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All the Best ... Live!

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
All the Best ... Live!
Sounds like …the classic inspirational pop artist delivers her most beloved favorites in a live setting, complete with medleys and stories.At a Glance … an album that's clearly for fans only, but those fans won't be disappointed.

This is one of those rare albums where the title truly says it all. Sandi Patty's latest, All the Best … Live!, is something of a hybrid between a live worship disc and a greatest-hits album. For years, fans of the vocal diva have been hoping for an album that captures the live experience of a Sandi Patty concert. They didn't want just a simple live album of Sandi singing, but a souvenir that includes the well-orchestrated medleys of her hits, the stories that she shares with the audience before some of the songs, and the powerful sound of Sandi leading a large audience in a sing-a-long. If these are the sort of things you've been hoping for in a Sandi Patty album, your wish has been granted.

Sandi's biggest hits are included in medleys, which works well since some of her inspirational praise songs are simply repeated verses. "Praise Medley" includes such favorites as "Make His Praise Glorious," "Let There Be Praise," and "How Majestic Is Your Name." Sandi includes her over-the-top cover of the classic hymn, "How Great Thou Art," and even though her vocals jump all over the place, it is nevertheless powerful and stirring. Additionally, Sandi sings a duet with her father, Ron Patty, for "It Took a Miracle / Down From Glory," and it becomes clear that Sandi's vocal talent runs in the family. "Yes, God Is Real," a fun gospel duet with Brian McSee, makes you feel like you're in the audience because of the pre-song banter and the sing-a-long parts of it. There are also a couple of new songs for fans. "All This Time," co-written by Sandi and Cindy Morgan for Sandi's daughter Anna, features Cindy's gorgeous gift of melodic songwriting and breathy arrangement (though not her voice), elevating it a step above the typical inspirational ballad. Equally touching is "Someday," a remarkably beautiful lullaby written from the perspective of Mary singing to Jesus. It's as good as a quality Broadway ballad, and it's a perfect setup for the "Passion Medley," which includes Sandi's classic hit "Via Dolorosa" alongside "Who Will Call Him King of Kings?" and "Where the Nails Were."

All the Best … Live! is basically an album for fans, and because the project's so clearly defined, people know exactly what to expect of it. It's kind of pointless, then, to be critical of a live greatest-hits album. In fact, I have only praise for what Sandi does on this project. Still, newcomers may want to check out one of Sandi's greatest-hits compilations before this because All the Best … Live! isn't truly a greatest-hits album, since half the tracks were written in the last five years. Only the medleys feature the Sandi Patty classics from years ago. If you like her music, however, you'll enjoy the newer songs on the album very much. Also, the stories and sharing are as much a part of this album as the songs, which is to say that All the Best … Live! is a very personable album — Sandi's monologue leading into "Someday" is especially funny and poignant. At more than 70 minutes, fans also get a lot for their money. Listeners looking for an album that will give them the music they love and a personal connection to the artist will enjoy this new album from Sandi Patty.

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