Brainstorming Session: CD Reviews

I’ve been thinking that it might be time to take this website’s CD review feature to the next level, and I’ve been brainstorming for ideas. I don’t mean this post as a conclusion, but rather as the start of a joint brainstorming session.

I could institute what everyone else does: Rating projects on a 1-5 or a 1-10 scale. The only catch is I wouldn’t use the lower end of either scale, because if I don’t like a project and can’t find nice things to say about it, I simply don’t review it at all. I only review projects that would get at least 3 of 5 stars or 4/5 of 10. But everyone else is already doing this, so it doesn’t tell you much new.

I am considering also rating song selection. Rather than using a straight 1-5 scale, what I could do is list how many individual songs on the project I rate as 5-stars in iTunes, how many get 4, how many get 3, etc. In the end, what I think of an album comes down to how good its songs are.

I could do a host of other things, such as production quality or appearance, but I don’t know how much is too much. I’m open to input there.

Finally, I did come up with one outside-of-the-box idea, something nobody else is doing right now: Rating each CD on a traditional – to – progressive scale. Say a very progressive CD (Crabb Family, Crossway) would get a 1 or 2, while the Dixie Echoes’ Sounds of Sunday would get a 9 or 10. If your tastes incline toward progressive, you’d like CDs with lower numbers better, and vice versa.

What do you think? Would this add to the value of this website’s CD reviews?

For more Southern Gospel news and commentary—follow our RSS feed or sign up for our email updates!

19 Letters to the Editor

Southern Gospel Journal welcomes letters to the editor. We will post the most thoughtful and insightful submissions. Ground rules: Don't attack or belittle groups or fellow posters, or advance heresies rejected by orthodox Christianity. Do keep comments positive, constructive, and on topic.
  1. I think the progressive to traditional scale is a very interesting idea. Would you rate the entire CD or specific songs? I know there are progressive (or less raditional) songs on most “traditional” CDs.
    I do really like the idea of some type of number on the reviews. Just to read what’s on a CD isn’t as much help to me as seeing a numerical “score.” And, of course, it’s an opinion not fact!

  2. I’d be rating the entire CD on the traditional-to-progressive scale. 🙂


  3. If you’re going to add a progressive/traditional rating, I would suggest having a scale that goes something like: P3, P2, P1, C1, C2, C3.

    There’s a certain degree of bias implied (whether intentional or not) when you say a completely progressive project would be a 1 vs. a completely traditional project at 10.

  4. Main problem I see with the progressive/traditional thing is where do albums that are country or bluegrass leaning fall?

  5. Chris–when was the last time I reviewed one of either? 🙂

  6. When is the last time you reviewed a ompletely progressive project? I think your bias toward traditional is already apparent.

  7. Susan – I reviewed “Something’s Happening” (Mercy’s Mark) and “It’s So God” (Brian Free & Assurance), and gave them both a fair and positive treatment, despite the fact that they were quite progressive. They are, in fact, examples of progressive albums that I enjoy listening to. 🙂

  8. Both or which are still considered traditional albums – just with progressive moments.

  9. Wow, Chris! 🙂 I guess it all depends on who does the considering. I consider them to be quite progressive albums with traditional moments (though on the Mercy’s Mark album, there isn’t really *any* convention-style get-all-four-parts-going song on that particular project).

  10. Daniel, I don’t think you know the definition of traditional or progressive.

  11. My definition for the terms:
    Progressive=in between good, listenable and bad.
    For example: Gordon Mote’s version of “The Old Gospel Ship” (to me) is in my ‘progressive’ definition, in the ‘bad’ subdivision.
    The Whisnants’ “Thank God for Grace” is ‘great’
    But, that’s kind of in the ‘eye of the beholder’, since I sing in a mixed quartet and a ‘traditional’ female trio.

  12. Mary, I like your definition!

    There is no governing authority that sets a definition, so for one fan to imply that another fan is….

    Never mind, I won’t go there. No sense starting a flame war or a fight. I’m not on here to make enemies. 🙂

  13. You cannot define traditional and progressive by what you like and dislike. Your opinions have nothing to do with the definition of either.

    There is no governing authority on opinions, but definitions are definite by their very nature.

  14. Now, to get back to your idea on CD review rating system. I think it is confusing at best and like DBM I think it would create a pre-conceived negative conotation to anything progressive or non-traditional.

  15. I would appreciate seeing a scale of progressive to traditional, but I think I agree with DBM about the rating system. Just out of curiosity, where would you place Get Away Jordan? 🙂

  16. I think when you see what exactly I have in mind, David at least won’t take offense. I can’t predict what Susan will think. 🙂

    On Get Away Jordan – that one is interesting, since it covers such a wide variety of styles. I tend to think it would fall somewhere near the middle.

  17. With Get Away Jordan , I assume that you mean Signature Sound’s version, not The Dove Bros. ?

  18. Well I must say I agree with those that contend that “It’s So God” and “Something’s Happening” are still overall cutting-edge quartet cds. I don’t the think the word “progressive” fits them. I think there are songs on both projects that are more progressive, but both groups are still singing solidly SG songs so how can they be progressive?

    IMO, “progressive” means you record a good number of songs on your projects that are basically CCM, country, or a genre other than SG. I don’t think anyone can honestly say these 2 albums aren’t solidly SG, therefore, they really aren’t very progressive. You’ll also note “It’s So God” was nominated for “Traditional” Southern Gospel Album of the Year…

  19. That’s a good idea Daniel.