A Musical Analysis
Commissioned is known musically as a unique and vocally "busy" group (Take 6 with a band), going back and forth between double octave unison harmony to complex layered harmony to dual harmonies with four to five voices (although it does seem Fred Hammond did a lot of vocal overdubs in those glorious early days).See Commissioned Discography
Ordinary Just Won't Do
Let's take a look at the original "Ordinary Just Won't Do" from the album of the same name. First of all, it features that hypnotic conga pattern with a metronome-sounding triangle/closed hi-hat. A lead vocal constantly alternates with the background vocals in a conversation that could at first seem like a search for that "honey love on earth".
But this is Commissioned, and even the non-believer quickly learns what love is being spoken about. Vocally, they switch from the phrase "sweet and gentle touch" done with beautiful, soft, laidback vocals, to "speak soft words of love that mean so much", which is sung with more power and precision, with a Winans/Clark Sisters type exaggeration of the words.
Then comes the chorus: "the ordinary just won't do I need a word that's pure and true I can always find it in you Jesus". One part, five-part, two-part, three-parts song in a triad third, it's almost dizzying if you try to analyze.
As a choir director, this is one of those songs that you are scared to try to teach. It sounds so simple, but talk about divine complexity. Even the chord structure on the keys is deceptively offbeat and complicated. It reminds very much of the style that R&B singer Musiq Soul Child has been using.
Commissionedís drum programming was ever changing. They had a very reverb-filled 80ís sound early on, with hits such as "Back In the Saddle", "Go Tell Somebody", "Lord Jesus Help Me" and even the lush sounding "Hold Me".
But in terms of the programming style, take a listen to "King of Glory", "If My People", and "I Can't Live without You". The legendary Terminator X of the rap group Public Enemy had to be jealous of what seemed like perfectly orchestrated, divine chaos.
Clearly they had multiple beats, multiple samples and multiple loops going at one time in different measures, even different time signatures it seems. I still haven't figured how many different loops are used in "King of Glory".
I remember being on the local strip in my hometown years ago, and somebody came blasting down with their Master P CD booming out. I calmly switched on my Number 7 CD. The familiar "It's getting a little hot up in here" came on and then BAAAAAMMM!!! "King of Glory"'s "For the Kiiinggggggg" came on. I was Ďking of the stripí that night.
Couldn't nobody touch the combination of Fred Hammondís production, Commissionedís vocals, Transformation Crusade's lyrical flow, and my Alpine stereo system in my Honda civic!!
ó commentary by James Wigington Jr. ó
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