Reviewed by Dale Lewis
Word: Six Decades of Hits
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"Not dependent on any particular genre style, this is music that features solid biblical lyrics that touch the soul and move the spirit."
In 1951 WORD Records
was born. Because of all the requests for his broadcast of an imaginary
football game between God and Satan, Baylor
University student, Jarrell McCracken, had 100 copies of his “The Game
of Life” printed on 78 rpm records. These were definitely the days
before cassettes, 8 tracks, CDs and mp3s.
WORD: Six Decades of Hits is not a slick marketing attempt at self-promoting products. It’s a who’s who of CCM artists, past and present, which have not only contributed to the success of the company but enlarged the Kingdom of God by being faithful to their God-given talents. Behind each song, whether it is labeled a “hit” or not, is the story of a team of artists who believe in the message of Christ and chose to collaborate together. The hits run the genre gamut in this Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) collection. There are rallying anthems, inspirational ballads, country, and gospel selections.
I grew up on WORD music. I’m a by-product of their storied history. I’m a fan of the foundation set forth from the beginning in everything that bore their brand. They never sacrificed integrity and authenticity for the big bucks. Not dependent on any particular genre style, this is music that features solid biblical lyrics that touch the soul and move the spirit.
Personally, I was drawn more to the “Early Years” given what was included. Our wedding song “Flesh of My Flesh” by Leon Patillo, “Praise the Lord” from The Imperials, (my all-time favorite men’s vocal group), and Benny Hester’s heart-touching “When God Ran” are a few of my favorites. Standing in stark contrast to the others is the solid baritone voice of George Beverly Shea singing, “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” Lyric-driven music has always been important to me in my selection of music.
Just for a minute or two as I was listening (and singing), I wondered who didn’t make the list and what songs were left out of this exceptional collection. I’d volunteer for research on the next compilation!
The balance of titles (24 of the 51 songs) come from hits in the past decade. The 1960s is represented with only one title. Some of “Yesterday Favorites” could have been placed in “Today’s Hits.” As a purveyor of the WOW collections over the years, there are several WORD artists featured in both the WOW CDs and the “Today’s Hits” section including Mark Schultz, Francesca Battistelli and NeedToBreathe.
The “bonus track” of “The Game of Life” was too brief to even be included in this collection. The full-length version would have been appreciated even though it wasn’t musical in nature.
A perfect companion to the Word: Six Decades of Hits compilation is Word: The Story, The Songs. It is a 30-song songbook (medium voice) with piano and guitar arrangements. Within the songbook is a 44-page full-color pictorial and written history of Word Entertainment penned by Deborah Evans Price, one of Christian music's foremost historians.
As WORD celebrates 60 years of music and ministry, they want us to join the party for the King! I, for one, will be cranking it up!