Staying Power: Top 10 from 2000-2002.

David Bruce Murray noticed a comment I left on his blog. [EDIT, 6/6/12: Broken link removed.] It concerned the best releases of 2007; I had said

The best releases of 2007–the ones we’ll still be talking about five years from now–are the Mark Trammell Trio’s Once Upon a Cross and the Perrys’ Look No Further.

To this, he said:

Daniel Mount used the phrase “still be talking about five years from today” in a blog comment. Predictions are easy to make, but what if we flipped that around and had to back it up with hard evidence? What were the greatest CDs from the 2000-2002 period that we still talk about in 2007? I’m not speaking of an initial level of product sales…I’m more interested in finding out which releases have sustained staying power.

What are the criteria used to determine staying power? A few thoughts:

  • Great songs
  • Great production (Those two are the entry-level minimum)
  • It helps if it’s recorded either by a lineup that the group has still held together or by a lineup recognized as one of the group’s all-time best.
  • It helps if the group is still selling the album.

With a few of those criteria in mind, let’s apply the DBM test and look at some of the albums from the 2000-2002 era with the most staying power, the albums we are still talking about:

  1. Live at First Baptist Atlanta by Greater Vision (2002). All their live videos–and, to a lesser extent, all their projects–since have been compared to this one.
  2. Are You Ready? by Gold City (2000). Some refer to this as the best Gold City album from their Parrack/Trammell days.
  3. Gonna Keep Telling by the Kingdom Heirs (2002). This album featured, among other songs, “The Depths of the Father’s Love” and “I’ve Been Rescued.”
  4. So Close to Home by Brian Free & Assurance (2002). While Live in NYC was the group’s finest live album, and possibly their finest album altogether, this stands out as their strongest studio effort since their reorganization.
  5. Let Freedom Ring (Gaither Homecoming) (2002). Of all the Homecomings released during the appointed time frame, I’ve heard the most discussion about this one.
  6. Changed Forever by the Perrys (2001). I don’t think this has quite the staying power that their 2003 follow-up, This is the Day, had (or that Look No Further will have), but based in large part on “I Rest My Case at the Cross” it deserves at least an honorable mention in the second half of the list.
  7. This Stage of Grace by the Booth Brothers (2001). This one premiered “Still Feeling Fine,” a concert staple for the group.
  8. Pressed Down Shaken Together Running Over by Gold City (2001). This album is still pointed out as one of Gold City’s best.
  9. Everything Good by the Gaither Vocal Band (2001).
  10. The Final Stand by the Happy Goodmans (2001). This is notable more for the fact that it was their final album than for its intrinsic value–they made better albums, but since this was their last, we’re still talking about it.

I gave some serious thought to limiting the list to a top 5, since I feel that the top 5 stand head and shoulders above the rest, but I decided to put five more in with this disclaimer.

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20 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Of course I agree with #1, my favorite, but I’m not familiar with a lot of the other projects on your list (I’m a relative “newbie” to SG). I’m going to watch readers’ comments to this blog. And, who knows, I just may try to purchase some of the projects on your list. :o) Thanks, Daniel. Interesting blog!

  2. The oly CD that I have on that list is the one by the Kingdom Heirs

  3. but I have to agree with you in terms of the songs.

  4. Go Gold City! 😉

  5. I’m really shocked that no one has mentioned Karen Peck & New River’s Triumph. (I believe this came out in that time period.)

  6. I’m one of the biggest Gold City fans you’ll find, but I’ve never cared a lot for the “Pressed Down Shaken Together Running Over” project. I’m not saying it is bad by any means. I only disliked one song (and that one was released to radio), but I’ve always been sort of bored by the cd as a whole. I can easily name 10 (probably 15, maybe 20) Gold City projects I enjoyed more.

  7. I loved both “Are You Ready” and “Pressed Down…” The first was loaded with great songs like “Are You Ready,” “Since Jesus Touched Me,” “Saved,” and “He Lives.” The second had the Song of the Year nominee “I Believe” as well as the hit “I’m Not What I Was.” Other good tracks from that project included “I’ll Just Praise You” and “Land Of No Time.”

    Great albums.

    That said, I loved “Walk The Talk” probably more than both of those.

    On the overall list, I have most of the albums on there. The Kingdom Heirs’ “Gonna Keep Telling” is absolutely one of the very best albums of that period. “Now I Am On My Way To Heaven,” “The Depths of the Father’s Love” and others are unbelievably good songs. “Live At First Baptist Atlanta” was good. Personally, I believe it has actually been “over-hyped” somewhat, but still very, very good. “So Close To Home” was good, but IMO, not one of BFA’s very best. Their more recent material, namely “Greater Still,” “Live in NYC,” and “It’s So God” are all much better, IMO. “Changed Forever” was ok, but again, not near up to par with the Perrys’ their latest material. “This Stage of Grace” was phenomenal. The turning point for the Booth Brothers, and just flat-out good. “Everything Good” is one of the better GVB albums – period. Very good. Overall, a great list!

    p.s. I agree totally with Chris on “Triumph.” It belongs at least at the #5 position, IMO.

  8. Daniel, I agree with Brandon/Lisa. “Pressed Down, Shaken Together, Running Over” is a boring album. Who is it that has pointed out that it was one of their best? I’ve never heard that mentioned. And, the comment that “some refer to this (Are You Ready?) as the best Gold City album from their Parrack/Trammell days” brings to my mind this question: Are you quoting music critics, the everyday fan, or who? I have every album that you have listed. Most of them are solid projects. But, to say that they still warrant and spark discussion today is a pretty big statement. There are very few albums in the last 20 years that fit that category.

  9. “Pressed Down…” was a decent enough album, but I totally disagree with the statement that “Are You Ready” was the pinnacle of the Parrack/Trammell years of Gold City. IMHO, that was the weakest CD of that era, I’ve never understood why it seems to be so revered. IMHO, it pales in comparison to Signed, Sealed, Delivered, What A Great Lifestyle, Preparing the Way, or Renewed.

  10. Renewed? …. You’re all mistaken! The pinnacle of the Parrack/Trammell years would be “Standing In the Gap” or “Havin’ Fun”! Not a bad arrangement, song, or anything in those two albums!!

  11. I would agree that “Standing In The Gap” is the best GC recording of the Parrack/Trammell years.

  12. To Donna who says she’s a newbie to sg. The cd of the Kingdom Heirs that Daniel mentioned is really good. Also, you should try other KH CDs they are also good Gospel music.

  13. I love discussing Gold City like this, so I put the Parrack/Trammell projects in order of my preference (at this moment).

    1. Preparing The Way
    2. Signed, Sealed, Delivered
    3. Standing In The Gap
    4. What A Great Lifestyle
    5. Renewed
    6. Are You Ready?
    7. Within The Rock
    8. Having Fun
    9. 20th Anniversary Celebration
    10. Pressed Down, Shaken Together, Running Over
    11. Classics
    12. Home For The Holidays
    13. Amazing Grace: A Hymn Collection
    14. Lord Do It Again

  14. I actually had SITG in my list, and replaced it with PTW. I didn’t include HF because it was a table release of cover material, but it is a great CD. I love the versions of When I Stand and Until He Comes. Actually, I’d take anything over Are You Ready. Renewed was a great CD, it kept pushing the envelope in the same direction that Pillars of Faith had taken Gold City. Calvary Came Through is a an excellent song, God of All Gods is amazing, Ever Since That Wonderful Day is a great opening tune, Born To Praise is a great jazzy song.

  15. With “Live at First Baptist Atlanta” I was a little disappointed that Greater Vision chose to include 2 songs (He’d Still Been God and God’s Grace Is Sufficient For Me) they had done recently on other projects with identical tracks and arrangements. The rendition of Well Done My Child with just the piano was nice and also a different arrangement from 20 Inspirational Favorites, but with that you have only 7 songs on the project they have never recorded before. Overall still a good CD but if they were going to bring back some old material I would like to have seen them pull a few tunes off their first few projects from the original group and offered some different arrangements taking advantage of that live orchestra they had at the church that day.

    Are You Ready? I’m with Wes on this one, I’ve never understood the hype about this CD. It has some good songs on it but a few seemed a little weak to me.

    So Close to Home was ok but I have to disagree with your statement that it is the best since their reorganization. I’d have to give that title to “It’s So God.” I haven’t heard their latest project yet but I’ve heard it is good as well.

  16. I, for one, decidedly prefer “So Close to Home” to “It’s So God” or “Real Faith,” based in large part on stylistic reasons and also in part on song selection.

    While I enjoy “Greater Still,” and I think “Live in New York City” is their best overall project (ever), I still think “So Close to Home” is their best studio project since their reorganization.

  17. And I will agree with nate on “It’s So God” trumping “So Close”. So Close was a good CD, but I’d even give Greater Still the nod over it.

    I do agree with GV’s Live at First Baptist, giving a nod to Nate’s caveat, but Pile of Crowns, and Soon We Will See were good tunes, but the song with the greatest staying power has been “They Should Have Cried Holy”. It was in our Easter cantata last year. An absolute gem of a song.

    I also agree with Everything Good. It had several GREAT tunes on it. I for one loved Russ Taff with the GVB. I would have liked to have heard him record “Bread Upon the Water” and “Eagle Song”.

  18. Good thread, I’ve really enjoyed this one.
    My picks for best BFA project ever…

    Trio: “Things That Last Forever” final CD of the original group (and trio for matter). This CD had a more inspirational/progressive sound overall and
    Brian was sounding really smooth.

    Quartet: It’s a tie between “Doing This For You” (the CD before Brian disbanded the group and went solo) and “It’s So God” DTFY had great blend, great songs. In my opinion none of the CDs of the reorganized group matched it until It’s So God. To be fair, I don’t have Greater Still or the live one since I was disappointed by the first 3 CDs of the new quartet. I heard great reviews of It’s So God and decided to give it a shot and it has made me a BFA believer again. I’m looking forward to hearing the new one.

  19. I thought Everything Good featured Taff way too much. I like the edge he added to the group but being a big Marshall Hall fan, I was glad when the change took place. I can understand pushing Russ a lot on the CD with him being new to the group and all but I feel Guy and more so David were sadly underused.

  20. I agree with natesings. I for one think that this GVB CD is one of their worst (along with the acapella one they did after this- I just don’t like Taff). I Do Beleive is far better.
    As for GCQ, Pressed Down…. didn’t really attract me, neiter did Are You Ready. I like Signed, Sealed, Delivered the best of them all.