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The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir
Clay Crosse
Andraè Crouch and All Star Choir
Bryan Duncan
First Call
Twila Paris
Michael W. Smith
Take 6
Wayne Watson
CeCe Winans
The Winans

A Night in Rocketown - Click to view! TRIBUTE: THE SONGS OF ANDRAÈ CROUCH (1996)
Looking to broaden your musical scope and have dabbled in every style (ska, polka, Spanish) except gospel? One can hardly mention the style's passionate vocal performances, powerful lyrics and rhythmic groove without thinking of Andraè Crouch. An influence to multiplied dozens of Christian artists, this great man of gospel is honored on Tribute: The Songs of Andraè Crouch. And while having a deep respect for Crouch, the disjointed tribute is another story. It starts on a high note, with a scratchy recording of the original "Take Me Back" going into CeCe Winans' soaring rendition of the song, which cries to God, "Take me back, dear Lord ~ To the place where I first received You." That's a message emphasized by artists like Matt Redman and Between Thieves, showing Andraè Crouch's relevance to today's generation. Twila Paris interprets "I Don't Why Jesus Loved Me" with inspirational tenderness, as Crouch states in the CD's detailed linear notes (one reason to consider buying Tribute). A cut encouraging perseverance, "Through it all ~ I've learned to trust in Jesus" speaks volumes through Wayne Watson's unique voice. Referred to as gospel's "first family," The Winans lend their talent for a cappella harmony to "It Won't Be Long," a track with such flair that I'd call it the most gospel moment of the project. The contemporary blues side of Clay Crosse is seen clearly in "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power," whose powerful lyric has stood the test of time for twenty years and counting. The group setting and crowd feel of Andraè Crouch's music receives front center attention in The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir's mix of "Soon and Very Soon." All of Nashville's finest vocal and production talent are featured in Tribute's closer "To God Be the Glory." Andraè himself sings lead, with Wayne Watson and Susan Ashton taking the mic for brief moments, and O'Landa Draper directing the All Star Choir, whose members include Big Tent Revival, Steve Taylor, Larry Norman, Rebecca St. James and many others. Despite these six tracks, Tribute doesn't merit a full-fledged recommendation on the grounds that gospel is an exciting, soul-filled, heartfelt musical style. This album is characterized by a). an inspirational, impassionate, formulaic attitude that loses the original groove Crouch poured into his songs and b). too much volume for the choir (giving an impersonal feel to these masterpieces). Examples could be given of Michael W. Smith, who choir directors worldwide claim "sings through his nose," crashing the classic "Jesus is the Answer" with his poorly produced pop, and usually dynamic Bryan Duncan turning in a lame take of "It's Gonna Rain." Though certainly a great concept, your money would be better spent on an Andraè Crouch hits collection than Tribute: The Songs of Andrač Crouch.
- Josh M. Shepherd

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