Reviewed by Ronnie Payne
John Pantry may not be the Godfather of British CCM; he is more its benevolent uncle really, the kind who is fondly remembered though visited rarely. So, after 27 years on the scene producing others and, sometimes, himself, it's about time someone gave John a greatest hits collection. Full marks then to ICC for releasing this 16 song retrospective of his work, but slapped wrists for the truly awful album cover which is unlikely to make you want to investigate this recording and which is rivalled in its cheesiness only by John's own 'It's For You' album cover (possibly the worst in CCM history). The information contained therein is also substandard for while it contains a summary of the musicians and singers who have appeared on his albums, including such luminaries as Dave Bainbridge, David Fitzgerald and Martyn Joseph, the really vital information for fellow CD anoraks, ie, who played what on which songs, and on which album the songs first appeared, is missing. So, what about the music? Well, it's fairly pretty (though dated) folk-influenced pop with John leading on keyboard and vocals and managing to sound somewhere between Chris de Burgh and Chris Bowater. The songs are well crafted (if lacking subtlety perhaps), theologically sound, and are almost impossible to stop circulating around your cerebral cortex. "Empty Handed" and "Wonderful Grace" are particularly moving and there are three new hymn-like compositions which give evidence that despite now being an ordained Anglican minister and presenting a radio show for Premier in London, John is still finding time to write songs and for this we are grateful. Things have changed incredibly, however, in the wonderful world of CCM since John appeared at Greenbelt in the late 70s and it's difficult to imagine that this release will appeal to the Cutting Edge/Redman generation. But their mums might like it.
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