Crosswalk.com aims to offer the most compelling biblically-based content to Christians on their walk with Jesus. Crosswalk.com is your online destination for all areas of Christian Living – faith, family, fun, and community. Each category is further divided into areas important to you and your Christian faith including Bible study, daily devotions, marriage, parenting, movie reviews, music, news, and more.

Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

The DVD Show 2005

  • reviewed by Andy Argyrakis Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Jan
  • COMMENTS
The DVD Show 2005
Every now and then, we'll bring you a wrap-up of music DVDs that come through our offices. Here, Andy Argyrakis delivers the good, the bad and the bottom line on the most prominent discs from the latter part of '05.Jeremy Camp

Live - Unplugged (BEC Recordings)

The Good:
Singer/songwriter Jeremy Camp shows his sensitive side in a stripped down, unplugged DVD/CD concert taped in the close confines of The W just outside of Nashville. Along with his standard touring band and a string section, he puts an extra dose of inspiration into already hopeful messages of healing and recovery. "Right Here" and "Take You Back" are delivered with an ethereal edge, while "I Still Believe" and "Walk By Faith" are even more emotional thanks to the building orchestration and background vocals by his wife Adrienne. In between tunes, Camp tells several jokes and stories, and gives candid examples of his stirring testimony. The DVD portion also earns props for its uncomplicated but fitting production as the candlelit stage and flowing curtain backdrop further set the tone.

The Bad:
Though it might not have translated to this occasion, the one major hit missing is "Take My Life." Perhaps that could've been rearranged and included in place of the cover "Beautiful One," which By the Tree has already claimed as its staple. The DVD is also slim on the extras with merely the "Take You Back" video and a trailer advertising Camp hosting The History Channel's Family Bible Game.

The Bottom Line:
For a trip straight into the heart of Jeremy Camp loaded with his most moving songs, this is the ultimate visual and audio archive.

Hillsong

God He Reigns (Hillsong/Integrity)

The Good:
The lauded Australian worship team (led by Darlene Zschech) returns with a riveting praise experience filmed live at The Sydney Entertainment Centre. Along with state-of-the-art visual effects and multiple camera angles, the project is put together with the utmost professionalism and loads of spunk for the home viewing audience. From the opening tribal explosions of "Praise in the Highest" to the gentle reflection "Emmanuel," get ready to be moved. There's also a bonus disc of material packed tightly with a production documentary, a guitar workshop and two previously unreleased songs. A special section titled "A Call to Worship" is especially insightful, showing what it's like to plan a service of this magnitude.

The Bad:
There really aren't any significant problems with this project other than seemingly contrived camera angles at times. Too many shots of people with their hands raised and eyes closed grow redundant after a while.

The Bottom Line:
This is a must-have for all Hillsong fans, filled with lots of variety beyond the typical "Shout to the Lord" set list inclusion. The powerful production is also sure to reel in new viewers and may also make a great outreach tool.

Donnie McClurkin

Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs (Verity)

The Good:
"Anointed" is a word often associated with Donnie McClurkin, and this exceptional concert DVD confirms that point. The praise leader, his band and a backing choir explode with energy on cuts like "Days of Elijah" and "I Love to Praise Him," while bowing their heads in reverence throughout "Only You Are Holy" and "Agnus Dei." Along with top-notch production and quality camera work, the soulful superstar is compelling, uplifting and entertaining.

The Bad:
Like the CD (available separately), the live material doesn't always translate well to a home listen—or viewing. Some moments might have meant more if one was sitting in the live audience, especially during the preaching portions. The inclusion of "Total Praise" (featuring Richard Smallwood) as a bonus feature seems incredibly random and should've been included in the main show's set list. Unfortunately, that and a quick minute commercial about McClurkin's career are the only extras, void of any interviews or behind the scenes footage.

The Bottom Line:
A solid representation of McClurkin's most lauded work that followers of urban gospel and beyond can appreciate. Though it would've been even more electric at the taping and the bonus features are sparse, it's still worth the reasonable price of retail admission.

Newsong

Rescue: Live Worship (Integrity)

The Good:
First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia is the setting for this Newsong offering, and the results are surprisingly strong as the group puts its blue-eyed-soul stamps on several standard and undiscovered worship nuggets. With visually appealing angles and sparkling production, the group provides a fresh twist on the old standard "How Great Thou Art," dives in a Brit-pop direction with Delirious' "My Glorious," and unveils new originals like the delicate "Before the Day." Longtime followers hoping to hear the group's greatest hits can turn to the bonus material for a medley and three full-length songs (including the inspirational "Defining Moment").

The Bad:
Considering how many times "Blessed Be Your Name" and "You Are Holy (Prince of Peace)" have been covered elsewhere, neither was needed here. Besides the bonus concert footage, there aren't any additional features to give viewers a closer look at the band in any context. Interviews talking about why this predominantly pop group decided to make a worship project could've been one of the many potential extra options.

The Bottom Line:
Aside from a few misfires, Rescue should reel in the devoted and open up doors for those who've previously discounted Newsong as an easygoing adult contemporary group to reconsider.

Ginny Owens

Live from New Orleans (Ginny Owens Productions)

The Good:
After playing over 100 shows on her 2004 tour, Ginny Owens and her backing band sound extremely tight and on the ball. The vocalist/pianist and her three backers comfortably coast through hits like "I Wanna Be Moved" and "Free," adding a jazzy or smooth soul feel to her delicate soundscapes. Owens appears poised and powerful as she belts through a series of poetic lyrics and reflections, while the famed House of Blues never looked better with its ultra cool logo and lighting. She also steps outside the box with production techniques, fading in and out of screens that focus on specific band members, often splitting the view between two players in motion at the same time.

The Bad:
Throughout this disc's duration, several interview snippets come between songs and completely break up the continuity of the concert. Just as the band is wrapping up a tune, producers forgo appropriate transitions to insert Owens chatting about everything from her upbringing to touring. These should've been exclusively saved for a bonus section, which as it stands right now is somewhat thin with a "36 Hours in New Orleans" segment and a few extra tracks ("With Me" and "Live Once") shown in the studio.

The Bottom Line:
Owens aficionados and even newcomers will fall in love with this peaceful performance, though it's a shame such snippets have to disrupt the flow.

Chris Rice

Inside Out (eb+flo/INO)

The Good:
Chris Rice literally invited the audience to his house for this DVD filming, split between his back yard and living room. This unique invitation is also extended to viewers who are able to get up close and personal as he explains and performs modern classics like "Deep Enough to Dream," "And Your Praise Goes On," and "Clumsy." The crisp camera work and comfortable environments also fare well to a number of new selections from his excellent Amusing disc. A "Making the CD" section brings viewers directly into the studio for the recording process, giving extra insight to Rice and his band at work.

The Bad:
The transition between the two home "venues" is oddly edited and even captures a cameraman giving command gestures throughout the beginning of "When Did You Fall." Audience shots are sometimes a bit cheesy, like a bunch of teens toasting marshmallows or nestling together on blankets in the lawn. The DVD could've also benefited from some additional add-ons, potentially a Cribs-styled tour of Rice's house.

The Bottom Line:
Rice is a consummate performer and solid songwriter who creates an extremely cozy atmosphere at this concert. With fewer contrived moments and some more careful postproduction work, Inside Out could've shined all across the board.

Mark Schultz

Live … A Night of Stories & Songs (Word/Curb/Warner Brothers)

The Good:
The celebrated troubadour runs through his greatest hits in this DVD/CD set, resting heavily on first album gems like "He's My Son," "When You Come Home," and "I Am." Whether rocking out or slowing down for a piano ballad, Schultz appears at ease and engages the audience, especially on the touching sing-a-long "Remember Me." But perhaps more moving than the concert itself is the documentary "Stories Behind the Songs," covering some especially candid testimony. Schultz traces his full trust in God's will as his career developed—and throws in a few comical anecdotes.

The Bad:
Too bad the concert itself didn't include more of these inspiring anecdotes, instead of relatively predictable song explanations. His tribute to the troops "Letters from War" didn't need to be described, and he could've also done without the corny camera angles focusing on people crying. The singer also cuts the escalating "Running Just to Catch Myself" extremely short, probably because the detailed chords would be hard to execute live, but it's still a disappointment.

The Bottom Line:
Fans will likely find favor with the cleanly produced concert and the documentary portion, though it would've been even better had Schultz not been so predictable at points.

Shane & Shane

An Evening With Shane & Shane (Inpop)

The Good:
The CD portion of this project confirms Shane & Shane's remarkable sonic abilities with a band. Those elements are also present in a crisp concert DVD with the same tracks, featuring fan favorites like the invigorating "Arise," the easy going "Yearn" and the soulful "You and I." The vocals and acoustic guitars come across pristine in the high-end venue and are mixed at the proper levels. The best bonus segment is called "Lessons in B," during which Shane Barnard explains the guitar tones and chords surrounding several of the duo's selections.

The Bad:
While the music may be memorable on both the CD and DVD, the latter is relatively low key and slightly less enthralling. While the disc can be played in the car and fully capture the guys' concert chemistry, the DVD merely shows that visually without any additional charisma. The clapping seems polite at best while the camera work is low-fi and basic.

The Bottom Line:
The double disc collection is a great value that captures the best of the Shanes on stage, though the audio portion is really the more significant of the two experiences. However, faithful fans will probably enjoy the DVD's bonus insights and performance instructions.

Derek Webb

How To Kill and Be Killed (INO)

The Good:
Derek Webb is simply one of the most profound and significant songwriters of this generation, so having those tunes presented live is even more inspiring. With his trusty acoustic guitar in hand, Webb presents a wide array of solo selections and some hints of Caedmon's Call (most notably "Somewhere North") with a cozy, coffee house demeanor and refreshing honesty. Add a talented four-piece backing band and some stories along the way, and Webb holds the crowd in the palm of his hand with his integrity-filled tunes. A bonus interview is very interesting as well, as Webb talks about the Christian subculture, the church's current state, and excellence in art.

The Bad:
The production is very simple and the DVD generally lacks the spice of a more all-around entertaining experience. It's essentially his 2004 CD I See Things Upside Down performed verbatim on stage with little sonic deviation—there's really nothing compelling about the lighting or framing that justifies watching this over listening to the album itself. Aside from the aforementioned interview, the only other bonus feature is a photo gallery that appears thrown together and adds little to the overall package.

The Bottom Line:
Webb and Caedmon's faithful will eat this up simply because of the songs presented, but the uninitiated are best starting with any of Webb's CDs.

© Andy Argyrakis, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.


Follow Crosswalk.com