DVD/CD Review: Reunion 1 and 2 (Gaither Vocal Band)

vol1Rating: 5 stars (of 5) (both volumes)

Available from: Basically everywhere.

Song list: Volume 1: He Came Down To My Level; Your First Day In Heaven; New Wine; Rumormill; Can’t Stop Talking About Him; A Few Good Men; Born Again; Satisfied; I Bowed On My Knees; He Touched Me; Heartbreak Ridge And New Hope Road; Knowing You’ll Be There; Home, Where I Belong; No Other Name But Jesus; There Is A River; Gentle Shepherd; Let Freedom Ring; Loving God, Loving Each Other.

vol2Volume 2: Passin’ The Faith Along; Temporary Home; Dream On; I’ll Meet You In The Morning; The Really Big News; Home; Build An Ark; O Love That Will Not Let Me Go; When The Rains Come; The Love Of God; New Point Of View; Give Up; When I Cry; I Walked Today Where Jesus Walks; Find Us Faithful; I’m Free; Make It Real; Mary, Did You Know?; Oh! What A Time.

* * *

Ever since Wes Hampton broke the story last summer that the Gaither Vocal Band alumni would be getting together to record a reunion video, this project has been one of the most anticipated Gaither releases in years.

It does not disappoint.

Some of the greatest vocal talent—not only in Christian music, but in music period—has gone through the Vocal Band over the last (nearly) three decades. These videos offer both an opportunity to hear voices together that haven’t harmonized for decades, and to hear some of these same vocal powerhouses in entirely new configurations.

The highlights are too many to list. At least every other song was greeted with a standing ovation, and it wasn’t just the performers being polite to one another. It was just that good.

Steve Green shines, both in a quartet setting for the first time in years and in one of his big ’80s hits, “Find us Faithful.” Wes Hampton’s delight at just being there, let alone getting the chance to perform with his vocal heroes, is contagious enough that it would be hard for the viewer not to catch a taste of the moment. The personal testimonies, especially when Michael English expressed that he thought he would never again have the chance to sing in a quartet setting again, are touching.

The cinematography is excellent. Though Gaither has used widescreen for several of his videos, this is the first one where it is more a plus than a minus. It is used to greatest effect in the close-ups, where, for example, the singer with the solo can be framed off-center but looking towards the center of the frame. The minus of widescreen closeups is where a singer goes for a high note and ducks out of the frame—but these awkward moments were far fewer than in earlier projects. For the most part, action shots were framed with an appropriately wide zoom.

The only thing that could have made this video any better would have been more of the same. Specifically, it would have been nice to see another song (each) featuring Steve Green, Wes Hampton, and Marsh Hall. And one concept Gaither did touch on—different Vocal Band iterations singing different verses of a song—would have been fascinating to have seen more fully developed. Suppose, for example, on “Passin’ the Faith Along,” the original Gaither Vocal Band sang one verse, and the (then) current Vocal Band, which redid the song in 2004, took the second verse. (It would have been nice to have the two missing members, Terry Franklin and Jonathan Pierce, present, but the talent level of the remaining members in the room was so high that their presence isn’t conspicuous.) But with two DVDs / CDs, thirty-seven songs (plus two bonus tracks), and four hours of music, even mentioning more of the same sounds a little silly.

This project is good enough that it’s hardly surprising that yesterday’s headline (literally) [EDIT, 11/8/10: The link is broken and has been removed] is that the video debuted at #1 on the Billboard Music Videos chart and (in a double first for the group) the two volumes of the CD not only hit #1 and #2 but debuted in the top two spots.

Gaither has done some good video projects in his day, but this will easily go down as one of the best. Or, just maybe, the best.


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21 Letters to the Editor

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  1. They aren’t actually available everywhere…. I’ve went to two Wal-Marts trying to find the volume 2 DVD. No luck.

    I enjoyed volume 1, but I still miss Terry Franklin.

  2. That’s why I said “Basically everywhere”!

    I miss Terry Franklin, too. But I wasn’t exactly expecting him to be there, so when I heard he wasn’t it wasn’t that big of a surprise.

  3. Thanks for the great reveiw, Daniel!! 😀 I watched the TV special on volume2 and it was SO good. I absolutely can’ wait to own both of them…

  4. I bought these on the internet for $13.52 each with free shipping…beats driving around looking for them.

  5. When I listen to gospel music I always cry and praise the Lord, it touches me so much but the only thing that touched me on these were Michael English’s testimony! I am by no means trying to be ugly it just didn’t grab me like the other dvd and video that he or other people have made! Daniel, so glad your blog is back up , you know how I love your website!

    • Thanks – I’m really glad it’s up and working smoothly on the new server! 🙂

  6. I couldn’t agree more, Daniel. I thought the video was a throwback to the earlier videos. I mean that in quality. It has a fresh and nostalgic quality that I’ve missed from the Gaither videos. This is not a criticism, the fact is all the nostalgia moved to Glory over the last 20 years. However, it sure seemed familiar with a room full of great singers from the past and present. Though, I missed Terry, Wes sure fills the void. The vocal similarity between the two is shocking at times, in my opinion. In any case, the Reunion made me more excited about the “new” group, as well as giving a fitting farewell to Guy. All in all, 4 stars, I loved it.

    Richie

  7. I was absolutely giddy when I picked up my copies from the local Family Christian store, and I too enjoyed them very much! 🙂

    I was under the impression that there were going to be more interview clips, but I guess the music was more important. I loved being able to hear Mr. Gaither speak with different group members about what they brought to the group and how it impacted their life.

    Watching the videos also made me want to find older GVB project to listen to….I had never heard the Rumormill song before!

    One of the funniest parts of the DVDs is during the Build An Ark song when Guy scares some of the other alumni with his “animal noises”!

  8. So why weren’t u expecting Terry to be there??

  9. Regarding the ‘presence’ of JP and TF…I think you mean their ‘absence’ wasn’t conspicuous.

  10. You’re right, Daniel. They certainly did not disappoint. They were amazing! I loved them.

    Wes Hampton shone out to me both because of his shear joy for getting to be there and the fact that he has improved so much both vocally and from a performance level. He was great before, but he’s improving more and more. It’s wonderful to see.

    The genuine commeraderie amongst the group was something to behold. You didn’t question for a moment the sincerity of any person there.

    The only thing that could have made it better for me is if they included the songs “These Are They” and “I Believe in a Hill Called Mt. Calvary.”

    The highlights for me were:

    *Marsh, Wes, and Guy on “When I Cry” – What a stunning lyric.

    *Mark Lowry’s moving sincerity on “Make it Real” and “Home Where I Belong”

    *Personal testimonies

    *Steve Green’s “Find Us Faithful”

    *The perfect blend of “Let Freedom Ring”

    *The bonus track on Volume 2, “I Believe, Help Thou My Unbelief.” This is, in my opinion, one of the best songs Bill has done as a soloist. And how perfectly poignant that Guy and Marsh were the ones backing him up on it. It was very touching, not only for the message of the song, but the timing of it all, with the recent departure of Marsh and Guy.

    • Yes, Wes does keep getting better. He really shone on “There is a River.” Anyone who has doubted that he’s GVB quality needs to see this. He can stand flat-footed with all those legends in the room and, on a song like that, prove he’s fully at their level.

  11. Good review Daniel I downloaded the volume 1 album from Itunes the other night and I love it… I am going to buy the video’s next week

  12. That’s exactly what I thought. He was singing great right there with those powerhouse tenors. It was great to see that and gave me great hope for the future GVB.

  13. Responding to Brandon in post #1 . . .

    I went to Wal-Mart to get copies of both the CDs and the DVDs. I thought they only had volume one on DVD, but after further inspection, I found out that volume two wasn’t in a typical DVD case, but was packaged in a jewel case that looked just like the volume two CD. About the only difference I could tell was the price tag.

    Obviously, the person that stocked the product at WalMart didn’t see a difference either, for the CDs and DVDs were all together in the same bin.

  14. Loved every minute of it! I agree if they are not THE best Gaither DVD’s they are a very close second!

  15. Another thought I should add. You know these DVD’s really
    humbled me. I had a pretty rotten attitude after Guy left, and
    Marsh also, but seeing the sweetness of spirit from Bill and all the guys I realized how wrong I was. They truly love one another in the Lord! I was wrong to express my anger.

  16. I also thought it was cool to see that on the concert next Thursday, when two current GVB members can’t be there, it will be Marsh Hall filling in. 🙂

  17. That is great.

  18. muy bueno gracias por la información!!!