good happening in Leeds but, listening to this, I just can't see it. 4/10. (May 2002)
'RHYTHM OF CREATION' - Mankind's Encounter With the Creator. (Brentwood/Alliance).
Hmmn.....not really sure how to review this one. Here are nine tracks of music which "attempts to capture the eesence of man's encounter with his Creator." There are chants, texts, nature sounds, and more, that are mixed into rhythmic beat and melody. The concept is designed to "inspire an atmosphere of quiet peace", and it does this quite well. Every now and again you can hear the faint strains of a well known hymn in the background, such as 'Amazing Grace' on the piece called 'Grace'. Another begins with the sound of heavy rainfall, which initially fooled yours truely into checking the weather outside! It's a meditational album that does it's job well as one track slips naturally into the next. "Play it softly as you go about the tasks of your day" says the sleeve notes. Mind you, play it in your car at your peril - it's music to close your eyes too! If this is your sort of thing, then it's well worth purchasing. 7/10. (April 1996)
THE RIC BLAIR BAND : Fields of Freedom - Celtic Hymns and Meditations. (www.ricblair.com)
The Ric Blair Band is a Christian, Celtic, folk rock group who have toured the UK, across the USA, and around the world. Since their beginning in 1995 the band have shared the stage with the likes of Steven Curtis Chapman, and Michael Card. This Cd is a 15 track mixture of stirring original songs, instrumentals, and meditations - the latter voice being provided by Sheila Walsh. The album opens with a piped lament, before launching into a very thoughtful and intimate version of "Just As I Am". "Be Thou My Vision" has been recorded many times over the years, but the Ric Blair Band have stamped their own individual mark on this outing. Ric Blair, himself, has the perfect folk/pop voice for the songs and it engages the listener straight away. Songs like "He Leadeth Me" and "Nothing But the Blood" are particularly strong. Indeed, the latter is a truly happy sounding song, and the celtic fiddles come to the fore. "Alleluia" is a real catchy number, produced by Phil Keaggy, wile "Gentle Maid" is the pick of the instrumental pieces. Searching for a phrase to sum this album of feeling is simple, it's full of music and meditations to both sooth and feed the spirit. 9/10. (October 2006)
RICH MULLINS & THE RAGAMUFFIN BAND : The Jesus Record..(Myrrh : 080688559229)
I'm sure you know the stroy by now but, Rich Mullins sat in an old, abandoned church and played 9 songs that were to be part of a record he had affectionately called 'Ten Songs About Jesus'. Nine days later, Mullins died in a car crash. The cassette containing the songs was salvaged, cleaned and has been released in this double CD package. What you get is pretty awful, it's a sad way to remember Rich. Take an acoustic guitar into your bedroom, turn on your cassette recorder, and strum a few tunes. That's what you get. Thankfully, Rich's band and a few friends continued to work on the songs and have produced an accompanying CD containing the finished products. Althouugh, not a great album, it does bring out the best from the basic tunes. 'You Did Not Have A Home' is a catchy number with a c&w feel, while 'Man Of No Reputation' is the pick of the rest. Mullins is, already, sadly missed but his music lives on. 6/10. (November 1998)
RICHARD JAMES BUTT : Conversation. (www.richjamesbutt.co.uk)
Born and raised in South- East London, to a Jamaican Mother and an English Father, Richard was exposed to different types of music that ranged from ‘The Who’ to ‘Stevie Wonder’ and ‘The Beatles’ to Christian devotional music. As a result, he has an eclectic taste in music and the music he creates draws from this wide base of influences. This 6 track EP produces an array of musical styles, some powerful lyrics, and excellent vocals. Striking guitar notes and an echoing cry ring out to introduce ‘Be My Strength’. It’s a song about finding Jesus, and the theme continues through the next five songs, as Richard explores the realities of life as a follower and friend of Jesus Christ. There’s a little resemblance to David Gray in Richard’s voice on ‘Let Me Sing’. “In my trouble, I will seek you, I will cling to you,” he sings, about moving closer to God. The loving relationship of Jesus is explored in ‘My Lover’ – perhaps my least favourite song. Quite the opposite can be said of ‘Overwhelming Peace’ A really classy song, great vocals and a terrific guitar solo. It builds powerfully, and on one vocal note near the end, makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. If I had to compare the song ‘Not Alone’ to anyone, I would say that it has touches of The Script about it. It’s very melodic, yet still has an edginess that engages the listener. Finally, on ‘Praise Him’, Richard throws everything but the kitchen sink in its production. It’s a glorious finale, and I especially liked the drum beats. Richard says that he wrote the song after being “in a place of personal hardship and God had been ministering quite powerfully to me affirming my identity in Christ and reminding me of his joy over our lives.” Richard’s release shows that he is full of ideas in both song and production. He just needs to find the right recipe to make the most of all his ingredients. 8/10. (December 2014)
RICHARD JENSEN : Strengthened in the Wait. (https://richjens.bandcamp.com/album/strengthened-in-the-wait)
Richard is a worship leader in Aberystwyth and has previously released a number of recordings. This latest EP contains 7 songs that reminded me, in style, of Michael Card. The overall feel led me to believe that each track would be suitable for private meditation and prayer. The title track is based on Psalm 27, and features acoustic guitar and orchestral sounds. Vocally, Richard’s tones suit what he has produced very well, although I don’t think that they stretch him too much. The piano takes the lead on Psalm 23, starting, of course, with the words; “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Six of the tracks have been written by Richard himself, the exception being “Great God of Wonders.” I found this song to be rather pedestrian in tempo, and my least favourite. “Freely Chosen” is, perhaps, the happiest sounding of all the tracks, and the acoustic guitar is, once more, at the forefront. On “The Worship of Our Lives, the song tells us to be a living sacrifice to God. Based on Romans 12, it’s another one that suits Richard’s vocal delivery. My only concern with the EP is that there’s little variation in the style of each track. Otherwise, it’s quite a welcome addition to the meditational genre. 7/10. (January 2017)
RICHARD JON SMITH : Bring It to the Lord. (Word : SPND022)
In his native South Africa, Richard once spent 9 weeks at the top of the charts with a version of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore". After years of going his own way, he was "born again" in 1995 following the similar experience of his wife. This album, then, seems to be the resulting happiness and joy that he has found since returning to the Lord's house. "Warriors" became an instant favourite of mine, as did "If We Didn't Know Jesus". Happy and spiritually uplifting, were words that constantly came into my mind whenever I played these calypso style songs. The rock sound of "He Gave Life" comes a s a bit of a surprise, but its another strong song, complete with distorted guitars. The ballad "Wanna Be There" has a lovely melody, and the BIG production of "He'll Be There" really does get the message over that God will be with you, He never lets you down. Gospel and R n' B styles are also included on an album that deserves your attention. 8/10. (September 1999)
RICHARD KNIGHT : Rock in the Storm. (Private Cassette Recording. £7.50 inc p&p : from Richard Knight, 38 Parkside Drive, Watford, Herts, England, WD1 3AX.
It's always a pleasure to receive something from a new artist, t aking their first steps in the CCM scene, and this is no exception. Richard hails from the Watford area and, after a few efforts, this his his first major demo release. Thirteen tracks of self penned songs that vary in both quality and delivery. The opening two tracks, for instance, carry thin, unconvincing, vocals that really do detract from the tunes - especially the catchy "The Things You Said". Move on to the title track, however, and it's a completely different kettle of fish. The slow electro ballad moves along nicely, and Richard's vocals fit perfectly, with feeling. The musical sound of the whole album reminds me of early Depeche Mode, although the "Instrumental" is undeniably Kraftwerk. "Thomas" is another catchy tune but, by the time we've reached "Sons Return", we're back to the vocal problem. Here, he tries to fit in far too many words and fails in it's delivery. There's no doubt that Richard has a lot of talent and gifts to share and this is a reaonable first outing . 6/10. (November 1998)
RICHARD KNIGHT : Chase the Rainbows. (Private CD Recording: £10 from Richard Knight, 38 Parkside Drive, Watford, Herts, England, WD1 3AX.
For his second release, Richard Knight has kept to the same musical formula of his debut and produced 16 songs that looks at everything from singing in the bath to Christmas with awful relations. The overall style is that of bubblegum pop and, once again, sounds like an early Depeche Mode. His trait of fitting in as many words as possible to each line of a song remains, and is does tend to dilute the final impact. The title track has a catchy tune and Richard sings in the same way that Neil Tennant talks through every Pet Shop Boys record, but without the same effect. Vocally, he has the ability but has yet to harness it into a consistantly good result. "Hear My Prayer" shows just what Richard is capable of, but "Singing in the Bath" shows him in poor light. Is it supposed to be like that? His tongue in cheek writing should be applauded as he says things that many of us would like to, but daren't. "A Snickers Bar Really Satisfies" is just one example of how people take things for a quick fix, rather than a long term investment. "Because of You" stands up fairly well but, at the end of the day, the album is about 8 songs too long. 5/10. (October 1999)
RICHARD KNIGHT : Good Grief. (CD Recording : £10 from Richard Knight 38 Parkside Drive, Watford, Herts, England, WD1 3AX.
This is Richard's 3rd album in almost as many years and, finally, does show the true potential of his songwriting ability. In the past, I - along with others - have questioned both his vocal prowess and basic song structure. However, with this release, there is certainly a marked improvement resulting in some really good songs. "Why Are You Here?" is the first track, a medium paced, mellow number that I found increasing appealing the more I played it. Richard's voice is not a strong instrument but he is starting to make the most of his limitations, and not trying to reach those - for him - impossible notes. "Just As I Am" is one prime example of his new found confidence, where he produces a sound not too unlike Neil Tennant (Pet Shop Boys). As If's Phil Goss lends a hand on guitar, otherwise, all the musicianship is Richard's own work. How unfortunate, then, that some excellent keyboard work of "Running On Empty" comes in, possibly, his weakest vocal attempt! Nothing wrong with the lyrics though, as he cries to the Lord for help when his faith is so low . A passing listener said that Richard's songs reminded her, at times, of Elvis Costello. He's still some way to go on his own musical journey but he's finally, on his way. 7/10. (February 2001)
RICHARD KNIGHT : Love With No Limits. (Private CD £12 from: 39 Long Horse Croft, Saffron Walden, Essex, CB11 4BL)
There are some good songs here. On several occasions, what appears to be a simple and ordinary song moves into an unexpected melody for the chorus. Richard writes heartfelt and sincere lyrics, a little down-beat sometimes but unpretentious. The title track is particularly good as is "So Low" "I Don't Have What it Takes" is a sad song that turns out joyful. Similarly "Darkest Night" has a Psalm-like quality about the lyrics, almost a cry for help. "Most Important Thing" is a worshipful song that fairly chugs along. The album romps to a close with "Angel at Your Grave". 11 songs and the only one I didn't like was the mercifully short "The Kid's the King." The area of weakness in this album is in the vocals, although I do like the 'Englishness' of Richard's voice - no fake American drawl here. The album benefits from a variety of arrangements and is particularly lifted by some great guitar work by Phil Goss. Because of those weak vocals, this was heading for 6/10 but after a few more plays, the strength of the songwriting and the production shines through, so it gets... 7/10 Geoff Allen (January 2003)
RICHARD SMALLWOOD : The Praise & Worship Songs of… (Verity Records)
For those of you unfamiliar with his work, worship leader Richard Smallwood has been recording for over 20 years and his gospel music repertoire includes songs performed and recorded by Whitney Houston and Destiny's Child. This album is a compilation of 14 of his most popular P&W songs, performed by The Richard Smallwood Singers and the 30-voice "Vision" choir. Listening to it as an album was an odd experience. All the pieces are there - solid, and occasionally inspired, musicality, great singing, worshipful lyrics and that feeling of being both uplifted and intimate with God all at the same time - but something about it just doesn't work and the over-riding impression is blandness, for want of a better term. For me the problem lies in the lack of variety in the tempo, style and feel of the songs, with most of them falling into that strange No Man's Land between 'slow and worshipful' and 'lively and energetic' and blending too neatly from one to another. It sounds good, and I am sure I will dip in and out of this CD in small doses, but as a retrospective of the long career of a passionate, gifted worship leader I was ultimately left disappointed. 6/10 David Cooper

(* The release version apparently includes a long form video to accompany the CD.) (April 2004)

RICK ELIAS : Blink. (ICC : ICCD23130).
Fresh from his success of producing the soundtrack to the Tom Hanks movie, That Thing You Do, plus the latest Split Level album, Rick Elias 'goes it alone'. "A collection of songs and recordings created over the last three years", say the sleeve notes. "They are all 'demos' of varying quality." Indeed, that sums up the album quite well. From the brilliantly catchy "God Inc" to the instantly forgettable "The Prayers of the Saints", there's a mixture of songs. At times, Rick's vocals are reminiscent of Alex Legge, while "If You Believed" is very much in the style of Chris Rea. At times the songs are guitar driven but he mellows out on "Man of No Reputation" and the worshipful "The More Things Change". Blink is an album that promises much but leaves you feeling that the promise has, largely, been unfulfilled. 5/10. (October 1997)
RISEN FROM RUINS : You Are Far More Powerful Than You Have Been Led To Believe.  (www.risenfromruins.co.uk)
This is clearly a British melodic rock CD – the sound is just so right. It has the lot: chantalongable choruses, long arrangements, powerchords, guitar riffs, odd snatches of conversation, catchy synth figures, feedback fade-outs. It has shades of Magnum, Pink Floyd (especially some of the vocals), Mostly Autumn, BJH, Peter Gabriel, Big Country (you know the list and I’m sure you can add to it). The pace is mostly mid-tempo, where that means “power” rather than “laid back”. It’s a bit NWOBHM and a bit prog. I loved it. This is the kind of band I get drawn to at festivals and it was so good to get drawn in by the lyrics as well as the music, where “Hallelujah” is a shout of praise (as detailed by what’s going on around it). Did I play it again as soon as it finished? You bet I did, and loved it even more than the first time. Best riff: the close to “One Moment”. Best track: “A Place Called Eden”.   9/10   Paul Ganney. (May 2012)
RITA SPRINGER : All I Have. (Floodgate Records : 101700-1)
Produced by Andy Piercy this CD promises to introduce a whole new audience to this popular worship leader from America. Through her music Rita wants to "evoke intimacy first between He and I and then model it for others. That's all. It's pretty simple." With some sounds that are stylishly like Sheryl Crow, Rita delivers an album of songs that rise to the indie formed "On How You loved Me", right down to the most delicate "Like You Jesus". Written by Reuban Morgan, "You Said" is a song containing that simple promise of God that He said "Ask and you will receive". Inspirational just doesn't describe what a wonderful feeling of closeness to the Lord I felt whilst listening to it. Rita also covers Matt Redman's "Lord Let Your Glory Fall" and it's easy to see why she's held in such high esteem by her fellow worship leaders. She may be a new name to many Brits but I think that is about to change. 9/10. (February 2001)
RIVERDEEP : Rise. (www.riverdeep.co.uk)
Many of you may remember Riverdeep from a few years ago, when they released critically acclaimed album's 'Liquid Prayers' and 'Somebody Like Me'. What happened to them? Well, they never stopped being a band but withdrew into family life and decided that their energies would be better employed building their local church on the south coast of England. This bright, new album has been "road tested" in their own congregation and brings a style of pop/rock worship. Brothers, Joe and Matt Warren share out the song writing duties and they seem to have come up with a winning formula. 'Forever the Same' is a well crafted number about coming to a place in our lives when we know that in every season God is the one who remains the same. Esther Ellis provides the main vocals, and she has got a really great voice that suits each song perfectly. The title track has real class about it, and there's some great guitar work from Sam Warren. Indeed, Sam's playing is even more impressive on 'Healing Fall', where I thought he sounded a little like Stu G from Delirious? 'Open Book' is a catchy number about being open to God, surrendering to Him and wanting to be filled to overflowing with His spirit. I must say, I liked the uptempo numbers very much, and songs like 'Unbreakable' and 'You Are' are already personal favourites. The whole sound is very well put together, and you get a real feeling of, "togetherness" from the members of Riverdeep. Of the slower songs, then, the closing 'Undivided Love' would take top prize, for me. Without a doubt, this is one of the best UK CCM albums of the year, so far. 9/10 (September 2010)
RIVERVIEW CHURCH. : Live2Shine. www.riverviewchurch.com.au
This is a live worship CD from a fellowship in Australia. As far as I can tell it has been produced completely in house by the church themselves. Personally I found that this CD a bit strange, there were a lot of promising
starts to the songs, and then after the introduction the songs were a bit bland somehow, as though the band wanted to play with a lot more energy than the choir did. All of the songs are ok in themselves but overall it just
sounds a little lifeless, which is a pity as a lot of work has obviously gone into it from all the people concerned. There doesn't seem to be a song that stands out from the rest at all, so I found it worked better for me if
I put on in the background whilst doing something else rather than sitting down and listening to it directly. It does however seem to have more sincerity than most of the stuff from the US these days. i.e it's not just another compilation of the same old songs from every other CD in the back catalogue, like so many worship CD's nowadays seem to be. So, although it certainly isn't anything like the worst CD that I've ever heard, it didn't quite seem to hit the spot somehow. 5/10 Andy Sayner. (January 2005)
ROB & GILLY BENNETT : The Touch/Such Love. (Kingsway : KMCD2252).
Classical guitarists, Rob & Gilly Bennett have enthralled audiences and listeners for years with their classical style. So much so, in fact, that these two albums have been digitally re-mastered and released as a double album. The finished product is over 80 minutes of reflective, meditational, and soothing music, featuring the duo's interpretation of many well known hymns and choruses. The track listing alone includes "We Worship & Adore you", "I Just Want to Praise You", "Open Your Eyes", I Stand in Awe2 and, my favourite "As the Deer Pants For Water". Backing music is carefully produced to bring out the wonderful sound of the classical guitar and this album will enhance any lover of light music's collection. 9/10. (June 2000)
ROB & GILLY BENNETT : The Rob & Gilly Bennett Collection. (Kingsway : KMCD2797)
Rob and Gilly Bennett have been on the Christian music scene for probably fifteen years or so. In that time they have carved themselves a unique niche, presenting well known praise and worship song instrumentals via sensitively played classical guitar. Here we have four CDs of previously issued material - usefully, with full lyrics provided - including such favourites as 'All Heaven declares', 'Majesty', 'Be still (The Holy One is here)', and 'Abba Father' as well as some less well-kown ones (to me, anyway!). If you are a Rob and Gilly fan you will probably have all or most of these tracks already. If you have yet to sample their music this set may be a good place to start - although four CDs may prove a bit much if you don't take to it! As is their style, most songs are decidedly down-tempo and I must confess to nodding off now and again as I worked my way through all four sides in two sittings. Unless you are a real classical guitar enthusiast their music isn't really meant for such concentrated 'listening sessions' however - it is more appropriate as a low-level background at church 'housegroups' or in Christian bookshops. As it happens, a small mid-week meeting that I go to sometimes uses Rob and Gilly CDs for the worship session, although we tend to struggle to sing the songs so slowly! If you are a fan of classical guitar then, Rob and Gilly could well be for you. Otherwise I would hesitate to describe this set as anything other than pleasant background listening, very competently played. For me it's all a bit 'laid back', so I would rate it as ... 6/10. www.missionworship.com. Dave Deeks (October 2007)
ROB PARKER : Light in the Land. (www.robparkerchristchurch.com)
Rob is a respected worship leader and songwriter, based in Bridlington, who has released a trilogy of albums over the last couple of years under the banner 'Abiding in the Eye of the Storm'. Somehow, they seem to have dipped under the NFN radar, and only a chance comment on a social network led me to receiving this new album. For it, Rob has gathered some talented singers and musicians from the east coast of the UK, to present, what is, a fine album of songs. The use of violin in a rock sound led me to compare 'Can You Hear the Horses Running?' to that of The Waterboys, and it's storming, early track. A song that I immediately played again, was 'How I Love You'. A song of love to Jesus, is sung so beautifully and offers a great production. It's a duet and if my ears serve me well, it's Angie Lendon who provides the female voice to Rob's immaculate vocals. 'Holy Is the Lord God Almighty' starts off quietly and builds in power as it progresses. This song, I can see being really useful to either large or small groups for worship. After the initial rock sound, the album settles into a lighter feel, but the overall quality of the music never fails. 'Nothing Can Separate Us From Your Love' and 'Glorify Your Name' are just two more songs that I would love to hear at somewhere like Spring Harvest. They both pack power and praise. I wasn't quite so keen on couple of songs, but all in all Rob Parker could well be one to watch for the future. 9/10. (October 2012, Album of the Month)
ROBBIN CASEY. 'Back Home'. (Hanslaar)
NFN turns to rhythm and blues meets country, as this new name from America turns her hand to 12 sacred hymns. Robbin Casey's voice, at times, sounds as if she's had just one bourbon too many and I would not have been surprised if she'd started one song with those immortal words; "well, I woke up this morning". One of the many tunes that have that feel is 'Rock of Ages', which you will have never heard like this before. 'How Great Thou Art' is totally ruined, while 'I Have Decided..." is one of the most appalling sounds I've heard for some time. Cross Rhythms gave this album a massive 10 out of 10, so I was expecting something quite special. There is some nice slide guitar here and there but it's the piano based 'Great is Thy Faithfulness' that is the best on offer. 3/10. (July 1996)
ROBERT RANDOLPH & The FAMILY BAND : Colorblind. (Warner Bros)
Here's a new artist that I've not come across before. From the cover photograph, they look like four dudes from some sort of gangster movie. The sound? Well, it's urban rock, mixed with a touch of blues. The result is some quite noisey numbers where the words are totally blanked out by the music. "Ain't Nothing Wrong With That" has a hip-hop tinge and I found that tune to be quite good. But, with "Deliver Me" and "Diane", you just can't hear the words. "Angels" is a slower groove, but then it's the infectious "Jesus Is Just Alright", featuring the unmistakable guitar sounds of the legend that is, Eric Clapton. That song seems to inspire the band's own guitarist, because from then on, we're treated to some over the top blues guitar solo's that not only detract from the rest of the songs, but get so tiresome. Reading the lyric sheets, it's hard to knock the sentiments, but the delivery needs tidying so that the message gets across more clearly. 5/10 (May 2007)
ROBIN MARK : Room For Grace. (ICC : ICCD19630).
Irish p&w leader Robin Mark has been making waves in his native country for some little time now, and he looks set to have the same effect in Britain too. This live recording captures the pure essence of a praise and worship event that I've never encountered before. His roguish, Irish brogue leads you into each song, whether it be to quietly worship or to shout in praises. "Being in Love" swaps between a look at marriage and the love of God. "All For Jesus" sees the purposeful guitar playing subsiding into gentle times where you can bathe in the Lord's presence and feel His goodness washing over you. My favourite track has to be "Lion Of Judah". It just made me feel so good to be alive, with God as my Father. If there is a down side to this album it's the penultimate accappella song "Power in the Blood", that just doesn't match the standards set earlier. Robin Mark may be another new name to many, but he won't be for long. 9/10. (April 1997)
ROBIN MARK : This City These Street. (ICC : ICCD24230).
Following the release of his live album last year, I was really looking forward to this follow up. Robin Mark has been slowly building up quite a following, as a p&w leader, and will be touring the UK later this year. So, how does this studio album compare with the excitement created by his live recording? Well, basically, the excitement just isn't there. "Oh no, not another album full of Iona pipes?", I thought as "Revival" began? no, this is just the introduction to a smashing song that has you instantly singing along. All too often, however, Robin digs deep into his folk roots and produces mellow numbers that don't have the impact of his previous release. "How I Love You" is one that works but "A Million Other Men" just doesn't rise above poor. When I review an album I try to feel for both the content of the lyrics as well as how they are delivered. With Robin, the lyrics are unquestionable but the delivery really does lack that live feel. "Psalm 2" picks things up again with driving guitar, while the piano led "Fathers & Sons" quietly shows the quality that he can produce with his songs. I can't wait to see him live, he has a special gift that, unfortunately, fails to shine here. 5/10. (June 1998)
ROBIN MARK : Revival in Belfast. (Hosanna : 14062).
You can always tell a Robin Mark live worship album by the way those gathered seem to be loving every minute of praising and worshiping an awesome God. Not quite sure what it is but, if they could bottle it, we'd have a great business venture. Right from the opening "Garments of Praise", Robin leads the congregation in his own inimitable style. The Irish brogue cajouls even the stubbornist of hearts to join in the singing. "Shout to the North" was a new song to my ears but it will certainly be making it's way onto my Radio playlist over the next week or so. Two of his 'greatest hits' come next, "Revival" and "The Lion of Judah". Tremendous versions of both songs, of which the latter never fails to make me feel so filled wit the spirit. Gentler sounds are there too, but it's all neatly bundled into one, smashing album. 9/10. (April 2000)
ROBIN MARK : Sanctuary. (Kingsway : KMCD2306)
Irish worship leader Robin Mark returns to his roots, following several successful live albums, with a collection of studio based songs old and new. It's a very intimate album that completely strips away the warmth I've felt with his previous work, and has the listener wholly concentrating on the words alone. The title track is a look at life and the dreams of yesterday, and poses the question "what ever happened?". The sound, too, has been stripped, to leave the odd guitar, keyboard and percussion, with Robin's vocals gently lapping over them. "This is the Day" is a favourite track of mine, and the slower "Secret Place", too, has my approval. There's some very nice harmonies on "This is a Mystery" but, by this time, I had begun to get a little tired of the album. Why? Well, even though there are some great songs, too many sounded alike. There's no doubt in my mind that Robin's live ministry is a wonderful thing but this recording leaves a little to be desired. 5/10. (January 2001)
ROBIN MARK : The Mandate. (Kingsway : KMCD2397)
The Mandate Conference saw more than 2000 people travel from around the world, to take part in this year's event. Led by the evergreen Robin Mark, you know that you're in for a great time of praise and worship. I simply loved the opening song "Give Thanks to the Lord (Forever), complete with it's introductory fiddle playing. The songs are a mix of old and new, including the ageless "Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer" and the peaceful "We Bow Down". The second half of the Cd is almost totally given over to worship, full of God's greatness. "All I Once Held Dear", "Praise My Soul the King of Heaven" and the gentle "I Have Heard So Many Songs", all filled me with the spirit. Difficult, as always, to get drawn into the "live event" feeling, but this one goes a long way to doing just that. 8/10. (June 2003)
ROBIN MARK : Double Album. (ICC : ICCD72430)
Here is another interesting combination - this double album is made up of Robin Marks' live album "Room for Grace" and studio album "This City These Streets". All the songs on both albums are written by him, and included here are possibly his three most famous/popular songs of the moment: "Revival", "All for Jesus" and "Days of Elijah" Room for Grace: Whilst there is no disputing the power of his biblical lyrics, nor of the intimate, worshipful atmosphere apparent in the live material, there is nothing here to bring me back to it again and again. His lead vocal is very "folky" and wavers around the notes at times which, combined with the thin and weedy production of his band, leaves it all feeling rather lightweight and half cooked. This City These Streets: Opening with "Revival" was probably a mistake, as it goes downhill from there. There is nothing strictly wrong with this album, it is just all a bit too bland and (again) lightweight for my taste. The studio sound is a little more powerful, but the whole thing just seems to lack that indefinable something that makes me want to really listen. Apart from "Revival", "How Beautiful" is a good track and, if you can get over the fact that it sounds exactly like "American Pie" in places, "Fathers & Sons" is well worth a listen too. Overall, good value for Robin Mark fans, with 24 of his songs gathered into one (very pink) package. Otherwise nothing to write home about. 6/10 David Cooper (June 2003)
ROBIN MARK : East of the River. (Integrity : 42022)
Ever since I first heard "Lion of Judah", I've been keen to hear the music of Robin Mark. This new release contains 16 songs and jigs and will please his legions of fans. After an instrumental introduction, Robin launches into "Heaven's Gates" - a song that has already gained radio play worldwide. "Arise & Shine" is a short, sweet little number, while the plodding "He Shall Reign" is one that will stir the soul. If you want something bright and bouncy, then look no further than "I Have Been Crucified With Christ". This is Robin at his best, and he's clearly at home with this sort of song. Of the two jigs featured, I liked "Tripping Up the Stairs" the best, while the thoughtful, acoustic "Lost And Found" slows things down for some meaningful worship. To be honest, the collection of songs isn't strong throughout, but there are enough "good" ones to make this a worthwhile album to your collection. It all ends with a rousing song of praise called "God Arise", and I was singing that one long after the CD had finished. 7/10 (August 2008)
ROBIN MARK : Living the Adventure. (Integrity : 99712)
This album was recorded live at the Mandate Event in Belfast, which saw 4,000 men descend on Ireland's premier indoor venue. Leading them, once more, in praise and worship was none other than Robin Mark - probably my favourite leader of the last few years. After a meditational opening with the song 'Give Me Jesus', Mark leads worship majestically with 'Hosanna' and then, the rousing 'Heaven's Gates'. It can sound a little strange to just hear men's voices singing together, but the quality is superb, especially on 'And Can It Be'. "Glorious", is one word to describe the sound on 'As the Deer'. Everyone will know it as a very gentle song, but the power radiating from this version is just fantastic. Of course, Mark end's proceedings with the 'Lion of Judah'. I can never hear or sing this song without remembering the first time I ever heard him perform it. It brought a lump to my throat then, and it it still does now. A terrific live album in all. 9/10 (August 2008)
ROBIN MARK : Year of Grace. (Integrity : 46412)
Although I've never seen him live, Robin Mark is probably my favourite worship leader. Ever since I heard his stirring rendition of 'Lion of Judah'. His music has always touched my heart. This new album was recorded live in New York, and there are some stunning tracks within. What better way to start off the track listing than proclaiming God as our Lord, with the wonderful 'Holy is Our God'. 'Watchman' drives along at pace, while 'There is None Like You', literally sings the praises of Jesus as our friend. It's obvious from the audience response that they are witnessing something special and Robin is on top form, full of blessings from God. 'Glory to Your Name' marches majestically, while 'Highly Exalted' is another one that lifts Jesus high. 'Some Trust in Chariots' is a pretty little song, and there's some clever use of synth' pipes. I really enjoyed listening to this album and even late on, there's a smashing anthemic number that I believe all believers should be singing and living. 'Rend the Heavens' has the makings of being a classic. It should, and I'm sure it will, be sung around the world. Hang on, I'm playing it all again! 10/10 (November 2009)
ROCK N' ROLL WORSHIP CIRCUS : A Beautiful Glow. (INO Records: 66823)
For the first time since The Maccabees' "21st Century spin", the opening track of this album gave so much guitar power and energy, that I thought I was dreaming - it was so good. What follows, though, was more than a little disappointing as tedious song after song fail to ignite that initial fire. Take, for instance, "Scary Drifter" which just coasts along aimlessly and suddenly ends. "Morning Glory" lends more than just a passing nod to The Monkees "Last Train to Clarkesville" and "All I Can Do" sounds just like a million songs I've heard before. The band say that the album has the "intensity of rcok n' roll and the atmosphere of praise, but rarely do the two meet - it's either one of the other. The title track is aprayer to God asking him to "open us up so that the light of Christ can be seen in us". It's one of those songs that has a spoken verse (in typical Lou Reed vein) and a crashing chorus that hits hard. Nothing really special about this album and therefore the rating reflects that. 5/10. (February 2004 & March 2004)
THE ROCK N' ROLL WORSHIP CIRCUS : The Listening. Fierce :Fiercd12)
Boring, dull, uninspiring and one of the most bland recordings that I've come across in a long time. Despite all the hype about this outfit, I'm just unable to get excited about this EP which layers guitars on top of one another and sounds, at times, like Oasis on a bad day. Vocally, the singer could do with a few lessons in projecting his voice, or maybe the production is too ineffective. It's very 60's progressive rock, and it's very out-dated. 1/10. (January 2005)
ROD LAVER : In A Perfect World. (BEC Records : BED7468)

The Christian word is being spread in many more ways, more than ever, and this includes the music world. Rod Laver are a new and innovative band from Los Angeles, preaching their own hard-hitting version of the Christian message to whoever is willing to listen. Their style of lyricism has its similarities with the likes of P.O.D. and their strong musical sounds also have comparisons to Pillar, but this does not mean that they are more of the same; they still have their own very distinctive blend of Rock, Rap and Hip-Hop. Although this is definitely not a band that everyone will enjoy, it should still appeal to the youth masses and fans of the alternative music scene. 8/10. Richard Howlett. (May 2002)

ROD WATTS & MIKE BRETT : Homemade Jazz 2 - Down by the Riverside. (ICC : ICCD86930)
Following their apparent success with their 2002 release, Rod Watts and Mike Brett have put together a second album of "Homemade Jazz". I guess the success of the former album must have been based on something tangible, but I'm not sure what. As my wife said upon hearing the CD, "You've got to be joking haven't you?". Take any male, cockney character from the Eastenders TV show, put him in front of a microphone with the songwords and tell him to sing. That, in a nutshell is what you have here. I'm not sure which one of the guys sing, but he'd slip in well with the BBC TV soap. Music wise, it's a bit like being back in the days of the second world war, with jingly music being played to "keep the spirits up". On a positive note, their choice of songs are not the norm. Seldom have I heard numbers like "Sunshine in My Soul", "Since Jesus Came into My Heart", and "The Butterfly Song". I did, quite, enjoy, the instrumental numbers but they couldn't take away the horror of listening to the rest of the songs. 2/10. (April 2005)
THE RON KENOLY COLLECTION. (Integrity : 99282)
Ron Kenoly has sold over 2.5million records worldwide and is a much respected and loved worship leader in the world of gospel music. In fact, he was the first gospel singer I ever remember playing on BBC Radio Humberside around 1996. This collection of three of his biggest selling albums has been released as a celebration of the man's music, and features lots of highlights. The albums featured are "Jesus is Alive"; "Lift Him Up", and "God is Able" - totaling 43 tracks in all. Backed by some great singers, Ron performs hits like "Let There Be Joy", "We Are Possessing", and "Put Your Hands Together". I found listening to all three albums one after the other, a little much, but enjoyed them once I spread them out a bit more! If you've got the albums already, there's no point in buying them again but, if your vinyl copies are a bit worn out, or you're completely new to the name Ron Kenoly, this is a good collection. 7/10. (July 2003)
RONNIE FREEMAN : Ronnie Freeman. (Rocketown Records : 080688618124).
"Ronnie Freeman reminds me of me a decade ago," says Grammy & Dove Awards winning artist Michael W.Smith. "He's passionate, devoted to his family and has a real gift when it comes to the piano and songwriting". Funnily enough, one of the first notes I made when listening to this album for the first time was how much the presentation of the songs reminded me of Michael W Smith. And "No", I hadn't read the press release beforehand. He may be new to listeners in the UK but Ronnie has already spent several years performing for church groups and camps all over the US. He's got writing credits for all the songs featured and a vocal range that has quality and is still maturing. The album contains good songs, one stinker, and three exceptional ones. First of those is "The Only Thing" - one I had to immediately play on local radio. Great chorus "The only thing good in me is Jesus", and a great hook. "Satisfied" has that Smithy feel about it, while "Divine Revelation" also had a little Clay Crosse about it. A really good debut from a guy whom I'm sure we're going to hear a lot more. 8/10. (August 2002)
RONNIE FREEMAN : God Speaking. (White Apron : 99992 3506928)
The redoubtable Mr Howlett is sending me a run of good music to review at the moment! - continuing with this excellent offering from Ronnie Freeman, a somewhat overdue follow-up to his eponymous debut album released back in 2002. For the benefit of those who haven't heard Ronnie before, his excellent vocals sound somewhat like a cross between Justin Timberlake and Daniel Bedingfield, with shades of the venerable ccm artist Jon Gibson - whose voice is often likened to Stevie Wonder! Ronnie brings his own uniqueness however. He hails from Nashville, was 'discovered' by Michael W Smith no less, and delivers self-penned contemporary pop songs with lyrics that clearly arise out of living the Christian life. 'The other side' is a good example, with a chorus that begins 'Jesus thank you for patience, thank you for grace' - and how many of us can identify with that? Other standout tracks to begin with were 'Love the Light' and 'No changing that' - but others started to creep on me with further listening, always a good sign. Downsides? I found the closely recorded 'in breaths' could get a bit irritating sometimes (a la Keane!), and the vocals are generally over-processed in the way that seems to currently be the fashion. Overall though, a very good album and a worthy 9/10. Dave Deeks (February 2009)
ROSIE MEEK & THE OPEN ROAD : Rosie Meek & the Open Road. (Authentic Media : 5060256820918)
Rosie Meek is part of a musicians collective from Derby called Open Road Music. Although their Christian faith is very important part of their lives they would describe themselves as musicians who are Christians. Consequently the lyrics to the songs reflect their Christian outlook on life and experience rather than being overtly religious or didactic. The first thing that strikes you about this album is the use of instruments, like the melodeon and ukulele. Then, there’s Rosie’s sweet and oh so charming vocals. The opening track mixes all three, and brings a taste of Paris to the table on ‘How the Mighty Fall’. No, not overtly religious but still a reminder about how we should put others first. There’s more melodeon on ‘Hollywood’ as the song looks at glamour and materialistic wants, while the ukulele springs into action on the summer sounding ‘Counting Butterflies’. The album is rather refreshing. There’s a pure sound about it, overall, and it’s quite different to 95% of religious music I get to review. ‘Books That I’ve Not Read’ is a super title, and gently nudges you to say, you may have missed opportunities in your life, but don’t miss the one to ask Christ into your life. It’s not a stunning album, and I didn’t get excited about it. But, for relaxing, it’s the perfect company. 8/10. (October 2013)
ROY FIELDS : Rain Down. (Kingsway : KMCD3052)
Roy Fields may be a well known face to those of you who watch God TV and certain internet stations but, to me, he's a brand new name. His albums 'We Are the Generation' and 'Less of Me' have connected with tens of thousands of listeners, and he and his wife, Melanie, are already travelling the world as evangelists. Most of the tracks on this album have been recorded live but from different venues. Perhaps that's why, for me, the listing didn't really flow too well. The title track is energetic and obviously well received by those gathered. 'I Am Free' is more of the same, in a contemporary praise and worship sort of way, but I found the next few songs to be run of the mill fodder. Roy, sometimes, has a gravel tone to his voice, and it reminded me, in those instances, of a youthful Joe Cocker. 'Less of Me' is a prayer to God, with a thirst and hunger that is undeniable, but I found his version of 'Majesty' to be weak and watery. Some live recordings come over really well but, on this occasion, it feels a bit flat. 5/10 (February 2010)
ROYAL FOUNDLINGS : Run. (www.royalfoundlings.com)
Kicking off with the wonderful hook-driven “Give It Up”, a track that shifts into a very tight synth/guitar solo, this CD hits the ground running. It has overtones of punk (more Motors than Sham 69, though – especially the vocals which sing rather than growl), powerpop (synth lines After the Fire would have been proud of), rock (the guitar, bass and drums: “You Alone” demonstrates this well), prog (the synth work again, especially in “Rise Up”), quirky (the intro “Be Thou My Vision”), p&w (plus 2 rocked-up hymns) and a good eye on how these songs will work live (the chorus in “Rise Up”, for example). Lyrically the band are unashamed of their faith, working it into the songs as a whole rather than stopping to preach as they go. The worship numbers fit well in the CD (which you may not expect) due to the lyrical consistency and acting as lighter numbers helping the CD pace well. It’s an excellent CD, but not (to my ears) 100% perfect. Still, 90% has got to make this the best UK album I’ve heard in a long time. Best track (not easy, this): “You Alone” just pipped “Run” to the title. 9/10. Paul Ganney. (April 2015)
RPM : I Surrender All. (Authentic : 8204112)
It's been my pleasure to support and observe the fantastic work of the Abundant Life centre in Bradford, over the last few years. Their enthusiasm, hard work, and unshakable belief in God has born much fruit. This Cd and DVD captures the passion and energy of young people totally surrendered to Jesus. Right from the start, it's an "up and at 'em", no holds barred, party for God. "All I ever Need" is a terrific rock song of praise, while "Throw Myself Into You", explains just how we should stand and be a living example of God's love. By the time the title track appears you feel that it must have been a very special night at the gathering. But, by all accounts, it's the same every time. What a blessing that must be! "Adore" and "On My Knees" are slow, passionate worship songs, but then it's back to the party with the glorious sounds of "One Thing", "Mighty", and "Saviour". The DVD is quite informative about the work of the Abundant Life Centre, and there are four live tracks for you get a taste of the atmosphere. For young people everywhere, this is for you. 9/10 (October 2006)
RPM : Give My All. (Authentic : 8204602)
The crowd roars, and so it begins. This is the new live album from Bradford's RPM, and it's going to raise a few eyebrows! Instead of the usual lively praise and worship format we've all come to know, this album starts with a big surprise…..heavy rock. It's loud and it's brash, and thunders into Parachute Band territory. 'Songs of Ascension', 'Now or Never' and 'Give My All' are full of fast paced energy that is lapped up by those gathered. The slower 'Greatest of All' is not as impressive but we're soon back to the action with knock out numbers such as 'New Creation' and the football chant chorus of 'Get God Known'. 'More Like You' will be a song that will get used at many gatherings I'm sure. It's one of those songs that just cries out for thousands to sing together. There's a bit of a divide amongst the two type of songs featured on this release, and I'm not sure that they sit too well together. The rocky stuff is enthralling, and leaves the quieter songs as mere flickering embers. The accompanying DVD gives you an insight into the live recording, and shows just why the Abundant Ministries in Bradford are so hot in the north of England. 7/10 (July 2008)
THE RUBYZ : The Rubyz. (Shine : 881534402122)
The front cover depicts the Rubyz as three early teen girls, posing as only girls that age can. But, looks can be deceiving, and despite the initial thought that I wouldn't like this album, I found myself playing it again and again. The songs are a lot heavier than I expected and, sometimes, it's hard to picture an act so young, rocking things up. 'Staring at the Sun' roars the album into life, while 'Time of My Life' lends more than a passing nod to Avril Lavigne's 'Skater Boy'. The writer's behind these girls have aimed at teenage problems very well, and The Rubyz sure present themselves as CCM's answer to the likes of Hannah Montana. 'In My Life' sees the girls declaring that they can't last one more day without Jesus in their lives, while '13' tells of the problems of becoming a teenager. 'We Shine' simply motors along and reveals that the Alexis, Cammie and Marissa all "shine" for Jesus. Closing the album come two cover versions both in rock style. 'We got the Beat' was, if I remember rightly an 80's hit for the Go Go's, and Rhianna's 'Umbrella' gets the Rubyz treatment too. What the long term future of the Rubyz is I'm not sure, but this debut will certainly make a splash. 9/10 (February 2009)
RUIS, SMITH, LEAF & JANZEN. (Salvation Singing : Remnant)
This album has taken me a long time to review. Not because I'm lazy (honest), but because it's so hard to know how to describe it. Recorded live at "Downpour" youth conference in Winipeg, Canada, it features some very well recorded performances by some very accomplished musicians. And that's where the problems start: far too good to be merely a "record of the event", the between-song patter suggests a worship event. Yet the songs themselves are unlikely to be sung in any congregation I've ever been part of. From the first song "Yay God!" (a title that wouldn't be out of place on a kid's album) featuring some excellent celtic rhythms, to the Led Zep-esque opening of "Come to the Light", through the title track's 60's harmonica plus late 80's grunge guitar and 90's drum patterns to the quieter "Wash Over Me" the album reeks atmosphere and class: buy it, enjoy it and file alphabetically. 9/10. Paul Ganney. (November 1998)
THE RUMOURS ARE TRUE : 'Longer Days'. (Private Recording :CD £6.50/Cass £4.50 from : Richard Coates, 141 Fossway, York, YO3 7SQ).
After just one listen, what hits you about this EP is that it's a very professional piece of work. Musically, very tight and sharp sounding, and an inlay card giving an olde worlde theme with it's R.A.T. copyright type face! 'Mystery' opens proceedings, and a strong song it is, with it's various whistles to the fore. Helen Turner's vocals are improving all the time making her voice sound much more rounded and purposeful. Moving away from the Iona sound, the band seem to be heading towards the mid-70's area that Jethro Tull once trod. 'Refugee' is the best track and shows the essence of the band with their inspirational jazzy celtic rock. It's a very good release, and I am very impressed. 8/10 Paul Luxton. (April 1996)
Russ Hughes: Magnify (ICC Records - ICC0875D)
Russ Hughes is an accomplished songwriter & worship leader now onto his 3rd Album Magnify. His songs are sung around the world and include 'Holy Mountain', 'We Humbly Pray' and 'God Is Good' & this is a compilation of material he's composed since the late '90s, some of which is very well known indeed such as the aforementioned 'Holy Mountain' & the title track 'Magnify'. First impressions weren't all that favorable, but I have to admit it has grown on me a little over time. With only a couple of slightly rockier exceptions, the tracks lean strongly towards slow, intimate studio-produced worship which in the musical sense I found heavy going, but in those rare quiet moments they can be a little easier absorb. Russ' vocals & musicianship are excellent, but I did find some of the songs lyrically uninspiring with refrains you've heard in many a worship song. Could do with a dose of "Wow" factor…something to grab the attention as it could quite easily pass you by as background music in Wesley Owen which would be a great shame. 5/10 - Simon Redfern (January 2006)
RUSS TAFF : Right Here, Right Now. (Benson : 84418-2365-2)
This is Russ' first Christian album in almost 8 years, and it really doesn't seem that long. He's been at the forefront of CCM for quite a while now and shows absolutely no signs of flagging. Although he has experimented in the past with different genres of music, this album is Russ at his best - highly polished rock/pop. And the voice shows no signs of flagging either, as the first track 'Somebody's Coming' most definitely shows. There are some really poignant tracks on here, notably 'Back Into Grace' and 'Things Will Be Different'. This one almost had me in tears as it tells the story of a tired wife with children waiting all night for her husband to return. We can guess where he's been. 'Lazarus' shows Russ at his most powerful, with a great guitar intro sounding like the maestro Hendrix himself. Every track has something different, and the only criticism I have is with the last track, the three movement 'Shadow Of The Cross'. I felt we could have done without the first two movements and just kept to the third, the song itself. The first two being narration of the creed, and orchestration. But - a very minor criticism of an otherwise superb album. I'll leave you with what Russ himself has to say: 'If you took everything I've ever recorded, mixed it together in a big melting pot, then poured it into the mould of who I am today, this album is what you'd come out with. It's as honest and complete a picture as I can paint.' 9/10 Julie Lord. (NOvember 1999)
RUSS TAFF : Now More Than Ever. (Gaither/Spring House : SHD2665)
Here is an artist that has been involved in the Christian Music Scene for a long time - I remember coming across this name when I first became a Christian in the 80s. At that time, there wasn't as much breadth of choice as there is now and gospel therefore featured quite heavily. As a result this album delivers pretty much what I expected it to - mainly gospel with hints of blues and country that is both well produced and well delivered with harmonies strongly reminiscent of The Imperials, the group that Russ performed with many years ago. I liked the opening two numbers, the bluesy "Somebody's Coming" and the funky "The Sweetest Song I Know" but I found that the album became very heavy gospel after that. Unless you're a gospel fan, it is quite hard going. In that respect the old cliché "one for the fans" holds true for this cd. 6/10 Robin Thompson. (October 2007)
RYAN DELMORE : The Spirit the Water and the Blood. (ICC/Vineyard : ICC1280D)
Ever since the late 90s, Vineyard have been pushing the boundaries of CCM. However, many have tried to emulate that sound with the result that we have a plethora of clones and soundalikes. This album, thankfully, is most certainly not one of them. Really, I should hate this album. Ryan's drawling, melancholic vocals would normally be a turnoff and sometimes, the guitarwork sounds like it was played by someone with 5 thumbs. But actually, this is one fantastic, creative and edgy album. I love the raw honesty in it. I love the fact that it is interesting. It draws me in and makes me want to listen. From the moody opener "Mercy" to the Southern Rock inspired "The World Can't Take it Away" there is real sense of God's grace and love and it's captured in a unique way. So this one, for me, is by far the best cd I've heard in a long time. 10/10 Robin Thompson (October 2009)
RYAN GRIFFITH : Refuge. Kingsway : KMCD3175)
This is the debut album from Ryan Griffith, who is Worship Director at Belfast’s Exchange Church. In the style of Phil Whickham, he uses guitar driven songs, interspersed with keyboards and sampled sounds to get his message across. The album also contains my vote for “Song of the Year”, so far, with ‘Joy Unending’. It’s a great song that races along and has a wonderful synth’ sound running through it. If you do nothing else, play this song loud! It all begins, though, with a catchy opener, ‘Can’t Contain’. That’s followed by a big production of ‘God of the Impossible’ and the excellent title track. Ryan champions God for all he’s worth and on songs like ‘Lightens Up’ and ’Increase’, it’s hard not to sing along. He calms things down, for a short while, with his rendition of ‘Thank You Jesus’, before launching into an attack filled closing chorus. ‘Break of Day’ is just so infectious, and I can see it going down really well in a live situation. You can shout along to the chorus, and I can envisage lots of jumping up and down in excitement of praising God. I must admit, that I had completely missed the press release for this album, so assumed that Ryan was another U.S artist. How wonderful to know that great music like this was made in the UK. 9/10 (April 2011, Album of the Month) Forward to the next archive
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