Christmas Gift Guide (2009)

If you've got a Gospel music enthusiast on your Christmas list, or perhaps are just looking for some ideas for that money tucked into your Christmas card from grandma, we've got some suggestions for you. You could, of course, always consult one of the many top-selling charts such as Billboard, for some ideas, but why not go out the box and try some of these?

Go Tell Somebody / Ordinary Just Won't Do
Retroactive Records

 Retroactive Records has done some nice work with their limited issue re-release of early Commissioned albums Go Tell Somebody and Ordinary Just Won't Do (available separately). Remastered to enhance the sound experience, these collectables also feature original full colour artwork in their digipak presentation (plus a brief commentary from yours truly as liner notes). With vocals of Fred Hammond, Keith Staten, Karl Reid and Mitchell Jones paving the way, supported by instrumental genius of Michael Brooks and Michael Williams, everyone knows the vital road that these pioneers paved for today's Gospel artists.M

This is music that just never goes out of fashion. Live it all over again (or —gasp! —for the first time!)

Various Artists
Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950.
Dust To Digital

 For something just a little bit different, you will want to check out Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950. Released on the historically-minded Dust to Digital label, and nominated for a Grammy in the Best Historical Album category this year, the combo photo / audio package examines 75 early century images (sepia and black & white) from a variety of Baptist churches, with essays from Luc Sante and Jim Linderman.

Bound in a hardcover book, the bonus is the inclusion of a 25-song CD assembled by label visionary Lance Ledbetter, with baptism as it's running theme. Ledbetter picks some gems, including rarities from the likes of Rev. Moses Mason ("John The Baptist"), street preacher Washington Phillips (with his famous "Denomination Blues"), Elder J.E. Burch and Congregation ("Wash You, Make You Clean"), Southern Gospel Wonders ("Go Wash in the Beautiful Stream") and Rev. Nathan Smith's Burning Bush Sunday School Pupils ("Baptism at Burning Bush").

You can spend hours with this one, digging back into time, and reliving the age (visually and aurally) as it was lived over one hundred years ago.

Aaron Lindsey
Coming Home For the Holidays

 Like usual, 2009 features several Christmas projects to choose from, for this season or for the years to come. If your taste runs along the lines of Michael McDonald, Trin-i-tee 5:7, The Clark Sisters, newcomer Beckah Shae, or the jazz stylings of award-winning producer Aaron Lindsey, you're in for a treat. Alternatively, grab the Gotta Have Gospel! Christmas mix bag for something of everything. See full details of this year's Christmas releases here.

Mali Music
The 2econd Coming

 Jamaal Pollard, aka Mali Music, is simply sensational. Hailing from Savannah Georgia, the singer/ producer's first full length offering, The 2econd Coming, brings a fascinating fusion of urban, worship and edgy rock-influenced sounds.

Whether it be the acoustic or the plugged, whether it be the influence of Frank Sinatra or Sam Cooke, it's all good, and worthy of exploration. Read the full review here.

Various Artists
Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration
EMI Music / Vertical Recordings

 Far from simply your usual collection of familiar gospel songs, Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration excels in making the old become brand new again. Issued on EMI Music / Vector Recordings, the concept was to take the gospel chestnuts, and put them in the hands of artists who reinterpret them anew. With unexpected artist pairings, it truly works!! Especially poignant are Jonny Lang with The Fisk Jubilee Singers on the John P. Kee stomper, "I Believe", and rockers 3 Doors Down with The Soul Children of Chicago on Eric Clapton's "Presence of the Lord". Where else could you hear Al Green singing "People Get Ready" with Heather Headley, or Jon Bon Jovi fronting the Washington Youth Choir on "Keep the Faith"? Other artists on this gem include Michael McDonald, Joss Stone, Mavis Staples and Queen Latifah.

Don't be fooled, this is NOT a reissue set. Rather, it's fresh and familiar at the same time.

Here are some other projects that you can't go wrong with:

BeBe & CeCe Winans; Still
Youthful Praise featuring JJ Hairston; Resting On His Promise
Karima Kibble; Just Karima
Norman Hutchins; The Essential Norman Hutchins
Byron Cage; Faithful To Believe

— written by Stan North—

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