Israel and New Breed
Live From Another Level
When New Season, the major label debut from Israel and New Breed; was launched on Integrity Gospel in 2001, the take-off may have been slow, but the flight pattern soared.
At that time, we at Gospelflava.com named the release among the most underrated releases of the year, and boy, can we ever say we were right (see album review).
Soon thereafter, churches everywhere caught on and the wildfire spread across the country.
With a studio album since then (Real see album review), momentum has built with every appearance and the numerous collaborative efforts of Israel Houghton and veteran music director Aaron Lindsey (see album reviews of: Martha Munizzi, Floyd Ellsworth, Judy Jacobs and the Shout Praises, Kids Gospel and Lakewood Church projects) serving to cement the certainty of this major musical gift.
The proliferation of the sound of fusion in worship has just begun. Houghton and New Breed make an indelible mark on gospel.
Enter Live From Another Level Houghton and crew don’t just hype this much used phrase, they actually DO take it to that next level.
Recorded at the Total Grace Christian Center in Decatur, Georgia, the project offers up a double-disc overflowing with an abundance of 30 songs. Infused with brass from Mo’ Horns (see interview), guitar from Johnny "Natural" Najera, along with the usual excellence of the New Breed band and vocal ensemble, consider this album a catapult into worship.
Live From Another Level
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Israel and New Breed have never been short of radio hits (consider “You Are Good”, “New Season” and “Who Is Like The Lord”), and radio hits continue to abound on Another Level. “Again, I Say Rejoice”, “Rise Within Us” and “So Easy To Love You” are only a few. “Going To Another Level”, with its old school grooves and funky fires, is inescapable, as is “Holy”.
“All Around”, written by Curt Coffield, along with Houghton and Lindsey, moves on a boisterous piano line, creating an infectious, near-Latin groove for which there is no
antidote. They song says “everywhere I look your love is all around”, and speaks of the omnipresent, everlasting love of Christ His global presence for the global community.
Israel on Another Level
Israel Houghton describes the goal of the Live From Another Level album, and why it was important to have Bishop Joseph Garlington on the album. Check the interview."|
“We Win”, an 80’s R&B oriented jam, simply proclaims the truth of our final victory. Mo’ Horns kick in prominently here and background vocal artistry give this tune its structure.
Disc Two puts the focus squarely on the net result of Christ’s redeeming work on the Cross; allowing us to become “friends of God”.
Things begin with Houghton’s “Friend of God”, an underground favorite that is finally seeing the daylight on projects. The soft, billowing praise becomes more intense as the awesome truth of the lyrics sink in. A marveling that we are no longer servants, but friends of the most High God sets the groundwork for electrifying worship. Mo’ Horns and Aaron Lindsey’s piano embellishments add flava to it all, as the song moves into a follow-up track of spontaneous worship.
The theme then continues with the meditative “Friend”, with introductory lead from Stacie Joseph, and then melts into “Friend Medley” which pulls in three more related melodies, including “What A Friend We Have In Jesus”, with a traditional approach to the arrangement.
This project is far more than a few smash hits. The totality of this praise hits home after soaking in this two hours of live worship, which also includes a spoken word segment from Bishop Joseph Garlington.
Stepping back from the studio-feel and over-produced tracks that everyone is doing, Live From Another Level draws greatly from that place that sometimes sadly gets ignored in Gospel music the heart of worship.
Here, the great band and vocals, in all their excellence, are punctuation to the pure nature of this offering. It’s a package, it’s an experience, and it’s one of the best things to hit Gospel in some time.
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Producers: Israel Houghton, Aaron Lindsey
album release date: May 4, 2004
reviewed by Stan North and Melanie Clark —
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