CD Review: Something’s Happening (The Hoppers)

It has been four years since the Hoppers released their last mainline recording. That’s not a typo. Their last, The Ride, was a magnificent landmark recording that set the bar so high that it is one of those rare gems that is nearly impossible to top.

In the years since, they have released a live album (North America Live, 2008) and a table project (Unforgettable, 2009). But Something’s Happening is their first mainline release since 2006.

I say “mainline release,” not “project of new songs,” because, in point of fact, eight of the twelve tracks have been previously recorded. Three of the songs are already remembered as mixed group songs—”Victory Shall Be Mine” (Rex Nelon Singers), “Oh How Amazing is Amazing Grace” (Childress Family), and “I’ve Been to Heaven” (Hinsons). Three male quartet songs are given the mixed treatment: “On the Authority” from the Gaither Vocal Band, and “Something’s Happening” and “Living in the Arms of Mercy” from Mercy’s Mark.

“Something’s Happening” was a radio single for Mercy’s Mark. The addition of an extensive narrative from alto Connie Hopper suggests that the Hoppers are unlikely to take their version to radio; however, the triumphal Lari Goss orchestration will ensure the song a strong reception in live concerts.

Rounding out the list of songs that have been previously recorded, the Hoppers revisit their longtime standard “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow” as baritone Claude Hopper’s feature song, and they include a song they recorded about two years ago with Legacy Five, Greater Vision, and the Booth Brothers, “Statement of Faith.”

On to the four new songs:

  • “Nobody’s Too Bad or Too Good” (by Dianne Wilkinson and Rusty Golden). This is Karlye Hopper’s sole feature on the project. The arrangement makes the song feel like a children’s song, and the lyric is simple and straightforward enough to permit this interpretation. But unless this arrangement becomes popular enough to forever peg the song as a children’s song, it could also be rendered by adult voices.
  • “Could it Be I’m Dreaming” (by Gerald Crabb and Gina Vera). Connie Hopper takes the lead on this mellow, uplifting song about Heaven.
  • “He Remembers to Forget” (by Jim Brady, Tony Wood, and Barry Weeks). Husband and wife Dean and Kim Hopper trade solo lines through the song. The song seemed unimpressive on first listen, but sounds stronger after repeated listens.
  • “East of Jerusalem” (by Paula Stefanovich). This is an absolute gem of a lyric set in a magnificent orchestral arrangement. It’s easily the project’s standout track, drawing lyrically on Jesus’ Second Coming, through Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate. Likely, they will set this song up in live concerts by referencing the fact that Muslims have attempted to prevent the Second Coming by blocking up the Eastern Gate and putting a cemetery in front of it—since Jewish rabbis will not walk through cemeteries. They seem to have missed the part of the story where Messiah raises the dead! Indications are that the song was originally entitled “He Will Come,” but was changed to “East of Jerusalem” to draw suggestions to Stefanovich’s earlier Hoppers hit “Jerusalem.” The latter song is strong enough to hold its own in the comparison. It is perhaps the only track off this project (and certainly the only new track) that would have felt equally at home on The Ride.

While it would have been nice to see a recording of mostly or entirely new songs, the cover songs are well picked and magnificently arranged. Though not as stunning and monumental a landmark recording as The Ride, it’s an enjoyable recording sure to delight fans and supply several concert favorites.

Produced by: Lari Goss. • Available from: Artist. Review copy provided. • Song list: Victory Shall Be Mine; Oh How Amazing is Amazing Grace; Something’s Happening; Nobody’s Too Bad or Too Good; I’ve Been to Heaven; East of Jerusalem; Could it Be I’m Dreaming; He Remembers to Forget; I Know Who Holds Tomorrow; On the Authority; Living in the Arms of Mercy; Statement of Faith. • Average song rating: 3 stars. CD rating: 3.5 stars. Note that it’s only 3.5 stars by way of comparison to The Ride; had a newcomer group released a project this strong, it would have received 4 stars. But The Ride demonstrated what the Hoppers can achieve in the studio, and has raised and set the bar by which their future recordings will be measured.

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11 Letters to the Editor

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  1. Okay. Maybe I’m just being dense, but I’ve always thought the “too bad to come in, too good to stay out” slogan was kind of confusing. I’ve seen it on a church sign too.

    The first part makes sense: Nobody’s too bad to come in.

    But what does the second part even mean? Nobody’s too good to stay out. What would it mean for a person to say (of himself) “I’m too good to stay out.” Would it mean that he thinks he deserves to be “in?” So that the message of this phrase is “Nobody deserves God’s grace?”

    But I’m not sure that’s how most people would take it, because the most natural parallel to “Bad people can come and receive God’s grace” is to say that people who think they don’t need God’s grace really do need it. But if that’s what the second part of the phrase is supposed to be saying, then either I’m really confused or it’s just poorly written, because if you read it literally, that’s actually not what it’s saying…

    • And really if you took that line absolutely literally, it almost sounds like a threat… like, “Hey, remember you don’t deserve God’s grace anyway, so we could kick you out at any time! So don’t get any ideas.” LOL!

    • What I interpret it as:

      Nobody’s too good to stay out – I think its talking about people who don’t go to church, because they don’t need it since they are already a good person.

      Just my interpretation, I could be off…

      • Right. That’s obviously the intended message. But in that case it’s worded incorrectly. It should instead read, “Nobody’s too good to come in.”

  2. Daniel I so agree with you that “The Ride” set the bar for the Hoppers that was previously set by “Great Day” and before that “Power” but its easy to say that “The Ride” is the Hoppers best album to date. “Something’s Happening” is great in its own way, but as of yet nothing has topped “The Ride”. “East of Jerusalem” is titled “He Will Come” on the “Statement of Faith” choral album, but on Paula Stefanovichs’ album she calls it “East of Jerusalem” so I’m not really sure maybe it could be referred to as “He Will Come(East of Jerusalem)” but its a great song nonetheless!!! great review! (=

    • I would agree with Shane that Power was probably the album that set the bar for The Hoppers. That was a great release!

      But, I would also have to say that Great Day stands out as their best release (sorry, I don’t get the praise for The Ride). I remember being in a meeting at Spring Hill when I interned there – and the topic was what song do we single? They had a list of 6 songs and no one could decide which was first to go to radio because they were all so good.

    • Shane, thanks!

      Chris – wow! I will say that there was that same problem with The Ride, and it provided radio singles for the group for three years or more.

      • I was underwhelmed with all of The Ride’s singles…

      • Funny thing is, with two exceptions, I was likewise underwhelmed by the singles from Power.

  3. NewSoGoFan,
    Nice catch on the “too good to stay out.”

    In fairness to the songwriter, it COULD be interpreted as a reference to pious people who never miss a church service and brag about it, but I doubt many people take it that way on first listen.

    I certainly didn’t.

    – – – – –

    There must be more than one version of the Statement Of Faith choral book out there, because my copy has the song titled “East Of Jerusalem.” I blogged about that earlier and speculated that the song title might have been changed once the Hoppers decided to record it to remind people of their earlier hit “Jerusalem.”:
    [EDIT, 6/6/12: Broken Link removed]

    On the Lifeway website page for the book, though, they do have it listed there as “He Will Come.”

    • I got the book when it first come out through the Choral Club that Lifeway has it was back in like April or May when the books first come out, and they were shown in Join the Campaign ad. So perhaps that is the reason because of the ‘tide-turning’ experience they had after “Jerusalem”, but the song doesn’t really need any kind of connections the song is powerful on its own, but eh who knows. It’s a great song nonetheless!!! (=