Reviewed by Paddy Hudspith
I remember when, back in the day, the earliest publicity ahead of Third Day's self-titled debut worked hard to equate the Atlanta-based rockers with Jars Of Clay, whose own first album was still red hot, earning them critical plaudits and support slots with the likes of Sting. The message went something like this: "Didn't believe us when we said Jars Of Clay were going to be big news? Well, don't make the same mistake again - here comes Third Day!" The self-congratulatory tone of the marketing stuck in my throat a little at the time, but isn't hindsight a wonderful thing? Their powerful take on the Michael W Smith standard "Agnus Dei" for Smitty's influential 'Exodus' worship project was the first time I really sat up and took notice. Later it was abundantly clear that the numerous radio hits culled from 'Time' (1999) and the massively successful 'Offerings' (2000) marked Third Day out as premier league players on the Christian music scene. Now, this second release follows up the impressive 'Chronology Vol One (1996-2000)' with another superlative package for fans and newcomers alike, picking up the timeline with the release of 'Come Together' (2001) and touching on everything up to their 2006 tour in support of 'Wherever You Are'. On this evidence, it's not hard to understand why they're at the top of the tree, and deserve to stay there. As befits such a 'best of', there's not a duff track amongst the first disc's 18 (although one might quibble over the inclusion of "Rock Star" from 2004's 'Wire'), and the live tracks recorded last year ("Cry Out To Jesus", "I Can Feel It", Waterdeep's "You Are So Good To Me" and a fresh, intimate take on the hymn "Blessed Assurance") just scream quality. Hard-to-find treats for fans include a version of Primal Scream's "Movin' On Up" first heard on the soundtrack to the movie The Second Chance, as well as the title track of the 2002 'Carry Me Home' EP which promoted Habitat For Humanity, and "I See Love" featuring Steven Curtis Chapman and MercyMe from a 'Passion Of The Christ' tie-in album. The DVD portion centres around a well-produced and revealing documentary on the band's history, from their humble beginnings as improbably-named garage rednecks Nuclear Hoedown (yes, you read that correctly!), through their wrangles with independent label Grey Dot to their latter-day successes and accolades. Alongside this there are plenty of live performances, both stripped-down acoustic and full band electric, as well as home videos, including the guys visiting an Alaskan glacier! Hmmm... Nonetheless, I heartily recommend this, a full and fascinating look back at an unlikely bunch of CCM superstars, in whose "everyman" quality lies one of the keys to their popularity. Here's to the next 10 years!
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