Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Christmas, Gaither Vocal Band Style

(I had started another blog to review books and CDs on, and have never done much with it. I am transporting those to here, so the most of the posts posted today have are old. I want to close the other blog, but wanted to keep the posts.)

It may seem early to be listening to Christmas music, but I have been looking forward to this CD releasing for several months, and as cold as it has been getting, it doesn't seem that far out to be listening to Christmas music.
Gaither.com was running a pre-sale special. If you bought the CD from them before the release date, you got an extra track, 12 instead of the 11 on the one you can buy in the store. I actually started to go through with that, until I found that added to the $13.99 for the CD, they were going to charge $6.95 to mail it. (Where on earth all the extra comes in that cost, I have no idea - I mailed a CD for $1.68 last week!) Anyway, I decided one more song wasn't worth the end cost of $21, so I bought it at my local bookstore for $13.99, minus a 20% coupon. So take that, Bill Gaither!
I don't consider this CD as good as their other Christmas CD, "It's Still The Greatest Story"(1998), but if you like the GVB, and quartet music, it is worth the $13.99.
The first track is a very nice arrangement of "Winter Wonderland", going on to an a capella version of "O Little Town Of Bethlehem'. In spite of this being done with no music, it is actually decent to listen to. I normally abhor vocals with no music, and skip them. In my opinion, they should do a whole CD with music & vocals, then make one without the music for people who enjoy that............. :-)
Track 3 picks up with "I'll Be Home for Christmas", followed by a very well done "Oh Holy Night". Nothing extraordinary about this cut, but they do a great job on it.
Next up, they do a great arrangement of "I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day", not a song you hear recorded as much as some. I was pretty impressed with this cut.
"Christmas In the Country" is one of the newer non-traditional songs on the CD, penned by the Gaithers and a couple others. This is a cool, slower song that talks about some of the Christmas traditions we all enjoy. I have heard this song in a medley, but they came up with a few more verses to cut it by itself on here, and it makes a great addition.
They pull off the classic "White Christmas" very well. One of the nicer and easier to listen to versions I have heard.
Next up, is another a capella track. Sigh. This is a medley of familiar carols: "Silent Night", "Angels We Have Heard On High", and "How Great Our Joy". I wasn't as impressed with this as "O Little Town of Bethlehem", but if you are an a capella fan, you will like it, I am sure.
"My Heart Will Be Your Bethlehem" isn't a very new song, written in 91' by the Gaithers & J.D. Miller, but the GVB do it well. A nice song asking God to make our heart his home. A Christmas song of consecration.
The Gaithers also penned the next song "Come And See What's Happening" (In the Barn"). An uptempo narrative from the innkeeper's prospective, and a neat song.
The guys close out the album with one of the prettiest versions of "Away In a Manger" that I have ever heard.
When I was working at the Christian bookstore in Salem, their other Christmas CD was still out-selling all other Christmas CDs sold there by quite a bit, even 6 years after the release. This CD is a great CD, and has some great songs on it, mostly traditional ones. In my opinion, it pales in comparison to the other, although having 2 new members, Marshall Hall & Wes Hampton, has not hurt their sound and harmony at all.