Friday, December 23, 2005

Essentially 2005: The Close-Up

After going through a good bulk of my selected favorites based on song selection, production, content and replay value, I finally posted the Top 12 Gospel Albums of 2005. Compiling such a list is always a difficult job since you have to put aside your personal dislikes or tarnished viewpoints of some albums just to tell the truth like it really is. After making the post, I felt it was necessary to explain why and how the choice were made and to better interpret the order of those choices. And it's quite understandable if people don't agree with the final outcome. Usually I attempt to defend myself in these matters, yet I could not place a full analysis of each CD on the article - knowing that would take forever to read and would ruin the occasion. But there are a few observations that were not stated that should be addressed concerning the final post. And here they are.

Oh yeah, you might wanna see the Top 12 before reading the commentary below.

If you loved Ron Winans Family & Friends V so much, why didn't it receive a higher placement?
Good question. Personally, I enjoyed this project far more than Mary Mary, John P. Kee & New Life's and even Israel's project. But the final results were not based on what were my favorites. It was baded on overall satisfaction and overall value. Plus, there were some important factors that were weighed in when looking at "Family & Friends V: A Celebration" that hurt the image of the project. Great songs, great guest stars and great performances need great production. And I can honestly say that the production on this project was too raw for the conventional gospel listener. Many may get the impression that this was a church service recording. It just didn't get the rightful treatment it deserved. This hurt the overall image of this album; placing it lower than the other albums. This is another reason why not too many picked up on the album even though it was independently released (which was probably the main reason). Of course, I'm not the only that enjoyed the album. gave the album a wonderful review and rated it one of the better Gospel projects of the year as well.

Kirk Franklin at #10?
Yes, Kirk Franklin at #10. Some people may see this project as being a major improvement from "The Rebirth" and from his previous studio collections ("Nu Nation Project"), but whenever an artist has to depend on samples to make or break an album, it looses its potential of winning the ear of those looking for something original. There were too many samples used here for this to be classified an original collection. It was a good project, but far from being one of Kirk's better projects.

Youthful Praise #1? How is that?
Pick up the album and hear it. All the way through. That's all I need to say. The album was a nice ride from beginning to end and even though the mass media hasn't fully embraced this project since it didn't get mighty exposure in the press and an expensive budget for promotion, the content on this project will certainly prove just how infectious this album really was. I didn't just give this album the #1 slot because it was such a great improvement from their previous offering ("Thank You For The Change"). This indeed was a terrific project with barely a trace of error or mistake. And you barely can locate an album that was released this year that possessed the balance this project did. If you don't know the songs on this one now, you will later on.

If John P. Kee disappointed with the lack of guest stars and the critical misfortunes of "The Reunion", why are they listed #4?
I had to think this one long and hard. Double CDs are normally a scary sign that an album will lack substance and creativity, and of course I didn't expect anything exceptionally fresh on this collection. My expectations were certainly true. And what made matters worse was knowing this could have been the best album of the year, if more time was labored, if a greater number of former New Life members were involved and if the better songs weren't so divided up like were. Usually one disc in a double-unit collection is better than the other - that's usually the first one. But this album was a little different. It really depends on the listener and upon their personal choice on what songs they mostly enjoyed from John P. Kee's songbook. I think good tracks rested on both discs, while some renditions were lazy compared to the original. Little things like that hurts these kind of projects. Plus knowing Bruce Parham, Erick Matthews, Drea Randle, Shawn McLemore and New Life's former musicians weren't a part of this really bothered me. But I have learned to accept the good of a thing and just accept it. The idea of a reunion project for John P. Kee and the New Life Community Choir was certainly needed and just knowing that we miss the high visibility of Kee and those memories we experienced of his ministry only helped this project. And don't get it twisted: there's alot to cherish on here. "Wave It Away" makes the former version sound totally outdated and "I Must Tell Jesus", "The Lord Is Able" and "Rhema Word" are all keepers. Even though I still wonder if this album should have gotten a lower position on the final list after careful observation, my actions will remain.

What happened to Byron Cage's "An Invitation To Worship"? It didn't chart at all in the Top 12. Why is that?
Please read the PRAYZEHYMN review. That will probably explain why.

Those are just some of the observations that I felt like addressing. The rest should be self-explanatory. I close on this note...I've seen better years of album releases in the gospel music industry. 2005 was really a little boring to me. Nothing major and nothing seriously breathtaking caught my attention this year. I am hoping 2006 takes a turn for the better.

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