Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage


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Chronology Volume II
by Third Day

Reviewed by Michael Ehret

"...a great collection of all that's good and true about Third Day."

In the booklet that comes with this second volume of Third Day’s Chronology series, Gregory Rumberg writes:

“No one remembers exactly who said the seven words that altered the band’s course, but to this day, the members of Third Day remember the simple sentence’s power: ‘We have people’s attention – let’s keep it.’”

Wow. If you read further on in the essay, it becomes clear that Rumberg, and presumably the band, meant that in a good way. As in, let’s keep their attention so we can show them Who Christ is and present the Gospel. But, I can’t help wondering if they tried too hard to keep our attention.

Third Day doesn’t need me to tell them how talented they are. I have followed the band, sometimes slavishly, since the Gray Dot days, and I believe they got to where they could make that statement by doing musically, and professionally, what they’ve failed to do since. Innovate.

Those seven words altered the band’s course, true. But was it altered for the good?

I love Third Day. I know a lot of people who love Third Day. But I also know a lot of people who have a serious case of Third Day fatigue. When Mac and the boys found the formula that worked with their third album, Time, it seems they applied that formula (Heavy on the power ballad singles, worship choruses rocked up, and solid, crunching rock songs to break up the monotony) to album after album.

Were they trying too hard or not hard enough? It could be both, but I tend toward not trying hard enough. Chronology, Volume 1, was a true essential disc. In my review of it on this site, I wrote: “Mac and the band never do anything halfway and that commitment continues with this release.” And it is still true with Chronology, Volume 2.

Vol. 1 showcased a band finding their way to superstardom – and it is exhilarating to this day to hear it!

Vol. 2 gives us a band at the top of their playing game – and yet, after the first Offerings disc, amazingly unwilling to take risks with their success. Each subsequent release continued to offer what had worked before – all of it top-notch musicianship, but almost corporate. More: don’t rock the boat, then rock the house. The difference between the two collections is palpable when presented this way.

Wire showed some spark, but it was a backward glance reaching into the past for the Southern rock music that built the band. Mac and gang returned to their standard rock star form for the follow up, Wherever You Are.

It seems really trivial and small-minded for me to complain about Third Day’s consistency – after all Come Together, Offerings II, Wire, and Wherever You Are, are all fine discs. And yet, that’s exactly what I’m doing. I want Third Day to wow me again – and not just with perfect songs, but with that something extra, that spark, that edge that characterized the music from the early years.

Should you buy this? Of course! It is a valuable document and a great collection of all that’s good and true about Third Day. And the bonuses on the videodisc, once again, are a real delight, even if the hour-long documentary often sounds like the record company’s PR department produced it. Who knows? Maybe it did.

But the bootleg videos are fun, especially the Alaskan video. Plus, if you’ve never had the good fortune to see Third Day live, you have plenty of opportunity on this disc – and great performances they are, too. And do NOT miss the Third Day Biggest Fan videos – they are a hoot!

Still, wouldn’t it be cool if Third Day’s next record moved the band in a new direction in the same way dcTalk’s Jesus Freak changed the course for that band? That would absolutely be the best.

CD song list: Come On Back To Me, Show Me Your Glory, You Are So Good To Me (live), Rockstar, Mountain of God, Sing A Song, Come Together, God of Wonders (live), Cry Out To Jesus (live), Creed (live), Tunnel, I Believe, Nothing Compares, Blessed Assurance (live), Movin’ On Up, I See Love, I Can Feel It (live), Carry Me Home.

DVD song list: Inside Third Day documentary, David Carr’s Alaskan Video, King of Glory, These Thousand Hills, Never Bow Down, Peace, What I’m Living For, Sky Falls Down, Thief, Come Together, Nothing Compares, Third Day’s Biggest Fans, Tunnel Video Montage.

Michael Ehret is a music maven who has written about music, secular and Christian, as a reporter for The Indianapolis Star newspaper, several Internet sites, and even CCM magazine. He is also the editor of the newsletter Afictionado, the e-zine of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and is testing the waters with his first novel, Beyond December, while working on his second, Skipping July.