New Releases

Great Day

Legacy Five

I'd Do It All Over Again

Easter Brothers

A Gathering

Hoskins Family

Drive

Doug Anderson

Mansion Wrapped In Tin

John Taylor

The Heart Of Christmas

Kingdom Heirs

Because of Love

The Crist Family

Homesick

The Murray Family

No Two Ways About It

The Inspirations

Hit Replay Again

Tribute Quartet

The Early Years

bobby smith

These Truths

The Old Paths

Metamorphosis

McClellan Singing Sisters

This Life

Johnson Edition

NQC Live Volume 13

NQC

The Test Of Time

The Talleys

The Day We Learn To Fly

Volume Five

Napalm by Brando Brannon Bates

Brand-0

AVENGER OF THE ALAMO "MIX TAPE"

mista tone

The Louisville Years

NQC

Top Albums

Elvis Ultimate Gospel

Elvis Presley
Though RCA released only three LPs and an EP of dedicated gospel material during the lifetime of Elvis Presley, it's likely that he sang more gospel than any other type of music. Late at night, after a session or a show, Elvis would seek out and keep awake anyone who could carry a tune, in order to pore over the nuggets of gospel music he had soaked up during his early years at the Assembly of God churches in Tupelo and Memphis. And among Elvis' most prized awards, among hundreds, were his four Grammy awards for Best Sacred Performance or Best Inspirational Performance. Elvis: Ultimate Gospel completes RCA's cycle of Elvis gospel remasters, which began in 1994 with the two-disc Amazing Grace: His Greatest Sacred Songs and continued with the three-disc box set Peace in the Valley. This one is a solid single-disc sampler, simple but stellar, including roughly half of his officially released gospel material. The selections are judiciously spread from throughout his career; two come from the 1957 EP Peace in the Valley, six are from 1967's How Great Thou Art, and seven each are from 1960's His Hand in Mine and 1972's He Touched Me. The only caveat is the disorienting sequencing that finds songs from different eras scattered across this collection; consider the fairly large step required to move from the sweet, reverent Elvis of 1960's "Crying in the Chapel" to the grandiose Elvis of 1967's "You'll Never Walk Alone." Everything else about this collection is accomplished, but fans of gospel in general or Elvis specifically should consider either the two-disc collection or an original album like His Hand in Mine, which stands out as among the best recordings in Elvis' discography. [A 2007 import reissue featured a darker hued cover and adds the track "In My Father's House".]

John Bush, Rovi

O Brother, Where Art Thou? (10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition)

Various Artists
When the soundtrack to Joel Coen and Ethan Coen's film O Brother, Where Art Thou? was released in 2001, it ended up being a left-wing entry on the Billboard charts, going on to sell nearly eight million copies and garnering a Grammy on its way to introducing the public to the gospel, string band, blues, and folk music of the previous century, single-handedly making what had come to be known as Americana music commercially viable. Not bad for a facsimile, for that is exactly what T-Bone Burnett's productions were, smoothed-out and polished facsimiles of songs that were much more wild, ragged, and immediate in their original '20s and '30s incarnations. It’s hard to argue with the soundtrack’s success -- any album that can turn the sad, timeless and beautifully resigned “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” into a hit is obviously doing something right. Burnett's productions were full, warm, and reverent. All of the music was recorded before actual work on the movie even began, and the music became somewhat of a shooting script, with each scene defined and informed by the music behind it, making O Brother, Where Art Thou? a sort of massive video for the songs of another century, and songs like “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” (there were four versions of this song on the CD, two sung by Dan Tyminski, and one each by Norman Blake and John Hartford), “You Are My Sunshine” (sung by Norman Blake), “I’ll Fly Away” (sung by Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch), and “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues” (sung by Chris Thomas King, who also acted in the movie) took on new life and fame in the digital realms of the 21st century. Burnett and the Coen Brothers pulled off quite a feat by making all this old-time music viable again, and they did it with an obvious love and reverence for it, plugging into a national yearning for simpler times, as if there ever truly "was" such a time. Life has always been infinitely complex, a fact that nostalgia is adept at sweeping away. This soundtrack remains a facsimile of another era, albeit a fascinating one, and while it doesn’t diminish the original songs, it does take a little of the wildness out of them. The tenth anniversary deluxe edition of the soundtrack adds a bonus disc of 14 songs that were also recorded at the original sessions (some were used on the film soundtrack but didn’t appear on the soundtrack album), including John Hartford's delightfully scratchy fiddle workout on “Tishomingo Blues,” an eerie and definitive version of “I’ll Fly Away” by the Kossoy Sisters (with accompaniment from a young Erik Darling), a sturdy take on the Appalachian murder ballad “Little Sadie” by Norman Blake, and an oddly haunting instrumental version of “Big Rock Candy Mountain” from Van Dyke Parks. The additional tracks expand the facsimile without shattering the illusion that there was a particular time in history when music was made by everyday people and not by marketed and manufactured stars. There was such a time, and the soundtrack to O Brother, Where Art Thou? replicates it. Facsimile or no, it’s reassuring.

Steve Leggett, Rovi

A Farewell Celebration

The Cathedrals
Recorded live at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium on the Cathedrals' farewell tour, A Farewell Celebration is a joyous, star-studded send-off featuring appearances by the Statler Brothers, the Oak Ridge Boys, Bill Gaither, Sandi Patti, and Guy Penrod, to list a few of the most notable names. At a generous 27 tracks, fans aren't likely to be disappointed, and the performances are inspiring and polished.

Steve Huey, Rovi

Peace In The Valley - The Complete Gospel Recordings

Elvis Presley
An expanded three-disc collection that attempts to trump a 1994 double-disc set (Amazing Grace: His Greatest Sacred Songs) by offering virtually every single Elvis recording of a sacred song, Peace in the Valley: The Complete Gospel Recordings accomplishes the mission in its title, but at a hefty price that won't appeal to any but the most obsessive-compulsive fan. Obviously, it includes each track from his three gospel LPs -- 1960's His Hand in Mine, 1967's How Great Thou Art, and 1972's He Touched Me -- plus scattered alternate takes that are previously unreleased. The third disc is padded out with an array of Elvis' sacred recordings that are easily available elsewhere, like the 13 gospel tracks on the raw Million Dollar Quartet session recorded at Sun in 1956, the "Gospel Medley" from his 1968 TV Special, and a version of "(There'll Be) Peace in the Valley" originally aired on Ed Sullivan's television show. Though there's no doubt that Peace in the Valley: The Complete Gospel Recordings is a complete set, most Elvis fans will gain little from owning it.

John Bush, Rovi

20 Best of Bluegrass Gospel

Various Artists

All Time Gospel Favorites

Loretta Lynn
All Time Gospel Favorites is a Time Life compilation with material taken from Loretta Lynn's numerous religious-themed albums. Among the 20-tracks are such traditional hymns as "Just a Closer Walk With Thee," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "How Great Thou Art," "Amazing Grace" and "Old Time Religion." Any fan of Loretta Lynn will enjoy this mid-priced disc.

Al Campbell, Rovi

Rise And Shine (Bonus DVD/Limited Ed.)

Randy Travis
On his second gospel album, Rise and Shine, Randy Travis professes his faith within a traditional/contemporary Nashville setting. As steel guitars keen and fiddles whine, he delivers the message clearly, in his familiar unforced, relaxed style. Aside from "Everywhere We Go," a rousing call to resist secular efforts to "take your Commandments off the schoolhouse walls," these songs generally stick to the rusticities long associated with country Christianity, with evocations of Mama and fishin', a whiff or two of brimstone, and unsubtle wordplay ("The Son/sun's gonna rise and shine"). The music is appropriately sentimental, though the slow-drag, saloon shuffle of "I'm Ready" sounds a lot more like Saturday night than Sunday morning. It adds up to a strong performance, presented with flawless studio clarity and persuasive, understated feeling.

Robert L. Doerschuk, Rovi

Jason Crabb

Jason Crabb
Country gospel crooner Jason Crabb's first solo outing follows in the spiritual footsteps of his work with the Dove and Grammy Award-nominated Crabb Family. When the latter project was retired in 2007, Crabb signed with the Spring Hill Music Group and began assembling a talented team of writers and producers to help craft his eponymous debut. Steeped in the easy-to-digest contemporary Nashville gloss that has dominated radio since the early '90s, Crabb's emotive, evenhanded voice leads the charge on 12 empowering cuts, most of which fall under the "ballad" umbrella. Produced by Tommy Sims (Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith) and Norro Wilson (Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire), the album features appearances from country and gospel greats Vince Gill, Sonya Isaacs, and the Gaither Vocal Band.

James Christopher Monger, Rovi

30 Gospel Greats

Oak Ridge Boys

Brothers Of The Highway

Dailey & Vincent
Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent were much in demand bluegrass session players who worked with the likes of Ricky Skaggs and Doyle Lawson before venturing out as a duo, modeling themselves on classic genre duos the Louvins, the Delmores, and the Monroes, floating out high lonesome harmonies over crisp, professional playing. They were already very good when the pairing started, and they're arguably even better now, and this set, which the duo self-produced and which appears on Rounder Records, is full of all the things they do well, blending wonderful vocal harmonies with bright, nuanced playing, and while it's certainly bluegrass grounded in a full awareness of that genre's storied past, it also edges at times into a kind of delightfully graceful kind of folk-country, particularly on songs like the Vince Gill-penned "Hills of Caroline" and the beautiful "Where You've Been," which Kathy Mattea had a radio hit with a while back. All of this gives Brothers of the Highway a nice balance between high-flying bluegrass romps like the opener, "Steel Drivin' Man" (not the traditional tune but an original written by Dailey), reverential covers like the wonderful version here of the Louvin Brothers' ballad "When I Stop Dreaming," and original songs ("Back to Jackson County" -- another Dailey song), with everything adding up to a fine album full of graceful depth.

Steve Leggett, Rovi

God On The Mountain

Lynda Randle

How Great Thou Art

Elvis Presley
How Great Thou Art, Elvis' second gospel album, had very different conceptions of gospel music on its two sides. The first side, including the title track and "In the Garden," was very "high church", with hymnal readings and quietly burbling organ accompaniment. The second side was a far more exciting proposition, with an alternately rocking or swinging piano, some breakneck tempos, and the type of performances more apt to be heard at the gospel singing meetings held in Memphis during Elvis' early years than at church (or, at least, most churches). Fans who prefer either Elvis the crooner or Elvis the rocker will, likewise, have different feelings about each side. On the first, Elvis is full-throated and sincere; on the second, it's easy to picture him cracking a smile as he leads the quartet on "So High" and "By and By." [A CD version with bonus tracks was released in 2008.]

John Bush, Rovi

The Best Of The Hoppers

The Hoppers
This budget-priced, 18-track set from celebrated, Southern gospel family group the Hoppers may best 2000’s Homeland Records offering Shoutin' Time: The Best of the Hoppers by six cuts, but fans looking for the studio versions of some of their favorite tunes, specifically their biggest hit, “Shoutin’ Time,” will be disappointed, as all of the tracks on this collection are live recordings culled from the last two decades of the Gaither Homecoming series. This is indeed a spirited collection of modern gospel music from one of the genre’s biggest names, but it’s not a proper anthology.

James Christopher Monger, Rovi

Because He Lives

Bill & Gloria Gaither
Because He Lives is a collection of the most popular songs from Bill and Gloria Gaither as sung by such CCM and contemporary gospel artists as Reggie Smith, Guy Penrod, Janet Paschal, Mark Lowry, Ben Speer, Jake Hess and Danny Gaither, among others. It's an engaging, entertaining tribute to the Gaithers' songs and spirit and a worthwhile listen for most CCM fans.

Rodney Batdorf, Rovi

Redeeming The Time

Kingdom Heirs

A Tribute To The Songs Of Bill & Gloria Gaither

Booth Brothers
For this release, the venerable Booth Brothers bring their tight harmonies and stripped-down arrangements to bear on 15 songs written by Bill and/or Gloria Gaither (it's an extensive catalog, with over 700 some songs to choose from), including two new songs written by Bill Gaither and Larry Gatlin. The Booth Brothers started with Gaither classics like "He Touched Me" and "I Believe in a Hill Called Mount Calvary" and proceeded from there, creating a labor of love., Rovi

Enlightenment (2xCD)

The Blind Boys Of Alabama
The Blind Boys of Alabama, who originally formed back in 1939, have had an amazing seven-decade career, one that has seen them release their own brand of gospel on every possible medium the history of recording has to offer, from 78s and LPs to eight-track tapes, cassettes, and CDs, and the consistency of their sound and approach through all of this makes them a venerable national treasure. This two-disc anthology collects some of the group's key tracks recorded for Stan Lewis' Shreveport, LA-based Jewel Records during the 1980s, including the gospel funky "Morning Train" and the call-and-response-derived "I Want to Go," among others, and it's vintage Blind Boys, only the twist of a lyric away from being straight secular soul. The final two cuts at the end of the second disc are solo sides recorded for Jewel by founder and lead singer Clarence Fountain.

Steve Leggett, Rovi

Born Again

Kingsmen
The Kingsmen Quartet (not to be confused with the Kingsmen, who presumably would never have released an album titled Born Again) have been on the gospel scene for more than 30 years. When founder and leader Eldridge Fox died in 2002, the group's name went into semi-retirement, but has since been revived by the group's longstanding bass singer, Ray Reese, who now leads the reconstituted group. Their second album for the Horizon label is more of the same: tight harmonies, rollicking uptempo numbers, and slow ones that tend to get bogged down in overripe emotion and, sometimes, just plain syrupy goopiness. For the former, there are irresistible spiritual rave-ups like the gorgeous "Beautiful Home" and "I'll Have a Home," as well as the country-fried "If I Lived to Tell It All," which features some great hotshot guitar picking. On the goopier side are the mildly funny (but mostly just kind of dumb) "Excuses" and the excessively moist "Jesus I Love You." Gospel music's true believers won't find anything to object to in this album at all, but the rest of the world will probably want to pick and choose from among its offerings.

Rick Anderson, Rovi

Common Thread

Oak Ridge Boys

Spirit Of The Century

The Blind Boys Of Alabama
From start to finish this album defies categorical classification. It employs the best of R&B, Afro-beat, folk, and blues while remaining true to the Blind Boys' gospel roots. And with a tasteful selection of material by Tom Waits, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, and Ben Harper, in addition to their usual array of traditional gospel hymns and folk tunes, it will appeal to generations of listeners. Though varied in its stylings, the album works as a whole due to the high-quality production, arrangements, and musicianship throughout. The traditional "No More," in a slow and soulful arrangement, starts off with a plaintive slide guitar sampling of "Amazing Grace" and sits comfortably beside "Run for a Long Time," which features George Scott rapping over a percussive, groove-filled (à la Danny Thompson on double bass) and harmony- laden reworking of this classic. And the Stones' "Just Wanna See His Face," which is given a jubilee-like treatment that rivals the original, follows up a somber "Motherless Child" with grace and acuity. Other guests include Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica, John Hammond on guitar and Dobro, and David Lindley on oud and electric slide.

Travis Drageset, Rovi

Top Songs

Three Wooden Crosses

Randy Travis

Still Here

The Williams Brothers

Amazing Grace

Elvis Presley

I'm Just A Nobody

The Williams Brothers

God On The Mountain

Lynda Randle

How Great Thou Art

Elvis Presley

Please Forgive Me

The Crabb Family

My Name Is Lazarus

Greater Vision

Sometimes I Cry

Jason Crabb

Stand Still

Isaacs

Jerusalem

The Hoppers

I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired

Mighty Clouds Of Joy

I Know You're Gonna Make It

Norman Hutchins

Not For Sale

Michael Combs

By the Mark

Dailey & Vincent

He'd Still Been God

Greater Vision

His Life For Mine

Talley Trio

It Is Well With My Soul

David Phelps

I'll Fly Away

Johnny Cash