Reviewed by Tom Lennie
One reason for the phenomenal success of the Gaither Homecoming Series is undoubtedly its inclusion of a fairly wide range of genres - bringing bluegrass, country, inspirational, soul and even comedy into the harmonising vocal group template of Southern gospel. For many years gospel music's chief Homecoming Friend has been Chicago veteran Jessy Dixon. This disc showcases Jessy's best Gaither output, picked from a number of past Homecoming productions. Plenty of traditional gospel songs are offered, and even more ballads. There's some great moments for sure, not least when fellow-gospel veterans Alvin Slaughter and Andrae Crouch duet with Dixon on "Yes, Lord" and "Soon And Very Soon" respectively. In my opinion Dixon's voice in no way matches the strength of these and other gospel maestros. Indeed, on most songs it's the warmth and emotional gusto of the varied backing choirs that stand out most. Those who, like me, are soft in heart, will be much moved by some of the tear-jerking ballads ("I Can't Even Walk", "I Could Never Outlive The Lord", etc), though the flow of tears from most of the Gaither group propped on the stage behind Dixon seem grossly OTT and bring the word "crocodile" to mind. Each track on the 105-minute disc is interspersed with snippets from a personal interview conducted by Bill Gaither, and many interesting details can be gleaned here. The Gaither team are, of course, adept at video technology so it's no surprise that the video quality is first class, with great shots of all singers, audiences and magnificent settings (London, Ireland, Jerusalem and various American cities). An enjoyable DVD.
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