STYLE: Brass Band RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 82652-15956 LABEL: Salvationist Publishing & Supp KMCD3053 FORMAT: CD Album ITEMS: 1 RELEASE DATE: 2009-09-04 RRP: £12.99
Reviewed by Phil Thomson
This is Kingsway's latest venture into the brass band field. Dare I say there is something uniquely British about the distinctive sound. It's that hint of nostalgia, the strident pomp and ceremony, the well-documented association with industry and church alike. And there can be few finer exponents of the craft than the ubiquitous Sally Army. So, a word of warning about the printed sleeve lyrics: be careful with the sing-along - you might just miss out on Regent Hall's glorious renditions of the composers art. In 'Songs of Praise', producer/arranger Christopher Norton, in partnership with John Mortimore, has achieved a remarkable lightness of touch, allowing bandmaster Stephen Hanover a seamless run through contemporary hymns in time-honoured tradition. Thankfully, there's not a march in sight, just sensitive, harmonious ensemble playing and the occasional virtuoso soloist exhorting us to celebration. "Peace Is Flowing Like A River" really does evoke the spirit of the writer and such is the persuasive emotional charge, titles such as "In Christ Alone", and "Overwhelmed By Love" offer us the possibility of a fresh spiritual encounter. Further, an interesting feature - by way of a vocal interlude - is the back-to-back offerings of "Here I Am To Worship" and "How Deep The Father's Love" from classical tenor Stuart Pendred. I suppose that particular bit took me by surprise, but it is ultimately uplifting and definitely value-added. An album guaranteed to appeal to brassinistas and win new converts.
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Brass bands became very popular in the United Kingdom in the 19th century, often associated with particular industries as well as with churches. The Salvation Army has used brass bands for services and outdoor evangelism since the 1880s and the rich emotional sound of a brass band continues to stir the hearts of contemporary listeners. This album features new and exciting arrangements by Christopher Norton of contemporary Christian songs and demonstrates that a brass band continues to have a unique and uplifting sound.