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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Pure and Holy Passion

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jul
Pure and Holy Passion
Sounds like … the classic Christian band and a cappella group have plugged their instruments in once again — in other words, this album contains adult-contemporary-pop arrangements of worship songs with their superb vocal blend on topAt a Glance … it may be yet another worship album, but Glad draws from original material and lesser-known worship songs, and the performances are pleasant and engaging.

Glad's so highly regarded as an a cappella group that many people still are unaware that all the members play instruments, and even fewer people know that Glad started out as a progressive pop/rock band in the '70s. It wasn't until 1988 that the band experimented with an a cappella album and opened themselves up to a whole new audience. Ironically, because of their success as an a cappella group, many have pigeonholed Glad as merely a vocal group, completely unaware of their band sound, which falls somewhere in between John Elefante-era Kansas and Phillips, Craig, & Dean. With or without instruments, they are indeed the same band, and though the sound may vary from album to album, their faith and ministry does not. Pure and Holy Passion is their first band album in more than six years. Focusing on worship music old and new, the album has been available for sale on Glad's Web site since late 2001, but now is widely available thanks to distribution through Spirit-Led Records.

It's remarkable enough that these guys sound so good together when singing a cappella, so it's all the more impressive that they sing that well while playing instruments with nearly the same proficiency. Chris Davis' fine electric guitar solos are especially impressive. Over the years, Glad's sound has become less progressive as the band has opted for more of an adult-contemporary sound perfectly suited to the worshipful pop of this album. Their cover of Matt Redman's "Let Everything That Has Breath" is true to the original, as most versions of the song are. It's much like the recent Phillips, Craig, & Dean cover of the song, though there's an impressive part near the end where Glad shifts into a half-time breakdown with a hypnotic, Beatle-esque background vocal part. You won't be able to miss it when you hear it. Other highlights include a new band arrangement of founding-member Bob Kauflin's a cappella arrangement of the hymn "How Firm a Foundation," as well as an enjoyable new rendition of "Be Ye Glad." There's also an exciting revitalization of the Isaac Watts hymn "Join All the Glorious Names" which adds a praise chorus to create an uptempo worship song that blends old and new sounds.

The remainder of the album's ten worship tracks aren't particularly memorable ("Everlasting," in fact, has nearly the same feel as "Let Everything That Has Breath"), but that's not to say they aren't pleasant and enjoyable to listen to. Glad's music can sound a little dated at times, especially the synthesizer used on "Be Ye Glad," and I wouldn't call this album original or unique by any means. But the quality of the performances (vocal and instrumental) is enough to warrant a recommendation for fans of contemporary worship and inspirational pop. Additionally, Glad has included a live bonus track of their live favorite, "A Cappella History." In the ten-minute track, Glad begins with a simple four-part rendition of the hymn "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," and gradually evolves the style from classical and barbershop to doo-wop and jazz. It's very funny and clever, displaying their understanding of music history and their incredible vocal skills.