Release Date: May 6th 2014
Reviewed by Joshua Andre
- Let It Be Known (Remix) (with Worship Central)
- Build Your Kingdom Here (Remix) (Rend Collective)
- Great I AM (Remix) (Feat. Milton Young & DJ Maj with Jared Anderson)
- Open The Eyes Of My Heart (Remix) (Feat. L.E.D.)
- Friend Of God (Remix) (Feat. Stefan the Scientist & Liquid) (Israel Houghton)
- God’s Great Dance Floor (Remix) (Martin Smith)
- Spirit Break Out (Remix) (Feat. Canton Jones) (Luke Hellebronth)
- Center Of It All (Remix) (Desperation Band)
- Like A Lion (Remix) (Feat. KJ-52) (Daniel Bashta)
- Today Is The Day (Remix) (Lincoln Brewster)
I have always been fascinated by remix albums in general. Some of my favourite versions of a particular song are the remix version. There’s something special about hearing the DJ or producers who are professionally familiar with electronics and mixing, try their hand at enhancing the value and message of a song, and then succeeding; yet sometimes remixes can fall flat and be rather underwhelming. Thankfully, on the whole, Integrity Music’s The Action Bible Remixed is not one of these releases, and excels at presenting to us thoughtful and exciting new renditions of songs partly by putting the worship of God first and foremost as a major goal in this album.
The label remixing a bunch of well-known worship favourites with respected and renowned artists also helps the album gain popularity, and if nothing else, these different versions of worship classics are yet avenues for us to worship God, for those who crave something different musically in their songs. Inspired by the respcted and popular graphic novel series titled The Action Bible; fans of remixes from David Thulin and Capital Kings, as well as young children and teenagers, are sure to love this album. Though there are some songs that I would say can be improved upon, I would still encourage anyone to listen to the album and give it a chance, as you soak in the presence of the Almighty God.
When remixing songs, for me I like to analyse them in two categories- the versions that stay close to the original and the songs that are massively altered beyond recognition, in which these 10 offerings fall into both categories. And while ‘safe’ remix versions v ‘daring’ and ‘inventive’ remix versions can be a point of discussion into which draws in more listeners, and which is better, I believe that both have their place and both types of remixes can be improved upon here.
A glance through the track list and I find high points and low points, with highlights being songs staying close to the original as well as some songs which are massively changed. “Let It Be Known” from Worship Central, had a lacklustre original recording, with an electronic synth, pulsating beats, and a modern pop dance sound; and the chorus ‘…let it be known, that our God saves, our God reigns, we lift You up, up, up…’, thematically been sung many times before. Yet this remix version breathes new life into a generic worship tune, with one verse omitted, plenty of phrases moved around, an enthusiasm by Tim Hughes not seen previously (even if it is predominately through electronics), and a slowing down of the tempo. In this version I find myself dancing and moving to the catchy and groovy beat, so this reinvited opener is a good way to start the unique and creative album.
Likewise, the Martin Smith led “God’s Great Dance Floor”, the Desperation Band worship anthem “Center Of It All” and the album ender “Today Is The Day” by Lincoln Brewster are greatly enriched and given added depth in their remixes. Now driven by synth and keys instead of the guitar as we sing praises to God that ‘…You’ll never stop loving us, no matter how far we run; You’ll never give up on us, all of heaven shouts: let the future begin…’; there’s a kind of laid back and calm atmosphere in this new recording of “God’s Great Dance Floor”, and this fresh perspective excites me. “Today Is The Day” stays very close to the 2008 recording, yet amongst the mesh of unrecognisable songs, ending the worship experience with something structurally familiar is definitely a good thing! Similarly, “Center Of It All” hasn’t changed much as well, but since the original recording is mostly driven by synth and electronics, this version only makes the worship anthem even more danceable and party like; which is positive as we celebrate that Jesus is the centre of our lives, and is worthy to be praised.
Having exactly half of the remixes (5 out of 10) sung either with guest vocalists or by completely different artists than the original recording, is quite out-of-the-box, as is the fact that these songs are musically turned on their head. Yet each of these inventive melodies captivate me and pique my interest, giving us something new and memorable. Daniel Bashta’s “Like A Lion” has the verses reversed, and has a beat box undertone instead of traditional drums. With the song containing more electronics, and Daniel’s distinctive voice completely masked by programming; what is totally from left field is the substitution of the popular chorus with raps by KJ-52. Giving us a different interpretation and atmosphere, the song does need getting used to, but still gains full points for creativity and willingness to step out of what is expected.
KJ-52 is not the only guest vocal present on the album. “Spirit Break Out”, led Luke Hellebronth, has Canton Jones sing in his own written verses (which is different from Myles Dhillon’s spontaneous verses in the 2012 live version). Presenting his gospel/rap twist on a worship classic, Canton complements Luke singing quite well, as we lift God’s name up and ask the Holy Spirit to dwell and move amongst us, proclaiming ‘…King Jesus, You’re the name we’re lifting high, Your glory shaking up the earth and skies, revival, we want to see Your Kingdom here…’. While the melody, tempo and part of the lyrics of “Friend of God” originally recorded by Israel Houghton, but interestingly sung by Stephon the Scientist and Liquid in the genre of Caribbean and reggae, are altered dramatically and given their own spin; “Open The Eyes Of My Heart”, recorded by Paul Baloche and this time featuring L.E.D., is also treated to some unexpected changes, with raps inserted all throughout and a vocal reminiscent of The Katinas. These brazen and no-holds-barred approach of alteration of many worship fan favourites may disturb and anger traditional worship enthusiasts however I for one welcome this type of change as we can see these songs from a different yet still valid point of view, as long as Jesus is still at the centre. In that light, Jared Anderson’s dance party remix of “Great I Am”, featuring Milton Young and DJ Maj is a treat to listen to, as God is glorified through synth, gospel choirs and an explosive and honest rap sung instead of the verse sung a second time. The message of Jesus being the Great I Am and the passion and fervour is not lost; and I am swept up again and again throughout this compelling and enthralling album in the presence of God as I worship.
The success of a remix album in my opinion can be judged by whether you notice that these songs are ‘copies’ of the original version, or whether you find yourself recognising these tracks as well produced and recorded alternate versions having just as much right as the original recording. In that respect, Action Bible Remixed fulfils what its purpose was, which is to give us newly recorded versions of old and new worship songs for us, and especially the younger generation, to enjoy. Tying this release in with a bible themed book series is pretty genius as well, as it’ll also give publicity to the book series, and the Bible as well. With plenty of high points on this release, and the only low point being Rend Collective Experiment’s “Build Your Kingdom Here”, which plays out as an instrumental for half the track, and has Chris Llewellyn voice totally omitted in favour of Ali Gilkeson (which sounds at first weird and from left field…) for the remainder; as far as remix albums go, the May 6th release is superbly recorded and sung. Deserving of multiple listens, either for those who want to compare versions, or just worship Jesus; I’d imagine that by the end of 2014, most Christians will have Integrity Music’s latest remix worship release in their playlists. Would I be so bold and then declare that this album will take off? Well… maybe, judging by the strength of this album musically and lyrically!
3 songs to listen to: God’s Great Dance Floor, Spirit Break Out, Open The Eyes Of My Heart
RIYL: David Thulin, Capital Kings, TobyMac, Matt Redman, Brenton Brown