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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

The Greatest Hits

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Apr
The Greatest Hits
Sounds like … the worshipful piano pop of one of Christian music's most revered singer/songwriters, reminiscent of Elton John, Randy Stonehill, Billy Joel, Christopher Cross, Michael Card, and Ben FoldsAt a glance … a fine best-of collection that remembers Keith Green through his essential hits, some bonus content, and two unreleased tracks, though it's still not as comprehensive as The Ministry Years or The Ultimate CollectionTrack Listing You Put This Love in My Heart Soften Your Heart Oh Lord, You're Beautiful Your Love Broke Through Asleep in the Light My Eyes Are Dry So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt Grace by Which I Stand There Is a Redeemer Rushing Wind To Obey Is Better Than Sacrifice Jesus Commands Us to Go! Easter Song Create in Me a Clean Heart The Lord Is My Shepherd (23rd Psalm) Make My Life a Prayer to You Your Love Came Over Me He'll Take Care of the Rest (live)

Though the Christian music industry has generally done a poor job of preserving its 40-year s of artistry, one of the fortunate exceptions has been the late great Keith Green. His passionate blend of music and ministry still stands out 25 years after his untimely death. But whereas some artists never receive due recognition, there's no shortage of compilations honoring this legendary singer/songwriter. Why, it was just 2002 when Sparrow/EMI released The Ultimate Collection, a single-disc album summarizing Green's musical legacy more concisely than the two-volume, four-disc Ministry Years anthology (originally released in the late '80s). With such best-of recordings already available, is The Greatest Hits really necessary?

Most of the essentials are here, from the playful piano pop of "You Put This Love in My Heart" to Green's gorgeous breakthrough "Your Love Broke Through." You'll rarely find an artist so challenging one moment ("Jesus Commands Us to Go" and the indicting "Asleep in the Light") and then so worshipful the next ("Oh Lord, You're Beautiful," "There Is a Redeemer" and "Rushing Wind").

Stylistically, parts of Green's production haven't aged very well—"Soften Your Heart" still sounds like a bad '70s television theme. That's why the stripped down piano pop arrangements heard on The Live Experience (his concurrently released concert collection) hold up slightly better. As an example, look no further than this disc's previously unreleased live version of "He'll Take Care of the Rest." Though a bit rough, this live version works better as a fun boogie-woogie number than the original recording's dated approach. The album's other rarity is the previously unreleased demo "Your Love Came Over Me," a short piano rock testimonial resembling Green's earlier material—man, I wish he recorded more tunes like this one.

The Greatest Hits also includes songs that were left off The Ultimate Collection, such as "Create in Me a Clean Heart" and Annie Herring's "Easter Song." Plus, the disc gives access to downloadable bonus material, including photos, live video footage, and a few concert MP3s—as long as you don't mind filling out a marketing form.

All good, but longtime fans can download the unreleased tracks through iTunes, and the bonus material cannot compare to the impressive hour-long documentary included on DVD with The Ultimate Collection (and also featured on The Live Experience DVD). The song selection is not as good either, overlooking "You Are the One," "I Can't Believe It," "You!" and five other vital favorites found on the other collections.

If you'd like a truly comprehensive collection (short of buying all of Green's albums), consider The Ministry Years. For those looking to save some green in remembering Green, The Greatest Hits will suffice, but it's no Ultimate Collection.

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