Hit Parade: The Greatest Hits
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
I've considered Audio Adrenaline a "B band" for most of their career, and I hope fans (and Audio Adrenaline members themselves) don't take offense to that. I've always known they can rock, but they felt amateur and derivative in their early days. I described them then as a Christian alternative to The Spin Doctors. To me, AA always has been more of a singles band than an album band. I've enjoyed the songs that have made it to radio, but the albums as a whole have been somewhat disappointing to me. Which brings us to Hit Parade: The Greatest Hits, yet another greatest-hits project from one of the most influential Christian bands of the 90s. But unlike the recent greatest-hits projects from dc Talk and Newsboys, Hit Parade could serve as a textbook example of how to do a greatest-hits album right.
The obvious key to a successful greatest hits project is to fill it with the greatest hits. In contrast to Shine: The Hits from the Newsboys, which included some fluff and left off a lot of hit songs, and Intermission from dc Talk, which neglected many of the hits from their most recent album, Hit Parade sums up nicely four albums of material. It fairly represents each project and offers a little more for the devoted fans. AA wisely ignored the material from the Live Bootleg and their self-titled debut, unless you count the swing rocker "DC-10," which was re-recorded for the Underdog album. Three songs are included from their breakthrough album Don't Censor Me: "Rest Easy," "We're a Band," and of course "Big House," one of the biggest Christian songs of all time. The shift from funk-flavored alternative rock to classic rock is evidenced by the Bloom album tracks: "Walk on Water," "I'm Not the King," "Man of God," and "Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus." The Some Kind of Zombie album saw the band go for a harder edged, more art-rock-flavored sound (which didn't sit well with many of the band's fans). From that album, "Chevette," "Blitz," and the title track are represented here. Most would agree the band hit their stride with Underdog, and AA includes many tracks from it: the title track, "Get Down," "Mighty Good Leader," "Hands and Feet," and the previously mentioned "DC-10". It's not so easy to discredit the band's merits when you gaze on this impressive list of hits. It becomes even less easy when you listen to the endless barrage of solidly performed rock—the tempo slows only for "Man of God" and "Rest Easy."
Of course, no greatest-hits album is complete without a few new tracks, and Hit Parade offers two excellent ones. The current single is a song called "One Like You," as good a song as anything off of Bloom or Underdog. But the real revelation is "Will Not Fade," which is as good a Led Zeppelin impression as I've ever heard. It also features some of Mark Stuart's finest vocals yet, strong guitar work, and strong drumming reminiscent of Led Zeppelin's John Bonham. Who knew Audio Adrenaline had it in them? And lyrically, it's the perfect greatest-hits song. The song's primary intent is to encourage listeners to keep their faith firm in Christ over the years, but the title also makes the statement that this band is here to stay. If this is a glimpse of AA's next album, I'll be the first in line. They've come a long way from their debut ten years ago.
I have only one complaint, though it's like criticizing a student for not getting a perfect score on a test. The album clocks in at a generous 65 minutes, but there's just enough room to squeeze in one or two more songs … which is exactly what Hit Parade is missing. The biggest omission is "Good Life," though they could just have easily included "Good People," "Free Ride," "AKA Public School," or "Don't Censor Me." However, the last two don't really fit the rock vibe of the other songs on this album, they may have left off "Good Life" to prevent pulling too many tracks from Underdog, and "Free Ride" isn't an original AA song (it's an Edgar Winter classic). Aside from shorting the listener a couple of essential tracks, Hit Parade is a must-have for any fan of contemporary Christian rock. This new greatest-hits project from AA gets an A+ from me.