The Katinas Sing 'Timeless' Tunes
By Craig von Buseck
Different… this is the word that ran through my mind as I listened to nearly every track on the Katinas' new CD Timeless.
It is true that the series of songs they chose for this album are truly timeless classics of Contemporary Christian Music -- and I was excited to listen to this album. The inevitable problem with any collection that consists of covers of classic songs is the critical comparison to the originals, which are often engrained in our minds.
To be fair to the artists and the producers, the musicianship, vocals, and arrangements on this album are very good -- in particular the production of the gifted Brown Bannister. And the Katinas do a respectful job on the vocals throughout. If I were listening to these songs for the first time, I think I would love them… well, most of them.
But that's the problem. I'm listening to some of these songs for the 100th time. I had a hard time with some of the arrangements because they are so… well… so different.
Take the Russ Taff anthem "We Will Stand" from his first solo album, Walls of Glass, for example. For the past 20+ years, I have been deeply moved nearly every time I've listened to this challenging song. In the original version, the listener can almost feel Taff pleading with his fellow believers to put aside the petty differences, to forgive the sins of the past, and to link arms together in a show of Christian brotherhood. I still get chills at the key change toward the end of the song when Taff, tip-toeing at the edge of his inimitable R&B vocal style, cries out, "Take me by the hand, join with me, join and sing…" There was passion in his vocal performance.
While the Katinas' version is slickly polished in digital perfection, it falls flat compared to the passionate original.
Conversely, the Katinas' version of the CCM staple, "Your Love Broke Through" by Keith Green and Randy Stonehill, doesn’t deviate so far from the original that it becomes distracting. In fact, the arrangement is somewhat inventive and fresh -- surprising for a song that has been covered numerous times. The same can be said of The Imperials' "I'm Forgiven", Amy Grant's "Arms of Love", and Michael W. Smith's "Secret Ambition".
The album is not without its gems. The Katinas' versions of the classic '80s radio hit from Mike and the Mechanics, "The Living Years" and The Imperials' "One More Song for You" are as good, if not better, than the originals.
But these highlights might be missed by a CCM aficionado who gives up on the album after the awkward arrangements of Randy Stonehill's "Shut De Do", Andre Crouch's "My Tribute", and Taff's "We Will Stand" -- all which are somewhat painful to listen to. But if you can get through these, the second half of the album is quite good.
So this musical trip down memory lane is a mixed bag -- especially for a longtime fan of CCM. If you've never heard any of the originals, you'll probably enjoy the Katinas' vocals and the rich arrangements on most of these songs. If you know the originals, you may be hitting the skip button more than once and riffling through your old tape or vinyl collection to experience the passion one more time -- despite the squeaks and pops of your high fi!
Timeless by The Katinas
Craig von Buseck is Director of Marketing & Ministries for CBN.com. Send him your e-mail comments on this review.
More from Craig von Buseck on CBN.com
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