Various Artists
WOW Gospel 2000

The fact that the WOW Gospel concept needs little introduction says much about it's impact. With only two predecessors, it is rightly considered as the Godfather of all Gospel compilations.

WOW Gospel 2000 follows the familiar pattern: multiple prominent label contributions from across the industry, two discs jammed with the hottest of Gospel singles over WOW Gospel 2000 CDthe past year (with some beyond that); contemporary cuts on disc one, traditional cuts on disc two; several high profile remixes (including a brand new one); some new cuts from unreleased projects that will without a doubt become favorites in the coming year.

Zooming straight to the highlights is easy, because they're obvious. Tonéx's "Real For U" is an ethereal jazz-flava'd cut from the San Diego allstar, featuring breathy vocals. This one comes from his highly anticipated and soon to be re-released project, entitled Pronounced Toe-Nay. Finally Tonéx!

Fred Hammond's remix of "Jesus Is All" is ingenious. Confusing this one with Fred's previous remix of the same song would be a big mistake, as they're worlds apart. This one is brand new, as Fred incorporatesAt Verity's WOW Gospel 2000
 release party at the Stellar Awards in January 2000 in 
Atlanta) the traditional hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness", making you wonder what all is really going on in Fred's head to be able to think up THAT! It's a major head-bobber that has a similar tempo to the original, but with more flava.

Other remixes include Darkchild's remix handywork (Rodney Jerkins co-wrote Fred Jerkins remixed) of Dawkins and Dawkins' "Wrapped Up", which is derived from their Focus project. And most will be familiar with the urban mix of Anointed's "Revive Us", which was found as a bonus track on their self-titled album from 1999.

Brand new tracks include bounce and sizzle on "Never Seen The Righteous" from Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers (from their upcoming TriCity4.com project on EMI Gospel), plus "Testify" from Commissioned (featuring new members Chris Poole and Marcus Cole). Verity's newcomer, Tarralyn Ramsey, has made multiple appearances on compilations in the recent past. Here, on "Unconditional Love", she makes her mark with a wonder of balladry, showcasing her Whitney-like vocals. (But let's be fair and acknowledge that her vocals on this cut make it hard to believe that Whitney Houston could even come close to doing anything better...it's just that good.) Written by Carnell Murrell and produced by both Murrell and bassman Wayman Tisdale, it's another album highlight. Ramsey's debut is scheduled for later this year.

You wouldn't be satisfied if there wasn't some Shirley Caesar, Albertina Walker, Canton Spirituals, Vickie Winans and Dottie Peoples on the traditional set. So you can rest assured that satisfaction Yolanda Adams and Fred Hammond at Verity's WOW Gospel 2000 release party at the Stellar 
Awards in Atlanta in January 2000comes guaranteed, as these artists each contribute strong singles on the second more traditional disc. One slight quibble is the inclusion of Donnie McClurkin's "Hark the Herald". It's wonderful Christmas classic, but seems a little misplaced. It would have been REAL nice to hear a sneak peek of something from McClurkin's solo project, due out later this year on Verity —but let's not be greedy.

At thirty-two songs in total, it's hard to touch on them all, and we haven't even mentioned Brent Jones, Virtue, Hez, BeBe, Montrel Darrett and Kim Burrell yet. But they're all there, and then some. Click on these links for a complete track listing of Disc One, and Disc Two.

Look for this set to quickly squeeze its way into the upper echelons of the Gospel charts. With the accompanying WOW Gospel 2000 video to soon follow, it can't miss.

Producers: Steven Ford, Paul Wright III, various others
album release date: February 8, 2000
Verity Records

reviewed by Stan North and Melanie Clark

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