The DVD Experience (Summer 2008)
- Andy Argyrakis, Russ Breimeier, and Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2008 1 Jan
As DVDs and the Internet become more prevalent in the music industry, we'll continue to see videos used in different ways to support Christian music. Some like
The Good: Recorded on location, this gripping docu-concert is a striking look into the spiritual revival taking place at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola. Snippets of songs are interspersed in between thoughtful interviews with inmates and other footage, infusing the film with extra poignancy. And thankfully, the actual outdoors concert is separate from the feature itself, which makes things easy for those who just want to get to the music—an assortment of favorites culled from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir's expansive repertoire, including covers of God's Property's "My Life Is In Your Hands," Richard Smallwood's "Total Praise," and Phillips, Craig & Dean's "This Is How It Feels to Be Free."
The Bad: The set list is only eight songs long, which is quite short compared to Brooklyn Tab's other live projects,
The Bottom Line: Ministry and music commingle for a moving and impactful glimpse into the heart change through Christ.
The Good: Though there have been numerous compilations for Christian music legend Keith Green,
The Bad: Considering that the recording budget was low and the live footage is more than thirty years old, the restoration process can only accomplish so much. The Jesus '77 and Jesus Northwest '79 performances are of bootleg quality, but acceptable. Scenes from Estes Park '78 and Jesus West Coast '80 are significantly better, though still rather grainy by today's standards.
The Bottom Line: The rough production values are certainly tolerable considering the rare content and extensive footage, aptly summarizing Keith Green's indelible contributions to Christian music.
The Good: Backed by the eclectic explosiveness of his Diverse City Band, tobyMac has proven himself one of Christian music's most exciting and charismatic entertainers in recent years. Those qualities are at last captured through top-notch video production, with exceptional camera angles and framework. The set list is chock full of tobyMac's entire solo career, not to mention a few shout-outs to his dc Talk days. Highlights include the roaring "Ignition," the hip-hop drenched funk of "Catchafire (Whoopsi-Daisy), and the sax-smacked neo-soul of "No Ordinary Love," plus Mandisa makes a special appearance for "Lose My Soul." All the while, the stage is adorned with images from Mac's recent
The Bad: The only tiny complaint—nice as it is to hear songs from the dc Talk catalog (from "Jesus Freak" to the recent reunion song "Atmosphere"), they fuel nostalgia and longing for a reunion with Kevin Max and Michael Tait.
The Bottom Line: In keeping with the excellence of his solo career, tobyMac goes all out with
The Good: At long last, emo-core heavyweights Underoath get the full-concert treatment. Last year's
The Bad: Aside from the accompanying CD, you only get 14 songs and nothing more—not even a DVD menu to select different options for audio settings. Some bonus features would have been nice, though the band probably shot their wad with the
The Bottom Line:
The Good: Accustomed to his long-held status as a crossover act, BeBe Winans has
The Bad: Winans tries a little too hard to remind us we're having
The Bottom Line: Though as spirited like the standalone album version of
The Good: Worship leaders and artists from the U.K. (Tim Hughes, Stuart Townend, Phatfish's Lou Fellingham) and the U.S. (Smokie Norful, Kelly Minter) "come together" for an evening of praising God at the legendary Abbey Road studios in London. Highlights from the concert experience are captured with a 78-minute CD/DVD combo that includes familiar favorites as well as some gems less familiar to Americans—Townend's intelligently crafted worship music deserves international distribution. The visuals are solid for this enjoyably eclectic and multi-ethnic event, which mixes pop, rock, R&B, and other genres for a small audience in spacious Studio One. And apparently the event was created to help raise awareness and funds for the Ray of Hope ministry, serving impoverished villages in the Amazon.
The Bad: The impetus for this concert feels somewhat gimmicky. Why Abbey Road studios beyond the "ain't it cool" factor? Why not Westminster Abbey, or else a bigger facility to help raise awareness for Ray of Hope in front of a larger audience? A short behind-the-scenes documentary offers minimal insight into the origins of the event, and aside from the short Ray of Hope video—which serves as a prologue—this concert never seems to bridge the idea of worshiping through both music and our lives. For that matter, while the CD is strong, the video editing makes this feel less like a fluid worship concert and more a series of performance highlights.
The Bottom Line: A solid worship album with impressive performances and songs worthy of any praise team's consideration, but it feels like
For previous editions of The DVD Experience, please visit our archives.