Reviewed by Dave Brassington
Three DVDs packed in a box at a bargain price, though the Christmas DVD is surely rather a strange inclusion as it will inhibit sales during the rest of the year. As it turns out, 'Christmas In The Country' is the oldest of the three DVDs, filmed at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham Alabama in 2000. The title is a misnomer as it really has very little connection with country music and was recorded in a theatre! However it represents very good running time (110 minutes) and includes a nice variety of original material and well known Yuletide favourites. It was sad to note how many of the veteran artists featured here are no longer with us, eg, The Happy Goodmans, Bob Cain and Jake Hess. One highlight is "O Holy Night" powerfully sung by David Phelps while elsewhere there is "Glory To God In The Highest" and "Silent Night, Holy Night" featuring Buddy Greene.
'South African Homecoming' was filmed before a live audience in Johannesburg in 2007 and one poignant memory is that this was the last time that the piano virtuoso Anthony Burger performed before his sad and sudden passing. Throughout the performances here the sheer enthusiasm of the audience created a vibrant atmosphere. I know country music has always been popular in South Africa, but I was surprised by the visible enthusiasm of the audience. Standouts were "Bless That Wonderful Name", "I'll Put On A Crown And Walk Around" and two great tracks by Ernie Haase & Signature Sound - "Stand By Me" and "Oh, What A Saviour", are wildly received. The DVD closed with a stunning version of "Worthy The Lamb" by the Gaither Vocal Band.
'Together' was filmed in Louisville, Kentucky, in 2007, the concert bringing together the Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound in a stunning live recording full of energy and humour! We are also introduced to the considerable talent of Gordon Mote on piano who is also featured on one or two humourous location sequences around Louisville. Each group performs separate numbers and then combines their talents with the others that could best be described as a heavy weight octet with a difference! It is very hard to pick highlights with such a strong selection but I particularly enjoyed the opener "Holy Highway", "Sweet Sweet Spirit", "Old Campmeeting Days", "Wake Up Dancin'", "John In The Jordan" and "Sitting At The Feet Of Jesus". 'Together' is definitely one of the best DVDs from the Gaither stable.
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