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.